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Pakhipahar fast emerging as a new abode for experiential tourism

Ever wondered that miracle of art can open avenues for experiential tourism by transforming a nugatory land into an exquisite paradise? Read on:

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The concept of experiential tourism is gaining a monumental surge by providing what the conventional sedentary travel does not encompass. Be it experiencing harmony with the nature, trekking the hills, breezing through the sumptuous diversity of flora and fauna, meeting exuberant people, you create a set of interesting memories and cherishable experiences. For travelers who are seeking options to widen their horizons, Matha range of West Bengal can be the right destination where Sculptor Chitta Dey is giving form to his extraordinary dream of carving a hill into a modern rock sculpture.

All across the world, monumental rock carving used to be a traditional practice in India which gave form to the famous rock cut temples of Ellora, Ajanta, Mahabalipuram and the great caves of Elephanta. These one-of-their-kind sculptures in intricate designs bagged a golden status for India since ancient times. But the tradition, which used to be our richest archaeological legacy, has mystically declined over centuries except the reminiscent practice of small sculptures at few places.

Chitta Dey came up with a concept in early 1990s of carving a monolithic hill, famous by the local name of ‘Murraburu’, or ‘bald hill’ in Matha range of Ayodhya hills of Best Bengal into what he calls as ‘Pakhipahar’, meaning mountain of birds.

The project, run by his foundation, ‘Flight to harmony’ is the excavation of a flock of 110 giant wing-to-wing birds on the mountain where the largest sculpture would be 120 feet high and the smallest would not be less than 55 feet. A Secondary part of his project is carving the scattered boulders and small rocks at the bottom of the hill in the form of several endangered and extinct species. These include deer, squirrels, tortoise, peacock and pangolins.

The work officially began after getting approval from the planning commission of India in 2008. The then president, Pranab Mukherjee appreciated Dey’s inspiring endeavor and recommended a fund sanction of Rs 1.27 Crore while the rest of the project, costing approximately 2.99 Crore shall be funded by Government of West Bengal. Resources for the project have been contributed by various government and private agencies such as The Information and Culture Department, Purulia Zilla Parishad, Panchayet Samity and donations by many individuals.

The sculptor says that he has always been fascinated by birds. According to him, they teach us to live in unity in the face of impending threat. So when they are in danger, we should do for them what we can. ‘This is a secular sculpture which does not belong to any community. It is my tribute to nature so as to bestow unity, peace, friendliness, solidarity and harmony,” said Dey.

Besides a very strong foundation of extending the frontiers of Indian culture of art, creativity, social progress through visual arts, the project has a tremendous potential to attract tourism and hence provide employment to the rural people. 

The place is 15 Km away from Barabhum railway station where tourists are provided accommodation in two or three room cottages inside the campus located at the site. They are offered to try their hand at sculpturing, clay modeling, stone carving or rock painting whichever fits in their interest.  One can also opt to partake in the Purulia Chau dance of Bengal which is a semi classical Indian folk dance. Bestowed with natural splendor and fresh air, the place is open for camping, trekking and exploring nearby exquisite spots such as Ayodhya hill, Murguma Dam, Khairabera Eco Adventure Club, Joychandi Pahar, Bamni and Turga waterfalls. 

For city dwellers who want to dive in the wonderful aspects of village life, the pleasant atmosphere of Puruliya adorned with lush green hills, dense forests and cultural heritage can provide an amicable environment to wander.  For exuding beautifully vivid changes with seasons, the place is an attractive tourist destination during monsoon, spring and winters.  Besides, the red soiled village is enriched with archeology and culture for its well known tribal existence and the relics of ancient buildings and temples. 

“By making people contribute to the environmental cause in an enjoyable manner through projects like these, we can inspire them to live in harmony with the nature,” added Dey, who has plans to raise similar projects in other states of the country to restore the lost art forms and promote tourism in India.


(Contributor: Bharti Jain)


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