Written By Bhagyashree Mahato.
Purulia is situated in the Eastern part of India and is one of the twenty-three districts of West Bengal. The majestic lush green landscapes, rocky hills and the panoramic beauty makes it one of the interesting tourist destinations.
The best time to visit the place is the Spring season which is the blooming period of the vibrant colour of Butea monosperma or Palash flowers (in Bengali) or during the Winter season.
One can visit the place during monsoon season too but with precautions due to the muddy, slippery roads and avoid visiting the water bodies as chances of occurring floods are higher.
List of 5 places to visit in Satyajit Ray’s Gupi Baghar Deshe
1. Pakhi Pahar
Pakhi Pahar is the outcome of the rock sculpture project of the artist Chitta Dey. The unusual situation encountered by the Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata for being unable to get through the doors of the art gallery was a metal sheet sculpture of a bird with a twenty-two feet wingspan!
The solution that was proposed for mitigating the availability of the place the Government of West Bengal offered Chitta Dey an 800 ft- hill previously known as Murra Buru Hill in Baghmundi (Purulia District).
The project, in the beginning, seemed to be easier and a total number of one hundred birds were decided to be sculptured on the surface of the hill, however, the increasing complexities during the work resulted in the sculpting of sixty-five birds.
It can also be said that the illustration of art on paper was transformed into reality with the active collaboration of the individuals, artists, government, and the local people residing within the region for its success. Visiting the place during your trip will be worth it for viewing the folks of birds beautifully sculpted and the lush greenery surrounding the place.
Reasons for visiting this place:
- To visit the beautiful bird rock paintings and is also a great spot for watching different species of birds and animals residing in the natural habitat.
- The scenic beauty of the Pardi Dam can also be experienced during this trip which is not far away from Charida.
2. Radha-Govinda Temple, Cheliama
Cheliama is the centre of a glorious history marked by numerous architectural temples dating back to the 17th century. The artifacts, terracotta figurines and exclusive carvings found in these ancient temples speak of the bygone eras and its prominence.
Among all the temples, the most famous Radha-Govinda temple attracts tourists from all around the country throughout the year. The region has also influenced historians and archaeologists and is often considered to be their paradise.
3. Sri Hathi Kheda Mandir
The mysterious Sri Hathi Kheda Mandir locally known as “Bhula Lawjora ” is situated in the dense forest area of Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary in the East Singhbhum district in Jharkhand Bengal border about 46.2 km from Purulia.
According to folklore, the temple was constructed for preventing the frequent elephant attacks in the surrounding areas by worshipping clay idols of elephants. It is also believed that if you wish for something with a pure heart your wish gets granted.
Previously, no women were allowed to enter the temple or worship God, while men of all ages were allowed to visit. Although women nowadays are allowed to enter and worship still has a separate worshipping as compared to the males, where women are still restricted to enter.
Apart from this, animal slaughtering is still practised by the devotees after their wishes get fulfilled according to their beliefs. Apart from this, there is a unique practice that still continues is that only the male members are allowed to eat the edible offerings or “prasad” made during worship.
Reasons for visiting this place:
- To experience the enchanted view of the dense forests and hills surrounding the area.
- Taking bath in one of the oldest bathing areas constructed about a hundred years ago.
- Easy to travel while travelling in Purulia and staying in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, or Ranchi.
4. Ayodhya Hill and Forest Reserve Area
The effort made to travel this uphill destination can be troublesome due to the condition of the roads but once you reach you will not be able to complain anymore! On one side the dense green forests will remind you of one of the phases of Ramayana from Hindu mythology where the couple Ram and his wife spent their exile in the Ayodhya hills.
Sita-Kund under the Ayodhya Gram Panchayat is a beautiful place which is believed to be pierced by Ram himself with the use of an arrow through the soil crust while searching for water for his wife. The water in that small pond never gets dried up and is considered to be one of the holy places.
People from different places, especially the local tribal people visit the place during the full moon day of Baisakh by walking to join the hunt or “Sikar”, still considered to be a holy ritual.
Major attractions for visiting this place is the construction of the proposed pumped storage projects in early history which has successfully been constructed after proper research and obtaining of the environmental assessment report.
Hence, the Purulia Pumped Storage Project Upper and Lower Dam are some of the attractions where you can see the implementation of the concept of how the river water stored in a reservoir is being used for the generation of power.
Reasons for visiting this place:
- One of the places to learn about basic rock climbing for the newbies.
- The view of the extended part of the Eastern Ghats and the Easternmost part of the Chota Nagpur Plateau.
- Able to visit Baghmundi, one of the nearest villages and exploring the diversified mask making from eco-friendly. materials which they use during their Chou Dance.
5. Joy Chandi Pahar
Joy Chandi Pahar first came into the limelight with the release of Satyajit Ray’s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, a 1969 Indian fantasy adventure comedy film and fantasy musical film.
Followed by, the next sequels of the film Hirak Rajar Deshe (English Title: Kingdom of Diamonds, 1980) was also shot in the Purulia district or in the lowest step of the Chota Nagpur Plateau.
The place unleashes its mystic beauty and the scenic beauty that one will endure after climbing 500 stairs uphill in the dormant volcano. There are two temples situated uphill which will be visible after completing your journey uphill which are Chandi Mata Temple (Indian Goddess) and Hanuman Ji temple (Indian God).
The place unveils several mysteries to the archaeologists about the abandoned tower and small lakes that were used by the dacoits in the older days according to folklore. Apart from this, the ruin of an old Semaphore tower will also be visible in a pre-communication system.
Reasons for visiting this place:
- Experiencing a day out in the dormant volcano in the lowest step of the Chota Nagpur Plateau and taking part in the adventurous rock-climbing.
