Are you looking for a weekend destination to rejuvenate yourself? Well, West Bengal has a lot to offer than you know. I’m talking about the Panchet Hill in the famous district of Purulia. At the foot of this hill, there’s a beautiful historic destination called Garpanchakot.
Not only do you get to enjoy the silence of nature, you also learn about some of our history, taking you more than a millennium back. You’ll also see some developments that have taken place here for the welfare of its people.
So, let me tell you what made me fall in love with this place.
About the Panchet Hill
Also known as the Panchkot Hill, this hill is 2100 feet tall. It covers an area of 18 sq. km. The trees of Sal, Tamal and Sonajhuri make the surroundings lush green.
However, behind the beauty of this place lies a story.
We go way back to 90 AD when King Damodar Sekhar established his kingdom here. The hill got its name Panchkot from two words: Panch (meaning 5) and Khunt (meaning clans). The river that flows beneath is named in his respect too (Damodar river).
We now fast forward to the 15th century when King Bir Hambir of the Bishnupur Malla Dynasty and the king of Kashipur from the Singh Deo Dynasty had ruled here.This is where Garpanchkot got its name from: the fort of the king of Kashipur.
It is their remains that you still get to see today. However, the remains of the 1st century did last till the Panchet dam was constructed in the 20th century.
Apart from these, you’ll also find structures from in the colonial era.
So, let’s get to the mesmerizing tourist spots of the valley. This includes structures dating back in 1400 AD to current day structures, along with the tranquillity of nature.
Historic Temples, Palaces&Forts
Following are the historic structures you must visit in your short tour:
- The Kashipur Rajbari or Palace: It is situated 50 km from Garpanchkot, made of red bricks, stone, concrete and wood.
- Ruins of the Panchkot Fort: Located at the southern foot of Panchet hills, showing the remains after the Bargi attack of Bengal.
- The Temple of Pancharatna
- Birinchinath Temple
- Badrinath Temple
- Kalyaneshwari Temple
One of the largest earthen dams built on the Damodar river, this covers a stretch of 22,235 feet. You get to see the southern bank of this dam while the northern bank falls in Jharkhand.
The reservoir of this 148 feet high dam covers an area of 121.81 square kilometre. There are two units of 40 megawatts that generate hydroelectricity.
You can spend time boating in the lake that has been formed by the dam. It covers an area of 4,232 sq. miles, enough to give you a beautiful and quiet experience.
22 km away from Garpanchkot, this beautiful dam is built on the Barakar river. Being 15,713 feet long and 165 feet high, the reservoir of this dam is spread over 65 sq. km.
This dam benefits the citizens living there in 2 ways:
- It controls floods.
- It generates 60,000 kilowatts of electricity.
Surrounded by the Sal trees and Palash flowers, these 509 feet tall hills are famous for rock climbing. So, adventure lovers, this place is a must for you!
How to Reach Garpanchakot?
Garpanchkot is only 265 km away from Kolkata. You can 3 options of train available from Howrah Station. Even if you love driving, you’ll reach in 4-5 hours.
Road Trip from Kolkata
If you love driving, then you’ll enjoy the smooth journey to Purulia. I’ll share the most commonly used route:
- Take National Highway 2. This will lead you to Asansol.
- Then, take the road on the left that leads to Raghunathpur.
- From here, you’ll reach Satbari station, which is only a few kilometres from Garpanchkot.
If you don’t like driving, it’s ok! There’s a pick-up and drop facility that resorts provide from the connected railway stations. These are the trains you can take from Howrah:
- Black Diamond Express: This train drops you to the nearest station at Kumardobi. However, you’ll nearly take 4 hours to reach there, after which there’s another car journey till the resort.
- Shaktipunj Express: This train drops you to Asansol in 3.5 hours. From there, you’ll be picked up to reach the resort.
- Coal Field Express: This too will drop you to Asansol in 3.5 hours, but is an evening train. It’s ideal to take if you want to reach a night before and rest, and then travel on a fresh day.
Ideal Time for this Weekend Trip from Kolkata
The hills are beautiful all year round. This is not only due to the greenery but also because they’re isolated from the city. However, if you wish to travel, you might want the weather to be pleasant.
If you come during the summer, it’s going to be hot. Don’t think that it’s a hill so it will be pleasant!
Monsoon onwards the weather here is pleasant. The greenery grows too. Of course, you won’t like travelling when it’s raining.
This makes September-March the time period for you to travel. Now here, the best time for you would be in Spring, that is, February. This is the time when Palash flowers bloom and create a red carpet on the green surroundings. The weather too is very pleasant.
Short tours in West Bengal are becoming common these days. Only, you need to discover what kind of a weekend destination you would like to go to.
If you love travelling in the hills, Purulia is the closest district to Kolkata with plenty of options available. You might take the entire winter to discover the whole district.
The Panchet Hills combine natural beauty with the joy of historic discoveries. Apart from that, you can also discover the Ayodhya Hills in the district.
After monsoon and before summer, you can enjoy these little holidays for yourself if you’re too busy for a longer vacation. After all, you need little breaks from the city to live in one.