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Old 20th September 2022, 02:11   #1
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Default Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista

Come September, my better half and I got a bonus extended weekend thanks to the Labour Day holiday in the US (my customers are all US based) and decided that this was the perfect opportunity to plan another road trip from Calcutta.

However, we did not want to revisit any of our earlier destinations, and we also decided that we would be doing a distance that would require 6-7 hours of driving at the most.

With these constraints in place, we started looking at options and also checked with our friends whether they were interested in joining us. One friend initially showed interest but later backed out. However, he did us a favour by recommending that we do the Madhupur-Deoghar-Simultala circuit in Bihar and Jharkhand, since a mutual friend had just returned from this tour and had recommended it very highly for a driving trip. Had a quick chat with this other friend and his report was that this circuit had mostly good roads and there were both nice waterfalls and scenic landscapes, even if one did not consider the religious pilgrimage aspect (Deoghar's Baba Baidyanath Dham being one of the shakti peeths in Hinduism).

The other friend also helped out with a tentative route plan and itinerary - he suggested that we go to Deoghar via Jamtara and Madhupur, then do the local places of interest including the ruins of the palace at Simultala and Usri falls on the return leg through Gobindpur. I did some more research with the help of different websites including https://deoghar.nic.in/tourist-places/ https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Madhupur https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Simultala and finally came up with the following plan:

Day 1:

Start from Calcutta and reach Madhupur via Jamtara. See some of the old estates in Madhupur, have lunch there and then proceed to Deoghar with pit stops at any places of interest on the way.

Accordingly we started on Saturday morning from Calcutta at about 6:30 am.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-day-1-route.jpg


Had a quick stop for breakfast at Chitadanga near Andal at this place. They were just opening and to be honest the food was nothing to write home about, but it did fill our stomachs.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220903_093645.jpg


Thereafter we went full speed ahead till Madhupur, although we were slowed down somewhat by congestion and bad road surface in and around Jamtara and Chittaranjan. However, on the whole the drive was very enjoyable with very little traffic and beautiful lush countryside all around.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220903_120123.jpg

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220903_120139.jpg


The plan was to visit all places of interest in and around Madhupur and also have lunch there. I had marked all the stops on Gmaps and as we neared Madhupur, we started taking detours accordingly. There are many temples of interest in and around Madhupur, and two of them are on the Jamtara-Madhupur route. Those interested in temples can check out the Baba Dukharan Nath temple in Gosuwa followed by the Pathroli Kali Mata temple, both of which come before Madhupur.

This is Baba Dukharan Nath temple in Gosuwa

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220903_124447.jpg


...and this was the entrance to the Kali temple at Pathrol

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220903_125702.jpg


Madhupur also boasts the quaint St. Columba's church, and a few other temples like the Baikuntha Dham at Phago.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220903_132958.jpg

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However, what really distinguishes Madhupur are the erstwhile villas and estates from about a century back. In those days, Madhupur was renowned for the healing properties of its climate and water and it was the place that most well heeled Bengalis who wanted to be well-healed, went to. They include many famous authors including Bankim Chandra. Almost all of them built huge edifices some of which survive to this day. In fact Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee's family also had a house here till not so long ago, which we tried to find (in vain).

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By the time we were done driving around Madhupur it was almost 2 pm and we took a quick break for lunch at the newly opened Anam restaurant, that served decent Calcutta style chicken biryani.

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Lunch done, we resumed our journey to Deoghar, but again with planned detours for places of interest on the way.

The first of these was the elusive Bakulia Jharna, which we tried to find in sudden torrential rain through PMGSY roads that were horribly broken. Gave up after a bit, especially since the road was not very confidence inspiring and every person we asked about the Jharna while confirming its existence looked at us as if we were crazy to be on that road, which made us think that maybe this wasn't a very good idea. We lost about an hour in the elusive search, but we did come across this nice rivulet on the way, so it wasn't a total loss.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220903_152420.jpg


The next stop was Burhai Pahar, which is a colossal monolithic rock that overlooks a river, has a small temple, is surrounded by verdant fields and is undoubtedly one of the more scenic places on the route. Some pics of Burhai Pahar and the surrounding locale:

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We spent quite a lot of time here and then proceeded towards our final stop for the day, Deoghar. However, before we could reach our hotel, we saw that Nandan Pahar which was mentioned as a place of interest on many of the websites, was on our route. So we went there first just as the sun started setting. Nandan Pahar turned out to be a rather tacky children's amusement park on a hill. It may be good fun for young children but not worth visiting otherwise and I would not recommend adding this to the itinerary.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220903_173540.jpg


Just spent enough time to see the sunset from the hill and then made our way to our hotel - Girija Sunrise, which is a fairly new property which is just about a 5 minutes' walk away from Baba Baidyanath Dham.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220903_173643.jpg

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220903_180434.jpg


The hotel also has in-house parking.

