Jharkhand translates into ‘land of forests and gold’. It is also the land of tribals. These communities depend on their livestock extensively for food, and to ease the struggles of harsh conditions. Understandably, several local festivals are centred around the theme of cattle. The Kundri Mela, held in the historic district of Chatra, is one such significant fair. It usually happens in October, the time when the heat of the plains is abating. By planning a trip to the region at this time, it’s possible to take in the sights and sounds of Chatra, as well as witness the cattle fair, novel to anything you may have experienced across the Indo-Gangetic plains.
The Cattle Fair
The Kundri Mela traces its origins to the 1930s. Originally it used to take place during the Phalgun Shivratri, however, off late it has been coinciding with Kartik Poornima of the Hindu calendar. Natives congregate at Pratappur and a large-scale exchange of livestock ensues. The animals are adorned and celebrated during this event. There’s much pageantry and theatre associated with this festival in Jharkhand and over time, a lot of entertainment has also been incorporated. Tribal dances, folk music, competitions and even sporting events are held alongside. Incidentally the state is famous for several other cattle fairs like the Kolhaiya mela, Tutilawa mela, Belgada mela and Lawalong mela.
Sightseeing around Chatra
If Jharkhand prides itself as the land of forests, Chatra keeps up the reputation! It abounds with waterfalls, thickets and scenic locales where one can enjoy nature’s bounty. The area also has its share of historical legacies. Reformist Raja Ram Mohan Roy, and the Mughals before him, associated with this region. Some places that should be a part of the itinerary are:
Bichkiliya: About 11 kilometres from Chatra, to the west, lies this water reservoir, on the banks of the Niranjana River. A major part of this excursion has to be carried out on foot because of which it is not thronged with tourists and is ideal for those seeking quietude.
Duari: This is the location of a natural hot spring, near the bed of the river Balbal. Duari is a little village adjoining this spot. The locals frequent the spring for its medicinal qualities.
Khaya Banaroo: A stream from the Banaroo Dah (water body) cuts through rocks, and meanders its way to sylvan forests. The action of the water has caused natural balconies to be carved in stone, in parts deep enough to be called a gorge. The gurgling water, and woods, creates the perfect setting to harmonise with nature.
Maloodah: Here, a 50-foot waterfall beckons the water-babies. Little hillocks fringe the fall. However a two-kilometre trek on foot must be undertaken to reach it. Dumer Sumer and Goa are two other waterfalls near Chatra that tourists are recommended. The later drops 30-feet to form a deep, clear pool at the centre, surrounded by banks of rock. On Mondays during the monsoon, locals make a ritual of taking dips in this pool.
There are several other cattle fairs being held across the country. Some of the biggest ones include the cattle fairs in Rajasthan in cities like Pushkar and Nagaur. So visit MakeMyTrip.com and plan your trip today!