Think Jharkhand and, as a potential traveler, you will either draw a complete blank or your mind will bring up images of mines and factories. One of the most mineral rich regions of the world, the state has long powered industrial growth in India through its limitless reserves of coal, iron ore, copper, bauxite, mica and uranium. But, does it offer anything to the usual traveler? For one, the state is one of the greenest ones in India – its very name means ‘Land of Forests’ after all – and is teeming with jungles, wildlife, hills and waterfalls, enough to last a lifetime for a nature lover. The many tribes with distinct cultures that reside in and around these forests offer a lot to the cultural tourist. And its many temples, of both the religious and industrial kind, provide enough opportunities for sightseeing if you are looking for something extra. Let us begin our sojourn to this state with the top 5 places to visit here.
Photo by Ms Sarah Welch
The greatest tourist attraction in the capital of Jharkhand these days is MS Dhoni’s house, but you can also set the city as your base to visit the many breathtaking falls in this area. Panchghagh Falls (6 km), Dassam Falls (34 km), Jonha Falls (40 km), Hundru Falls (45 km) and Hirni Falls (70 km) are the most famous ones among these.
Ranchi is blessed with a very pleasant climate that makes moving around very comfortable. Make use of this to visit the many temples, chief among them being the Jagannath Temple, located on top of a hill beside a small pond and surrounded by lush greenery. Other major places of worship are the Deori Temple, the Sun Temple (with its quaint architecture) and the Angrabadi Temple Complex. About 1 km from the Ranchi railway station is the ashram of Paramahansa Yogananda, the Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Math, where the revered guru began his life’s work. The meditation gardens here provide a peaceful retreat.
Photo Courtesy Yogoda Satsang Society of India
Other notable locations that you shouldn’t miss if you are in the city are Tagore Hill, Rock Garden and Kanke Dam, Ranchi Lake, Birsa Zoological Park and the Muta Crocodile Breeding Centre.
If you have some spare time, do visit the temple complex at Rajrappa, about 70 km from Ranchi, renowned for the Chhinnamasta Temple and the waterfalls made by the Damodar River close to it.
The first planned industrial city of India, Jamshedpur is surrounded by the picturesque Dalma Hills. The most popular destination here is the Jubilee Park, a vast stretch of greenery in the middle of the city. The Tata Steel Zoological Park is located within the Park area. Jamshedpur is also home to popular lakes like Jubilee Lake, Dimna Lake and Hudco Lake. 10 km from the city is the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary known for its elephant population.
Photo by Ravishekharojha
This ‘city of temples’ is located close to the Bihar-Jharkhand border, and is most famous for the Baidyanath Dham, one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India. The temple complex consists of the main Baba Baidyanath Temple and 21 others, and sees thousands of devotees visiting it every day. These numbers swell up several times during the month of Shravan, corresponding to the July-August period. Other prominent temples in Deoghar include Naulakha Temple, Basukinath Temple, Baiju Temple, Lila Temple and Maa Shitala Temple, and the Nandi Temple on the Nandan Pahar on the edge of the town.
If you are overwhelmed by the religiosity, make a trip to the Trikuta Parvata, a hill about 10 km from Deoghar, which has a ropeway and provides ample opportunities for trekking. Wait, there’s a temple here too – a Hanuman temple on the top of the hill.
This center of coal mining in India offers much by way of tourism too. First off, head to the beautiful Maithon Dam, 48 km from Dhanbad, and one of the oldest hydel power projects in India. The reservoir of the dam, built on the Barakar River right on the border of Jharkhand and West Bengal, offers great boating, especially as the sun sets in the evening. Topchanchi Lake, Bhatinda Fall, Panchet Dam and Birsa Munda Park are some of the other places worth visiting in the city.
Photo by CaptVijay
You can also check out Jharia, a town about 10 km south of Dhanbad, which is known for its underground fire that has been raging in the coal deposits for many years.
Finally, head out to Parasnath, the highest peak in Jharkhand, located about 40 km from Dhanbad. Apart from its natural beauty, Parasnath, named after Sri Parshwanath Bhagwan, the 23rd Jain Tirthankar, is one of the holiest places in Jainism. The entire area is spread with temples, shrines, meditation halls and ashrams.
This ‘Queen of Chhotanagpur’ is located 156 km west of Ranchi, and is a popular hill station. Despite a very moderate height of about 1,000 m above sea level, the town’s mist-laden greenery and lovely climate make it an ideal place for a quick getaway for many residents of Jharkhand typically used to seeing factories all around them. The drive up to the town, as the temperature keeps falling down and more of the surrounding scenery comes into view, is really memorable. Many waterfalls in the area – Lodh (the highest in Jharkhand), Sadni, Upper Ghaghri and Lower Ghaghri – and the several viewing points are great options to visit while you are here.
Featured Photo (Maithon Dam) by TripodStories- AB