f you are looking for a nights break not too far from the city, Massanjore is a good option. You are sure to return home refreshed. There are no tourist spots to rush through in this town near the Bengal-Jharkhand border. A rocky terrain, an expansive sky and a lake with startling blue water just about sum up its charms.

On the way to Massanjore, you will pass Suri, the largest town in Birbhum district. The complex bond between man and river is nowhere more apparent than in this region. While river Damodar is worshipped in a magnificent temple, another river, Mayurakshi, is shackled by technology. After a halt at Suri, head for Sonaturpara. The attraction here is a 200-year-old unknown yet majestic temple dedicated to Damodar.

Nothing conclusive can be found in the history books about this structure. The 300 peerless terracotta panels carved on its walls leave most visitors speechless.The 35-ft-tall temple is made in the aatchala style of the Bengal school. Curiously, it doesn?t house an idol. There is not even an image of a deity.

The terracotta sculptures that embellish the walls and pillars narrate episodes from the life of Krishna. His affair with Radha, musicians, elephants, soldiers, the avatars of Vishnu and vastraharan of the gopinis are the recurrent themes.The most eyecatching panels are of Hindu motifs like kalash, peacock, lotus, chariot and conch shell. The temple is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Further down the road to Massanjore, stop by the sandbank of an emaciated stream for a breathtaking view. Tilpara barrage is also worth a visit. The most imposing construction in Massanjore is the dam. It was built on the Mayurakshi in the early 1950s to boost irrigation, generate electricity and prevent floods. The project was technically and financially supported by the government of Canada. Many residents of the area still call it the Canada dam.

The 2,000-ft long and 113-ft high dam with 21 lockgates was completed in 1955. One side of the structure is in Bengal, while the other side touches Jharkhand.

The lake that was created as a result of the project is a gem on Bengal's tourist map. The surrounding greenery sets off the deep blue hue of the water.The Mayurakshi flows down from the highland. Two hills, with their tops shrouded in mist, stand like silent sentinels over the town. The sky is such a soft blue here that is soothing just to stare at it. Everything seems straight out of a picture postcard.

The town is home to a number of rare birds, especially green parrots. Once the sun goes down, it is pleasant to walk along the dam. If you are visiting during full moon, do venture out in the evening. The lake by moonlight is an unforgettable sight.

Those who have an interest in tribal culture can visit a nearby village named Lampa. It is an excellent place to pick up tribal handicraft.


Massanjore is just 48 km from Bolpur. Jharkhand State Transport Corporation buses leave from Calcutta?s Babughat for Massanjore. Burdwan and Suri fall en route. It takes about seven hours to reach Massanjore by road


Youth Hostel, just two km from the barrage, is a good place to stay. Double rooms cost Rs 100 per night. There is a 22-bed dormitory. Beds cost Rs 40 per night.
For bookings contact:

Yuva Kalyan Office
32/1, BBD Bag (South),
Calcutta 700001
Phone 22480626

The Mayurakshi Bhavan of the irrigation department is another good place to stay. A double-bed room costs Rs 300 per night.
For bookings contact:

Deputy secretary,
Irrigation department,
Water Resource Development Building
Salt Lake
Phone 23212259

This article was published in 21st May 2006 in The Telegraph

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