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Room, service and food (especially breakfast) were all excellent and our room even had a safe and an electric kettle (no fridge though).

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The aloo parathas we had for breakfast the following morning were among the best we've had anywhere.

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The following morning, of course, brought us to Day 2 of our 3 day trip. At this point, let me mention that we didn't have a hotel booking for this day. The reason being that when we started the trip, we were not really sure of whether we should stay at Deoghar or someplace else on Day 2. We knew that Usri falls which was one of our planned destinations was closer to Giridih. Also, we were not sure how many of our planned stops we would be able to visit on Day 1 and whether we would need to stay one more day in Deoghar. Since we could complete almost all the stops in our route plan on Day 1 (except for the elusive Bakulia Jharna) and had understood that roads were mostly great and estimated time and distance shown by Google were accurate, we were now more confident about the rest of our itinerary. So we decided that we would stay in Giridih on Day 2. Another reason for this was that my better half wanted to visit the house in Bokaro where she had spent a substantial part of her childhood, on the way back to Calcutta on Day 3. All things considered, Giridih seemed the most practical option and accordingly I booked a room at Hotel Vrindavan Palace which had ample secured parking (the most important selection criterion).

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-day-2-route.jpg


However, before we started we still had some things left to do in Deoghar.

The first was to visit Baba Baidyanath Dham and also buy some of the Pedas that Deoghar is famous for.

Like any other temple town, the lanes and bylanes that lead to the temple are flooded with shops selling puja related stuff along with the famous pedas.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_085851.jpg


Baba Baidyanath Dham is the seat for one of the 12 Jyotirlingas associated with Shiva. A 72-feet high temple of Mahadev’s “Kamana Linga” built by King Punarmal in 1596 is one of the holiest sites for Hindus of the world. It is also one of the 51 shakti peeths in Hinduism and the place where Sati's heart is supposed to have fallen.(https://www.indiatoday.in/travel/fes...105-2017-09-23)

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_091539.jpg


Pedas are offered as prasad and this shop was recommended by our hotel. They did not disappoint.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_092523.jpg

Last edited by Neversaygbye : 21st September 2022 at 20:23.
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Old 21st September 2022, 20:01   #2
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Day 2 cont'd...

After having our fill of Pedas and also buying a few boxes for family and friends back home, we proceeded with the next part of our plan, which was to see the ruins of Simultala palace. But before leaving Deoghar, we took another couple of quick detours to see the Naulakha Mandir and Tapovan caves. We decided to skip the ropeway at Trikut Pahar since it would have meant going a long way off-course from our route to Simultala.

While walking back to our hotel from Baba Baidyanath Dham we came across this interesting building that had clearly seen better days. Many of the balconies have collapsed and while that adds to the uniqueness of the building, it can't be very safe for its inhabitants.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_093457.jpg


Our second last stop in Deoghar, the Naulakha Mandir got its name from the expenditure of 9 lakh rupees on its construction spent in 1863 by Charushila Devi of Calcutta’s Pathuriaghata Rajbari. Looks a bit plain especially with the lack of intricate carvings, until you realize that the huge structure is made completely of stone.


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The Tapovan Caves on the outskirts of Deoghar was once the seat for meditation of the recluse Balananda Brahmachari Maharaj. It is said that the Great Sage Valmiki had come here and meditated too. Like most other places of pilgrimage in India, this also comprises temples on a hill. Apart from the brick and mortar temples, all the caves have become temples to different deities as well.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_105834.jpg


The view from the hilltop is quite nice.

