Purulia is what mystical places are made of. Incredible natural beauty, elusive tribal folk culture, gorgeous dances, mythological connections and friendly people. And there are springs when the whole district gets stained with the bright red palash flowers. Autumns bring feathery white kaash and summers are dense green. It is nature at its most verdant state and the entire district is one red earth country. Dust rises from its rural lanes in dusty red, brick brown, and deep saffron colours. Oxen patiently plough the grooved yellowish brown fields and deep crimson water lilies cover the glassy ponds. To this sublime natural beauty of Purulia, another shade of red is also often added and that is the colour of blood. For many years, Purulia has been rocked by violent Naxalite Maoists activities and the district is a hotbed of controversial trouble.
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Though this has become less in recent years, still now traveling to Purulia is not advised during elections. It is a part of the infamous Red Corridor (a region in the eastern, central and the southern parts of India that experience heavy Naxalite-Maoist insurgency) and acts as a gateway to the neighbouring states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Many industrial belts surround this region and it is also extremely rich in minerals. Different indigenous communities call Purulia home and the district is well known for its beautiful masked dance called Chau. One of the 20 districts of West Bengal in India, Purulia is headed by a city with the same name and though many rivers flow through it, the region is drought prone. This dryness lends a crisp golden sheen to the bucolic landscape and the whole effect is strangely photogenic.
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I visited Purulia during winter when its famous red earth was bone dry and the evenings were cold. An overnight train from Kolkata took me to Baghmundi station, where my homestay host and guide awaited with a full itinerary. Being pregnant and time crunched, however made my travel plan get reduced in half and I spent two days relaxing under the Purulia sun. Thanks to my host‘s careful driving, I also managed to explore a few nearby places and post dinner Chau masked dance performances livened up the evenings. That trip was my last work assignment before taking a maternity break at home in Germany and it was a wonderful way to leave India. Purulia was beautiful at the time of my visit and the legendary undulating land was covered with intense smelling shrubs. Green Ayodhya Hills were reflected in calm lakes and ladies from the local indigenous communities sang while collecting kindling wood from the forests. Their cheerful children often trailed behind them, minding goats while the men drank tea under the trees.
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A mild winter sun blanketed the countryside in a sleepy stupor and wildflowers carpeted the wet surroundings of waterfalls. That winter in Purulia was very charming for me and here are some glimpses of my visit. Images speak louder than words and I hope these pictures will make you fall in love with this legendary district. Jawaharlal Nehru once said, “We live in a beautiful world, that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” This holds true for Purulia, the land of surprises.
TRAVEL TIP – Purulia is a large district and there are many places to visit. I was a guest of Chowburu Tourism and explored places near Baghmundi. It is a homestay and travel consultant company which specializes in small treks to Ayodhya Hills, Dolma Hills, visits to the forests, Chau mask artists‘s homes and tribal villages. They also organize day trips and Chau mask dance performances. You can contact Chowburu‘s Sujit Chandra Kumar via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call +91-9732294515 to make a reservation.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE