Located in the southern part of Jharkhand, few miles off Orissa-Jharkhand border is a small, secluded place called Chaibasa. Jamshedpur, which is around 2 hrs drive from Chaibasa is the only town closest to it where people of Chaibasa visit for some major shopping. The reason why the memories of the place are etched in my mind is that I had spent few years of my childhood there way back in early nineties and found the place mystifying, clean, less populated and unruffled by any commercial activities.
I was ten at that time and went to a school close to my house. Since my father was in Forest Services, I was accustomed to living in places away from the cacophony of the city; quiet and untouched by man made interventions. We lived in the house which was so spacious that we would be lost inside it its with huge bedrooms, gigantic living room and splendid premises. The garden was oval-shaped with green, soft ,well-trimmed grass and tall Ashoka trees flanking the edges. At daytime, the house looked breathtakingly beautiful and palatial but when night descended and it was dark all around except for one or two lights flickering far away, and it seemed a bit creepy. The bungalow was built long back when the British had ruled in the country giving it a bit primitive but glorious look. It had slanting roofs covered with red tiles, huge corridors, very high roof which made the sound echo, kitchen garden at the back yard and exquisite lawns in the front.
The Adivasis who were the native of the place were economically weak and impoverished.They made their living by working in forest or mining activities. Culturally they are quite distinct with peculiar food habits. They have their own language, customs, traditions, folk dances and so on which set them apart from other people in adjoining areas. I could recollect that some people were so abysmally poor that they would sell Chiraunji—a costly dry fruit packed with nutrients—grown abundantly in that area for a cheap food like salt. The women would be dressed in Saris hitched up to their knees and they were quite sturdy and hard working. It was the women who had overbearing importance in the society and they participated actively in economic activities, shoulder to shoulder with man. Dark -complexioned and medium in stature these people are Aboriginal and living since time immemorial in these parts while lot of people dwelling in India have migrated from other parts of the world at some point of time.
There used to be small market held once in a week on every Tuesday and was called Mangla Haat. All kinds of fresh vegetables and fruits, fish and other food products were sold with people thronging all around.The market was small, ordinary and unappealing and people could buy only basic goods from there. The roads were dusty and uneven with lots of potholes here and there. With few vehicles on the road the place never looked overcrowded or congested. Because there were few vehicles and more trees, place had cleaner and unpolluted air to breathe.
Chaibasa which lies in heart of Singhbhum area has the richest iron ore reserves in the world.The lush, green and impenetrable forest is famous for durable and expensive teakwood which is used for making elegant furniture set.In the big cities, the furniture made of teakwood is overpriced and unaffordable for many of us.For the nature lovers ,the dense forest is a perfect place to venture and explore it’s rich flora and fauna, watch out rare species, to listen to the gurgle of stream flowing by and to rejoice nature’s beauty. The area though is richest in natural resources but ironically it’s falling behind in terms of economy and infrastructure.
Image via Wikimapia
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