A University in the lap of hills
Dumka: a Profile
Dumka: a Profile
Dumka, the sub capital of Jharkhand, is an abode of the tribals, mostly the Santals, and is a treat to the eyes of nature lovers. Blessed with a topography of high ridges, lush green vegetation which gets adorned with fiery red palash and gulmohar flowers in the spring, beautiful valleys and meandering rivers, the district presents a serene, picruresque sight. L S S O’ Malley, an Indian Civil Servant in the colonial Santal Parganas, described Dumka thus:
The scenery in these hills… is very picturesque, hill after hill stretching away in the distance covered with dense jungle, while far down in the valleys are seen terraced rice fields green with paddy.
Fortunately, Dumka still preserves much of the scenic beauty outlined by Malley more than a hundred years ago.
In the colonial period Dumka was one of the oldest stations in Bengal. The map of 1769 shows it as ‘Duncaw’, possibly the English rendering of the original name ‘Dumkoh’. We are not very certain about the etymology and history of the term ‘Dumkoh’; however, as Malley informs us, ‘koh’ was a commom term that terminated the names of the villages in Santal Parganas. Probably, the term is derived from the Persian word, ‘Damin-i-koh’, which means skirts of the hills, a name given by the Mughals to this region. The name figures frequently in the official correspondence as Dumka or Doomka till 1855, when for the first time, it is called Naya Dumka. After the Hul, when a new district of the Santal Parganas was created, Dumka was made its headquarter. In 1983, when Santal Parganas was formed into a Division, Dumka again became its divisional headquarter. In 2000, after the formation of Jharkhand as a new state, Dumka was given the status of a district and the sub capital of Jharkhand.
Dumka, still a backward region in terms of physical infrastructure, medical facilities, education, job opportunities and connectivity, is gradually paving its way towards development. The arrival of railways in the town six years back has been quite influential in effecting socio economic changes in the town. It is also emerging as a tourist place owing to its natural, cultural, historical and archaeological significance. The main attractions include the Hindu pilgrimage spot of Baba BasukinathDham, the historical and religious village of temples, Maluti, Baba Sumeshwar Nath temple that receives a deluge of devotees on Mahashivaratri, Chutonath hill with the famous Chutonath Baba temple, the Masanjore or Canada dam on the Mayurakshi river located on the foothills of long, forest clad hill ranges, the hot water spring of Tatloie Kund and the popular Shrishti Park at Kurva near the Dumka airbase.
Dumka has historically been an important centre of rebellions and popular mobilizations in the colonial period, the Santal Hul and the Kherwar movements being the most significant ones. It was an important hub during the Jharkhand movement after independence and it continues to remain one of the crucial regions of Jharkhand politics. The first Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Babulal Marandi, hailed from Dumka and one of the most popular leaders of Jharkhand, Shibu Soren is also from Dumka. The recent mobilization against the CNT and SPT amendment Acts also saw Dumka as an active participant. A constituency that remains on the priority list of the Jharkhand politicians, Dumka is destined to remain one of the most influential regions in the electoral politics of Jharkhand.
A place with immense potential, yet lacking on many fronts, Dumka is positively charting new roads towards development and better life. The most remarkable aspect of this place is that in the global age of environmental degradation and rising individualism and competeiveness, Dumka continues to preserve not only its pristine natural beauty but also the rare human values of communitarianism and coexistence.