23.811113 N 85.199242 E
THE story begins with a photograph. One of your mentors in the town has returned from a magical place and has shared some photos on Facebook. There is one that makes you go wow without the hideous emoticon. Of course, you have heard about the place. You have heard there are forests, clear streams, cliffs, everything good. But if you live in the Chhotanagpur Plateau, you have also heard the stories. Armed extremists kidnap an officer. Armed extremists blow up a bridge. Armed extremists kill innocent civilian. These armed extremists are known simply as MCC, and whether they have met one or not, townsmen will tell you to keep your distance. Somehow, the stories of violence have mixed with the stories of beauty to create myths. But how do you travel, not to a mythical place, but to a myth itself? So, when a photo arrives on Facebook, and when it arrives from someone you know and look up to, and when it arrives in a public view, the myth is shattered. This is one of the ways a place is reconstructed in the conscience of people who do not live there. But warnings remain: take someone local with you, do not look like an outsider, return before sundown, and so on. The heart of your family resides in your life and yours in your hometown. You say, be it. If they take me, let them. It’s not like I am a goldmine anyway. Besides, you have already lived five years in a metropolis, so your clothes give you away before you say a word. Besides, you have already lived five years in a metropolis, so your speech gives you away before you explain your intention. And what’s the intention? Oh, just going to this place I saw a photo of. Easy.
Setting: Chatra Forest Range (Barkagaon)
Distance from Hazaribagh Town: 35 km
Travel time from Hazaribagh Town: 45 min + 45 min trek
Nearest Railhead: Hazaribagh Railway Station
State Highway: SH 07 + village roads