PAINTED HOUSES OF HAZARIBAGH – The tribal peoples of this thickly forested region in northern Jharkhand know a thing or two about decor. The elaborately painted houses of Hazaribagh and Purulia are an ancient, matriarchal tradition—and they are absolutely stunning. Painted on inner walls during the marriage season, the Khovar drawings are for fertility, while the Sohrai type, on outer walls, celebrates cattle and the harvest. The techniques and motifs are fascinating. The women apply an undercoat of black, covered over with white or ‘dhudhiya mitti’. Then the silica is scraped off with brooms, combs and even fingernails to reveal marvellous graffito depictions. Hazaribagh is 96km/2hrs from Ranchi by road.
NETARHAT – Sir Edward Gait, colonial governor of Bihar and Orissa, found the balmy climes and enchanting verdure of this pretty little hill town on the Chhottanagpur Plateau just the perfect retreat from the punishing Indian summer. His ‘court’ followed his entourage like lemmings. Today it is Jharkhand’s most popular hill station with its beautiful walks and glorious sunset and sunrises. Magnolia Point is linked to the ill-fated liaison of a governor’s daughter and a tribal boy. For more sunset views head for Koel View Point or the Palmau Dak Bungalow. The Netarhat Public School set up by Charles Napier is worth a visit. The nearest railway station is Ranchi, which is 154 kms away.
SARANDA – Once a private game preserve of the Singh Deo royals of Saraikela, the 820 sq km Saranda sanctuary located in West Singhbhum district, offers visitors rewarding wilderness experiences amidst its rich sal forests and botanical wealth. Saranda, which literally means seven hundred hills, falls along the elephant corridor from the nearby forests of Odisha’s Keonjhar district and is still the ancient stamping grounds of the Asiatic elephant, bison and leopard. Sightings have been reported of the elusive tiger. Fed by the Karo and Koina rivers, this pristine sanctuary is a botanist’s delight with an abundance of plant life. The region is also home to the Ho tribesmen. The nearest airports are at Jamshedpur and Ranchi.