Temple of Chota Nagpur, India.
The Chota Nagpur Plateau is a plateau in eastern India, which covers much of Jharkhand state as well as adjacent parts of Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar and Chhattisgarh. The Indo-Gangetic plain lies to the north and east of the plateau, and the basin of the Mahanadi River lies to the south. The total area of the Chota Plateau is approximately 65,000 square kilometres (25,000 sq mi). The name Nagpur is probably taken from Nagavanshis, who ruled in this part of the country. Chota is a corruption of the word Chutia, a village in the outskirts of Ranchi, which has the remains of an old fort belonging to the Nagavanshis.
The Chota Nagpur Plateau is a continental plateau – an extensive area of land thrust above the general land. The plateau has been formed by continental uplift from forces acting deep inside the earth. The Gondwana substrates attest to the plateau’s ancient origin. It is part of the Deccan Plate, which broke free from the southern continent during the Cretaceous to embark on a 50-million-year journey that was violently interrupted by the northern Eurasian continent. The northeastern part of the Deccan Plateau, where this ecoregion sits, was the first area of contact with Eurasia.
Main Attractions–Tagore Hill
On the periphery of Ranchi is the Tagore Hill, named after the Bengali poet who often turned to Ranchi to sharpen his wit and supposedly found inspiration for his work Gitanjali and other poems. Ranchi played a significant role in the life of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who started writing his famous commentary on the Quran here, which gained him recognition as an Islamic scholar. At the foot of theTagore Hill lies Ram Krishna Ashram. On the other end of Ranchi is Kanke Dam which is ever crowded with tourists. Few kilometres from the dam is the 17th century Jagannath Temple where the annual Rath Yatra (car festival) is held in the month of June/July. Should one be interested in tribes and anthropology a visit to the nearby Bihar Tribal Research Institute will be a rewarding experience for its rich anthropological museum, library and publications. Besides few majestic churches in Ranchi, there is a war cemetery, believed to be the smallest ‘concentration’ cemetery in India with a total of 708 burials which includes a soldier of the army of undivided India, besides various other countrymen who fought for the British cause.
Mutta Muggar Breeding Centre
23 km from Ranchi is a Mutta Muggar Breeding Centre in Ormanjhi which took off with three Bihari muggers and two from Madras. Today they account for over fifty ! Nearby is the biological park replete with valuable samples of wildlife.
150 km from Ranchi is Netherhat, the ‘Queen of Chotanagpur’ at an elevation of 3,700 feet above sea level.
Dense forests, serpentine roads, cool bracing breeze, moonlit nights must have persuaded the English to call this place which possibly sums up the ‘nature’ and ‘heart’ of Netherhat.
This place is an out of this world experience. Nightfall may arrive with boring regularity everywhere, but not so in Netherhat when it is pleasantly cool and the mysterious sky is ablaze with stars. The solitude and silence combine to promise a romantic tourist a refuge where one might try to stitch one’s life back together.
10 km off is Magnolia Point where the nearest thing to entertainment is the sky at sundown, when it turns to orange and mountain ranges of pink clouds build on the horizon. Most of the tourist bungalows at Netherhat are purposely built to catch a glimpse of rising sun that emerges from the quintessential landscape, layer upon layer of blue hills rising from the eastern sky like an old water colour. Water cascading from the height of 468 feet at Lodh falls is a sheer celebration of natural splendour. This highest waterfall in Bihar is 61 km from Netherhat and it can be reached via Mahuatand. Another alternative is Sadni Falls, 35 km from Netherhat, where the water fall is taken over by numerous curves.
Mc Cluskieganje, a sleepy hamlet amidst picturesque forests that is around 60 km from Ranchi on Highway 47. Film makers have taken note not only of the spectacular natural beauty, clean air, and extravagant greenery, but of the village itself, a heady mix of the untamed and the sophisticated. The name evokes nostalgia and one gradually discovers that the place was once popular with the Anglo Indian community. Some of the houses here have retained their English names together with the epitaph of ‘haunted houses’. During the 1950s there were no less than 100 Anglo Indian families with their typical cottages, clubs and shops. Now the number of families have come down to 25.
