McCluskieganj Weekend


Mccluskieganj Weekend

We are Bengali Christians, which I know sounds confusing but if you think carefully, it will be as easy as an apple pie. We are Bengalis who have the religion as Christianity and we go to church on Sundays. Maybe someday I will write a separate blog about us Bengalis Christians. Anyways this blog is all about a different community, which we call the “Anglo Indians”.

I studied at St. Thomas Boys School at Kidderpore, Kolkata which in the ’90s used to have a substantial Anglo Indian students thus many of my classmates were from this community. I found them quite different especially since I was from what you can call a typical middle-class Bengali family. These guys were happy to go lucky and always had a smiling face even during exams. They were brilliant in sports and their whole attitude when it comes to wowing the girls from the neighbouring St. Thomas Girls school was beyond what I can logically explain. They could just sway them off their feet.

Over the years, many of my Anglo friends or what the teacher in our school used to say “Anglo Boys” have left the city for better pastures and settled in Australia or Canada. These guys really didn’t mind the hardship and easily adapted to their new environment. Slowly the city lost a huge chuck from this community.

Around 500 kilometers from Kolkata there is a small village just around 65 kilometers from Ranchi is a small village by the name of McCluskieganj. This small village was once the “Promised Land” of the Anglo Indians in India. Once this small community wanted to have a place of their own thus was born McCluskieganj which started thriving with Anglo Indians who migrated to this tiny village in Bihar (now Jharkhand) and started settling down in small villas.

History of Mccluskieganj

For long, the Anglo Indian community in India was struggling with their own identity. They had the British blood but their cultures intertwined with the Indian communities and their cultures. The British when finally decided to leave India apart from the legacy they had left behind the Anglo Indians.

Ernest Timothy McCluskie decided to have a town where all the Anglo Indians could settle, a place where they could call their homeland. He was a real estate insurance agent based out of Calcutta (Kolkata) which was then the big town or the land of opportunity in British India.

Advertisement about Mccluskieganj on The Colonial Observer – Courtesy University of Oxford
Advertisement about Mccluskieganj on The Colonial Observer – Courtesy University of Oxford

Ernest Timothy McCluskie took a lease of around 10,000 acres from the Maharaja of Ratu who used to rule this part of Chotanagpur. TheColonisation Society of India Ltd. which was a cooperative was formed in 1933 which helped in selling plots of land exclusively to Anglo Indians and within a quick span, there were around four hundred such families who had decided to settle here.

Advertisement about Mccluskieganj on The Colonial Observer – Courtesy University of Oxford
Advertisement about Mccluskieganj on The Colonial Observer – Courtesy University of Oxford

This part of Bihar had forests surrounded by hills and many rivers running across the land. The climate was also very pleasant and apart from the very hot summer rest of the year saw pleasant hill station like climate which favored the community.

Things, however, did not go that well for Ernest Timothy McCluskie as he died in the year 1935 which is just two years after the establishment of McCluskieganj. Even though initially many Anglo Indian families did settle down in McCluskieganj but the original dream never materialized. While most of the Anglo Indian families slowly started migrating to Canada, UK and Australia some did not want to live in the isolation of a remote community in Bihar. They preferred to stay in the city and work rather than to do farming back in McCluskieganj.

Ernest Timothy McCluskie – Courtesy University of Oxford
Ernest Timothy McCluskie – Courtesy University of Oxford

Over the years, this Anglo Indian town became a ghost town, the houses remained abandoned and some who did manage to maintain sold them off at a later stage. The few remaining Anglo Indians in McCluskieganj are more Indian than us, they speak the local Hindi dialect and English just remained a subject in their school books.

How to Reach Mccluskieganj

The nearest airport is that of Birsa Munda Airport which is located in Ranchi. Since this is mostly considered as a weekend destination, thus people mostly reach this place by train. If you are taking the train then there are two options. You can either direct reach McCluskieganj Railway Station (MGME) but do keep in mind that this is a very small station and most station makes a very quick stop and that too at very odd hours. The next best option would be to go via Ranchi, you can take any train to Ranchi and then take a car/taxi to reach McCluskieganj.

Ranchi Airport to McCluskieganj – 69 Kilometres

Ranchi Station to McCcluskieganj – 67 Kilometres

Most of the guesthouses at McCluskieganj are located within a two kilometers radius from the station thus you can either walk it down or hire an electric rickshaw.

