The area now known as Jharkhand has a history dating as far back as the Bihari kingdom of Magadha and the Kalingas of Orissa. The area was known then, as now, for its large tribal populations. Its earliest history was characterized by injustices by many tribal leaders, leading to the tribes to go to the Kalingas for protection. The area was ruled off an one for hundreds of years by the rulers of Orissa and Bihar, with a degree of autonomy for the good tribes, ruled by the Munda Rajas, who continue to reign in some parts of the state. Buddhists and Jains had a large role in the early years of the region, leaving ruins across its countryside.
The British era began in 1765, who gave the state it’s name Jharkhand, which means the Land of Jungles and Bushes, a fitting title for the state’s diverse wildlife. Jharkhand was one of the first places to revolt against the British, predating the massive Indian War of Independence of 1857 by almost a hundred years. The adivasis, or tribals as they are also known, revolted over a dozen times between 1772 and 1900, resulting in major British crackdowns in the area. The strong tradition of protest in the area eventually merged with Gandhi’s Civil Disobedience movement.
After Independence, Jharkhand was part of the state of Bihar, but it would take decades before Jharkhand became its own state, carved mainly from the tribal areas of Bihar.
Jharkhand is well known for its adivasi tribes, which compose 28% of the population. The state speaks Hindi, Bengali, and many dialects of each. Most people in the state are Hindu, but a large segment of the population is Muslim as well as the Sarna religion, an animistic tribal faith. There are also a relatively large number of Christians in the state.
Jharkhand is known nationwide for its industry, and some parts of the state are marred by the famous steel plants and coal mines. However, away from the major urban areas there are beautiful forests and unique cultures. The state is an under-appreciated gem, and tourists who come out to the area will find a rewarding experience.
After Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in 2000, Ranchi was made the capital and has seen a spurt of growth. Ranchi does not have much in the way of tourist attractions, though nearby are some waterfalls and scenic areas. It is the one of the best places to find lodgings in the area, though, and is relatively close to most of the tourist sites of interest.
Jamshedpur is the largest city of industrial Jharkhand, and has had many beautiful gardens built by the local steel corporation Tata Steel. The company, in conjunction with the government, has led to the preservation of many wildlife areas, including Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary, a short trip from Jamshedpur.
Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary
Dalma Mountain Range, at 1000 meters, has been protected by the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary and is home to tigers. elephants, bears, deer, hundreds of birds species. There is a place to stay provided by the forest department, and the forest is a popular retreat for people tiring of the steel plants.
Deoghar is far enough away from the major industrial centers of Jharkhand that is has an air of freshness to it. Deoghar has some interesting sites for the tourist to see, most notably the Baidhnath Temple, Naulakha Temple, and Rikhiya Dham, a famous Yoga center.
It is said Ravana was traveling home carrying a sacred lingam of Lord Shivas, which would remain fixed in the spot it was first put down. Ravana, traveling home, was tricked by Vishnu and Varuna to release it. Varuna, the water god, entered Ravana’s body and got him to need to make water. Ravana, seeing a friendly Brahman, asked him to hold the lingam. When he came back, he saw the Brahman had really left – after all, it was Vishnu who was the Brahman. Baidhnath Temple stands on the site of this lingam, after a hunter rediscovered it hundreds of years ago. Many pilgrims visit this site to pay their respects.
Naulakha Temple is a major architectural work, a beautiful stone temple dedicated to Krishna that was built centuries ago by the queen of Deoghar. The temple is easily accessible from the city.
Nearby Deoghar are the cave temples of Tapovan, famous throughout India for being where Balanand Brahmachari, a holy man, meditated. There are also numerous temples on top of the hill there.
Dumka is a small town surrounded by beautiful mountains, rivers, and forests and is a popular site for ecotourism as well as exposure to tribal culture. The area is great for trekking and hiking.
Baba Basukinath Dham
Baba Basukinath Dham is a pilgrimage site for many devout Hindus. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and attracts people from all over the country during the month of Shravan.
Mallooti is a very old temple in the midst of Jharkhandi forest that is hundreds of years old. It is a short drive from Dumka and is frequent by historic tourists.
Hazaribargh is on top of a plateau and is literally the city of a “thousand gardens”. It is nearby much wildlife, as well as the historic Paras Nath, revered by Jains.
Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary
A popular ecotourism location, many tigers, bears, sambhar and deer live here, and there are observation towers in the park that allow for easy viewing. Care should be taken when walking through the forests!
The tallest mountain in the state, Paras Nath towers over its surroundings at a height of almost 5000 feet. The mountain is sacred to Jains, as it is said 23 of the 24 Tirthankars met salvation here. The top of the hill and its surroundings are covered with ancient and beautiful Jain temples, and it is an under-appreciated tourist spot.
A short drive from Ranchi or Hazaribagh, Rajrappa Mandir, also known as Chinnamastika Temple, is a very popular pilgrimage spot for Hindus in Bihar, Jharkhand, and West BEngal. it is dedicated to Kali and is also famous for the headless statue of its namesake goddess. Unlike most Hindu temples, no one knows how old this one is.
In the heart of tribal country, Palamu is an idyllic agricultural paradise renowned nationwide for its large nature parks. Many tourists come here to see the wildlife of Betla
National Park and Palamu Tiger Reserve
Betla National Park
Arguably the most visited tourist spot in Jharkhand, Betla National Park, along with Palamu Sanctuary, extends for thousands of kilometers. There are thousands of plant species, hundreds of birds, countless butterflies and large populations of tigers, leopards, elephants, bison and boars. Elephant rides available for tourists can be found a the visitors center.
Palamu Tiger Reserve
Palamu Tiger Reserve initiated the nature preservation in the state, and although it is limited to tourists because of the danger tigers can pose to people, tours are available.