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Tag Archives: Netarhat

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Bewitching Betla

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Part 2

Jharkhand, famously known as the “Land of Forests” is an ultimate destination for nature lovers and wildlife aficionados.

As the crowd melted away from the sunset view point at Netarhat, Naresh drove us back to a roadside restaurant (Hotel Nagbanshi). “If you bring desi chicken, I can cook for you,” the young man at the restaurant said. “The shop is nearby,” he added. Excited, my cousin Pronab and I hurried to buy the chicken. As we handed over the chicken to the young man, he said: “Your dinner will be ready by 9.30pm.”

We then went to see the Netarhat Residential School, a unique initiative by the Jharkhand government for poor and meritorious students. Established in 1954, the school consistently produces toppers of the Bihar School Examination Board. We couldn’t go inside the campus which is spread over 780 acres.

Pronab and I then returned to the hotel. Around 9.30pm we went back to the restaurant for dinner. The menu was: hot roti, rice, dal and desi chicken. We thanked the young man for the hearty meal. The stillness of the night whispered peace. With the moon shining up in the sky, I was savoring every moment.

The next day morning we woke up very early to see the sunrise at Magnolia Point, the same site where we went to see the sunset. It was 5.40am. Naresh drove us to the viewpoint. The wind was beginning to lift the veil of mist which melted away slowly before the sun. The rising sun cast a rosy hue across the morning sky. Spellbound, we watched the sun slowly rising on the eastern horizon. After soaking in the mesmerizing sight, we returned to the hotel.

Our next destination was Betla National Park located on the Chotanagpur plateau in the Latehar and Palamu district.

We quickly had our breakfast at the restaurant where we had our dinner and bid adieu to Netarhaat around 8.30am. The 94km drive through the luxuriant sal forests was breathtaking. Nature has bestowed all her treasures here. Driving through the enthralling terrains and dense forests, I recalled an anonymous quote: “The view is tree-mendous!”

We drove past a bridge over the river Koel. Pronab and I got off the car to take some photographs of the romantic river. Even though the midday sun was blazing down, our mood was as brilliant as the rays of the sun.

We finally reached Betla around 12pm and checked into Banvihar (a Jharkhand Tourism property) which was very close to the entrance to Betla National Park.  A very spacious ground floor room was given to us. After leaving our luggage at the hotel, we drove to Palamu Fort, 3km from Banvihar. The poor maintenance of the Fort was appalling. After spending about an hour, we returned to the hotel for lunch.

The timing for the National Park safari is from 7am to 9am in the morning and from 2pm to 4pm in the afternoon (entry fees Rs 1,200). We decided to take the morning safari the next day.

(To be continued)

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Captivated by the sights and sounds of Netarhat

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If the world’s too much with you and if you’re looking for peace and tranquility, get your backpack ready and head for Netarhat, a tiny hill station in Latehar district of Jharkhand.

My cousin Pronab broached the idea of going to Netarhat, also referred to as “Queen of Chotanagpur”. The entire plan was cooked up and final decision taken in just less than 24hours on a weekend.

Malda Intercity chugged off from platform no 17 of Howrah station at 12.50pm. Our destination: Ranchi

The second sleeper compartment was not crowded, much to our relief. Possibly, it being Sunday, there weren’t many hawkers in the compartment. The first stop was Kharagpur; the train then stopped at Bishnupur, Bankura, Bokaro, Jhalida and a couple of other stations before finally screeching to a halt at Ranchi at 10pm about 15 minutes early. As we got off the train, we could feel the chill. I quickly zipped up my jacket after I shivered with cool breeze brushing against my bare face. We took the stairs up, ambled out of the station, took a rickshaw and reached Hotel Guru.

We stayed overnight at Ranchi and the next morning we rented a car to travel to Netarhaat about 151km away. We left Ranchi around 8.45am; after traveling about 30 minutes on the NH39, our car left behind the city bedlam. We could see the lush green fields on either side of the road. Nature unfolded her treasure as we feasted our eyes. Wordsworth’s “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her,” crossed my mind. Lush carpet of pine needles and spongy grass greeted my eyes.

“I’ll let you have a delicious breakfast,” said driver Naresh as he stopped the car at a wayside eatery — Puja Sweets Centre– at a place called Bero. We got off the car, ordered singara, fried litti (a local delicacy) and tea. The litti was simply mind-blowing.

For the next almost three hours we drove through the hilly terrain and savored, to the hilt, the lush green of “pine needles and spongy grass” on the way. Satyajit Ray’s Aronner Din Raatri’s unforgettable scene in which Rabi Ghosh burnt a copy of The Statesman in his inimitable style saying “Sobbhoytar songe sob somporko sesh (We cut off all ties with the civilization)” came to mind.

We finally reached Netarhaat (3,700ft), the highest point in the Chotanagpur plateau, around 1.45pm. Temperature then was around 15 degrees Celsius. The great sweep of the plateau was breathtaking. As we didn’t book any hotel in advance, we had to look for a hotel. We checked in Hotel Prakash, a budget, yet a reasonably good, hotel.

“Please get your lunch fast, sir, we’ve to go to the sunset view point,” Naresh said. “Sunrise and sunset views here are stunning.” By the time we had our shower and finished our lunch, it was well past 4pm. We drove to the Magnolia sunset point (about 5km from our hotel) to witness the spectacular sight. The sky was ablaze with the fire of the setting sun as it was slowly disappearing on the western horizon. We watched in awe as the majestic beauty overwhelmed us.



The mesmerizing view of the blazing sunset remained etched in my mind as darkness descended slowly on the hill town.

For booking Hotel Guru (Ranchi), Call 9334422773

Hotel Prakash (Netarhat), Call Sanjiv: 8986649798/7091129278

For better accommodation

Lake View Resort (Netarhat) Tel 7321991365/9693512065/8809815397

Ravi & Sashi (Netarhat) Tel 9934769927/9431500964)

(To be continued)


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