Mccluskieganj Railway Station (MGME)
Mccluskieganj Railway Station (MGME)
Landscape around Mccluskieganj
Landscape around Mccluskieganj
Traditional Village around Mccluskieganj
Traditional Village around Mccluskieganj
Forest Road around Mccluskieganj (Road from Ranchi)
Forest Road around Mccluskieganj (Road from Ranchi)

Where to Stay in Mccluskieganj

There are no big hotels around McCluskieganj and what at best you get are guesthouses, which are mostly managed by the Anglo Indian families that still reside in this part of the town. After doing a lot of research, I settled for Gordon Guest House, which is one of the most popular here and can easily be reached over the phone. The booking process is simple you just call to confirm the available dates and the type of room that you require after which you deposit a part of the booking amount directly to their bank account and they will confirm the booking. The balance payment can be made after your stay.

Food is mostly served by the guest house itself and you need to order it well in advance as depending on your choice it will be cooked for you. Therefore, lunch needs to be ordered by breakfast and dinner needs to tell by lunchtime. Food I found it to be a bit on the expensive side and since you have limited option you have to eat at the guesthouse itself so be ready to pay, which honestly I think is not justified when compared to the pricing of food even in a bigger city.

After the first day when we were charged Rs. 10 per piece of poori and sabzi, I realized that the guest house owner simply buys these from the neighborhood shop for Rs. 5 and served it to us. There are some snack shops near the railway crossing and do check them out for some delicious local snacks and sweets.

Mccluskieganj – Gordon Guest House
Mccluskieganj – Gordon Guest House
Mccluskieganj – Government Guest House
Mccluskieganj – Government Guest House
Mccluskieganj – Gulmohar Guest House (Few of the Options Out Here)
Mccluskieganj – Gulmohar Guest House (Few of the Options Out Here)

What to See at Mccluskieganj

The prime attraction at McCluskieganj is the numerous bungalows, which were once owned by the Anglo Indian families. Some of them are almost crumbling to the ground while some are now owned by their new owners and have been restored. At one point in time, this place was known as the “Little England” of India and the Anglo Indian communities thrived here with parties and fanfare. As you visit some of the worn-down bungalows you will be able to see the fireplaces and you just need to close your eyes for a moment to transport you back a few decades. The stench of bat droppings will bring you back to the reality that these have lived past its life and is just a relic of the past.

One of the Old Bungalows Now Owned By Famous Bengali Writer Buddhadeb Guha
One of the Old Bungalows Now Owned By Famous Bengali Writer Buddhadeb Guha
The Hermitage Few of the Last Remaining Old Houses at Mccluskieganj
The Hermitage Few of the Last Remaining Old Houses at Mccluskieganj
The Old Church Mccluskieganj
The Old Church Mccluskieganj
New Church Mccluskieganj
New Church Mccluskieganj
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalows
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalows
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalow Where A Death in the Gunj Was Shot
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalow Where A Death in the Gunj Was Shot
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalow Where A Death in the Gunj Was Shot
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalow Where A Death in the Gunj Was Shot
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalow Which Now Lies Abandoned
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalow Which Now Lies Abandoned
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalow Which Now Lies Abandoned
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalow Which Now Lies Abandoned
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalow Which Now Lies Abandoned
Mccluskieganj – Old Bungalow Which Now Lies Abandoned
Mccluskieganj – Abandoned Old Bungalow
Mccluskieganj – Abandoned Old Bungalow
Mccluskieganj – Abandoned Old Bungalow with a Fireplace
Mccluskieganj – Abandoned Old Bungalow with a Fireplace

The local Don Bosco Academy is quite popular in the region and students around the state came here to study and stay at one of the numerous hostels that have sprung up like mushrooms. Some of the old bungalows have been converted into hostels for this purpose.

Mccluskieganj – Don Bosco Academy
Mccluskieganj – Don Bosco Academy

McCluskieganj is surrounded by rivers and forest thus you can easily take a day trip around the town. Some of the places that you can visit are:-

Damodar River
Sarva Dharma Sthal
Sita Kund
Duga Dugi
Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Nindra Bridge

Damodar River

This was known as the “Sorrow of Bengal” due to its fierce floods but now its just a small trickle due to several check dams but the mighty size can still be felt when you look at it from top of the bridge.

Mccluskieganj – Bridge Over Damodar River
Mccluskieganj – Bridge Over Damodar River
Mccluskieganj – Damodar River
Mccluskieganj – Damodar River
Mccluskieganj – Damodar River
Mccluskieganj – Damodar River

Sarva Dharma Sthal

We keep hearing about national integration but out here (Dulli) which is around five kilometers from the main town lies a small plot of land which is unique in its own way. This place has a temple, a mosque and a half-built Gurdwara. There is, in fact, a plot marked for church but there is just a wooden cross that marks the spot.

