Head start to Purulia
Playing scrabbles at home on weekends are too mainstream , any day I’ll choose a road trip over it . A congenial company with same mental disorder and a car with GPS that’s all you need for an exhilarating mini-break. On such a chilling winter weekend we slotted the gear into first towards Purulia . Hilly but balmy Purulia is situated on the extreme west of West Bengal, India by the river Kangsabati . As it was almost 400 kms long drive and those traffic bottlenecks were inevitable , we started at the cockcrow .
Where is Purulia & Ayodhya Pahar?
A Looong Drive for not so long Distance
They say if you want to go long , go slow . It aptly applicable for any road trip . We maintained a slow but unremitting tempo at the beginning . The morning mist all over the windscreen was not allowing us to thrush the accelerator any harder . The Sun was about to report on duty , we took the first breakfast-break in Pakur . A clay cup of flaming tea with greasy Kachuris and luscious jalebis was enough to propel us for next few hours . Now it was my turn to climb behind the wheel . Though my dad thinks otherwise , I have always been considered myself a man with decent steering skills .
Those essential photoshoot sessions in the middle of nowhere , lunch break and heavy traffic took us about 9 hours to reach the destination .The Sagar Raj resort with an ample car parking area, offered us a cozy shelter .
Ayodhya Hill - Purulia
Ajodhya Hill is one of the most preferred places in West Bengal for amateur mountaineers to start their climbing career . But we were too sluggish for any shin ups . So we choose to drive . With an elevation of about 2,336 ft , Ajodhya is definitely not a tall boy . Tackle a few stiff uphills, and some hairpin bends, and you are on the summit . The top of Ajodhya is kind of flattish and contains numerous hotels and an entire village as well !
The extensive view from the top is simply spectacular . An absolute ataraxy and a Hanuman Temple at the crest known as Mayur Pahar will surely enhance the sanctitude of the place .
Now it was time to take a U turn . Destination was locked to Upper and Lower Dam which is officially known as Purulia Pumped Storage Hydel Power Project . These are two huge rockfill water reservoirs surrounded by hogback greenish ridge . A two minute paper work at the entry point and you are free to drive through the embankment , driving a car couldn’t be this exciting .
The lower dam, however, appeared to be smaller in size but more eyeful , seemed just like an embellished swimming pool !
Bamni Falls was our next place of interest . It was about 10 minutes off-road drive from the upper dam . One got to go to the lower floor to enjoy the sheer beauty of the cascading water . The stairs were stiff , rough and risky . The ceaseless splash of water enhances the tranquility of that place .
There is an interesting mythological saga about the source of this falls. In ‘Ramayana’ during the period of exile , Lord Rama, Laxmana and Sita stayed in Ajodhya hill for some time . It happened to be extreme summer and there was hardly any water . Rama threw an arrow and there appeared a well which is now known as “Sitakund” . Myth is it has never gone parched . Localites strongly believe that Sitakund is the actual source of this little falls . Well ,we were nobody to disrespect the native folklore .
Flash flood is a real threat here , one should be highly heedful of that situation . On the way back we paid a quick visit to Murguma Dam . This mountain wrapped gigantic lake is one of the best sunset points in Purulia . Daylight was dimming hurriedly and we had few more checkboxes to toggle .
Charida Village aka Mask Village in Purulia
Charida village is unofficially known as the ” Mask Village ” of Purulia . The next half n hour drive from Murguma dam took us to the village of supremely talented mask artists of Purulia . This quaint village in the land of red soil is located at the scenic foothills of Ayodhya . Charida has a tradition of Chhau mask making which was started about 150 years back during the rule of King Madan Mohan Singh Deo of Baghmundi. The vibrant, colourful and elaborate masks convey the vigorous intent of the art form that portrays animals or characters from the epics.
We were lucky enough to have a quick engrossing chat with some mask artists , and did collect some of their wonderful artworks .
Purulia Pakhi Pahar
Usually sundown seems way faster in drumlins. Soon we found ourselves driving in twilight . Nevertheless we saved the coolest for the last . Paakhipahar it was ! It was an entire hillock completely embossed with numerous huge bird graffitis . It was bigger than the word big can explain . For the past three decades, Chitta Dey , a veteran artist has been sculpting images of birds on parts of Ayodhya Hills giving it the name Pakhi Pahar ( “Bird hill” ) and transforming it into one giant bas-relief.
It has now become a hotspot for trippers who positively visit from across Bengal and the neighbouring states every year, only to be left speechless by the single-minded diligence and passion of an artist . We all had a strong intend to spend some more time there , but it was time to call it a day .
Why Roadtrip ?
People often ask what’s in a road trip ? Why not entrain or fly ? The standard answer is Adrenaline. Just hop in your car, drive and let the road be your guide . Road trips are super spontaneous , road trips are pure freedom . Driving alone in a strange town is one of the most surreal sensations in the world. Trust me on this , the feel of the open road is so seductive, serendipitous and absolutely liberating. But for me ? I drive far enough, to meet myself .
Believe Me or not:
1) In spring only the forest is garnished with flame AKA Palash blossom .
2) Want some outdoor activity ? Khairabera Eco Adventure Club is waiting for you .
3) Want to meditate ? Visit adjacent Ramakrishna Temple .
4) Only few high end resorts in Purulia , rest are budget inns .
5) Purulia in summer can be suicidal .
6) Ajodhya is perfect to debut your hill driving .
7) Don’t miss Chhau Dance , it’s once in a life time experience .
8) Carry proper documents along , rules are strict .
9) Do wear seat belt , drive safe .
9) For more information: http://www.purulia.gov.in/