Kiriburu Meghahatuburu Trip

When we first planned our trip, I googled on Kiriburu tourism, but sadly, found almost nothing. Again, a Bengali book came to my rescue. If anybody has ever read Suchitra Bhattacharjee's Sarandaye Shoytan, they would know what a beautiful picture of this entire area she depicted with her words.
Kiriburu is a small hilltop tribal town in West Singhbhum, Jharkhand. It is situated on the border of Jharkhand and Odisha. Both Kiriburu and Meghahatuburu are part of the Saranda forest range. Saranda means 'land of seven hundred hills'. Given the place's geography (Saranda forest range is a part of Chota Nagpur plateau area), the name seems quite apt. In tribal language, 'kiri' means elephant and 'buru' means small hill. Kiriburu is one of the seven hundred hills of Saranda. A tribe named Ho inhabit this area. It's a very small town, but apparently Kiriburu's literacy rate is even higher than our national literacy rate, almost 67%. Both Kiriburu and Meghahatuburu are developed by SAIL, who owns and governs the iron mines there.
Ours was a short weekend trip. We boarded the Howrah-Barbil Janshatabdi express on a Saturday morning. The train journey was mostly uneventful except the torture of a gang of transvestites who were forcibly taking money off the passengers. This is apparently an usual practice in India and some people feel quite sympathetic towards these people. I am NOT a homophobic but I despise this good for nothing clan of our society whose activity borders on being anti-social. However, it is incredible India after all. When we got off at Barajamda station, it was 1pm on the clock. We were exhausted from our 7 hours' trip and already covered in famous red dust of the area. Saranda eats, sleeps and breathes iron. A hired jeep took us to Kiriburu hilltop guest house of SAIL. We finally arrived at our destination by 2.30 in the afternoon. SAIL guest house consists of several one storied cottages that spread across a vast area. It not only includes the guest house, but also an office, conference rooms and healthcare centre. My friend and I immediately made friends with five little puppies playing in the garden. I was missing my own regiment of puppies back home.

SAIL hilltop guest house

Temple of Lord Jagannatha at Kiriburu
Lunch was awesome. We had rice, vegetables, daal, salad and chicken curry. After a short nap we went out for a stroll in the evening. Darkness emerged as soon as the sunset took place. The market area near our guest house had three or four grocery cum vegetable shops, one mobile recharge shop and a car servicing centre. Population is very less here. As I said before that this area falls on the border of Jharkhand and Odisha, people speak a mixed language here, both Hindi and Oriya. We kept on walking and after crossing a CISF camp suddenly there was no sign of locality anywhere and we were just standing in the middle of a road and it was dark, dense forest on both side. It was full moon and we could see small lights on the faraway hills through the jungle. That cluster of light was Meghahatuburu town. We stood there silently for sometime, listening to the forest's whisper, crackling sounds of twigs and dry leaves, singing of crickets and other unknown insects. It was both scary (er.. Mostly because of the fear of MCC) and beautiful. Maybe it's the scariness that made those moments more beautiful. After all, what is the meaning of life without some adrenaline rush. However, after sometime we came back to the guest house. Evenings and nights are really boring here, unless you have got something really entertaining to do.

Kiriburu at night
Next morning we went to see sunrise from the sunrise view point. The view was breathtakingly beautiful, but we missed the sunrise due to a thick blanket of fog covering the entire area.

Kiriburu sunrise viewpoint
After breakfast we went out to explore the area. The driver was not a very efficient one, whichever spot we were asking him to take us to, he was telling 'udhar toh mcc ka adda hai saab.' He was either lying or was too afraid. However he first took us to Swapneswar temple. It was a temple of Lord Shiva in the middle of the jungle. I am not much of a devotee myself, but the location and the surrounding of the temple were quite awe inspiring. I could not help picturing a band of notorious MCC militants offering their prayers to Lord Swapneswar in the middle of the night before embarking on a mission.

Swapneswar temple

Next we went to see Pundul falls, it is where the Karo river descends from the hills. We had to trek to reach the spot. The trail was very steep and broken. Again, the sweet feel of adrenaline was rushing through my veins. This area of India is vastly enriched in iron ore and you can see it on the rocks and soils here. Hematite is scattered all over the place.

Pundul falls

Karo river

Tribal village at Keonjhar
Our next stop was Bolani iron ore mine and another falls. Everything was covered in red here. The falls was quite far away, a small stream of water was only visible from where we stood.

Bolani iron ore mine
In the evening we went to Meghahatuburu . It was already dark, so we thought we should skip the sunset point that day. But the oldest and the bravest(?) member of our team insisted that we should go to enjoy the darkness of the jungle. My friend and her mom stayed back and I, the Matangini Hazra of the team went on with three old men to enjoy the beauty of the dark. It was beautiful indeed, as well as scary. We stood there in the dark for sometime and decided to come back next morning. On the way back I looked around the town as much as I could from the window. Meghahatuburu is much larger and more developed a township than Kiriburu. I spotted bungalows for SAIL officers, one Kendriya Vidyalaya and a much larger marketplace. Even the Meghalaya guest house of SAIL was a much better one than its hilltop counterpart. We spent the rest of the evening drinking and watching ISL in the dining room of our guest house. I made friends with a girl who worked at the canteen. Her name was Shabnam, she was an orphan who lived nearby. She was observing us with a curious look and asking me many questions about our city, job and lifestyle. I felt sorry for her, knowing that she had no one and lived alone. She also told me with sad eyes that she would love to dress up like us, but she was not allowed to. I invited her to Calcutta and gave her my number before leaving.
Next day we started for Barbil after lunch. We decided to board the train from there due to excessive luggage. It's time to bid adieu to our beautiful guest house, its people and not to forget my five adorable puppies and their mom. Sadly, one of them went missing when we were leaving. Our new driver was a young, good looking and very smart guy. I sat on the front seat and spent the entire time chatting with him. As discussed before, we went to Meghahatuburu sunset point to catch a glimpse of the valley in daylight. As per the locals, one can see the seven hundred hills of Saranda from this viewpoint. We did not count, but the view was really beautiful.

Meghahatuburu sunset viewpoint
There was another viewpoint on our way from where we could see the iron mines.

Our short but memorable trip came to an end as we reached Barbil station. A weekend well spent.