Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Destination India

West Bengal (PART-XIV)

Purulia (1)

Jaina Bhagavati-Sutra of circa 5th century A.D. mentions that Purulia was one of the 16 Mahajanapadas and was a part of the country known as Vajra-bhumi in ancient times. However, little is known about Purulia before the East-India Company obtained the 'Diwani' of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa in 1765.

Purulia is the westernmost district of West Bengal with all-India significance because of its tropical location, its shape as well as function like a funnel. It funnels not only the tropical monsoon current from the Bay to the subtropical parts of north-west India, but also acts as a gateway between the developed industrial belts of West Bengal and the hinterlands in Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarpradesh. For its convenient location, this place has acquired an important place in the tourist map in India.

Purulia is a land of natural beauty. The lush green landscape, verdant hills and dense forests make it a perfect tourist destination that gives a rustic ambience and peaceful surroundings to weary city dwellers. This western most district of the state of West Bengal is part of the Chotonagpur plateau which unravels her untapped mystery and wondrous beauty. The landscape is rocky and undulating. The tourism of Purulia centers round its hills, forests as well as its archeological excavations and the relics of ancient buildings and temples. Tribal ethos enriches the mystic charm and natural beauty of this land of red soil and red blooms of Palash.

Nearly one million people living in Purulia district belong to scheduled tribes and castes. While Santhals are the largest tribal group, other tribes are Kurmi, Munda, Kheria-Shabar, Ho, Birharh etc. Some of the tribes like Birharh, Mal or Bedia are quite primitive and lead a nomadic lifestyle. Many tribes still retain their distinct identities in their traditional culture and religious practices. These comprise their various customs, festival, languages, performing arts etc. 

Chau Dance

The tribal communities from different religions, culture and races have given a shape to the human diversity of Purulia. This diversity has been reflected in the art and culture of this region too; and it concentrates on the traditional folk dance ‘Chau’, popular among Santhals, Kumars, Mahatos, Kalindis and Sahish communities. The rare mask dance of ‘Chau’ represents the essentially local culture. The use of beautiful masks and the exclusive style of dance, make-up and colorful costumes have made this dance popular all over the world. Many consider this form to be a kind of martial art because of the physical strength and agility involved in dancing. The Chau dance is an inseparable part of the rituals and the festivities of Purulia. Earlier the productions were primarily based on mythological stories from Ramayana, Puranas etc but presently contemporary issues like Santhal revolt, Kargil war etc are used as themes for the shows.

Chau Mask

Masks of Charida village (Bagmundi Block) of Purulia used in Chau dance are internationally famous. About 250 artisans of Charida are involved in this craft. A full sized decorated mask costs around Rs 3000-Rs 3500. These are not only used for Chau dance but also for decoration and are popular worldwide as collectibles.

Jhumur songs and dance are popular among artisan communities like Kurmi, Kumhaar, Rajwar, Ghatoal, Hari, Muchi, Dom etc and tribals like Santhal, Munda, Oraon, Kharia, Birharh tribes. Jhumur is known for its lyrical and literary significance because of the use of ancient language. Different Jhumur songs are sung at different times of the year. As for example Chaitali is sung in the month of Chiatra (spring), Bhaduria is sung in the month of Bhadra. 

Pata Dance with Jhumur Song
Pata ("Pankti" or line) Naach is a popular dance form of Purulia. This dance is traditionally held during the month of Bhadra (end of monsoon) accompanied by Bhaduria Jhumur songs. The dancers perform this dance in a line. The village women dance with their arms entwined. The men accompany them with dhamsa, madal, flute etc.
Apart from Chau, Jhumur, and Pata, Bhuang Naach, Kathi Naach, Ghora Naach, Dansai and Machhani are also other popular dance forms of Purulia.

Places to visit: 


Ayodhya Hill

The Ayodhya Hill is 700 m high and is a perfect destination to practice mountaineering and rock climbing. With legends of Ram and Sita intertwined in the region, Ayodhya Hill is known for pristine fresh water springs and streams. There are numerous small hills in the area, especially Gorgaburu (900 m), Mayuri etc. The largest hydel power project of India has been set up at Ayodhya Hills.
Ayodhya Hill is a popular destination of the region and people come here to practice mountaineering and rock climbing. With a height of 700 m above sea level, the hill is a blend of unspoiled nature and rich mythological connections. The place is also well-known for its fresh water springs and stream.



Deulghata is situated near Boram in Arsha. It has ruins of some 15 temples and small shrines near the Kansai River about 6 kms from Joypur. Among them are 3 tall brick deuls (walls) with stucco decoration. The largest of which is to the south. All the trees have triangular corbelled entrances with towers built up by interior corbelling. The corbelled entrance of the southern temple is high and graceful with a delicate carve. All of them have rich curved brickwork with stucco application. The stucco is fine and would appear to date from the same period as that on the Bahulara and Satdeulia temples. All these temples have lost the tops of their towers, but the western and southern ones still stand to a height of 50 feet or more, the Western one specially, on a base about 16 feet square, seems to have been slender and graceful, the southern one, 24feet square, is about the same size as the Bahulara temple.

The other temples at Deulghat which are mostly of stone have all fallen down. The largest stands at the head of a flight of steps leading up from the river. An image of Uma- Maheshvar has been removed to the State Archeological Galley. The oldest temples may be the bricked-temples. There had founded large tile-like bricks typical of the Pala period.  

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