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From Tapovan, we finally started for Simultala which lies in Bihar. Evidently this part of the country had a serious problem with Maoism till not so long ago as is mentioned in this recent TOI article https://epaper.timesgroup.com/articl..._005_toikc_TOI. We even came across a Police roadblock on the way. The interesting part was that all the cops were women. Felt really proud to see the progress being made by women in our country. They flagged us down but let us go as soon as we slowed down. Thankfully, we did not encounter anything untoward, and in fact the most traffic that we got to see were these devotees who were a dime a dozen and probably going to one of the numerous temples in this circuit

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_120933.jpg


Being blissfully unaware of the Maoist threat at the time (we read the TOI article only a few days back) and despite the encounter with the Police, we decided to check out Dharara falls, which was mentioned on one of the websites, and which was on the route to Simultala.

Another short journey through a half-decent PMGSY road finally got us to this village road that leads to the "falls"

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_124937.jpg


The "falls" themselves turned out to be a river flowing through rocks creating rapids, and while it was a great place to bathe, in my opinion it wasn't at all worth the trouble. So that made it two "falls" - Bakulia and Dharara, which can be avoided on this circuit.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_125419.jpg


Anyway, after putting our disappointment behind us we started looking for a place to have lunch near Simultala. There were hardly any options, so we went to Anya Resort which had also been recommended elsewhere on this forum and also by my friend who had been in Simultala just before us. Anya Resort is actually a hotel with a separate restaurant, and there were a few other cars from Calcutta also parked there. Evidently Simultala is a popular destination for travellers from Bengal.

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After a quick tasty lunch of veg thali with chicken curry, we proceeded to find the elusive Simultala palace (we could not find anything with that name or a similar name on Gmaps). My friend had said that it was on the route to Lattu Pahar and we would need to take a right turn just before the railway station. So I put Lattu Pahar as our next destination, and though Google was showing a route option from Anya restaurant that was short but behind us, we decided to take the longer route from near the railway station, as suggested by my friend. I am not sure what the other route was like, but this one turned out to be a pebbled dirt track passing through multiple villas, many of which were in serious need of repair even though they were occupied.

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After traversing the broken road for a while, we came across the imposing ruins of the Palace or Rajbari (later on we realized that we would have found it on Gmaps had we searched for Naldanga House or Lattupahar Rajbari). A popular Bengali movie "Durgeshgorer Guptodhon" (Hidden Treasure of Durgeshgarh) was shot at this location.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_145055.jpg

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_144725.jpg

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_145647.jpg


Lattu Pahar was a few hundred metres from the palace, but we decided not to climb up

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_150733.jpg


Going back the way we had come, we proceeded towards Giridih and the roads subsequently became picturesque thanks to the autumn bloom of what we call in Bengali Kaashphool (kans grass in English)

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220904_123257.jpg


Since we had ample time in hand, we decided to see Khandoli Dam as it was pretty close to Giridih. However, Google maps sent us on a wild goose chase and we ended up at Giridih airport instead! Decided to abort the mission since it would be dark by the time we reached the dam and therefore proceeded to our hotel Vrindavan Palace which was on Sai Dham road, right next to the movie theatre Chitramandir. Had dinner and called it a day after watching the India-Pakistan Asia Cup T20 match.

Day 3:

We started early on the final day of our trip. This promised to be a long day, as we intended to visit Usri falls, Topchanchi lake, Bhatinda Falls and my better half's erstwhile residence in Bokaro, before returning to Calcutta.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-day-3-route.jpg


We started a little before 6 am and in about 20 minutes were at Usri falls.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220905_061834.jpg


We had the falls all to ourselves that early in the morning, and after spending a few minutes taking photos, proceeded towards Madhuban where we intended to have breakfast.

Unfortunately, only one restaurant was open and there the owner said "abhi so ke utthe hai" (have just woken up) and refused to serve us so we had to make do with just tea and biscuits.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220905_072532.jpg


Now Madhuban is a Jain pilgrimage town right at the bottom of Parasnath Hill and it is the launching pad for the difficult hike to Parasnath Jain temple on the top of the hill. Evidently the hike takes more than 7 hours both ways. There were quite a few devotees who had started walking up, and I was amazed to find that some of them were elderly folk who were having trouble walking.

