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Old 22nd November 2012, 21:01   #1
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Default Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

I recently did a trip.

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Travelled long. Really long. By my standards (but nothing compared to the doyens of travel on this site). Around 3000 kms in total. Spread over 15 days.

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In my five and half years old Wagon R (2007) with 65,753 kms on Odo.

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Started from Delhi NCR (Ghaziabad).

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Visited Dumka, the second capital of Jharkhand, a tribal land and my paternal home. (Photo from earlier trip).

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Spent few days at Deoghar, Jharkhand’s spiritual capital, home to the 12th of the Dwadash Jyotirlingas and my sasural (in-laws place). (Photo from earlier trip).

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And returned with a brief stop over at my school, after 24 years of passing out, near Tilaiya Dam.

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Witnessed some stunning rural vistas.

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Bargained for vegetables at rural haat (weekly market).

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Relished roadside ‘fast food’ in dried leaves dona (conical bowls).

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Waited for the only path that would lead us out to the main road to clear while last rites of a Hanuman (Langur), electrocuted as it tried to jump from a building, was being performed.

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Saw women selling toddy.

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And men drinking it from funnels made out of leaves.

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Here even the lowest denominations are still in circulation and the value of a rupee amazes you.

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It is a pristine land inhabited by simple people leading ‘hardly any life.’
Electricity is erratic. ‘Cattle class’ is the mode of transportation. There is not much to do. Healthcare is pathetic. Jobs are scarce.

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PS: A detailed travelogue will follow soon.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 22:13   #2
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Default Re: Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

Dont do a detailed one.
Just do this. It felt like I was reading a comic book!
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Old 23rd November 2012, 09:12   #3
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Default Re: Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

That is crazy if somebody does not want to read the details. I am rating this five stars, in anticipation of the detailed travelogue. Do not disappoint please.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 11:17   #4
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Default Re: Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

Originally Posted by mayankk View Post
Dont do a detailed one.
Just do this. It felt like I was reading a comic book!
Originally Posted by BurningHeart View Post
That is crazy if somebody does not want to read the details. I am rating this five stars, in anticipation of the detailed travelogue. Do not disappoint please.
Thank you all. I will try to do a comprehensive one keeping the above orientation in mind. The only problem, at some places, will be photos. My younger daughter, who is two and half, is extremely camera friendly - she doesn't like to be photographed instead wants the camera for herself. Once again thank you all.

Last edited by GTO : 23rd November 2012 at 16:43. Reason: Quoted post deleted
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Old 23rd November 2012, 12:11   #5
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Default Re: Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

Me too!! I also would root for a detailed travelogue - never get enough of the Jharkhand and Orissa hinterland. Spent quite a few years roaming there, though on official duty. Typical villages, mud walled houses with thatched roofs - the morning mist and and red dust give the villages a golden glow. Happy to see two travelogues running parallel on Jharkhand!!
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Old 23rd November 2012, 14:32   #6
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Default Re: Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

A Craking Start .
I hail form Jharkhand(Ranchi) and have been to deoghar once (dad was posted there, family at Ranchi and i was studying in Blore).

You are so true when u say life has been the simplest(read tough) in this part of our country. Richest by natural resources and poorest by Per capita income. Our politicos have left it in miserable state and have left nothing for the mango people to vouch for.

The temple pic is so mermerizing to say the least.

Kepe it coming.

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Old 23rd November 2012, 17:32   #7
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Default Re: Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

Temptations are build. Eagerly waiting for your travelogue. I too belongs to that region and even 2 years before visited baba dham for my daugther's mundan, what should I say it's an amazing place. Congratulations on completing this arduous journey - I can imagine how difficult for a person to drive on the narrow roads of that region but its full of untouched natural beauty.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 19:22   #8
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Default Re: Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

This is a refreshingly different TL indeed, the places and sights and nuances.

A great educational tour on Geography of our vast land that many of us are not particularly aware of.

Let the narration begin and especially the photos that speak so much about everything.
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Old 24th November 2012, 11:26   #9
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Default Re: Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

Your responses have led me to replan the TL. It is taking some time. I hope to upload the next batch latest by this evening. This part will deal with much of the road journey from Delhi to Dumka and will be interspersed with photos of the drive and sights in between. Let's hope that I don't disappoint you. Once again thank you.
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Old 24th November 2012, 16:41   #10
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Default Re: Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

Let me begin this travelogue by thanking SSTraveller and others on Team BHP. Their posts not only filled me with the necessary details but also contributed a wee bit in expecting the unexpected. Three cheers for them.

Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar had been a journey we had long postponed. First, because we though that our second daughter was too young to travel. Second, last year June when we thought we could I fell to ‘cigarette poisoning.’ Let me explain. I have quit smoking long time ago. But once a while, every 2, 3 or 4 months an overpowering desire takes upon me to experience what was in that smoke that had hooked me for so long. Needless to say mere 2-3 drags leaves me with bad taste. Week-10 days before our departure something similar happened and along with foul palate it left me puking my car. For more than an hour I retched and vomited and when I reached home my condition alarmed my wife. It shattered her confidence in me to drive our family 1400 kms on one side. The trip was cancelled.

