Jharkhand's enigmatic blend of forests, tribes and fuming industrial belts has yet to find favour with the majority of visitors to India. Exploring the state is not for the faint-hearted - Naxalite bandits are active in many areas - but if you crave a taste of life far beyond the tourist trail, this remote corner of central India provides it in spades.

Jharkhand lies on the once densely forested northern edge of the Indian Peninsula. The rolling plateau, at 300-400 m with occasional outcrops rising to nearly 1000 m, is mostly granite and gneiss of ancient Gondwanaland. On the north it drops quite sharply to the plains of the Ganga, while a great fault has
created the valley of the mineral rich Damodar. The plateau still has an open feel, with forest interspersed by agricultural land, except where coal and iron ore mining have created a scarred industrial landscape of mines and soil tips. To the south of the Damodar Valley are the Ranchi plateaux, broken up by remarkable looking flat-topped hillocks or
. Up to 20% is still forested, though exploitation of this continues. The soils are often poor, sometimes lateritic, and easily eroded if conservation measures are not adopted.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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