Home-coming of a Car traversing through the ancient ruins of the Hindi Heartland

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Going to Neverland
Dipadih

Target for the day was Neterhat which was 170 kms in distance from Ambikapur. Even though the distance was not much to cover and only one point to visit in between, we still started early by 6.00 am to comfortably reach Neterhat and spend some quality time at Neterhat with my cousin sister and jija. After taking 30 minutes break for breakfast at a nondescript road side eatery, we reached Dipadih, Sarguja district by 8.30 am. Dipadih was about 75 kms from Ambikapur with mostly good roads. Then at Dipadih, we had to take the left cut and take the interior roads for about 3 kms to reach the temple complex. The interior roads were in good condition.

In the local dialect, 'Dipadih' means 'holy land' and recent excavations here have unearthed six major and 74 minor temples in the area. The temples, mostly dedicated to Shiva, have been discovered at the archaeological sites of Samat Sarna, Urav mound (Uravtola), Rani Pokhra and the Chamunda Temple. They are dated between the 6th and the 10th centuries. We covered the ruins of Samat Sarna. The main Shiva Temple ruins must have been a massive structure once but now only the foundations remains. After spending about 45 minutes at the site, we left for Netarhat.

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Going to Neverland
Netarhat

Netarhat was around 100 kms from Dipadih. At the most 2 hours away given the good road conditions we had got so far. For first 30 kms till Kusmi, we found better roads and had a smooth sailing. Thereafter, we were treading on village roads amidst dense forest and farms. Though the road condition deteriorated greatly, it was still better till the time we were within the borders of Chhattisgarh. Once we crossed over to Jharkand side, road conditions worsened and it was extremely painful to negotiate the katcha and broken roads. About 10-15 kms were absolutely horrible. We had few underbelly hits. Thankfully i10 had no damage. Worse, it was a naxal inhabited area, not exactly a great place to get stuck. Somehow we managed to join the highway at Mahuandar which was about 45 kms from Neterhat. It was a very smooth 2 lane roads here onwards. After covering 30 odd kms in no time, we took the link road to Netarhat. Finally we were ascending on a hilly road. The twisties brought broad smiles on our face. Another 30 minutes and we were at the Netarhat Residential School, right on top of the hill.

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Netarhat is a town in Latehar district in Jharkhand. It is also referred to as the “Queen of Chotanagpur plateau” and is covered with thick forest all around. It is located 156 kms from Ranchi. The highest point here is about 3,696 feet or 1,127 meters.

Apart from the sun-set point, Netarhat Residential School set up in 1954 is the major attraction of Netarhat. It was a dream of the first Chief Minister of Bihar. The school has a record of producing toppers of the Bihar School Examination Board year after year. The whole atmosphere is based on Gurukul. All the students live in hostels which are called Ashrams. Every Ashram is headed by an Ashramadhyaksha or housemaster who is a teacher. All the teachers are addressed as Shriman ji. The housemasters and their wives, who are called Mataji (Mother), live in the Ashrams and have their meals with the boarders. Meals are prepared under the supervision of Mataji. Seniors are addressed with ji suffixed to their names. The school has its own fruit orchard where pear, plum, guava, fig, and peach are grown. The flower garden has over 100 specious of common and exotic flowers.

My cousin sister and brother in law have been living there since last 29 years. My brother in law is the Head of Department of English subject at Netarhat Residential School. However, I never had any opportunity to visit him. This trip gave us the opportunity to visit him and we got a window of day and half, good enough time to spend at Netarhat.

After a sumptuous lunch, we rested for a while. Thereafter we went for a stroll around the school’s residential complex. In the evening we went to the famous Magnolia sun-set point which was around 3-4 kms away from the School. By the time we reached Magnolia point, it was already crowded. Only then I came to know that this place is favorite among the Bengalis who flock here in good numbers. Anyways, we witnessed a nice sun-set and had a cup of tea thereafter. We came back to the School and took a guided tour from the English Headmaster sahib. Came back to home and sumptuous dinner was served. After dinner, a gup-shup session followed before we crashed on to our comfortable beds.

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Woke up leisurely for the first time after few days of early starts. Took a morning walk and intake of fresh air from the forest charged us completely for the day. After a hearty breakfast, we accompanied Jija ji to the school to witness the finals of Antakshri competition. It is an old tradition of the school to conduct Antakshri competition where teams of school-houses recite Hindi poems. Luckily we were present for the finals and we witnessed some great recitation by young boys. We again visited the school premises after the competition came to an end. We specially visited the library, from whose treasure, I read many books brought by one of my cousin brother, who was a student here earlier. “Sanskriti Ke Chaar Adhyay” by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar ji being my all-time favorite book, that I read belonged to this library only.

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Came back to home for a heavy lunch and some much needed rest. We utilized the rest time by plucking mouth-watering litchis from the backyard orchard. After evening tea, we explored the market on foot and indulged into some shopping for my two year old niece who was waiting for us at Patna. Again after a session of gup-shup we called it a day.

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It was once again an early start. We had to cover more than 350 kms today to reach Patna. I had to take the evening flight to Delhi for my return. We took Netarhat – Lohardaga – Jabra – Chatra – Gaya route to Patna. Most of the roads except few kms near the Jharkhand-Bihar border was in good condition. Thereafter, only the traffic mess at Gaya bothered us for half an hour. Another hiccup was a traffic jam at one of the railway crossing. After that it was smooth sailing all the way to Patna. We reached there by 3.30 pm. After resting for a while, my brother dropped me at Patna Airport. In another two hours, I was back to the grind called Delhi.

Coming up - Chapter 3: Patna to Delhi...
 

mousourik

Who Am I
Have been to Pali once; that temple is really nice.

Netarhat - one of those places in the Chhotonagpur plateau which were once popular among the Bengali community. Is it safe for a family tour now?
 

adsatinder

explorer
Great Unkown Places !
Great Architectures !
Great Traditions !
Great History !
Great Views !
Great Stays !
Great Pics !
 
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Alpha

Going to Neverland
Have been to Pali once; that temple is really nice.

Netarhat - one of those places in the Chhotonagpur plateau which were once popular among the Bengali community. Is it safe for a family tour now?
Netarhat is still popular amongst Bengalis and now absolutely safe for family visit.
 
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