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Aah! That elephantine ride to Dalma is set to end

- Forest officials make 16km route from Makulakocha to hilltop motorable after 5 years, stretch opens next week

Ease your seat belts, bumpy rides to Dalma hills will no longer be a bother.

Visitors from Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Calcutta, Kharagpur and Bhubaneswar can look forward to a smooth entry to the scenic elephant sanctuary from next week, with the forest department switching gears to make portions of the 16km road from Makulakocha to Pinderbera motorable.

Portions of the kutcha road that had turned into trenches have been levelled with plain cement-concrete. The exercise is also underway on the road leading to Chotkabandh, a scenic area with a watering hole, some kilometres from Pinderbera guesthouse.

“The repair work has started from the Teesri watering hole near Makulakocha. The road was in very bad shape at six places. Since visitors use the stretch to reach the hilltop, we gave a serious thought about repairing it,” a forest official said.

He added that the road was, currently, closed for motorists as work was in progress. “We hope to reopen the stretch next week. Reconstruction is complete at five places.”

Visitors have faced immense difficulties in using the 16km road to Dalma, which was damaged in five successive monsoons. Tourists at present prefer to halt in bamboo huts and a guesthouse at Makulakocha, about 25km from Jamshedpur, stopping short of going up to Pinderbera.

According to the forest functionary, the road was being repaired after a gap of five years. “Actually, permission is taken from the ministry of environment and forests for using cement inside forest zones. Our earlier request for repairing the road met with no response. But, now things have changed for the better with the Centre’s nod,” he said.

Dalma range officer Mangal Kacchap said that forest officials were eager to improve facilities for visitors who flock the sanctuary during summer and winter.

“We have already renovated the forest guesthouse at Pinderbera. The road is being repaired. Visitors will not face any inconvenience while plying on the road in the near future,” he added.

Besides Makulakocha, Dahulbera and Bhadodih are also entry points to Dalma.

“But visitors usually avoid these because they have to cover longer distances. It takes 30km from Bhadodih to reach the Pinderbera guesthouse and the Shiva temple, while one has to cover 10-12km from Dahulbera. The routes from these two places snake through deep forests. The ride from these two entry points are no doubt more scenic, but visitors prefer the Makulakocha route,” a forester at the Mango range office said.

Taking cue from forest officials, visitors from the steel city have already begun making plans to drop anchor at the sanctuary.

“The road was not in very good shape this year when I took my family during summer. It’s good that it is getting repaired. I would like to visit the sanctuary this winter. Good roads always make short trips enjoyable,” said Rakesh Mishra, a tax consultant.