A Year-end Trip to Rajmahal-Sahibganj-Bhagalpur

#1 Jan 8th, 2015, 22:27
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Year-end always brings with it the added attraction of spending a few days off the beaten track. The year that bid adieu was no exception. The irresistible call of the wheel took us through some of the areas that have fallen of the radar of the popular tourist map.
Thanks to Hembrom and Vonkla of this forum, I got some prior information of this trip.
Early on the misty-chilly morning of December 30 we set out for Rajmahal. We traversed more than 40 kms before the morning sun lit up. We took the Ahamedpur-Sainthia route (recently rechristened as NH2B) to take us to Mallarpur, at a distance of 60kms, where we would meet NH60. The newly paved stretch from Sainthia to Mallarpur was fun to drive on with the speedometer often touching three figures.Thankfully, the condition of NH60, known for its notoriety, seemed to have improved at least between Mallarpur and Moregram (50Kms) except in places where gaping holes on the tarmac still raise their ugly faces. From Moregram it was a silky-smooth ride to Farraka (60Kms) on the NH34 and a toll of Rs 40 was worth paying. But once we left the NH34 for NH80 that would take us to Rajmahal, all euphoria evaporated fast as we searched and searched – all in vain – to find out if and when there would be a semblance of a metalled road. That moment only arrived only once we crossed over to Jharkhand after literally making our way for the better part of an hour through dingy alley-ways and then out of nowhere good motor-able broadway appeared near Maslandpur (10Kms). Though soon it became a narrow single way, it remained extremely motorable and charmingly refreshing on either side passing through some really picturesque countryside till it reaches Rajmahal.
Our first real stop was Udhwa Bird Sanctuary, the only such place in all of Jharkhand, on the outskirts of the Barharwa. Felt a lot disheartened looking at the semi-abandoned structure of the forest department with a solitary guard in-charge of its total up-keep. Even at the peak of winter in the adjoining water body – which appeared more as a provider of much needed agricultural irrigation – no migratory aviator could be seen. Was told that would have to sail on what looked like a lagoon on motorised country for a couple of hours to have a glimpse of the winter guests from abroad. Had to abandon such an idea since we still had a long way to go for the day.
Singhi Dalan, right in the midst of Rajmahal town, built during the Mughal era and carrying on its distinctive architectural heritage on its edifice, offers a magnificent view of the Ganges. Neighbouring Singhi Dalan are Akbari Masque, built by Akbar himself and a place where Namaz is offered till date, and a Kali temple facing the banks of the Ganges, truly reflecting the multi-religious tradition of our country. The landscape of Rajmahal is dotted with structures from the Mughal era as well as the kingdom of the Palas which have mostly fallen prey to the ravages of time. With the mighty Ganges widening by its side Rajmahal offers a fascinating feast for the eyes of the wander-thirst. Another must-visit place at Rajmahal is the imposing Jami Masjid built by Akbar's commander Mann Singh. This mosque provides ample testimony to a fine fusion between Mughal architectural sense and Hindu artistic sensibilities. On its other side stands Bara Darwaza, a silent reminder of the pomp and glory of the Mughal rulers who had brought the kingdom of Bengal from Gour (Palas) to Rajmahal across the Ganges. Both the monuments, thankfully, have been taken over by the ASI for their upkeep. On the way to Sahibganj, also made a brief stopover at Kanhaiyan Sthal which overlooks the Ganges and offers a panoramic view on either side. To the believers, a pair of footmarks of Chaitanyadev are adorned there.
With evening about to fall, we managed to meander our way through to Moti Jharna (Near Maharajpur) – an excellent picnic spot with a small mountain stream having its superlative presence with all solemnity. With roads almost non-existent – once we left the main road,which itself was in a pathetic state – few appeared to venture out here. That, on flip side, enhanced the its wilderness in a way.
The road from Maharajpur took a turn for the worse. Numerous stone queries on either side was to be blamed. A mere 15 Kms, which lead to Sahibganj, took us an hour. We found our night refuge at Hotel Kalinga International, a brand new luxury hotel aesthetically built and having all modern amenities at the heart of the town. With hindsight, It was a wise decision taken thanks to a Bengali expatriate couple we met at Moti Jharna, we abandoned our original plan of retiring to Hotel White House for the night.
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#2 Jan 9th, 2015, 10:04
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A Year End Trip to Rajmahal, Sahibganj and Bhagalpur

