Patratu. The name sounds exotic. Hidden among the recesses of the Chhotanagpur Plateau, are many places such as this, which are like unknown jewels, tucked away in the middle of nowhere and far away from the maddening crowds. One has to reach out to find these places, and much like the jewel which is indeed available to those who seek, one is rewarded by the pure joy of discovery.
On a fine Sunday afternoon, Dad, Shubham, me and Anuj decided to make a tour to Patratu, 58 km from Ranchi and situated at a height of 405 m above sea level.
The road to Patratu lies through Ormanjhi, Ramgarh and Barkakhana. After setting out on the expansive Ranchi- Hazaribagh expressway, passing the low -lying hills, we found ourselves at the Subhash Chowk ,which marks the route to Ramgarh. We passed through settlements on either sides, interspersed with fields.
As we passed the Ramgarh cantonment and took the well- maintained highway to Patratu, the scenery became more attractive. A series of curves and bends, as the road went upwards, added to the beauty of the journey. At one of the bends, we stopped to take a picture of the sun setting in the backdrop of the hills, painting a golden crimson hue to the horizon and providing a beautiful contrast to the green surroundings.
This being the coal zone, we were not surprised to find that the air was dusty and heavy. Illegal coal quarrying is indeed a problem in these parts, and we could see evidence of the same. In places, the ground was heavy with the black colour of the coal- dusted soil. However, we could sense that we were entering a cooler zone, as the temperature dipped perceptibly.
Patratu ,under the Ramgarh district, is one of those places which came up as a result of India ‘s industrial growth, courtesy the Nehru regime, in the 1960’ s. It is an industrial town, which came into prominence because of the Patratu power plant , which was built in 1962. Indeed, the four chimneys of the power plant , which was built with Russian collaboration, are the most distinctive feature that catch the eye as one approaches the town. Today , of course, the power plant is yet another addition to India’s ailing enterprises. In contrast, the Jindal steel plant, built in 2010 , at the entrance to Patratu,, takes the place of prominence , and explains the well- maintained highway. A flourishing example of how new industry has overtaken the old !
Gradually, the green cover kept on increasing on either side of the road, till we reached the outskirts of the town. As a result of the construction of the hydroelectric power project , a large reservoir was created, the embankment of which can be seen to the left, before one enters the town. A narrow kutcha lane adjacent to some shops led towards the embankment, and I took the car into this. We stopped, alighted upon the embankment,and were greeted by the beautiful sight of the huge, tranquil reservoir.
Sunset had already occurred , and the crimson colours of dusk enveloped the surroundings. We could see the dark outlines of the hills on the other side, lights twinkling like diamonds, and the barrage of the hydroelectric power plant in the distance. A boat was sailing placidly in the middle of the lake. On the embankment, a group of men hung around languidly, playing cards. The atmosphere was very picturepostcardlike, laidback and tranquil. We took a group picture , with the reservoir forming the backdrop. I took several shots of the surroundings, with the reservoir as the centre of attraction.
However, the most tranquil environment often hides harsh realities of life. The Maoist influence has been spreading its tentacles in the form of red terror for several years now, and Patratu is no exception. News reports indicate that this is one of the most disturbed areas of the state, and I recalled a news I had seen several days back, which mentioned that a top Maoist leader had been intercepted from these parts. Keeping this in mind , we made our exit from the place as soon as the photoshoot was over.
The return journey to the city was smooth . Evening had already descended, and the lights behind the hills provided a beautiful backdrop. We were happy to have discovered a place where we could keep coming back often , and contentedly headed back to the city, the magic of the beautiful lake still fresh in our minds.
Ranchi – Patratu map