The English Houses and Cottages come cheap and one can get lost in solitude for a week or so. Those who like being waited upon can avail of the chowkidar’s (watchman’s) culinary skills. Shantinekatan, Hill view, Tip Top, Hermitage and Highland Guest House are the only places with three to five rooms. The closest to the railway station is Highland Guest House and an ideal place to stay with Captain. D.R. Cameron – a senior citizen and a perfect guide who continues his pioneering efforts in developing Mc Cluskeigunje as a tourist center.The surroundings and the river banks of Chatti provide rare scenic beauties. If you are lucky enough you can see the tribal people using their rods for fishing and if you can spare some time with an element of risk, spotting an elephant in the wilderness is not so difficult. Each day the morning news in Mc Cluskeigunje is about the wild elephant ruining the crops or trampling the hut in the night.
Hazaribagh (thousand gardens) is a famous hill resort with a pleasant climate and picturesque places. Notable among them is the Kunhary hill, now corrupted (corrected!) to Canary hill, which offers a panoramic view from the observation tower. Salparni lake is an equally popular picnic spot with opportunities for water sports. Hazaribagh is home to 186 sq. km wildlife sanctuary which continued to be the royal reserve of the Raja of Ramgarh until 1950. Numerous observation towers in the sanctuary makes it all the more easier to have closer encounter with the wild.
90 km from Hazaribagh town is Rajrappa, famous for “Maa Chhina Mastika” temple where river Bhera joins the Damodar from a height of 20 feet. The little waterfall offers boating facilities which introduces some very spectacular rock formations.
Few of the reservoirs of the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) dams offer ideal recreational facilities amidst scenic surroundings. Tilaya Dam, across Barakar river in Hazaribagh was built to check the floods. The main road through the reservoir and the adjoining hillocks offer very tempting photo views. One can follow the main road and drive to Hari Har Dham at Bagodar which is famous for the 52 feet high Shiv Ling amidst serene surroundings. It is believed to be the tallest Shiv Ling in the world which took thirty years to complete. Maithan Dam, 48 km from Dhanbad, is another flood control project across Barakar river. It has a unique under ground power station which is first of its kind in South East Asia. Panchet Dam across Damodar river offers stunning views from the surrounding hill.
The mining town of Dhanbad is internationally famous for its rich coal fields. Next door is Bokaro, India’s biggest steel complex and further south is Jamshedpur, acknowledged as the Steel City of India. Adjoining the steel city is Dalma Sanctuary (193 sq. km) where the elephants love to spend their summer. Within the heart of Jamshedpur lies the famous Jubilee Park.
Besides the industries, collieries and institutions, there are numerous scenic attractions in the vicinity. Topchanchi
Topchanchi, 37 km from Dhanbad is a beautiful dam amidst lush green hills. Maithan Dam 48 km from Dhanbad is another flood control project across Barakar river. It has a unique underground power station which is first of its kind in S.E. Asia.
The southern tip of Bihar is made up of hilly regions of Porahat and Kolhan in Singhbhum. More than seven hundred hills in the Saranda offer a breath taking view. The best place suggested for is Kiriburu.
In fact, the entire Chotanagpur claims to be ‘salubrious’ round the year but winter is best avoided for the temperature zooms down.
1.Ranchi would serve as an ideal base for touring the tracks of Chotanagpur.
2.Ranchi is well connected by road, rail and air services.
3.The best time to plan a tour would be around the tribal festival, Sarhul when Ranchi is richly decorated with flowers to welcome the advent of spring and thereby the harvest season.
¤ Parsvanath Hills
The highest and most important of hills in Bihar is the picturesque Parsvanath Hill perched 4,500 feet above sea level, in the district of Giridih. The mere altitude is not the point. The loftiness here is of another order.
According to Jain tradition, no less than twenty out of twenty four tirthankaras are believed to have attained salvation in the Sammetasikhara or the Parsvanath Hills. However the images in the temple of Parasvanath are dated not earlier than 1765.
The hill seems to have been an abode of Jains. Parasvanatha, the 23rd tirthankara was very popular among the tribal population of Chotanagpur. He is identified by the snake king Dharanendra, whose many hoods protect the meditating tirthankara.
Parsvanatha is said to have stressed on speaking the truth, possession of no property, no injury to be inflicted to living beings, and no acceptance of anything that is not freely given. He attained nirvana 250 years before the last tirthankara, Mahavira.