No idea is simple when you need to plant it in somebody else’s mind. This line from the movie Inception sums it all up for what I am going to write. Well unlike the movie this was not planted in my dreams but came to me while I was wide awake and eating breakfast.
It was 16th of December 2014 and I was invited along with my family for a breakfast at my in-law’s neighbour’s house. I was served bread toast with butter as this was favourite breakfast menu. The breads were crisp and brown with a thick layer of molten butter on top. I was busy enjoying the bites when I realized that the bread crumbs were falling on the carpet below so I decided to spread out the morning newspaper around the plate.
On the second bite when I looked down to keep down the bread and grab some tea I saw a news clip that was just laid in front of me. I stopped eating and immediately picked up the newspaper to read the content. It was a Hindi news daily called Prabhat Khabar and this article was just in front of my face like a read beacon. Hindi was my second language so I could manage to read the entire content though a bit slowly and I was already roaming around this magical mystical place just like the movie Inception. I took my mobile phone and clicked some snaps of the news article so that I can re-read it in details later.
By now it was New Year 2015 and I was still planning the trip to this mystical place called Doisagarh. My wife Smita wanted to visit her father during the extended Republic Day 2015 weekend, 23rd of January is celebrated in Bengal as Netaji Jayanti so her school will be off from 23rd till 26th of January at a stretch. Same applies for my daughter’s school so I decided to utilize this somewhat long gap for an opportunity to visit Doisagarh.
(Navratangarh) Doisagarh is located in Gumla district of Jharkhand and is not much far from the capital city of Ranchi thus my calculation with the help of Google Map was around 1.5 hours of drive each way. Smita wanted her father to come along so that it will be a good change for him also and added advantage would be that he loves to do long drives and would be thrilled to drive us in his car. Smita called up her father and informed about the plan and as I had guessed he was very eager to come along.
Since we were travelling to Ranchi so we could not think of missing out meeting our common friend Aerbin who had also accompanied us to North Sikkim trip thus a quick chat on WhatsApp confirmed his availability during that time and he also agreed to come along. Since Aerbin is also an avid biker so he was aware of the route thus would be an asset to help my father in law navigate.
We took the Howrah – Hatia Express train from Howrah station on 22nd of January. We booked the ticket late thus our tickets were RAC (Reservation against cancellation) but I had received a confirmation SMS from IRCTC about our confirmation along with the coach and the berth. On occupying the mentioned berth I was approached by another passenger claiming that the berth occupied by me we his. I was surprised since he was carrying a paper ticket with the berth mentioned. He also informed that he was a Railways employee and the seat I was occupying was a Rail Employee Quota. Confusion continued for a minute or so as I was trying to log into IRCTC from my mobile to re check. Right at that moment I received another SMS from IRCTC confirming that the reservation chart has been re done due to technical error and followed by the new berth number. Luckily I was assigned a different seat in the same coach thus we could easily relocate.
The departure time was around 10.10 PM and the drain departed with a 15 minute delay. The journey was uneventful except the biting cold at night. The train reached Ranchi station at the scheduled time of 7 AM the next day. My father in law was waiting for us at the station and after navigating amongst the 1000 passengers all cramping to cross to the e xit using a single walk over bridge we reached the parking lot.
We had no travel plans for 23rd as there was a prayer service arranged in the memory of my mother in law thus we had planned for the adventure the next day on 24th of January. Aerbin had confirmed that he would reach our house by 9 AM the next day so that we can plan for a departure at approximately 9.30 AM. That night I sat with my father in law mapping out routes on the map. The route planned will be as following :-
Ranchi -> Nagri -> Bero -> Bharno -> Sisai
From Sisai we would have to take a left turn towards (Navratangarh) Doisagarh.
24th morning came and I was excited with the anticipation that my dream would become true soon. Smita prepared some stuffed parathas to carry during the journey. My father in law also packed some fresh banana that were ripe in his garden. Aerbin arrived at around 9.20 AM and we were all set for the departure. As my father in law was about to start the car the self-start was not getting activated. I was fully prepared to push the car to start but my father in law reconfirmed that the battery was new and fully charged. It was just a loose contact so on the second try the car started like a hot knife through butter and was ready for the journey ahead.
The roads were smooth as such occasionally there were few pot holes on the way. All around Ranchi I could see new infrastructure projects coming up. This was a good sign as the state needs to develop a lot and very quickly. What struck me was that most of the bridge and over passes were half completed across the stretch. Most of these projects were left half done and were the main cause of traffic congestion.
We drove through beautiful landscapes with farm land and some barren red soil landscapes. It was a ride that I enjoyed with the cool breeze and the warm sun above. We reached Sisai and now had to turn left somewhere, this job was left to Aerbin for him to figure out and after a quick enquiry with the locals we were told to take the very next left turn. Till now the road was well paved but as we took the left turn the roads almost vanished and were we driving in half paved roads.
