As everyone is busy adding places to their 2019 travel bucket list, how about getting a head start with a trip to ‘Jampot’ Jamshedpur? Popularly known as the Steel City of India, if offers a pleasant weekend getaway from Kolkata and Ranchi, especially in winter. From de rigueur sightseeing to food tripping to adventure sports to visit to a wildlife sanctuary, this prime city in Jharkhand offers a slew of attractions to suit all age groups.
Often referred to as a city envisioned by a Parsi, planned by an American, named by a British Viceroy and landscaped by a German botanist, Jamshedpur has come a long way since the foundation laid on February 28, 1908. To get a grip on its over a century old history, begin with a Heritage Walk titled ‘Kalimati to Jamshedpur’ organised on Sundays (8am to 10am from October to March; contact: 0657-2320109) by INTACH – Jharkhand chapter, in collaboration with a private enterprise Kalamandir.
It is the parks and lakes that have made Jamshedpur one of the greenest cities of India. Start with the sprawling Jubilee Park where tree-lined pathways will take you past gardens full of seasonal flowers by day and illuminated musical fountains by night. If you have kids in tow, you may
At one end of the park is the Tata Steel Zoological Park (open 10am to 4pm; ticketed entry). Jayanti Sarovar, adjacent to the zoo, is home to migratory birds in winter.
Off the main entrance to Jubilee Park is the Centre for Excellence (open Tuesday and Saturday, 9.30am to 4pm) designed by globally renowned Hafeez Contractor. A series of pillars rising from waterbodies line the way to the main building. In keeping with the architectural legacy, there are many installation arts on display by students and aspiring artists.
A tour (available on request) of the Founders Gallery and the Tata Steel Archives throw up a lot of interesting nuggets of information, such as the company supplying the steel for the construction of the iconic Howrah Bridge, the indigenously built armoured vehicles supplied during World War II where considered extremely safe and called Tatanagar, that Tisco was the first steel plant in the world to install (in 1914) an Ice and Soda Machine to supply cool refreshments to its workers labouring in extreme temperatures, etc. If you are an art lover, do not miss the display of original MF Hussain works or the works of Anjolie Ela Menon, Jatin Das and others in the Art Gallery.
The Tribal Culture Centre is the city’s acknowledgement of its rise from the tribal heartland of eastern India. Apart from being an activity centre for the tribal people, it also showcases the lifestyle of four of the leading tribes of the region through artefacts ranging from items of daily use to handicraft and handloom.
Being a multi-cultural city from its birth, Jamshedpur is dotted with many religious institutions such as the Bhubaneswari Temple, Parsi Fire Temple, Sakchi Masjid, St Georges Church, Sakchi Gurudwara, etc.
No visit to Jamshedpur can be complete without visiting the Dalma hills and the Dimna Lake along the foothill. Known for its sunrise and sunset views, Dimna Lake is also a popular picnic spot.
Food tripping in Jamshedpur could itself be an excuse to visit the steel city. From roadside stalls to musically inclined cafes to heritage restaurants, the city has something for every taste.
Take your pick from Fakira’s chanachur (a spicy snack mix), Bhatia’s milkshake, or dosas from Madrasi Hotel (dating back to 1935), or kulfi at Navajivan. And if you are keen to sample some local cuisine, try litti –chokha at Kewat’s eatery in Sakchi area.
Catch up with the city’s young brigade at the first floor café of Brubeck Bakery, run by the Boulevard Hotel. An institution by itself, the hotel, dating back to the 1940s, also runs the Chopsticks restaurant known for its dishes ranging from Goa to Thailand, from Parsee to Continental. The tea lounge La Gravitea (which employs differently abled serviced staff) and the newly opened Social 75 restaurant are popular with the young executives of Jamshedpur. Café Regal, housed in the iconic Bharucha building, smacks of nostalgia. Apart from its regular fare of hot and cold beverages, sandwiches and pasta, etc., it also serves a special Parsee lunch on Sundays (advance order recommended). If you are looking for a lively nightlife, drop in at Double Down, the city’s first discotheque and pub, where the city’s musicians and bands will regale you with a mix of retro and latest hits.
An early morning or a late afternoon can be devoted to cycling along a 25km trail extending from Marine Drive (along the Subarnarekha River) to the zoo via Adityapur Bridge, Outer Circle Road, Inner Circle Road, and Uliyan Loop Road. See the rivers Subarnarekha river (lying to the north of Jamshedpur) meets the Kharkai river (lying to the east of the city) at a point called Do Mohani.
The water sports centre at Dimna Lake has a variety of options – from regular motor boats to canoes to water surfing. Go hiking in the depths of Dalma hills lying to the north of the city. Or take an early morning drive through Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary (obtain prior permission from Range Forest Office, Mango, Jamshedpur).
And before you say goodbye to the Steel City, do not forget to shop for tribal handloom and handicraft. Dhokra (Dokra) artefacts, utility products made from ‘sabai’ grass, folk paintings, and masks are some of the widely available items. Karigar Okhai and Biponi in Bistupur area stock a variety of tribal artefacts.
Getting There: Birsa Munda Airport in Jharkhand’s capital city Ranchi is the nearest airport (150km by road) for Jamshedpur. Tatanagar (as the city’s railway station is named) is connected to Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities. Best time to visit – October to March.