- If you are lucky enough while travelling then visiting the place from the end of the year until the first and the second day of the new year then you can attend the JoyChandi Pahar Parjatan Utsav.
Easy to travel using the roads or railways and enduring the places where Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne and Hirak Rajar Deshe was shot in the high altitude.
6. Marble Lake
The Marble Lake is one of the picturesque destinations surrounded by ethereal forests upon the hillock burs and surrounded by a marble canyon. This lake is also known as the Patal dam or the Blue dam by the locals due to its blue waters in the lake.
The formation of this clear water lake is known to have been formed naturally from when stones were quarried during mining. This is one of the famous places for stops Muruguma and Gram- Bangla in the rearview.
Reasons for visiting this place:
- One of the interesting places with a slice of Mediterranean charm in our own Bengal.
- Easy to travel and is nearby Ayodhya hills.
7. Baranti Reservoir or Muradi Lake
The artificial lake created by the Baranti reservoir, Muradi Lake is placed between two lush green towering mountains and is one of the most tranquil places you can find in Purulia. It is a great place to spend a quiet afternoon with your family or close ones in solace.
Most people like to have a picnic around this picturesque area with the aim to rejuvenate their hectic life. It takes 3 hours to reach Baranti Reservoir as it is located at a distance of 63 km from the main location in Purulia.
There are many activities that you can do here amidst the serene nature. You can go camping, walk around the lush greenery or even just sit back and soak in nature.
Located on the banks of river Kangsabati, Doldanga is popular for its pristine peaceful atmosphere. Doldanga is a small tribal village with only 9-10 tribal houses situated amidst the Sonajhuri forest opposite the Mukutmanipur Dam.
The name of the tribe residing here is MudiKora Tribe consisting of only 40 people whose main source of living is farming and fishing. The Sonajhuri forest surrounding the small hamlet, the serene view of the Kangsabati lake and the simple tribal village is a must experience and a very rejuvenating experience to have.
Other activities to do in Doldanga are jungle walks at midnight, taking boat rides while listening to Baul music, watching tribal dance and interacting with local people and listening to their life stories over a campfire.
Deulghata is a place near Boram in Arsha PS and is home to 15 beautiful architectural carvings with graceful stucco decoration. There are currently only ruins at the site with the entrances of the temples entangled in branches.
The temples and the idols represent the features of SEN & PAL empires. Deulghata is a very important place for tourists, historians and archaeologists in Purulia.
10. Mukutmanipur Dam
Mukutmanipur Dam was built in the 1950s at the confluence of Kangsabati and Kumari rivers. It is Asia’s largest earthen dam and India’s second largest dam. It is around 11 kilometres long. The place is surrounded by hills coming off as a crown or “Mukut” and hence the name “Mukutmanipur” came into existence.
Within a drive for 3 hours from Kolkata one can reach Mukutmanipur comfortably. Mukutmanipur dam is also known as the crowning glory of Bankura. The lake created due to the dam is the best site to see here. The lake is around 86 square kilometres and is home to many islands.
Bonpukuria Deer park is located at one of these islands which can be reached via a 30 min boat ride. The park is a lovely place for bird watching and spending a serene afternoon. After a boat ride one can enjoy a peaceful walk around the lake viewing the sunset and the view of colorful boats.
The cultural and traditional practices of the local people will also be charming due to their unique practices continued from the early ages.
Apart from the colourful Tusu festival, cockfights and Santal dance, Natua dance and Chou dace have gained popularity among individuals of all age groups.
1. Natua Nach (Dance)
Natua Nach is one of the ancient folk dance forms believed to have been dated six hundred to seven hundred years old in the districts of Purulia. This dance is based on the lines of a dance drama.
According to the myths, it is believed that the Natua dance was first evident when Raja Daksha held a grand Yagna and was interrupted by Lord Shiva’s tandava.
Followed by this Goddess Durga insisted to marry however he asked her to take one hundred and incarnations in order to marry her. Hariram Kalindi is one of the emerging Natua dance artists from Paradda, few kilometres from Urma railway station.
2. Chhau Dance
The semi-classical Indian dance with combinations of folk traditions, tribal and martial art is practised widely in many parts of Purulia. It is now in the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity as inscribed in UNESCO.
Breaking the myths, the women residing in Purulia are not far behind in the competition for exploring the traditional arts and culture and representing their talents.
Previously the Chau dance was performed by the men only, however the current scenario is different where the women have come forward for learning the traditional dance practice and performing enthusiastically.
Mousumi Choudhury is one of the eminent women Chau Dancer who started learning the art of Chau dance from an early age with guidance from her father Jagannath Choudhury, who is also an accomplished Chau exponent. She performs locally and internationally along with inspiring others for learn the art of Chau dance.
3. Pata Naach and Jhumur Songs
The locals of Purulia perform this form of dance during the end of monsoon also known as “Bhadro mash” according to the Bengali calendar. This dance is performed in one line as the name Pata is derived from the word “Pankti” which means line.
The village women dance accompanied by Bhaduria Jhumur songs while entwining their arms around each other in one line. The men play the musical instruments like flute, dhamsa and madal.
Jhumur songs have immense literary and lyrical significance as they have the use of ancient language. There are diffrent kinds of Jhumur songs for differents months of the year. During “Bhadro Maash”, Bhaduria songa are sung and during “Chaitro maash”, Chaitali is sung. Jhumur songs are popularly sung amongst the tribes of Santhal, Munda, Oraon, Kharia and Birharh tribes.
Travelling to Purulia is feasible and affordable with the great network of roadways and rail infrastructures connecting the major cities of West Bengal.
So, if you stay in India or want to visit then, you can keep these destinations in mind. Apart from the above-mentioned places, there are several other places to visit which you will encounter during your visit. Also don’t forget to share your experiences if you have already visited.
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