Day 2 of our trip marked the year-end. Having to travel around a hundred kilometres compared to previous day's nearly thrice that distance, we started a little late at about a quarter to nine. The winter-morning fog had not really cleared up till then. Raksishsthal, a place of worship of the local tribes, was first on the itinerary. We had to cross the rail-road on the base of a mountain-slope on foot to go to the other side on which the sacred place is situated. On the way one cannot but miss the imposing structure of a huge fortress, locally known as Teliagarhi fort, now almost in ruins. There are many a fascinating tale abounding the local folklore on the fort which is out of bounds for tourists as well as locals due to its inaccessibility.
NH80 that would take us to Bhagalpur via Vikramshila from Sahibganj was the the most terrible road I encountered for a pretty long time. There is an alternative route, albeit a little longer, which, I was told, was in a better shape. But, that would miss Vikramshila – the ruins of once bustling Vihara from the Buddhist era – something which I was not prepared to forego. Thus we encountered plethora of pot holes in the absence of any metalled surface made doubly dangerous by the stony layer above. It was evidently a bit too much for hatchback, a WagonR of 2008 make, to manoeuvre at places. There was a flat tyre to fix to add to the woe.
But, the ruins of Vikramshila Mahavihara, made up for all our efforts. The huge well-planned area of the ancient university, it domineering structures directly points towards lessons to be learnt. The ASI has also put a museum showcasing the glorious treasures of the pre-historic Vihara. Indeed, one could feel, going there, the depth and width of knowledge, especially that associated with Buddhist philosophy which works as a corner-stone of Indian culture.
Apprehensive of the road ahead, we took a village road that would bypass much of the worse-off section of the so-called highway on our way to Bhagalpur. That, thankfully, was much better off than the previous one. We reached our place of night-halt just in time for the sun-down which we had a chance to witness from a local religious ashram in Bhgalpur on the banks of the majestic Ganges.
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#3 Jan 16th, 2015, 23:50
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thats amazing and beautifull. Thanks for the report sobdo! I am so much looking foward to visit that place again!
#4 Jan 16th, 2015, 23:56
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How to reach Vikramsheela from Kolkata by usisng train-road mode of journey? Thanks.
#5 Jan 21st, 2015, 19:54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asishdas View Post How to reach Vikramsheela from Kolkata by usisng train-road mode of journey? Thanks.
Thanks for your query.
Sir, I got a lot of help from your travelogues. So it's time for me to try to pay back.
You can travel by either Howrah Gaya Express (HWH 19.50 BGP 04.15) or Howrah-Jamalpur Express (21.35/08.05). Avoid Sealdah-Varanasi Express.
From Bhgalpurpur, Vikramshila ruins is about 35 kms away.
It is advisable to take the village road instead of the highway to Antichak, the site of excavation since the NH 80 is in terrible shape. From Kahelgaon take the village roads. They are better off and much more picturesque.
#6 Jan 22nd, 2015, 10:00
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A Year End Trip to Rajmahal, Sahibganj and Bhagalpur

As is often the case professional preoccupation keeps one away from finishing unfinished travelogues. It was once again true for me.
Having got somewhat unexpected leave for a couple of days, I thought it high time to catch up with the unfinished agenda.
The first day of the new year was a one of hectic drive. Set out from Bhagalpur early in the morning since we had more than 300 Kms to cover that day and I, for once, was rather apprehensive considering my last couple of days experience with Bihar roads. First it was a Jain temple on the outskirts of Bhagalpur. The peaceful ambience along with neat and clean surroundings mark this place of worship of the Digamber sect.
Our next stop was Mandar Hill, some 70 Kms away from Bhagalpur. The road condition, as was apprehended, was dreadful. Only at patches, one could find some semblance of a metalled pavement. Mandar Hill is known for preserving some of Ashoka's messages in rock carvings. This awesome, isolated, singular boulder hill appears as a gigantic monolith rising at a height of 700 feet is aptly connected with a popular mythical tale of immortality in Hindu Puranas. This hill is a sacred destination to Jains and Hindus both. At the base of the hill a large tank having a Vishnu temple at the centre with a lotus structure is built in the recent past. Side by side, in the memory of the 12th Jain Tirthankara Vasupujya who attained nirvana here, a temple is built on top of this hill. On the way to the top an astounding lake settled at the niche of the black rock is absolutely startling. The mythological tale of Hindus describes this hill as Sumeru Parvat, the churning pole of Amrit Manthan (Nectar of Immortality) with the winding ‘Naag’ (the Great Snake). The patterns that are visible on the rock is believed to have created by the mythical Great Snake while the churning took place between the Devas and Asuras
Going to Mandar Hills involved a slight detour from the main Bhgalpur-Deoghar road. Having had a little first hand information on how the roads in Bihar are, I decided to continue on the village road that lead us to Mandar and on hind sight that was a wise decision since the newly paved PMGSY roads, though narrow, are a far better option than the potholed highways. Moreover, these often save you on the distance as well, so vital on a whirlwind tour like ours.
Though not in our original programme, we decided to pay a visit to Chandan reservoir in Banka district of Bihar nestled amidst deep undergrowth and dense forest. There is an abandoned dam here over the Chandan river, which serves as a week-end picnic spot. Being the New Year's Day, there was considerable crowd here, mostly picnic parties blaring at full throttle latest movie numbers over loud speakers – a constant irritant not only to the ear but to the pristine charm of the place. The road to and fro Chandan is equally picturesque passing through wide spread hillocks on either side of the road, almost vegetation less barren land at patches, huge collection of Palash and Shimul trees at others, numerous small rivulets and scattered hamlets on its way.
We had our lunch at around two on a shady little place on our way back from Chandan. I was beginning to have jitters since I had managed to cover only a third of the distance for the day and the sundown was barely a couple of hours away. With the road condition a continuous worry, I felt a bit shaky. But, once we moved over to Jharkhand, predictably the roads became far better and it was joy to drive. The speedometer clock was on the upswing and almost in no time we were in Dumka covering the better part of hundred kilometres passing through some of the most scenic places of East Jharkhand.
Once in Dumka, it felt much better since I was no more in unchartered territory. Having topped up my oil tank, as petrol is much cheaper here compared to Bengal, I pressed on the peddle. It was not completely dark when I reached the Massanjore dam via Pattabari – all to familiar roads for yours truly – to have a tea-stop. Soon, I realised that I was in the midst of jam of New Years revellers who had flocked there in numbers for a outings to mark the beginning of the year. It took some effort to get away from the inebriated, unruly traffic and finally to reach home via Suri at around eight in the evening.
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