Places of change
There are several towns in Jharkhand which have been frequented by people mostly from West Bengal for change of climate, to recoup their health. Such places have commonly come to be known as places of change and these continue to attract such tourists.
Jharkhand can fairly claim to be one of the most attractive parts of the Indian peninsula. The scenery of the main plateau is most attractive with its undulations, detached abrupt hills and forest tracts. Belts of sal forests which once covered the plateau still survive on the hills and in broken ground. The palas tree called the flame of the forest with its reddish flowers at the advent of summer is also there, in abundance. To complete the attraction of the Jharkhand, the Adivasis who predominate on the plateau are a lovable and cheerful race.
The plateau on which most of Jharkhand is spread out is called Chotanagpur. The name Nagpur is probably taken from the Nagbanshis who ruled in the area. Chota is a corruption of Chutia, a small village near Ranchi where the Nagbanshis had a fort. The plateau consists of three steps. The highest is in the west of the province rising to around 3,000-3,500 feet above sea level. The next level spread around Ranchi and Hazaribagh in the central sector is around 2,000 feet. The eastern part is the lowest at around 1,000 feet. A part of the plateau slopes into neighbouring West Bengal.
The Adivasis are divided into two main anthropological divisions, the larger consisting of the Mundas, Santhals, Hos and some smaller tribes, and the smaller mainly of Oraons. There is no linguistic connection between the two groups. Oraon is a Dravidian language, while Munda group of languages belong to a larger group of languages known as Austro-Asiatic. The tribes who now inhabit Jharkhand probably moved in from the Gangetic valley displacing earlier races of which little trace is left.
There is little evidence of movement of Aryans into area till the days of Magadh’s rise and the early Aryan settlers were possibly Jains. Interestingly, the Hindi dialect spoken in the area is called Magadhi. During the Mohammedan rule a fairly large number of Muslims moved into the area and the Hindu rajas encouraged migration of Hindus. The British had a good deal of trouble in asserting their authority over the area.
(The above is based on Sir John Houlton in Bihar, the Heart of India, first published in 1949.)
Jharkhand is rich in mineral reserves. It was formed in 2001 after breaking away from neighbouring Bihar State.