Located about 104 km north of Ranchi, Hazaribagh is considered a health resort and is also popular for the Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary which lies about 17 km from the city. Located in the Chhota Nagpur plateau about 2,000 m above sea level on the middle plateau, Hazaribagh is a beautiful place with dense forests and natural formations including rock formations and lakes.
Hazaribagh’s name is derived from two Persian words: Hazar meaning one thousand and bagh meaning garden and the town’s name means a city of a thousand gardens. In ancient times the district was covered with inaccessible forests inhabited by tribes that remained independent. The entire territory of Chhotanagpur, now known as Jharkhand was presumably beyond the pale of outside influence in ancient India. Throughout the Turko-Afghan period, up to 1526, the area remained virtually free from external influence and it was only with the accession of Emperor Akbar to the throne of Delhi in 1557 that Muslim influence penetrated Jharkhand, then known to the Mughals as Kokrah. After the death of Emperor Akbar in 1605, the area presumably regained its independence which necessitated an expedition in 1616 by Ibrahim Khan Fateh Jang, the Governor of Bihar and brother of Queen Noorjehan who defeated and captured Durjan Sal, the 46th Raja of Chotanagpur. In 1632, Chotanagpur was given as an endowment to the Governor at Patna for an annual payment of Rs.136,000 which was raised to Rs.161,000 in 1636. After the Kol uprising in 1831 the territories of Ramgarh, Kharagdiha, Kendi and Kunda became parts of the South-West Frontier Agency and were formed into a division with Hazaribagh as the administrative headquarters. In 1855-56 there was the great uprising of the Santhals against the British which was brutally suppressed. In 1912, a new province of Bihar and Orissa was split from Bengal Province and in 1936, the province was split into separate provinces of Bihar and Orissa, with the Chota Nagpur division being a part of Bihar. Bihar’s boundaries remained mostly unchanged after Indian Independence in 1947. In 2000, Jharkhand was separated from Bihar to become India’s 28th state. A small but effective Bengali community settled at Hazaribagh in the 19th century when the area was in Bengal Presidency.
The Hazaribagh National Park is one of the oldest wildlife sanctuaries in India, established in 1954 to conserve wildlife and provide a home for rare and endangered species of flora and fauna. The wildlife sanctuary’s landscape is full of steep hills, spectacular countryside, thick tropical forest and lovely meadows. Located about 19 km from Hazaribagh, the interiors of the park are very well-connected by internal roads of 111 km that allow animals to go about their daily business. Spread over an area of 184 sq km at an altitude of 615 m, the park did not get much tourist attention until 2007 when the deputy CM of the state announced the construction of a state-of-the-art elephant project that aimed at attracting more tourists.
The park is abode to a variety of rare and endangered flora and fauna including animals like the Sambar, Nilgai, Bison, Spotted deer, Cheetah, Wild Boar and Kakkar which can be easily seen at dawn and dusk, enjoying the water holes. If one is lucky, they might even see a sloth or a panther. At one time, Hazaribagh Wildlife sanctuary was famous for its enormous population of tigers, but now one would be lucky to catch a glimpse. The tiger population is fast dwindling and has been a matter of concern. According to the 1991 census, there were only 14 tigers in the park. The natural vegetation consists primarily of grass meadows and thick tropical forests with the entire area covered with Sal and other trees during the spring season. Plenty of water resources in small form rivers and artificial lakes also adorn the sanctuary. Many watchtowers facilitate wildlife watching built near water holes, that provide breathtaking top views. One can also take a jeep safari to explore the sanctuary which has a tribal hamlet inside. The safari can be done using a private vehicle or by hiring a jeep. For private vehicles, there is a nominal fee of INR 100. The park is open between 6 am and 8 pm and Indians need to pay an entry fee of INR 50 while foreigners will pay INR 100.
Canary Hills is an ideal escape from bustling city life. As one climbs up the hill walking past a dense forest filled with lush greenery and a lake they will reach a spot that has a magnificent view of the eastern Hazaribagh. One can also drive to the hill to a rest house and view the western part of Hazaribagh which is the main town. Hazaribagh Jheel or Lake is a famous local picnic spot divided into four parts with the third lake having the best views of sunrise and sunset. Just 6 km from Hazaribagh in the village of Kahapriama, is a famous temple dedicated to Lord Narsimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is known as Narsimhasthan. The beautiful temple also has a Shivalingam.
Bokaro Steel City
119 km northeast of Ranchi and about 130 km southeast of Hazaribagh, Bokaro is officially known as Bokaro Steel City is the fourth largest and most populous city in the state. One of India’s planned cities, it is located on the banks of the Garga River and the fringes of the Bokaro River, surrounded by the hill ranges in the Giridih and Ramgarh districts.
Marafari is the oldest settlement in Bokaro which was just a village during the time of the Mughals and various sultanates. India’s first Global Active City or GAC, Bokaro has emerged as a commercial, industrial, healthcare, sports, educational, and startup hub. The city is filled with lakes, greenery, and beautiful parks and has a significant Bengali influence because it is close to the state’s border with West Bengal.
Established in the 1980s, the Jawaharlal Nehru Biological Park became famous for its rare collection of big cats such as the white tigers and the Asiatic lions but due to a lack of adequate infrastructure, some of them had to be moved to zoos in other parts of the world. The zoo houses many species of animals and plants and also has a toy train and a boating facility in its artificial lake. One giant artificial lake and three artificial islands along with some amazing greenery are what constitute the City Park of Bokaro which also has many boating activities. The River Garga is a tributary of the Damodar River that flows on the southern parts of the city of Bokaro. A dam was constructed on it in the 1950s to make it the first such river valley project in the country. Known as the Garga Dam, power is generated from the dam, and the water is used for Bokaro’s use.
Named after the 23rd Tirthankara of the Jains, Parasnath is a popular Jain pilgrimage centre. It is believed that 20 out of 24 Teerthankars have attained their deliverance here on the highest peak in this range, Sammet Sikhar. There are as many as 20 temples here, some of which were built more than 2000 years ago. The Rajrappa temple on the confluence of the Damodar and Bhairavi rivers is influenced by the Tantric style of architecture and is a major pilgrimage site.
India’s largest iron and steel complex, Bokaro Steel Plant is regarded as the country’s first Swadeshi Steel Plant with maximum investment going into materials, equipment and R & D. The plant was conceived as to grant the country freedom from dependency on foreign sources to induce a measure of confidence and self-reliance. The plant was the country’s first indigenous project of its kind that utilised local material, manpower, and intellectual resources in all places possible. Located along the Damodar River, the plant is famous for its tours where one can witness all the processes involved in the manufacture of steel.