This year June too we had made plans for the drive. Had even posted a query on TBHP, acting upon which got car’s AC, which was working fine, serviced. But an escalation in the price of a house we had booked strained our finances. When it conditions eased our daughter’s summer vacation was drawing to close and instead we went to Lansdowne.

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During this Puja (Dussehra in Delhi) too we wanted to go but work at office did not even leave us with the pleasure of planning the trip. I was missing a traditional Puja, something that we do only under rarest circumstances.

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And when the opportunity came it arrived in the guise of a tragedy. Yes, we were leaving but our hearts were heavy.

Having been planning the drive since close to two years it didn’t take us much time to prepare ourselves. It was the medicine list, the list of eatables and things we that should keep within our easy reach inside the car especially itsy bitsy that should keep our daughters 9 and 2˝ fed and engaged took much of our time.

Our ride (Wagon R VXI; 2007; ~66,000) was in excellent shape. It was serviced recently and was driving well. The Michelin XM1+, the sidewall of which was cut while returning from Lansdowne and was running on tube was replaced with XM2.

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We started at 5.15 in the morning of 27th October 2012. The mood was solemn and slightly apprehensive. Our target for the day was Varanasi, 800 km. We had planned to cover the distance in 12 hours.

I turn the switch and the engine starts to high audible. I wait for the noise to settle down and when the Taco hovers little above 1000 I shift the gear to No. 1 position.

I am kind of a relaxed driver and don’t push the throttle. The speedo settles at 60. The engine is revving freely. The car maintains this speed when at Noida Expressway I find it at 70 and at Yamuna Expressway it moves to 80. Gradually, the road was catching the car, when I realized that the steering had become light. I check the speedo. It is over 100. This is what I don’t like about my Wagon R. The engine doesn’t sound labored but the chassis feels strained and the steering acts as if the wheels have lost all contact with the road. I wonder if this is the trade off between heavier rims with lighter alloys.

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I reduce the speed and strive to maintain a constant 90, stopping at three toll plazas (paid Rs. 320 at the first for the entire stretch), at two public conveniences in the hope of having tea and once by the roadside to take in the surroundings.

My first fuel stop is some kilometres after Yamuna Expressway. From the last tankful of the previous evening in Delhi it has covered 296 kms. The attendant continues to fill even after auto cut off and I yell at him to stop. By the time he actually does at the next round figure he had filled 12.83 litres. When I calculated the average at the end of the journey it emerged as the biggest surprise of the entire drive. My car had returned a mileage 23.06 km/l with AC used maybe 10% of the time.

Though rest of the journey was quite uneventful the stretch after Kanpur saw me in an intense state of drowsiness and tortured by the intense pain in the calf of the leg pressing accelerator (I had driven continuously for over 250 kms). So while my wife could doze and daughters could catch some sleep... ..I had no other option…

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Two things on this stretch are quite noteworthy which I haven’t found mentioned in any of the travelogue here. First was our halt at Gulamipur somewhere between Kanpur and Allahabad. What I saw here is something every Indian, except the Government, feels is sine quo non not only for country’s economic progress but from human perspective as well—a proper halting place for truckers. At Gulamipur there is no dust-laden crater filled roadside resting places for trucks rather it is cemented and has proper bathing facilities. The tea too was excellent and my daughter was excited to be out.

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Second is Allahabad Bypass (toll Rs. 150). Though the quality of the cemented surface was excellent but with depressions just before and after, the approach to the culverts wasn’t laid well.

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As result the car flew and the shocks took the impact but left the left rear wheel scraped by the well’s wall.

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By the time we neared Varanasi the traffic was heavy. When we reached Varanasi Railway Station it and saw the neon lights of Plaza Hotel from the opposite side it was dark. And when we checked into the hotel we were on road for 14 hours and had covered 792 kms.

We leave hotel at 8. GT Road was in shambles, the traffic was heavy and black coal dust had enveloped a large part of the stretch. NH2 also wasn’t any better. The fiery summer months had melted the coal tar and the load of the wheels had heaped it turning white lines marking lanes into zigzag waves. My car bounced uncontrollably and it was impossible to go beyond 60.

Things improved once we entered Bihar and after Sasaram slowing down was impossible. After the Sasaram Toll Plaza my wife points me towards the road that led to the tomb of Sher Shah Sur—the Afghan who became the Emperor of India, the one who laid the erstwhile Imperial Road, following the rough alignment of which the English built GT Road and we constructed AH1 (NH2 and NH1 combined). What is perhaps not well-known is that Sher Shah’s road was based upon ancient Uttarapath (erstwhile Pataliputra now Patna to Taxila in Afghanistan).

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His father, Hasan Shah Sur is interred in a Tomb about 2 km from his son’s.

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Within its premises a madarsa imparts knowledge to children.

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While people continue with their life next to mud filled graveyard at the entrance of the Hasan Shah’s Tomb.

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Some time later we cross the bridge on Son River. The breezy drive reminded me of the years of traffic pile up, I had heard and was once even caught, went for hours together. Such was the sights that it was noticeable even from the rail bridge at the distance.

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At Dobhi a left turn takes you to Gaya, an ancient city on the banks of Phalgu River. The place is especially significant for Hindus who visit this place in large numbers during the months of September-October coinciding with Shraddh or Pitr Paksha to offer Pin Daan for the departed souls.

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Bodhgaya, about 7 km from Gaya has grown around the site where roughly 2600 years ago one tortured soul Siddhartha became Buddha, or the enlightened one.

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Notice biscuits and snacks as offering.

As one enters Jharkhand it is not just the surroundings that get better but the winding concrete road is gem of a drive. With meandering hills on both sides and bougainvillea of all hues on the central verge I rate this stretch the most scenic of the NH2. We stop at the first dhaba we see.

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Such is the effect of the landscape that the halt turns into a joyous occasion and our daughters have whale of a time.

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While we wait for our tea. My younger one has Cerelac.

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Moving on after Chauparan the road continues to be excellent but the vista becomes routine. It becomes slightly better as we near Parasnath. Parasnath is a highly venerable place associated with 20 of the Jain’s 24 Tirthankaras, the most prominent of whom was Parshvanath, 23rd in line last and the 24th being Mahavira.

The undulating hills continue till about Topchanchi. As we enter the coal belt of Dhanbad we had covered a distance of more than 400 kms in 8 hours. At PS Hotel, just before Khalsa Hotel (Gobindpur) my father is waiting with his friend. My brother joins us some time later. We have lunch then leave together, in our separate cars. It is 7 and very dark. We go via Chittaranjan, famous for its Loco Factory and Jamtara. With construction going on large part of the road is in pathetic condition. We reach Jama Mode (Turn) at 10.30. Having been victim of roadside dacoity in 2003 on this stretch my brother-in-law agrees to meet us midway. My father and we take different turns. While I steer left for Deoghar they take the one on right for Dumka. The road that confronts us is almost deserted. Except for occasional flickering lights it is pitch dark. After about 20 kms we see my brother-in-law’s vehicle. We are keen to cover the dreaded portion as quickly as we can.

At 11.30 PM after driving for 1,392 kms spread over 2 days our journey comes to an end. Next day we leave for Dumka, 60 km. Every trip in these twin towns has been discovery of new facets.

PS: Vignettes of pre-modern life. Coming next.
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Old 26th November 2012, 19:47   #11
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Default Re: Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

Disclaimer: Majority of the photographs are from my earlier visits

Dumka. Where landscape dons a surreal look. Part cultivated, part craggy and part forested. It envokes a melancholic nostalgia; of the pristine world that was before the cities overtook it.

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The soil, typical laterite, is red…

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..vegetation often wild.

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..and majority of the people belong to a tribe called Santhal.

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The remoteness of the district, then part of Bihar—Jharkhand wasn’t carved as yet—came very handy for Lalu Prasad, then Chief Minister of Bihar. When he had stopped Advani’s Rath Yatra and arrested him and send him for confinement at the rest house of Masanjor Dam on Mayurakshi River in this district.

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Dumka’s other brush with history goes back century and half years ago when its hills, part of the Rajmahal Mountain Ranges, reverberated with the cries of Santhal rebellion under Sidhu and Kanho against the ravenous East India Company. In order garner support the duo claimed to have divine guidance and assured their followers that the opponents’ guns would turn to sticks once they raised them against the tribals.

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Coming on the heels of the Britishers were the Bengali ‘bhadralok’, the landed gentry. Amongst the most famous names was Pradeep Kumar, the eternal Emperor of Bollywood. His property still survives, though in a condition one would hardly associate with Pradeep Kumar’s imperial persona, in the hinterlands of one of Dumka’s villages.

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Dumka has a fair share of non-tibal population as well. But unlike most of the tribal areas, except for few pockets Naxalism hasn’t hit life at all.

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Roads, except for the major ones which are two laned, are basically single. However, barring a few stretches, they are metalled and you can maintain an average speed of 30.

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But transportation, even on major routes, is true ‘cattle class.’

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Tribals and villagers prefer walking. 5-6 km is short distance for them to cover on foot.

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And when they have to travel greater distances it often entails long wait by the roadside for transport.

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If you ask me which is the best time to visit Dumka, I would say, “Undoubtedly Durga Puja.”

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Life really comes to life. And hatia or weekly market is the place to be if you love people watching.

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People take out their year long savings and buy, amongst other things, new clothes.

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Even trunks...

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Or goats…

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And many of them would find their place here.

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While time moves on.

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Coming Next – Maluti: The Forgotten Village

Last edited by GTO : 28th November 2012 at 13:37. Reason: Removing gory pictures of animals being sacrificed. Thanks for understanding
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Old 29th November 2012, 16:59   #12
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Default Re: Where Time Still Stands Still - A Journey (Delhi-Dumka-Deoghar)

This is a fantastic photologue. The pictures are what Rural India is. I look forward to more if there are more.

Giving it a 5 star.
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