A Weekend in the verdant Ayodhya Hills
The countryside of Bengal is not all about paddy fields and expansive farmlands. With the ruddy soil, hills, forests, and patches of greenery, the landscape on the western edges of this easternmost state are quite fascinating, yet lesser-known. If you want to discover such natural treasures of Bengal, then head to the hinterlands of Purulia district and explore the Ayodhya Hills.
About 323 KM from Kolkata city, tucked in the Chhotanagpur Plateau, you will find these verdant hills. A contrast to its surrounding plains, the plateau is an extension of the Eastern Ghats and form a part of the Dalma Mountain Range. Legends say that during the period of Ramayana, Ram and Sita spent some time in the forests and foothills of these hills when they were on exile from Ayodhya. Perhaps the association with the mythology earned the place its name.
How to reach
Ayodhya Hills is located in the Purulia district, on the western part of Bengal. It is 323 KM from Kolkata city by road and takes nearly seven hours to reach by NH 19. You can easily avail affordable and top-rated Kolkata cabs and plan a weekend trip to explore this scenic locale. The drive through the hilly roads and wooded areas will make for an interesting drive. To reach the hills, you have to first land at its nearest town, Bagmundi. You can also take the route via Jhalda or Sirkabad to reach Ayodhya Hills. In recent years, owing to the increasing trekking and camping activities in the area, a lot of accommodation options are now available for travelers. You can choose to stay at the quaint eco-retreats or book yourself a stay at the forest rest houses in the upper reaches of Ayodhya Hills or the Matha Range.
When to visit
The western districts of Bengal experience extreme temperatures. Summers are hot and dry, while winters can range from pleasantly cool to chilly. The monsoons, however, offer conducive weather. The ideal time to the visit the Ayodhya Hills is right after the monsoon and before peak winters, that is, between September and December. If you love the foggy weather and enjoy the colder months, visit between December and February, when the skies are clear and the air is crisp, making it more exciting to camp, trek, hike, or do local sightseeing.
The best way to spend a weekend in Ayodhya Hills.
Most parts of the Chhotanagpur Plateau are still unexplored and has managed to retain its virgin beauty, making it a refreshing experience for any explorer. If you love a serene ambiance and wish to have an adventurous time on your vacation, the hills and forests of Ayodhya are just about the right place to be.
Scale the hills and mountains.
The highest point on the Ayodhya Hills is Chamtaburu, at 712 meters, and makes for a great platform for rock climbing. You can also explore the Gorgaburu and Mayuri peaks nearby. The rugged terrain and the tranquil environment attracts aspiring climbers to explore the hills and test their mountaineering skills. The challenging trails leading up to the peaks make for a thrilling experience and award you with lovely views of the surroundings. The wooded hills are interspersed with thread streams, which meet at the Subarnarekha, Kangsabati, and Kumari Rivers at the foothills, making it a delightful visual.
Explore the unique wildlife of Dalma.
The forests of this plateau regions is a biodiversity zone with rich flora and fauna. If you are a wildlife lover, then you might like to head out for a birding tour in the winter months, when the untouched woodlands become habitats for migratory birds. These deep interiors of the Dalma forests are also home to shrews, leopards, and the endangered pangolins. Seasonally, a large population of elephants migrate from the nearby wilderness of Jharkhand and roam around here. You can opt for a guided jungle safari, do wildlife photography, or camp at the forest grounds.
Have a picnic at the Bamni Falls.
About 14 KM from the reserve forests of Ayodhya Hills, sitting on its western fringes, you will find the refreshing Bamni Falls. The frothy cascade of Bamni Falls is the highlight of this locale. The rain-fed waterfall gushes down rocky hills and bluffs, surrounded by clusters of Sal, bamboo, teak, Mahua, and flame-of-the-forest, making for a beautiful sight.
Experience the local culture.
The district of Purulia is known for its ethnic tribal community and their traditional cultural practices. One of the earliest settlers of this region, the locals engage in Chau dance, a famous folk art form of Bengal. You can take a tour of the tribal village of Charida, known for their exceptional work on Chau art form, and watch the people making the costumes and masks or even witness a performance, organized for tourists.
Apart from these, if you have time, you can also visit the Turga Falls, Dowri Khal, Khoriebera Lake, Murugama Lake, Pakhi Pahar, and many such hidden gems of the Chhotonagpur Plateau. Untainted and raw, the wild side of Bengal is truly a treasure to cherish.
- If traveling in a big group, get a comfortable tempo traveler on rent in Kolkata for convenient travel option.
- For camping and trekking, you might need to avail of a permit from the local forest department.