Posted by: itsme | February 11, 2010

Impressions of Steel City

Jamshedpur is an important city of Jharkhand and it is now my first destination in this state. More commonly it is known as Tatanagar and simply referred in common parlance as Tata. So I arrive on an overnight train from Raipur, the train just ten minutes behind schedule. As usual, the first thing to do is to find a room.

‘What is that?’ asks the hotel manager, pointing at my transparent water bottle containing an orange coloured liquid. I have the practice of sometimes missing orange flavoured glucose with water but the mixture is too diluted to look like orange juice.

‘Petrol,’ I tell him with a grim face.

‘Petrol?’

I uncork the cap and take a sip.

‘Petrol nehi to gadi kaise chalegi?’ I ask him. He is looking at me with an incredulous gaze. ‘It’s just orange juice,’ I add to put him out of his confusion.

I check into a room, after having checked out three rooms in three other hotels along the way from the train station. A bell boy is making my bed, laying out new sheets. I check with him if he goes to school. The answer is a no. After a good bath and a wash of my laundry I go in search of breakfast and what Steel City has in offer.

Jama Masjid @ Sakchi

Sakchi is the original village where the early founders decided to build the TISCO (Tata Iron and Steel Company). The town isn’t exactly old and one may imagine that most of it is really only a century old: except for Sakchi. This is probably one of the oldest parts of town and understandably it is not as clean as a visitor expects. There is a lot of hype about how clean Jamshedpur is but Sakchi is not the place to find it.

After some minutes of walking I find a place for breakfast. It is more of a brunch since it is past eleven. It is too early for anything from the tandoor or any stew of fresh vegetables. I had two plain parathas and channa masala. The parathas are excellent.

Right opposite the chaos of the bus station with its rickety old buses, there is the Jama Masjid. I don’t know the history of this mosque. It does not look grand or authentically old. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful mosque. It is quite simple in style. The central dome is flanked by two smaller domes. The lotus moulding at the top and base of the domes are matched by a similar scheme on domes kiosks and turrets. This uniformity holds the monument together artistically.

Dimna Lake

I try to get a bus to Dalma Hills. But after wandering about the bus station, I fail to get proper information. I do get a bus to get me to 3 km of the lake from where Dalma Hills can be seen. This lake supposedly supplies water to the city.

It is a lovely afternoon and I walk the 3 km to the lake. The hills are in the distance. The green cover is thick even this time of the year. The lake is placid. Farms, fields and hills on the other side of the lake beckon me. I start walking by the lake’s shore.

I pass through many village scenes – herds grazing with the cowherd in careful watch; women washing clothes by the lake; a man bathing in the lake just as pigs and piglets wallow in the dirt nearby; water birds wading in the lake while others sun themselves on rocks; a man washing is buffaloes who are a little unruly in the afternoon heat.

Many pairs of village eyes stare at me from the distance as I walk across fields. I am an unexpected stranger. I ignore their stares and continue my walk until I find a transport back to town.

Jubilee Park

This is one of the jewels of Tatanagar. It has been donated by the company to the town folks to commemorate the completion of 50 years of the city’s founding. I am told that this is the only city in Indian without a municipality. Tata company takes care of a great deal of things in this city. Citizens here are proud of their city but I am disappointed with public transport.

This park is beautiful. The main of it is terraced on three levels with fountains and cascades. Under evening lighting they will look even more wonderful. At each level, flower beds and planted within manicured lawns. Pathways for pedestrians are thoughtfully designed. The only problem I found is that the fountains are switched off and the lights are mostly broken. Otherwise, the park is clean and all visitors are have good civic sense to keep it that way. Surprisingly there are few dustbins if any.

The park has an Ashoka tree planted by Pandit Nehru and a Smriti Udhyan where anyone can plant a sapling for a fee of Rs. 500. There is a rose garden which has beautiful roses but the garden itself isn’t beautiful. Beauty of a rose is nature’s gift but creating beauty in a garden is an art in itself. Indian gardeners are still far from achieving that beauty. There is a medicinal garden which has few plants and perhaps deserves more attention. The park has a lake, a zoo and a nursery.

Overall, the park is a good place to relax. I quite like it and the people of Tatanagar are proud of it.

Coin Museum

Not many will know of this place for it was opened only in March last year. It is sponsored by Tata company at the request of Coin Collectors Club, a club founded in 1994. Today they have a member strength of 135. I met the founder of the club at whose initiative this museum has been established.

‘This is the cleanest city in India,’ he says proudly.

I don’t want to disappoint him but I have to set facts right. ‘I think Chandigarh is cleaner than Jamshedpur, don’t you think?’ I tell him.

He mulls on this little fact a bit and replies, ‘Chandigarh is on an another league altogether. But still we have the cleanest city here, you know… well maybe second cleanest.’

That settles the matter and I proceed to look at the exhibits. It nicely adds to my earlier visit to the museum at Nashik. The exhibits are properly displayed and they are well lit. The earliest pieces are from the 6th to 3rd century BC from the time of janapadas of Takshila, Magadha and Kosala. This includes beautiful silver punch marked bars. There are coins from different countries, coins arranged by themes such as birds, Mughal coins and native state coins in contrast to those issued by the British Raj.

As I leave the place, the founder presents me with two old issues of the club’s magazine. They have useful information on this fascinating hobby which is not just numismatics but also about history.

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