Jharkhand remains a highly unexplored state. While I was born in and lived for about 18 years here, I barely visited more than three cities in the state. However, it was only after I had visited all parts of mainland India that I got an opportunity to see the less accessible parts of Jharkhand. Most of these places do not have a major city or town near them; there are barely any dhabas on the highway; and there are no toilets anywhere. Backpacking circuits do not exist, so for a person like me ho travels by public transport, things are pretty difficult.
However, I found another traveller who had a car and was interesting in utilising his time in the home-state to explore it. Thus, we planned a trip to some interesting places in the land of bushes - Jharkhand.
McCluskieganj is an eighty year old township in Jharkhand. In the 1930s, the Anglo-Indians felt that they were not so close to the British, and needed to find a space of their own in the countryside. So, they built a township in the jungles of Jharkhand, some 80 kms from the colonial hill station Ranchi. Situated on a plateau at an altitude of 500 metres, McCluskieganj provided respite from the heat of Jharkhand.
The town had some interesting bungalows which were slowly vacated as the Anglo-Indians moved out of India after independence. Now McCluskieganj has some heritage properties running as guest house where you can stay.
To be truthful, you certainly don't know about the forts and palaces of the Chhotanagpur region. The old fort of Palamau is barely documented. All that is known is that it was built by the kings of Raksel dynasty (3rd to 12th century AD) who ruled over areas that are now parts of northern Chhattisgarh (Surguja, Udaipur) and northwestern Jharkhand (Daltonganj, Latehar).
New Palamau Fort was built by the tribals of Chero dynasty in the 1650s. Eventually the fort was annexed by the Mughal commanders and the Cheros fled into the forests. By 1772, the fort was seized by the British.
The highest waterfall of Jharkhand, Lodh Falls lies close to the Chhattisgarh border. With a tiered fall of 163 metres, the waterfall can be best enjoyed in the monsoon season (August-September).
The marketplace for bamboos, as it can be literally translated into, Netarhat is the most popular hill station in Jharkhand. At an elevation of 1000 metres, Netarhat rests on the top of a plateau or 'pats' as they are known in the Chhotanagpur belt. Technically, Netarhat isn't a hill but an undulated highland rising starkly from the flatter grounds around. Expect numerous streams, tall forests and serpentine roads shrouded in fog here.
The 'nag' in Chhotanagpur comes from the local belief that India was occupied by the nagvanshis who were mythical half human-half serpent creatures. While this cannot be testified, there are several clans of nagvanshis spread across India. Historians believe that the nagvanshis begun to rule in Jharkhand in the 5th century after the fall of Gupta empire. Navratangarh. established by the nagvanshi rulers, flourished in the 16th century. In terms of topography, it has a lot in common with Hampi.
If you are planning a home-coming to Jharkhand sometime soon, you can discuss visiting these places with your childhood friends.