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Next weekend you can be at ... Rajrappa

Rajrappa is the most famous pilgrimage spot in Jharkhand’s Hazaribag district. It is one of the few places known for religious tourism that also boast of bountiful natural beauty.

The main attraction in the town is the Chhinnamasta temple. Situated on a hillock at the confluence of the Damodar and the Bhairabi, locally known as Bhera, the temple is considered one of the 51 most important Hindu pithasthanas.

Fruit, sweet and flower shops surround the temple. The local residents mostly offer puja on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Devotees from other states also visit the temple in thousands. Apart from ceremonies round the year, a large fair is held on the vernal equinox (Makar Sankranti).

The idol holds her head in her hand. There are jets of blood streaming out of the goddess’s neck. Hence, she is called Chhinnamasta or Chhinnamastaka (one with severed head).

Animal sacrifice is still practised in the temple. The sacrificial animals are killed on Tuesdays and Saturdays and during Kali puja.

It is quite eerie around the temple after sunset. This perhaps inspired Satyajit Ray to choose Rajrappa as the setting for Feluda adventure Chhinnamastar Avishap.

There are also temples of Hanuman, Surya and Ashtdhari in the town.

Colourful rock formations on both sides of the river also attract tourists. Country-boats are available for a cruise. Tribals can be seen fishing with their nets.

The river bed is sandy and the water clear. On clear nights, the moon is reflected on the water of the Damodar. The rumble of madal can be heard from a distance.

A cluster of hills, dotted with forests of Simul, Palash, Babla, Akashmani and Mohua, and waterfalls, borders Rajrappa. A large percentage of the local population consists of tribals, mostly Santhals, Sabars and Kherias.

Leopards, wildcats, jackals and bears can be seen in the forests. They visit the riverbank for a drink at night. Elephants also come out of the forest during the harvesting season.

Central Coalfields Ltd, a subsidiary of Coal India, has a project in Rajrappa, which is one of the biggest in the region. The quarry, offices and residential quarters form a township.

November to January is the best time to visit the town. Spring, when one can see Palash and Simul in bloom, is lovely in the region.

Going

Rajrappa is 65 km from Hazaribag town along NH 23 and 75 km from Ranchi via Ramgarh. Ranchi Road, the nearest railway station, is 28 km away. Take a bus to Ramgarh from Ranchi. From Ramgarh, cars are available to Rajrappa.

Staying

There is no hotel at Rajrappa. Dharmashalas are the only option. There are a few restaurants.

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