Ajodhya Hills | Nature inFocus

Ajodhya Hills

A birdwatching guide to an ecotourism hotspot in the Purulia District of West Bengal, which harbours migratory birds from western and southern India

Dipankar Mandal

Ajodhya Hills

Nestled in the easternmost fringe of the Chota Nagpur Plateau in the Purulia district of West Bengal, Ajodhya Hills are an extended part of the Eastern Ghats. An ecotourism hotspot, this undulating landscape with river valleys and residual hills sees tourist traffic throughout the year. Besides the aesthetic appeal, these hillocks of igneous rocks are also popular among young mountaineers who wish to hone their rock-climbing skills.

Chamtaburu (719m) is the highest point of Ajodhya Hills. The tropical dry deciduous forests of Shal, Piyal, Palash, and Mahua harbour more than 300 species of birds, some of them commonly found in western and southern India but not in West Bengal. Mammals such as jackals, foxes, wolves, pangolins, elephants and the Indian Tree Shrew are common in these forests. Both big and small cats, such as the Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat and Indian Leopard, can also be seen here.

However, the increasing population pressure, surge of big developmental projects, and uncontrolled tourism are hastening the thinning of forests and paving the way for gully erosion. Habitat loss of resident birds, particularly Indian Eagle-Owls and nightjars, is perceptible.

Plan Your Trip

Getting There


Ranchi Airport (IXR) is the nearest airport to Ajodhya Hills at a distance of approx. 127km (around 3.5hrs), with direct flight connectivity from Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi. Other airports are Andal Airport (RDP) (156km; 4 hrs) and Kolkata Airport (CCU) (288km; 7 hrs).


Ajodhya Hill Top is just 40km southwest of Purulia (the district headquarters) and 38km northwest of Barabhum. Both railheads have direct rail connectivity from Howrah, Ranchi and Tatanagar.


Ajodhya Hills can be approached from Ranchi via NH43 (120 km; 3hrs 24min) or Ranchi-Purulia Road (119km, 3hrs 42min). A private bus service is available between Ranchi and Purulia and takes between 4 to 6 hrs. Purulia town is situated about 40km (1 hr) away from the Ajodhya Hill Top. Local bus and Tata Sumo services are available from Purulia to the top of the hill.

From Kolkata, the recommended access is via NH314 (288 km; 7 hrs.). The condition of the road is good, and there are plenty of good eateries and motels on the route. Private and government buses ply between Kolkata and Purulia, and take almost 7.5 - 8.5 hrs to reach Purulia.

Best Time To Visit

Ajodhya Hills can be visited throughout the year. The different seasons provide glimpses of different species, both flora and fauna.


This is the coolest time of the year, with temperatures ranging from 8-25°C. Winter migrants congregate in large numbers during this period, making it an ideal time to visit for birding enthusiasts.


In spring, blooming Palash and Mahua provide mesmerising views all around. Palash blooms last till April. While temperatures range from 25-30°C throughout the day, the cool breeze in the evening provides some comfort.


During peak summer, temperatures soar over 40°C, with hot, dry winds during the daytime. However, occasional torrential rain provides some respite. Photography tends to be challenging as the haze emitted from hot rocks can cause blurry images.


Ajodhya Hills receives moderate rainfall during the monsoon when the humidity level rises to 80 per cent. Torrential rains and frequent cyclonic storms can affect travel plans adversely during this period. However, Ajodhya Hills look magical this time of the year, when the lakes are full, waterfalls are bursting and various hues of green veil the hills.


When the East India Company obtained the ‘Diwani’ of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa in 1765, a Jungle Mahals district was formed, consisting of 23 parganas and mahals, including the present-day Purulia. Subsequently, by Regulation XIII of 1833, a new district called Manbhum was constituted from the Jungle Mahals district. After independence, through the States Reorganisation Act in October 1956, the Manbhum district was partitioned between the states of Bihar (present-day Jharkhand) and West Bengal, and Purulia, including Ajodhya Hills, became a part of West Bengal.


From government youth hostels to luxury resorts, there are plenty of accommodation options at the foothills and the Ajodhya Hill Top.

Kushal Palli Resorts is a 4-star property at Kuchai Rekha Hill. A double occupancy room will cost you between ₹7,280 to ₹18,880.

Tulin Heritage Bungalow is a sprawling 2.5-acre property in the serene Tulin village, adjacent to the Subarnarekha river. A twin-sharing A/C room will cost you between ₹3,100 to ₹3,750.

Palash Badi at the foothills of Gajaburu is perfect for birders and rock climbers alike, with the accommodation just a short walk away from the forest and the camping site. A double occupancy cottage/tent will cost you between ₹4,000 to ₹4,500.

Malgudi Resort in the Matha Forest Range is a good option for those accessing Ajodhya Hills from the Barabhum railhead. A double occupancy room will cost you between ₹,2000 to ₹2,500.

The Ajodhya Pahar Youth Hostel is available for just ₹200 to ₹950 per person per day.