Anyway, we made our way back to the Giridih-Dhanbad road and within 45 minutes found ourselves at Topchanchi lake, which again is a lake created by a dam built almost a century ago.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220905_083211.jpg

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After spending some time at the lake we went back to the highway and stopped at the excellent Shaan-e-Punjab hotel and restaurant at Topchanchi for a breakfast of Chhole Bhature. The food was delicious and the property was very large and well maintained, with clean toilets. The manager Mr. Jha also guided us on how best to reach our next destination on the way to Bokaro - Bhatinda Falls. The easiest way to get there is to take the turn next to the police station at Putki on the Bokaro-Dhanbad highway.

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220905_0932481.jpg

Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista-img_20220905_090722.jpg


Bhatinda falls was quite impressive and very dangerous too, with a very realistic chance of getting swept away, if one wasn't careful.

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As I mentioned earlier, my better half had spent her formative years in Bokaro and wanted to revisit the old haunts from her childhood. We were not expecting that the bungalow where she stayed as a child would still exist in this day and age, so imagine her surprise and joy when she found it was still there, and in pretty good condition too.

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It is the residence of an officer of the CRPF now, and his family was kind enough to let us in after they heard our story.

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A quick trip to her erstwhile alma mater rounded off what was a fruitful nostalgic trip to Bokaro for her

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Then we were back on the road again, through the verdant forests of Kaashphool, this time on our way back home to Calcutta.

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Duly reached in the evening just after 7 pm, and with that another interesting road trip of over a thousand kms came to an end.

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Last edited by Neversaygbye : 21st September 2022 at 20:27.
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Old 22nd September 2022, 06:54   #3
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 22nd September 2022, 08:06   #4
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Another wonderful short little escapade filled with ample historical snippets and nostalgia to boot. The Naulakha temple and the Lattupahar Rajbari- both are imposing as well as interesting pieces of architecture. Good to know the experiences of your better half- it’s always nostalgic and emotional to go back to one’s memories, something that tugs at the heart strings.

I have heard good things about Simultala and how it was a preferred escapade for the folks from Calcutta once upon a time. The route certainly gets added to my wish list and many thanks for the little anecdotes. Keep travelling Dada, your Vista and you are meant for doing that only.

Regards.

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Old 22nd September 2022, 09:06   #5
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Thanks for sharing this travelogue, while I have been to all the places you have visited, through your camera, they look so different (nice). Never knew about this waterfall though. Had an opportunity to visit Dhanbad this February, in case you go that side next, you can visit the Maithon Dam, worth visiting once.

Thanks again for sharing, as compiling a travelogue takes time & effort and your log has all the details one would need .
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Old 22nd September 2022, 15:23   #6
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I have been to some of the places during my childhood, including Deoghar and Bhatinda falls; felt so nice reading through your travelogue. Loved your narration and the pictures. Added this circuit to my list. And thank you for taking out the time to write this TL. Keep traveling and keep inspiring
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Old 22nd September 2022, 15:35   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ABHI_1512 View Post
I have heard good things about Simultala and how it was a preferred escapade for the folks from Calcutta once upon a time. The route certainly gets added to my wish list and many thanks for the little anecdotes. Keep travelling Dada, your Vista and you are meant for doing that only.
Thanks Abhi - I am nowhere close to being the traveller that you are along with Baahon, but I do try to make short trips when I can. This particular circuit was a revelation - apart from a few short stretches the roads were amazing in terms of surface and they were mostly empty, unlike the state highways in Bengal. Plus hardly any barricades and very few speedbreakers! Sheer heaven for anyone who lives to drive. The only thing to remember is to control speed as there are very sharp blind turns on all the roads. The natural beauty of this part of the country is also quite noteworthy and now that the Maoist problem has reduced, this tour is one you should definitely do.

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Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
Never knew about this waterfall though. Had an opportunity to visit Dhanbad this February, in case you go that side next, you can visit the Maithon Dam, worth visiting once.
Thanks for the kind words - I suppose you are referring to Bhatinda falls? I got to know about it by accident when I was researching places to see around Bokaro. On hindsight, am glad I went as it was actually quite impressive (more than Usri, I thought). Pretty dangerous too - just have a look at the video below to see how anyone who steps into the water can be easily swept away.



