Set on the northern edge of the Indian peninsula, tribal Jharkhand is a fledgling state. It was carved out of the state of Bihar only on 15 November 2000, the inauguration day chosen auspiciously for being the birth anniversary of the legendary tribal leader Birsa Munda, who led the Santhal Rebellion of 1831-32.
The movements for statehood was launched as the exploited indigenous populations of tribal's-mainly consisting of the Sangthal, Bedia, Khond, Munda and Oraon tribes-was not deriving any benefits from the state's natural riches. And yes, Jharkhand has plenty of them, accounting for 40 per cent of the country's mineral wealth. The primary resource is coal but Jharkhand also has ample copper, iron, ore, mice, bauxite and quartz deposits. The combinations of iron and coal deposits inspired the pioneering Parsi industrialist, J.N. Tata, to set up India's first steel works here in 1908.
Consisting of rolling hills and dense forest, Jharkhand's landscape is dominated by the Chhotangpur plateau. The plateau's altitude varies between 300-400 metres, with occasional outcrops rising to 1000 metres. Apart from being a key industrial belt, Jharkhand is noted for its forest and wildlife as well. Ranchi, serving as the summer's capital of Bihar under the British, is now the capital of Jharkhand. In the heart of the tribal's country, Ranchi attracts visitors for its pleasant environs, set as it is amid thick forest with lakes and waterfalls in one of the great tribal belts of India. Apart from seeping in it natural beauty, visitors should also visit the seventeenth-century Jagannath Temple and the Ranchi Museum.
The Subarnarekha river, South-east of Ranchi, has several dramatic waterfalls, chief among them being the Hundru and Johan Falls. Falling from a height of 144 feet, the Kanchi river makes the pretty Dassamghagh Falls.
Baidyanath Dham (Deoghar), situated in the Santhal Parganas of Jharkhand, is a very important pilgrim centre. Its main draw ids the popular Shiva-Baidyanath Temple.
Popularly called the 'Queen of Chhotanagpur', Netarhat is 154 kilometres west of Ranchi. A plateau covered with thick forest situated at a highest of 1128 metres, nature lovers visit this place to enjoy the breathtaking sunrise and sunset.
McCluskiganj is tranquil retreat among undulating hills and green wooded alopes. There are lovely European-style bungalows here as well as a tribal museum.