Purulia in the monsoons is mesmerizing. West Bengal’s Purulia District is located at the lower part of Chotanagpur Plateau, extended part of Eastern Ghats. It hosts a diverse landscape which makes the place magical. There are rocky hills, pebbly grounds and at the same time lush forests. In my recent monsoon visit to Purulia, I was besotted by the natural beauty and simplicity of the place.
Drive to Purulia
We drove for around 7 and a half hours (330 km) from Central Kolkata, via NH19. Starting at 6 am was the best decision. We had a heavy breakfast at Azad Hind Dhaba, Gurap, at around 8.15 am and continued for Kushal Palli Resorts, Ajodhya Hills, Purulia. Reaching at around 2 pm, we had a sumptuous lunch. After lunch, we left for our first sight seeing. Purulia has numerous places for sightseeing and we had planned to see the Ajodhya Circuit as we stayed at Ajodhya Hilltop.
Ajodhya Circuit, Purulia
Ajodhya Hills (2336 feet above sea level) is a range of hills with Chamtaburu as the highest peak. Bagmundi is the most pupolated town area. Our resort, Kushal Palli, was 15.6 km from Bagmundi and 41.4 km from Purulia town. Purulia town, the district town, is important and has a railway station, ‘Purulia Junction’. We will now see the things to see in Purulia’s Ajodhya Circuit.
Ancient Temples of Deulghata, Purulia
The Archaeological Survey of India has taken over Deulghata with historical ruins of 15 ancient temples. Among the ruins three tall temples are still surviving, with the tallest being 60 feet high. The brick work, stucco, scroll-work and intricate carvings make the place appealing. The architecture of these temples of 9th-10th century Bengal, built in the Pala-Sena era is called ‘Deul’. These are hidden gems of Purulia, set on the bank of Kangshabati River. Idols of Shiva, Durga, Ganesha and more are still present. This was also an important place for Jainism too.
Deulghata was ticked first from the list of things to see in Purulia. We reached our resort and left for Deulghata after lunch. It was a drive of about 1 hour 15 minutes. Deulghata is 35 km from Purulia Junction. We had to drive till a point and then walk for sometime before we found these treasures.
Marble Dam (Durga Bera)
It is a 40 feet deep artificially made water body, surrounded by igneous rocks. The blue waters look alluring. Sitting on a rock I realized that I was sitting on some of world’s oldest rock formations. This very fact was exciting. Marble Dam or Durga Bera in Purulia is a picturesque place and a must be among the top things to see in Purulia.
Note: If you are using google map to navigate, do not use the name Marble Dam as destination, it will lead you to a different place. For good, it led us to the sunrise point of Ajodhya Hills at Usuldungri. The view point has a watch tower and the 360 degree panoramic view is awesome.
Dams of Ajodhya Hills, Purulia: Upper Dam - Lower Dam, Murguma Dam and Khairabera
Upper Dam – Lower Dam are basically two associated dams in Purulia’s Ajodhya Hills. The area surrounded by the green Hills and the vast lake of the dam make it a picturesque place. The drive through the road of the dam is an amazing one. It is one of the top things to see in Purulia.
Murguma Dam is another dam built on Murguma Lake. It is a a scenic place, ideal for watching sunset.
Khairabera Dam is another beautiful dam and lake with Eco Adventure Resort (cottages/tents).
Purulia has a lot of beautiful dams and lakes.
Waterfalls of Ajodhya Hills, Purulia: Bamni Falls and Turga Falls
Bamni Falls is a popular waterfall in Purulia. After climbing down more than 300 steps, you can reach the waterfall. The waterfall is serene and the sound of the gurgling water is sweet. You can only enjoy it if you climb down and definitely monsoon is the best time to see it in its fullest.
Turga falls is a much smaller waterfalls. For having a full view of it, again there’s some climbing down.
In the monsoon it is easy to find little streams and waterfalls here and there in the hills of Purulia. We too found a nameless beauty and enjoyed to our fullest.
Mayur Pahar and Pakhi Pahar
Mayur Pahar is a hill top offering awesome panoramic view. We had already visited Usuldungri sunrise view point in the morning, so we couldn’t climb the Mayur Pahar in the scorching heat of mid day. I am sure the bird’s eye view of lush green forested Ajodhya hills would look mesmerizing as it did from Usuldungri.
Pakhi Pahar in Purulia is one of the most unique things to see in Purulia. Artist and sculptor, Chitta Dey, believes that hills and rocks are not lifeless. With this thought in mind, he has given a hill a look which is beyond imagination. The hill is etched with images of birds carved out on the rock for the last three decades. We were in awe of such amazing art and the thought behind it.
Charida or Mukhosh Gram, the Mask Village of Purulia
Around 150 families (Sutradhar Community) in Charida, 5 km from Bagmundi, make up this Mukhosh (Mask) Gram (Village) in Purulia. Dozens of outlets on both sides of the road stretch for some time. Each of these shops have hundreds of masks. The artists are seen sitting and making masks in the store itself. We saw masks of animals, tribals, Hindu gods and goddesses and the Chhau masks, the speciality of Purulia. It is a great place to buy these art work as souvenirs for home decor or for gifting. These masks have the honourable Geographical Indications (GI) Tag.
We started our journey on Friday and went to Deulghata after lunch on Friday itself. The next morning, i.e., on Saturday morning, we went out for all the other sight seeing spots. Out of the major things to see in Purulia, there is one area which we visited on Sunday, before driving back home. The spot is Garh Panchkot, on Panchet Hills (Not Ajodhya Circuit). Basically we required just 3 days for such a wonderful trip.
Garh Panchkot, Purulia
On the Panchet Hills stand the ruins of a fort (Garh) and a beautiful temple of Bengal terracotta work. The hills around was so green. We loved the drive through the canopy of trees on both sides of the road winding up the hillock. We didn’t stay at Garh Panchkot, so for a detailed reference, check out the YouTube video below
Chhau Dance of Purulia
Purulia and Chhau Dance are inseparable; in fact, Purulia’s Chhau Dance is UNESCO’s World Heritage List of Dances. We were fortunate to witness this ancient dance form at our resort itself. The performance filled the evening with a different rhythm. The Chhau dancers wore the humongous earthy theatrical masks and danced with even martial art forms. They performed the act of ‘Mahisashuramardini’ which you can check out below. In general they enact and dance to the tunes of puranas, Ramayana and Mahabharata. They are in general all men troupe. Chhau has been instilled in every heart by Anurag Basu’s Hindi movie, ‘Barfi’.
Favourites from Purulia
We had a good time over just a long weekend. The drive was great as the condition of roads is excellent in most stretches. The resort Kushal Palli’s location is beautiful. The property is beautiful too. There was no dearth of natural beauty and urban luxury. We celebrated our friends’ daughter’s birthday and enjoyed the food. I loved the Chhau Dance. The art forms of Purulia are amazing and unique. I am carrying with me the experiences of finding unnamed springs and meadows from Purulia forever. I had visited Purulia earlier in Spring which is the season of Palash, the flames of the forest. Spring and monsoon are the best seasons to hit the road for Purulia.