I have passed Maithon on my way to Benaras in the bad old pre-fast-tag days when trucks used to be backed up on the then NH2 at the border, and the police in WB would divert small cars through Maithon. Always wanted to stay overnight, but somehow never got a booking in the guest house on the dam. It is very much on my wishlist and I will do it as soon as I get an opportunity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ron82x3 View Post
I have been to some of the places during my childhood, including Deoghar and Bhatinda falls; felt so nice reading through your travelogue. Loved your narration and the pictures. Added this circuit to my list. And thank you for taking out the time to write this TL. Keep traveling and keep inspiring
This circuit surprised me with the quality of the places and the drive and I will always be grateful to the friend who suggested it. Please revisit the circuit when you get a chance - it can be easily done over a weekend too as long as offering Puja at any of the temples is not part of the agenda, and Madhuban and Bokaro are not part of the plan.

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Old 22nd September 2022, 20:39   #8
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Thanks for sharing this sweet travelogue. This can be a perfect guide for anyone planning a trip to this region.

Since childhood I have heard a lot about these places from my dad, but I have never been there. I forwarded this link to my dad & he was more than happy to read this and get his old memories refreshed.

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Old 22nd September 2022, 21:36   #9
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Looks like you missed visiting Prof Shanku in Giridih! Jokes apart, thank you so much for giving a first hand account of visiting some interesting places not so far from Kolkata. The Naulakha temple, Rajbari and Topchanchi lake raised my interest. Have seen the signboard of Topchanchi and Giridih while travelling through Dhanbad route. Surely your travelogue will come handy to plan a weekend outing in winter. Thanks for sharing !
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Old 23rd September 2022, 08:59   #10
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Nicely written. I completed my schooling from RKMV, Deoghar. The places around there is very very special to me. Thanks for the road updates as well!
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Old 23rd September 2022, 10:06   #11
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Fantastic travelogue! Loved the apprehensions, decisioning dilemma, alternatives being thought upon, turn-backs - in addition to the "success stories" of the trip - that are not easy to find in most of the travelogues. The coverage was excellent! I am planning now, fingers crossed :-)
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Old 24th September 2022, 01:50   #12
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Since childhood I have heard a lot about these places from my dad, but I have never been there. I forwarded this link to my dad & he was more than happy to read this and get his old memories refreshed.
It was nice meeting your dad at Indo Wheels the other day, and I am happy that my post was of some use to him. You should definitely visit these parts - roads are great and this is the right time as all the rivers and waterfalls have a lot of water.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mile_Breaker View Post
Looks like you missed visiting Prof Shanku in Giridih! Jokes apart, thank you so much for giving a first hand account of visiting some interesting places not so far from Kolkata.
Finding a straight route to Khandoli Dam had already tested Google's capabilities so much that I didn't want to give it another challenge - that of finding Professor Shonku's house! Jokes apart, you should go now and not wait till winter, for the same reason that I have mentioned to Samba.

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Originally Posted by jackofsome View Post
Nicely written. I completed my schooling from RKMV, Deoghar. The places around there is very very special to me. Thanks for the road updates as well!
TBH we were impressed with the quality of the roads and infrastructure of the area - we went through rural roads in many places and barring a few cases, most were very good. In general people are nice, polite and helpful too. Also, Bihar and Jharkhand seemed to be less congested than Bengal.

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Originally Posted by car-go View Post
Fantastic travelogue! Loved the apprehensions, decisioning dilemma, alternatives being thought upon, turn-backs - in addition to the "success stories" of the trip - that are not easy to find in most of the travelogues. The coverage was excellent! I am planning now, fingers crossed :-)
Thank you - please go ahead and make your plan a reality - it is actually possible to do a more relaxed trip than the one we did. Just removing Bakulia Jharna, Dharara Falls and Nandan Pahar (and of course, Bokaro) from the places to visit will save a lot of time. Of course, if worship at the temples is part of the plan, then 2-3 days may not be enough, as at some of the temples the wait time runs into many hours. Also our coverage while good, could have been better as we still missed Trikut Pahar and Khandoli Dam. Anyway, Topchanchi lake and Bhatinda Falls kind of made up for those misses.
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Old 25th September 2022, 09:44   #13
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Default Re: Doing the Deoghar and Giridih circuit in a Tata Vista

Thank you for the beautiful travelogue. While our hinterlands are steeped in history and culture, being considered "non-glamorous" these locations don't get the attention they deserve. But nowadays thanks to better infrastructure and enterprising locals, things are changing.
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