Ranchi, the capital of Zarkhand is blessed with bountiful nature. Gorgeous hills topped with thick jungles of teak growing wild everywhere. Although Ranchi is not exactly a hill station and summers can be hot, winters are very pleasant. We were lucky to be there just after the monsoons and the weather was cool and refreshing.
We traveled from Ranchi in a private cab to reach the Gautam Pahad just about 45 kilometers from Ranchi. One can also take a train to Jonha and the railway station is just about a couple of kilometers away. There is a gem hidden in these hills I was told and I wished very much to explore it. Jonha (literally means waterfall) is the gem. It’s a waterfall on the Ganga and Raru river. The legend says that Bhagavan Buddha had a bath in this waterfall and hence these waterfalls are called Gautam Dhara and the hills got the name Gautam Pahad.
To our pleasant surprise, there was a temple and an ashram built by the sons of Raja Baldevdas Birla. There was also a rest house. The place was very clean and neat and well maintained. I had expected just the raw natural beauty but found a man-made place. It was unusual to find shops selling refreshments and other stuff near the waterfalls. People from all branches of Hindu faith- like Buddhist, Jain visit the temple and the ashram. Gautam Dhara seems to double up as a religious center as well as a picnic spot.
To reach the waterfall we had to climb down some 700 odd steps and the whole path was concretized and safe. That walk was exhausting! Once we reached down, the scenery just blew my mind.
The waterfall is at the edge of the cliff about 40 meters tall and the mighty water just comes down in sheets. You can enjoy the cool water spraying a mist on you and watch the ethereal dancing rainbow just over the silent pool. We were spellbound and enjoyed the view for some time as we recovered from our long descent.
There were young kids climbing right on top of the waterfall and diving 40 meters into the pool below. We decided to climb up the small hill to reach the top of the waterfall. It was not a tough walk and treated us to even clearer view of the gorgeous waterfall. I did not have the guts to jump down the cliff, as the others did. But I did stand straight under the falling water. It was cold and forceful. I had to be very careful not to overdo it and not to slip on the mossy rocks under my feet. But it was great fun. Here was the raw natural force I was looking for.
The Jonha waterfalls make an ideal picnic spot to spend some fun times with your family. During the weekends, especially during and just after the monsoon, this place is packed with picnickers. Even in the summer, when the waterfall itself is hardly there, Jonha gives enough options to keep your family busy through a fun day. There are fairs held here every Tuesday and Thursday which pull big local crowds.
It is one of the few tourist spots in India which are developed well. Neat and clean premises with the public conveniences. It has enough eateries to help you go through the day and stalls to shop for knick-knacks. The pathways are built for safety. Finally, all this man-made beauty leads to the awesome pristine waterfall. It is forceful but safe enough to bathe under or dive into. That is why Jonha waterfalls is a real gem in the hills.