By Chaitali Das:
Have you grown wary of visiting the same destinations around West Bengal? For 90% of Kolkatans the immediate choices for a tourist destination in West Bengal are confined to Darjeeling or Digha. However, there are many hidden gems scattered around this beautiful state. Popularly known as ‘Lal matir desh’ meaning the Land of Red soil, these are beautiful places which will make you fall in love with Bengal all over again.
Situated in the extreme western part of the state, along the Jharkhand border, this idyllic place was named after the favourite queen of the Ambikanagar kingdom. It is situated at the confluence of Kangsabati and Kumari rivers. Mukutmanipur is home to the second largest man-made dam in India. The water body is so large, that during monsoon and winter (when the reservoir is full) it almost looks like an ocean.
Tourist Attractions of Mukutmanipur
Kangsabasti Dam: This famed mud dam built on the confluence of Kangsabati and Kumari rivers is a major tourist attraction. With breathtaking views, witnessing sunsets from this area while boating along the lake makes the trip very memorable. If sunsets are enthralling, the sunrises are equally impelling. So, wake up early in the morning and catch the sun rising from the hillock beside the WBFDC hotel.
Bonpukuria Deer Park: The deer park is enclosed on all sides by water. During the monsoons, the lush greenery of the park and sprawling trees create a great ambience which would bring out the artist in you. When the rays of the sun manage to find a way through the thick clouds, it reflects from the water creating an idyllic scene.
Ambikanagar Rajbari (Palace): Ambikanagar is an important Jain pilgrimage destination. The palace situated in the town has impressive architecture, with fine motifs strewn on its inner walls and exteriors.
Ambika Devi Temple: After you have appreciated the remnants of Ambikanagar’s golden past, you can visit this Durga temple. The eyes of the deity here are especially bright. The Sandhya Aarti performed at the temple is unique and tourists are advised not to miss out on it.
Shopping: Bankura is known for handicrafts especially terracotta figures. So, you can buy beautiful handicraft items such as embroidered clothes, purses, etc.
Nearest Railhead: Bankura (45 km away)
A bastion for those who are learning mountaineering, Ajodhya Hills is located in the Purulia district of West Bengal. An extension of Chota Nagpur plateau that is located between Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar, this place has a rustic charm that has gone untouched by the march of time. It is said that Ram and Sita visited this place during their 14 years of exile; and there are places that feel so old and mysterious, that you can’t help but believe in the legends.
Tourist Attrations of Ajodhya Hills
Gorgaburu: This is the highest point of the area. If you love climbing or trekking than going up the hills will be your highlight. The point is situated at an altitude of 855 meters and offers breathtaking bird’s eye views of forests, waterfalls and tribal villages. Mayur Hill is another point visited by the tourists, and it offers great views of the surroundings too.
Bamni Falls: This beautiful waterfall is hidden deep within the forests, below the Ajodhya Hills. If you visit this waterfall during the monsoons or just after the season, you can see Bamni Falls in its full splendour. The gushing water, chirping of birds and the silence of the surroundings will definitely make your visit memorable.
Charida Village: This quaint little village is known for its arts and crafts items. One can buy Chau masks (used in a popular Bengali folk dance form) or wood and mud carved terracotta handicraft works at dirt cheap prices at this village. Also viewing the talented artists at work is a delightful experience.
Nearest Railhead: Purulia railway station (40 km away)
So, the next time you have a long weekend do care to visit these beautiful destinations.