After driving around 10 – 12 kilometres we decided to ask for further direction since I was almost certain that we were somewhere nearby. I could see two villagers standing ahead, one was well dressed and the other looked old and had an axe in his hand. I Advised Aerbin to ask the well-dressed man as he looked more appropriate. Aerbin quickly went out and asked him, this well-dressed guy looked stunned and could not give us any direction when Aerbin showed him the new paper article to confirm if any such structured are around he still could not give us any clue.
Just at that moment the other man who looked like he just returned from the nearby forest after gathering firewood took the piece of paper in his hand and gave us the nod that he knew where it was. He directed us to take the small almost hidden road in between the bushes and trees. We thanks him and moved on. We all laughed since the man who we almost thought was negligible was more informed.
After taking a right turn we entered a narrow passage and slowly the road became smaller and smaller. After some sharp twists and turn finally we arrived at a gate and beyond the gate Behold… lies (Navratangarh) Doisagarh… the lost kingdom of the Nagvangshis. Since there was no one at the gate we drove the car inside and parked in a shade.
The whole surrounding area were full of ruins and almost looked identical to that of Hampi of Karnataka. There were around 10 to 12 identifiable structures all around the place. Some were still standing and some almost down to the ground. The centre piece was the 4 storied structure which stood out. There was also a large pond like structure right in the middle. Almost green in colour there was still some water in the pond.
The whole area is spread over between 25 – 28 acres. As per a news reported by The Telegraph the structures are made up of Dhobi Math, Wakil Math, Panch Math and Hamam Math. Some other structures are unidentifiable. There are approximately 10-12 monuments and countless artifacts.
We found some local women attending to their cows and I approached them to ask if they knew what this place was. Unfortunately they had no clue what they were standing on, only they could tell me that the main four storied structure was actually six storied and the rest of the two are still below the ground.
We went inside the main four… I mean six storied structure and it did show some signs that there can be two more level buried under the ground. Basically the entire structure was created with clay and stone and there were still some sign that wood might have been used. The stairs inside the structure had collapsed so there was no way for us to climb up. The locals have placed a bamboo pole to climb up but since I am not that athletic thus decided against it.
The whole are remains hidden from the main road because of the perfect placement of the structures with the natural stone hills all around it. This may have been done purposely since the Nagvanshis were escaping the Mughals and had settled here, by looking at the whole place I am sure hundreds of years back this place were surrounded by thick forest which also acted as a natural barrier along with the surrounding hills.
On enquiring the locals had also informed that there are some more such structures a bit far from that place. I would imagine that those must have been other extensions to the kingdom. What they could show me were small stone structures in the far hills which I assume that it must have been a lookout tower or temples. I wanted to visit these structures also but was informed by the locals that there are no roads as such and one needs to walk in-between the bushes and then climb up a steep hill.
There other structures also and most of them resembled some kind of temple. Since the deity were missing thus could not determine to whom the temples were dedicated to. Amongst the ruins there was also a well but now it was filled with stones and gravels.
What is striking is the design of the structures. Some of them were terracotta design while some were carved out of stone. The whole area did not follow a single pattern which indicated that this place had been built over the years thus the difference in style.
The only inscription that could be identified was in one of the stone temples which was in ruins abut some written text could be identified. It looked like Sanskrit but unfortunately I still cannot find anyone who could translate the exact text. The date written in Devnagri Script which makes the structure 833 years old if taken into consideration the Indian Hindi Calendar.
Rianna by now was running around and since there was no other people around she had the whole history wither as her friend. My father in law was truly amazed by the whole setting and was much surprised that this place being such near to Ranchi he had never heard of it. Aerbin is a photo addict just like me so was busy clicking whatever he could set his eyes on. Smita as usual was very enthusiastic and even climbed up one of the structures just to get a better view.
We roamed around for more than an hour and by now the sun was right above our heads. We headed back to our car like victorious warriors. By now the mouse in our stomachs had also started dancing so it was picnic time. Alu Parathas , Chips, Banana, Cake etc. were out from the bag and was much enjoyed.
After the short food break we again roamed for around thirty minutes and then headed back to Ranchi. On our way back we stopped at a small village snack shop for some true urban nomad experience. Next day was Saraswati Puja so the local sweet shop was preparing Jalebisand other sweet items. We settles for some pakorasserved with tomato chutni. They tasted really yummy and we gobbled down three plates full of them.
On our way back we also stopped at a local vegetable market where we picked up some fresh produce so that we can have that for dinner. We reached back to Ranchi by 3.30 PM and was real tiered, rested for some time and then discussed the whole experience over a cup of tea while relaxing on the sofa. Like an explorer back from finding a new land I declared that this was just the icing on top of the cake. We will embark on more such journeys this whole year and rest cheered accepting the challenge.
So dear friends’ thanks for being with me in my journey of words will meet again with another adventure someplace else. By the way do suggest me some more obscure tourist spots like these.
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