When you think of a plateau, beautiful lakes, gushing waterfalls are far from your thoughts.
Chotanagpur plateau covering Jharkhand is a storehouse of minerals but it has hidden beauties of nature, helped by some manmade projects. Multipurpose dams were being built all over the world and came to India with a Second Five-year plan?
Well, finally I visited two pretty close by to where I live but had never seen one!
The Damodar Valley Project is the first major Multipurpose River Valley Development Project in Eastern India after the country became independent. Originating from the Khamarpet Hills of the Chotonagpur Plateau in Jharkhand state and flowing thereafter over the heavily dissected plateau in the upper valley part in the west; the River Damodar enters the rolling plains of West Bengal in the east. Its total length from its source in the hills of Chota Nagpur plateau in Jharkhand to its confluence with Hugli in West Bengal is about 541 km, half of which is in Jharkhand and the remaining half is in West Bengal.
The river flows just in the opposite direction of rain-bearing southwest monsoon wind. So, during the monsoon period, the lower Damodar Basin becomes saturated first with the monsoon water, and when the southwest monsoon reaches Jharkhand causing heavy downpour; the rainwater rushes through the Damodar and causes floods of various magnitude in the lower segment very often. Thus the sobriquet ‘Sorrow of Bengal’ is well known.
The Multipurpose River Valley Project under Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) was initiated by the Government of India for the entire basin in 1948. In this Project four big dams viz. Tilaiya, Konar, Maithon, and Panchet were constructed in the upper valley instead of eight dams as proposed in the original plan due to a shortage of funds.
KONAR DAM is the second of the four multi-purpose dams included in the first phase of the Damodar Valley Corporation. It was constructed across the Konar River, a tributary of the Damodar River in Hazaribagh district in 1955. Hazaribagh is the nearest town to Konar Dam. The distance from Hazaribagh is around 70 odd km about, 80 km from Giridih my home town. You turn from the highway, GT Road to a town road, take an innocuous turn and as you drive down the sight hits you! What an enormous lake!
The road inside is good, with parking space and seating areas built for traveler’s comfort. A good picnic spot was chosen and we settled down to laze the day away while enjoying the beauty of nature gazing at the greenery around. Leisurely walks all around, endless eating and chatting photographing nature, constituted a part of the day. Then we took an exciting motorboat ride. After months of home imprisonment in the pandemic year, this was a great respite.
The dam is beautiful too. The view from the dam over the dense forests and the river is postcard picturesque. The dam is well maintained and clean. Pisciculture is doing well here. The DVC maintains the place very well
The lake seemed endless with the breeze making the water turn into waves lashing at the shore. The bewitching landscape of overhanging branches of trees, hillocks, and crystal blue water is enhanced by the babbling waters. We even recorded the sounds, not merely the sights of this marvelous place. The dark rustling in the thicket, ripples in the water, the cumulus clouds dotting the sky, was the panoramic view offered all day. After the monsoons, the forests were at their flamboyant best; but I would say the water was the show stopper.
Panchet Dam was the last of the four multi-purpose dams included in the first phase of the Damodar Valley Corporation. It was constructed across the Damodar River at Panchet in Dhanbad district in the Indian state of Jharkhand and opened in 1959.
Panchet Dam is 9 kilometers from Chirkunda on Grand Trunk Road,54 kilometers from Dhanbad, and 240 km from Kolkata. The Panchet Dam is an earthen dam with a concrete spillway. The reservoir taps a catchment area of 10,961 square kilometers.
Two units of 40 MW have been installed for power generation. In the north of the Panchet dam, is Dhanbad Jharkhand, and the southern bank is flanked by the Purulia W Bengal. The backdrop of the dam is the Panchet hill, which makes this place a great picnic spot for travelers, The ideal time to visit is at the end of the monsoon, or winter days. The small town road was uncomfortable, but mainly because of construction work happening.
Checking with people we headed for the Deen Dayal park side, and then towards the secluded riverside. The cliffs hanging over the river, and the craggy rocks ensured that the legs and heart did good work before we reached the river. The walk was short but difficult. With a bit of imagination, the rocks take on compelling forms from Ganesh to Dragon to crocodile!.
The cool water grumbled past slowly even as the younger ones sat on the rocks to immerse their feet and splash. The sky was clear while the sun’s golden rays pierced the green-blue water. After a while, we shifted to the large park area dotted with picnickers and stray dogs. The ample space helped in social distancing thankfully. Packaged snacks, water, and cold drinks were available, though we didn’t need them. I was happy to see clean toilets, often missing in such places! The bracing winter breeze kept us cool despite the warmth of the January afternoon.
After a couple of hours of napping and chatting, we decided to go over the Dam side to get a different view before driving back. The large road bridging the barrage offered a clear view of the gushing waters. We stood spellbound watching the beautiful landscape as the setting sun coaxed different hues on the rocks and water.
Two Dams marveled at, two more to go!
-By Prabha Raghunandan
Author’s Bio :
Prabha Raghunandan, has always enjoyed writing. Though Poetry is her natural mode of expression, she writes stories and travelogues too. The pandemic year increased her prolificacy. Her other interests include reading singing, gardening. In 2016-17 she was the National President of International Inner Wheel a global Women’s Service organization with presence in 104 countries and UN. A good speaker she is remembered for her, friendliness, democratic leadership and innovative campaigns.