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Kolkata to Jamshedpur: A travel tale

My last tryst with Jamshedpur was when I was at XLRI. It’s been more than a decade ever since. And once I left, I never had the opportunity to go back to where I had spent a good three years of my adult life and I always wondered how that city would have shaped up over the years. A few months ago, when I was visiting my family in Kolkata, a trip to Jamshedpur got planned, out of the blue. I realized that it would probably be my only chance to revisit the city that had contributed a lot to my career. So, off we went, my parents, siblings and I, for a long road trip. We managed to book a cab with an experienced driver from Kolkata to Jamshedpur.

The route

It is roughly 300 KM to Jamshedpur and was going to be a drive of about seven hours, give or take. But when you are traveling with family, you would explore a little or stop for food, which will add up to the travel time. We took the route via NH 16 & SH 5 through Kolkata ->Kharagpur ->Jhargram -> Jamshedpur

There are two more routes, but this was the best for us, for two reasons. One- this route passed along the Chhotanagpur Plateau and right through the Dalma forests, making it a scenic route. And second, my mother was keen on making a stop at Jhargram, one of her favorite getaways from Kolkata. Also, this route was shorter than the other two, although, it takes an hour or so more.

The drive

With spring in the air, it felt like the perfect time to be on the road, especially in this part of the state. Otherwise, summers are so harsh, that one shouldn’t even think of venturing out, not at least during the day time.

After a brief tea and breakfast break at Kharagpur, we continued on our journey through the highway, which would soon taper into country roads. The sun had just appeared on the horizon and was still working on clearing the morning mist. The narrow but well-maintained roads passed through endless fields, now, dry and barren after the winter, only leaving an ochre hue on either side of the grey asphalt paths.

Stopping at Jhargram

After almost 170 KM, we landed at Jhargram. The quaint little village was once the seat of the kings and noblemen of Bengal and holds quite a bit of history. My mother reminisced her younger days when they would come here for field trips or a quick family holiday. A lot had changed ever since. But the traces of its past remained. We detoured towards the town and made way for the Jhargram Palace. The massive stone structure was perhaps the most prominent one of the village. Made in Mughal architecture style, it stood like royalty amidst the humble surroundings.

While most villages of Bengal have now become semi-urban towns, Jhargram still had the charm of the countryside, something you don’t get to see anymore. The stunted bushes and tall Sal trees dominated the skyline in most parts with four significant rivers adorning its landscape. The forested areas are popular among birdwatchers and for medicinal plants. We drove towards the Subarnarekha River and walked along the wooden pier, watching fisherman busy at their morning chores. After a short walk around, some photos, and a few rounds of tea, we were back to our journey.

Dalma Hills & Forest

As soon as we crossed Jhargram, the elevation of the plateau region became prominent and I could feel the temperatures a few degrees below than the cities. From empty fields to the rolling hills and dense foliage of Dalma forest, it made for a scenic drive. I wondered, why I had never explored this road before.

The luxuriant plateau is home to the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary, popular for a huge elephant reserve. Seasonally, these elephants venture out of the forests and into the nearby villages, often wreaking havoc in search of food. One could even spot the sloth bear and Indian nightjar (only in the birding season) and deer. As we passed along the fringes of the forest and then cut through the interiors, the clusters of bamboo and Sal got thicker. This part of the drive, brought back so many memories of my days at XLRI when we would go for treks and explore the unsavory parts of the plateau.

Lost in my reminiscence and nostalgia, I didn’t realize when we reached the Steel City. A decade and many developments later, Jamshedpur had become a city of and for the millennial, with swanky buildings and landscaped parks and lakes. And I couldn’t wait to have a rendezvous with Jamshedpur 2.0!

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Image Credits: Team-BHP.

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