Originally, it was planned that this place will have all the four primary religious houses but only the mosque and the temple could be built. The construction of rest of the places had to be stopped due to insurgency activity in the past. With things cooling off the villagers have now started thinking of restarting the construction process.

Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal
Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal
Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal (Mosque)
Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal (Mosque)
Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal (Temple)
Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal (Temple)
Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal (Space Reserved For Church)
Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal (Space Reserved For Church)
Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal (Gurdwara)
Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal (Gurdwara)
Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal (Gurdwara)
Mccluskieganj – Sarva Dharma Sthal (Gurdwara)

Sita Kund

Right next to Sarva Dharma Sthal is a place that the local villagers refer to as Sita Kund. This is basically a natural spring and there is a constant flow of freshwater from the underground. There are few ponds around these places which are full of lotuses thus making this place very picturesque except for the constant rumbling of illegal stone crushers from a nearby plot.

Mccluskieganj – Sita Kund
Mccluskieganj – Sita Kund
Mccluskieganj – Sita Kund Natural Spring
Mccluskieganj – Sita Kund Natural Spring
Mccluskieganj – Beautiful Ponds around Sita Kund
Mccluskieganj – Beautiful Ponds around Sita Kund
Mccluskieganj – Beautiful Ponds around Sita Kund
Mccluskieganj – Beautiful Ponds around Sita Kund

Duga Dugi

This is a popular picnic spot and is really indeed a very beautiful place to spend a quiet evening. The small flow of water and the sandbanks creates a perfect amalgamation. The water in the month of October was knee-deep and honestly, you wouldn’t mind a cool dip to relax your body. This spot is on the Kuwaarpatraa River before it meets the mighty Damodar.

Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi Picnic Spot
Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi Picnic Spot
Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi
Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi
Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi
Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi
Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi
Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi
Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi
Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi
Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi
Mccluskieganj – Duga Dugi

Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon

This is the same small stream that feeds Damodar and up ahead we get Duga Dugi but the landscape is very different. This place is like a mini Grand Canyon but you need a guide to reaching this spot. Be ready for some steep climbing down steep stairs thus would suggest avoiding this place if you have some difficulty in movements.

Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon
Mccluskieganj – Kuwaarpatraa River Canyon

Nindra Bridge

This bridge is located on the same Kuwaarpatraa River and is used by the trains that go via McCluskieganj. Nindra

Mccluskieganj – Nindra Bridge
Mccluskieganj – Nindra Bridge
Mccluskieganj – Nindra Bridge
Mccluskieganj – Nindra Bridge

McCluskieganj has its own charm and it’s best to be enjoyed with the reminiscing of the past is the people and the houses that are left behind. Enjoy a weekend with a different feel.

An Abandoned House at Mccluskieganj
An Abandoned House at Mccluskieganj

Places to Stay at Mccluskieganj

Gordon Guest House (Bobby Gordon)
9470930230, 9835770679, 9430149692

McCluskieganj Government Guest House
72508 80777, 70043 86154, 85214 53541

Gulmohar Guest House
70335 4333, 91993 31844

Local Transport

Auto (Six Seater) – Akib 62010 49090
He knows all the important tourist places and sightseeing points. A six hour tour will cost you around Rs. 600 to Rs. 800.

References

https://www.deccanherald.com/sunday-herald/sunday-herald-melange/a-dream-called-mccluskieganj-743394.htmlA dream called McCluskieganj
McCluskieganj, Jharkhand | Remains of a promised land
Paul Harris Revisits McCluskieganj To Relive A Forgotten Anglo-Indian Colony

8 thoughts on “McCluskieganj Weekend

  1. Very nice. I learned something. I thought the Anglo-Indians were the local Indian converts to Christianity through the missionaries. But these Anglo-Indians were part European. This is a news to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We had many Anglo-Indians in Chittagong but they were all Indian converts thanks to all types of Christian missionaries that were active in those areas for centuries. Many Anglo-Indians had Portuguese/Spanish last names like d’Silva, d’Souza, Gonzales, Lobo, Hernandez. When I will have time then I will write about the Christians of Pakistan. Keep up the good work. Take care. khalid

    On Mon, Feb 24, 2020 at 10:45 AM Subhadip Mukherjee ~ The Indian Vagabond wrote:

    > Subhadip Mukherjee posted: ” We are Bengali Christians, which I know > sounds confusing but if you think carefully, it will be as easy as an apple > pie. We are Bengalis who have the religion as Christianity and we go to > church on Sundays. Maybe someday I will write a separate blog ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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