Rather than going to Darjeeling, Digha, Puri for the sake of a weekend getaway, get in your car and drive up to this place.
Murguma Dam is located in Purulia and it takes a minimum of 5-6 hours to reach from Kolkata on road. It is located in the north of Begunkodar within Jhalda Block and is about 55 km from Purulia town. The dam is on the tributary of Kangsabati river.
When you reach, there are two places where you can accommodate yourself.
Palash Bitan Jungle Resorts
These are tiny cottages which can accommodate families and friends. The range from their rooms start from INR 900/- and you will be able to find the rest of their website. http://www.palashbitan.com/rate.php
Each of these cottages have a name of their own which I think is really cute! If you are a tea lover like me, then you will love this place because they serve you with unlimited CHAI, all day long. You may pay INR 500/- for food they will provide you with a hearty 4 time meal.
P.S. Pay them 500 extra and get 1 kg of Fresh Chicken, barbequed, but you have to give them a heads up.
Bon Palashi Eco Huts
This is also a resort which includes cottages. The story behind this one is that it was founded by four friends from Kolkata. It is a very picturesque area and you can find rooms here which start from INR 1800/- but they also have tent accommodations. You can find more information about them on their website.
Other than that, they’ve also won the Traveller’s Choice Award, 2020 from TripAdvisor. Their meal plans include a 4 course vegetarian meal for INR 650/- per head and a non-vegetarian 4 course meal for INR 750/- per head. The rest of their meal plan can also be seen on their website along with contact information.
Now about the travelling scene, since you will be travelling from Kolkata early in the morning, you will reach there during the afternoon. Thus, you can directly grab lunch there. After your siesta, you can get out of the resort to enjoy the scenic beauty, walk or drive up to the Sunset view point located in the Ayodhya Hill Range. The entire lake is surrounded by hills. After that you can take a stroll back to the cottage.
Now you may retire to bed early for the journey that awaits. In the morning walk out of your cottage to see the hills which will be brightly lit up and dew drops on the grass and plants at the resort.
That day you may go local sightseeing. There are various things to see over there, you can follow this list:
- Begun Kodar Railway Station:
The place is known to be one of the Top 10 “Haunted” Railway Stations. Rumour has it that the station had been abandoned by passengers when the station master reportedly died after seeing a white sari-clad woman walking along the railway tracks. Since then the station was shut for 42 years until Mamata Bandhopadhyay re-opened it again back in 2009. Still, people tend to not stay there after 5 pm.
Full Disclaimer: No ghost sighting has happened yet but you do get an eerie feeling upon your arrival.
- Bamni Falls:
If you are into water bodies at all times, then this is the place for you. Located at Ayodhya Hills, Bamni Falls are a scenic beauty which represent vitality, spirit and the enjoyment of nature. Upon arrival, you will see that there is a steep amount of stairs. The first 200 steps are made with concrete and you see half the falls. The next 200 steps are not man-made and pretty rocky. If you’re into adventure and seek the adrenaline of climbing down 400 steps, then be my guest. If not, then I’d advise you to not go, especially if you are a heart patient, have respiratory issues or just plain anxious of heights. The fall mixes into the lake which is called the “lower dam”.
- Marble Lake:
From Bamni falls, you can go down to the Marble Lake. There was a time when people used to collect marble from that area. But because of constant raining, the area flooded and turned into a lake. Now it is a really serene lake which is surrounded by rocks. Apparently, locals call it the Blue Dam or Patal Dam because of the blue colour of the lake. And the best time to go here is during the Pujo vacations or winter. What bliss!
- Murguma Dam:
Once you’re done clicking pictures at the lower damn i.e., the Marble Lake, you may drive up to the upper dam which is filled with water. It was made for a hydroelectricity project, but you don’t need to know the details of that really and frankly, I’m not an intellectual from science!
But anyway, you can stop there to admire the view, and then from there you can go to Baghmundi to grab a fresh cuppa and samose!
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of the Chhau Dance. If not then let me describe it for you:
“Chhau dance, also spelt as Chau or Chhaau, is a semi-classical Indian dance with martial, tribal and folk traditions, with origins in eastern India.
The Chhau dance is mainly performed during festivals in the region of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha, especially the spring festival of Chaitra Parva and in which the whole community participates. The Purulia Chhau dance is celebrated during the Sun festival.”
Anyway, Charida is basically the “mask village” which has families who make these masks for the said dance form. The village is approximately 2 km away from the Murguma Dam. You can buy from these families, but don’t forget to drive a hard bargain from them. They have all sizes of masks available, from room decoration sizes to…well HUGE MASKS!
The small masks start from INR 150/- and the actual masks which are used for the dance form start from INR 1500/-. The masks are well ornamented and hand-painted and almost 300 families are involved in the said art form. They have traditional masks which depict mythological characters like Rama, Hanuman, Raavan etc but they also make masks which depict animal and bird heads like tiger, monkey, peacock etc.
According to Millenium Post, their most popular mask is of a married couple sporting traditional tribal make-up and hairdo is one of the most popular Chhau masks picked up by tourists. They are commonly referred to as Adivasi or Santhal masks. However, these masks are not inspired by the Santhals who live in the hills of Purulia; instead, the Kirat-Kiratin avatar of Shiva and Durga is the inspiration behind them.
Before We End Things…
Just letting you all know that the place falls super cold during December and I’m talking cold like 1° Celcius. So if you’re planning to take a trip at that time, please remember to carry heavy winter wear or prepare to shiver your timbers!
Another thing is, if you guys are interested to see the Chhau dance performance, they can arrange for a tiny programme for you and other members of the resort during the evening for you to enjoy. It will be followed by a barbeque party if you pay INR 500/- and mention it ealier during the day (Chicken only). At night it can be uber romantic if you go with your spouse/partner and engage in stargazing with them right before you’re about to go to sleep.
Now, if your time is up and you’re done touring this hidden gem, you may want to head back home. The best route would be Sircabad Road or Ranchi-Purulia roads which are in good condition because of maintenance done by the Tourism Dept. of West Bengal.
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