Other options at the Ajodhya Hill Top are Ajodhya Eco Nest and Ajodhya Hill Arcade.


See | Do

  • Go for a hike inside the Dhol Baru Valley in search of the Indian Eagle-Owl, which has been spotted roosting on the steep cleft at its foothills. Malkohas, barbets, babblers and prinias can also be found here.
  • On the southern side of Dhol Baru, you will find Savanna Nightjars, larks and buntings. Catching the sunrise from the peak will be an added bonus.
  • An evening stroll inside the Matha Forest around Malgudi Resort will reward you with sightings of the Indian Nightjar, Jerdon’s Nightjar and numerous owl species. There are chances of encounters with deer, wild hogs, porcupines, jackals and even leopards in the upper regions of the forest.
  • There is plenty to see around Ajodhya Hills – Upper Dam, Lower Dam, Tarpania Lake (locally known as Marble Lake), Sita Kunda, Mathaburu Hill, Bamni Waterfalls, Tunga Dam, Khairabera Lake and Murguma Dam.
  • If time permits, visit the Charida or Mukhos villages to witness firsthand how artists create the larger-than-life masks used in the traditional Chhau martial dance dramas. With stories based on Hindu mythology, the dance celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

Don't Miss

  • Be sure to try the delectable Aloo Posto, a simple yet delicious dish made by cooking potatoes in a lightly spiced poppy seed paste.
  • The traditional Mahua liquor is a must-try for wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs. The locally brewed liquor is made from the flowers of the Mahua tree and tastes incredibly sweet.
  • Enjoy the traditional Chhau martial dance and rhythmic Santali dance, usually organised in high-end resorts in the evening.
  • If possible, trek to a nearby peak and catch a sunrise/sunset, with breathtaking, panoramic views of the hills, lakes and villages.

What To Pack

  • During winter, temperatures often dip below 10 to 11°C. Be sure to carry warm clothing such as jackets and sweaters. Additionally, carry woollen socks, fleece caps and mufflers for early morning and late night outdoor activities such as birding.
  • During summer, it is imperative that you carry loose cotton clothes, a hat/cap, sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • Carry a torch/headlamp and covered shoes for night outdoor activities.
  • Monsoon showers in the Ajodhya Hills drastically reduce temperatures. Be sure to pack a rainproof jacket or a poncho and an umbrella.
  • Pack medicines and other essentials.

For Photographers

  • A telephoto lens of 500mm focal length or more is essential for bird photography since passerine birds are often small and well-camouflaged.
  • Carry a wide-angle lens (16-35mm) to photograph the remarkable landscape of Ajodhya Hills.
  • A tripod is of no use as you mostly have no choice but to go handheld.

Good To Know

  • No permit is required and fees are not chargeable for visiting Ajodhya Hills. However, to go inside the Purulia Pumped Storage Project, prior permission is required from authorities.
  • ATMs, food joints, pharmacies, convenience stores and medical facilities are available at Ajodhya Hill Top, Baghmundi and Begunkodar.
  • All major mobile phone networks provide good network coverage and data connectivity in the region. Some areas have unreliable connectivity, particularly in the valleys and foothills.
  • For easy logistics, tour operators and resorts offer standard/customised packages for 1 to 3 days from Kolkata, which include local transport, accommodation and food.

Budget Per Person

  • A two-night stay is highly recommended, allowing you to enjoy the wildlife and culture of Purulia. It is possible to experience some of the key highlights with a one-night stay too.
  • Both tour operators and resorts offer 1 to 3-night tour packages. On average, it will cost you around  ₹5,000- ₹6,000 per day per person. Solo travel can be costly, whereas group tours can drastically reduce costs.
  • The Ajodhya Hills are vast and scattered, and guided birding tours are highly recommended. Subhra Pakhira (8918604898/9563650397) is an expert guide who charges ₹3,000 for 1 to 5 persons for a full day.  Solo birders can also sign up for a 3N2D package to and from Purulia for ₹20,000 to ₹22,000.
Dipankar Mandal - Wildlife Photographer

Dipankar Mandal

Wildlife Photographer

Dipankar is an avid birdwatcher and a passionate photographer. Whenever he gets time away from work, he spends it in national parks across India, observing and photographing its inhabitants, particularly the winged wanderers. You can tweet him @dipankarmandalP and follow him on Instagram @dipankarmandal.photography. To check out more of his work, head to dipankarsphotography.myportfolio.com.


Our site uses “cookies” to enhance visitor experience and improve the speed of the site. We do not use cookies to collect any personal information or sensitive information.

Cookies on natureinfocus.in are used by our third-party vendors and us. Cookies are used for the following reasons:

We also use cookies to collect visitor statistics, which helps us improve our website. Google Analytics – We use Google Analytics for tracking statistics on visitors and website traffic. It may collect visitor location, IP or any other information. Privacy Policy of Google Analytics is owned by Google.