Chasing The Mystical Land [Day: 01]
Puruliya is an exciting travel adventure and well suited for family holidays. It was difficult for me to make a plan for a short time. It is enriched with heritage and mystical places made of natural beauty, folk culture connected by mythological stories and friendly people. One must visit Puruliya once in a lifetime and add in a bucket list for an adventure trip. Mythological stories add a lot of vigour needed for tourists visiting the place.
A walk through the forest of Sal, Tamal, Sonajhuri and Palas will rejuvenate you with its rare aroma. My first night was planned in the jungle at the foothill of Joychandi Pahar. The hooting of the owls breaks the silence of the night and the giant inactive volcanoes standing tall beside youth hostel is a thrilling experience. My first day began at Joychandi Pahar.
Throughout my childhood, I heard stories about this place. Those days, climbing to Joychandi was quite difficult without stairs. But now there are well maintained 490 stairs to reach the top of the hill making it much more convenient for travellers. It is famous for rock climbing and it was also the location of the famous film Hirak Raja Deshe directed by Satyajit Ray. The hill is now an inactive volcano surrounded with jungle and is named after a beautiful temple of Ma Joychandi located at the top.
It is about 3km from Raghunathpur and a small Joychandi station at the foothill is well connected. The best time to visit is during Charak Mela and Makarsakranti. It is easy to travel to attractive places but it’s difficult to find a perfect spot. I decided to stay a night at the Youth Hostel which is at the foothill of Joychandi. Online booking is available for Youth Hostel which is a place at a very cheaper cost to stay a night in the mids of the jungle that gave a thrilling and adventures experience.
Next day, I left early in the morning to reach at the top to catch the first glimpse of sunrise. I took a shortcut from Youth Hostel through the jungle to reach the base of stairs. The well-maintained stairs will guide you to the top of the hill. I took a break at one of the main locations of Hirak Raja Deshe, which is a disintegration of the watchtower.
After spending a few moments at the top with a beautiful view of a wide range of hills, plain field and ponds, I took blessings from Ma Joychandi. Now it was time to get down. As the temple was closed I left offerings for the temple at the tea stall at the foothills. The jolly man with his various types of stories was entertaining and uncovered some new facts to learn about the place.
Panchet (Panchakoot) Dam
With a splendid sunrise at the Joychandi Pahar, I moved to the next spot. Thanks to my new friends from Raghunathpur, who accompanied me to cover a few other spots. Our trip began from a massive Panchet Dam under Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC). It is the 4th oldest dam in India inaugurated in 1959. The reservoir shares the border of Jharkhand and West Bengal on the foothills of Panchet hill, one of the favourite tourist destination among the locals. A small beautiful park near the dam is a place to move around for a better view.
The nearest Kumardubi railway station is at the distance of 10kms from the dam. Due to lack of communication facility, it is comparatively less populated than Mython Dam. With heavy breakfast, we left from Raghunathpur for the Panchet dam. The countryside view of Panchet hill on the way will enrich you with calmness. You may also try the famous beverage of date palms in the village. On the way, we tried the seeds of Khesari, a type of pulses from the field.
The scenic beauty will force you to stop for a moment and gaze upon the simplicity and integrity of the locals. They always have time to help and query about you with a cheerful greeting. It took around one and a half hour to reach by bike from Raghunathpur including the recess that we enjoyed. The great reservoir can be enjoyed in months of monsoon as the water level is higher and can be seen in the full flow. The backdrop view of Panchet hill with a small amusement park makes a nice relaxing spot for the traveller.
Our next destination Garh Pachakoot. As the name suggests Garh which means fort in Sanskrit. The relics of the fort is frozen in time bearing the witness of the plundering of Marathas speaking for the ambushed dreams of Kashipur King’s defeat on the foothills of Panchet. It is said that the King fled away leaving back his 17 wives which later committed collective suicides.
The interesting fact is that it is made of all huge stone labs in area of around 500 square meters. The hollow gate of the palace is the only entry point from where the entire palace was watched. The distance view of the temple at the entrance of wrecks will make you forget all the tiredness in the journey and will greet you with new nirvana.
The roadways along vast fields with friendly people give you a feeling of comfort away from home. The amazing fact about Garh Panchakoot is the natural resources used by people to build and protect the palace. The most important part of the history of Bengal, unfortunately, documentation about this beautiful place is missing from our book.
The grand temple is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu’s avatar, Shri Chaitanya a protector of Vaishnuism. The temple is a masterpiece of stone blocks used in the architecture. It is said that the palace was once surrounded in a semi-circle by a defensive ditch and to enter the main gate the people have to cross by a boat.
Sunset view from Baranti Lake is mind refreshing. Spending a few hours in the relics of Grah Panchakoot and rehydrating ourself with fresh sugarcane juice, we moved for the lake. It is around 12kms from Garh Panchakoot with favourable roadways. It is located at Santuri and the nearest railway station is Muradi which is well connected by local trains. The landscape from Baranti Lake makes it more special. The view of two mountains merging at the horizon of the lake makes it a perfect sketch of countryside view.
The lake is well-bounded with stones and few places add immense beauty for the tourist however there are a number of cottages available for the peaceful stay. I was fortunate enough to get so many friends in Raghunathpur with their great company and visiting these many places in one day was an incredible experience. We moved down to the rocks of the lake near the water to grab our perfect sit for the perfect sunset.
My friends had carried some soothing musical instruments, the evening became more colourful with the beautiful view of the sunset on the horizon. Some of the other tourists were residing near cottages, they grabbed our attention with a few interesting stories and facts. It’s so truly said, “you get out from home as a solo traveller, sooner or later you are surrounded by friends”. It was time to get back to the town, as we had only breakfast and no meals in between, we decided to move back to the famous Dhabas of Raghunathpur on the way and cherished the day spent.