How to reach Keonjhar
The name of the Railway station is Jajpur-Keonjhar Road. From the Railway station buses are available for Keonjhar at a distance of 112 km. Including Bhubaneswar (225 km) buses come from various directions throughout the state of Orissa to Keonjhar. Even from Babughat in Kolkata, the ORT bus for Barbil leaves at 5-30 in the morning via Joshipur (62 km) to Keonjhar. It returns from Barbil at 17-00 via Keonjhar/ Joshipur.
It is best to take a bus for a direct trip from Kolkata. Except on Sunday, private buses run from Babu ghat everyday at 8-00 and 17-00 along the NH6 to Lodhasuli 166 km / Bungriposi 230 km /Bisoi 248 km / Joshipur 291 km / Tangabila 301 km and from there to Karanjia 19 km.
Tourists to Similipal may also go to Khiching first by bus and then to Keonjhar. One may also go to Kiriburu/ Meghatuburu in Jharkhand from Barbil-Keonjhar by bus.
Accommodation at Keonjhar:
Hotel Plaza NH-6. New Market; Gayatri Guest House, Hotel Mayur, Keonjhar Lodge, Hotel Bond, Labanya Bhawan Lodge, Hotel Ajanta. Chowda Lodge Mini Lodge Purijat Lodge, Baba Lodge and many other hotels. There is also a Circuit House, Advance Booking : Collector; PWD IB. the Arya Samaj Dharamsala is also there at Keonjhar.
Places to see at Keonjhar:
Surrounded with hills and jungles Keonjhar is a small hill-town peaceful and quiet. Besides the Santhals Oraons and Mundas there are many other tribals inhabiting the place. Keonjhar on an altitude of 1575 ft becomes a dreamland ringing with the sweet songs of birds both strange and familiar. The Jagannath Temple 3 km from the city should be visited either on foot/ by a rickshaw. There are other deities too in the temple premises. The temple gate remains closed from 12 pm to 5-30 pm.
Nice tourist spots surrounding Keonjhar
The Sanghaghra or small cascade descending from an altitude of 100 ft at a distance of 5 km from the city and the Badghaghra or the big cascade falling from a height of 200 ft, 10 km from the city may be visited by a jeep or, a rickshaw. These cascades are really pleasant, and the city gets its supply of drinking water from this Ghaghra, i.e., cascade. For picnic this spot is ideal.
The Baitarani has its origin in the Guptaganga in the Gonashika mountain 30 km from Keonjhar. It looks like the nostrils (nasika) of a cow (Go) hence named 'Gonasika'. A temple of Brahmeswar Mahadeva is also there. The Baitarani rushes down on to the earth from the mountains like a waterfall Then after a few metres it disappears into the earth. The Baitarani in the Guptaganga is again visible in the Kund near the Brahmeswar Temple at the onasika village. The sacred water of the Baitarani merges with the sea, flowing along 400 km, leaving Jajpur aside. According to another set of opinion the Baitarani has its origin in the Malaygiri hills.
Gonasika may be reached by travelling for 21 km by a Pallahara / Sambalpur bus from Keonjhar and then by walking for the last 9 km. By jeep you can come directly to the hill.
About 10 miles from Keonjhar is the Gandhamadan which was carried up to Lanka (i.e Srilanka) by Pavanputra seeking for Vasaiyakarani as depicted in the epic Ramayana.
To reach Sitabinji, you have to travel 23 km along the way to Jajpur until you reach Kaiarbeda from here you have to pace up another 7 km on the right. There are frescoes on the hills, shaped like a half open umbrella. It is Rabanchhaya (shadow of Ravana, the demon) as per local legends. The mountains scattered about have respective names like—Laba, Kusha, Rabanchhaya etc. There is also the ashram of the great sage Valmiki, the birth place of Laba and Kusha. Down below flows the hilly stream Sita.
Taking a Keonjhar-Anandapur bus you may see Ma Tarini's place at Ghatgaon (45 km) on the Keonjhar-Jajpur-Anandapur SH II. Tarini the Mother goddess worshipped at the base of a tree.
Coming up to Karanjia 24 km from Keonjhar, you can go 10 km up hill to Mourijoal by an Anandapur bound bus. A trek for farther 10 km ends with the glimpse of a natural wonder—the Baitarani, from behind two hillocks, descends 150 meters down and then jumping on from boulder to boulder flows throught a ravine. After few km journey along the hill there is Bhimkund, the dangerous whirlpool walled up with stones to appear as a Kund. This Kund full with light green water, which is about 260 ft deep. Hearsay, that the Baitarani disappeared into the netherworld flowing under the Bhimkund. The stream, after disappearing into a crevice, is again visible at a distance of 3 km. It is not at all unnatural to come across a bear or an elephant on this trail specially at night. Close to the bungalow there is a small temple of Shiva. One may get accommodation at the 2 roomed bungalow of the Irrigation Department. The beautiful bungalow is surrounded by the forest of sal, mohua piyasal. kendu and arjun.
How to reach Bhimkund from Kolkata
If you plan to go from Kolkata, it is convenient to go via Karanjia (358 km). Dhauli Express at 6-00 am may be availed to reach Jajpur-Keonjhar Road at 11-23 am. From there a Keonjhar-bound bus may be taken to get down at Dhenkikot (90 km) and from there Patana (19 km) may be reached by another bus/ trekker. From Parana another car/ jeep has to be arranged personally for reaching 18 km to Bhimkund.
Fooding and lodging at Bhimkund
Though the utensils are available, one has to collect one's ration (food stuff) from Patana. There are ordinary hotels and a PWD Bungalow at Karanjia, a small town in the Mayurbhanj district Khiching and Bhimkund are situated on 2 diametrically opposite points of Karanjia. From Karanjia buses are coming up to Kolkata in the morning and evening.
This article is originally published in Travel India and India Study Channel