The 400-feet-tall, 5th-century Vijaygarh Fort was constructed by the Kol kings in Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh. It is situated in Mau Kalan village on Robertsganj-Church road approximately 30 km from Robertsganj. Around half of the area of the fort is filled by steep rocky hills of Kaimur Range.
Some of the unique features of the fort include cave paintings, statues, rock inscriptions and the four perennial ponds that never go dry. The main gate is preceded by a tomb of Muslim saint, Saiyyed Zain-ul-Abdin Meer Sahib, popularly called Hazrat Meeran Shah Baba. An Urs or a fair dedicated to the great saint is held every year in April which draws large crowds of devotees of all faiths.
Two other landmarks located near the fort are the tanks known as Mira Sagar and Ram Sagar. Wedged between them is the Rang Mahal, which houses beautiful rock carvings.
Kanwarias or the devotees of God Shiva fill their pitchers from Ram Sagar before starting their foot-march to their homes.
Naugarh Fort is a small structure situated approximately 2 km from Naugarh township in Robertsganj and 40 km in the southern side of Chakia in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh.
The fort was built by the Kashi Naresh. Of late, it is being used as a guest house for government officers. The fort offers panoramic views of Karmnasha river and the surrounding areas.
The Naugarh Fort has some remains found around it. These remains date back to 3000 years and stand testimony to the ancient history of this site.
A mountain, popularly called Geruwatwa Pahar, located in the north-western side of the fort, is replete with metal and mineral waste and the remains of furnaces. This slag is found on both sides of a small stream that joins Karmnasha river and forms a fascinating waterfall. It then turns into a stream which flows to the north-eastern side of Naugarh Fort.
Rihand Dam is situated at Pipari on Renukut-Shaktinagar road in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. It is 8 km from Renukut and approximately 46 km from the point where the Son river joins river Rihand on an area bordering with the southern highlands of Surguja district in Chhattisgarh.
The dam is built on river Rihand, a tributary of Son river over a reservoir named Govind Ballabh Pant Sagar Lake. The reservoir covers an area of 450 sq m.
Started in 1954, the construction of the 91.44 m high and 934.21 m long concrete gravity dam was completed in 1962. It hosts a hydroelectric power generation plant that generates 300 megawatt of electricity and is managed by the UP Hydroelectricity Corporation Ltd.
The dam has 61 joint and independent blocks. The water of the dam is released into Rihand river to irrigate the agricultural land in the state all through the year.
Agori Fort is situated on Renukut road approximately at a distance of 35 km from Robertsganj and 10 km from Chopan, in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the main historical monuments and tourist attractions of the region.
Formerly owned by the rulers of Kharwar, the fort was later on taken over by the rulers of Chandela dynasty. It is also called a tribal fort since it was ruled by a tribal king who was its last ruler.
The monument is circumscribed by three rivers named Vijul, Regu and Son rivers. The fort itself is built on the bank of river Son. It is surrounded on all sides by trenches to secure it against attacks.
Tourists can reach the fort by a ferry across the river Rihand. The brave hearts can trek through the valley located by the side of Son river to enjoy its sight.
Mukha Falls is situated on Robertsganj-Ghorawal-Mukha Dari road approximately 55 km in the west of Robertsganj and 15 km from Shivdwar in the Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh.
The waterbody lies close to a Devi Mandir and Karia Tal or the lake on the Belan river. It is one of the most magnificent waterfalls in the district. It presents a breathtaking sight during the rainy season.
Shivdwar Temple is situated 10 km from Ghorawal on Shivdwar road and 40 km in the west of Robertsganj in Uttar Pradesh.
This huge shrine is devoted to God Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple houses an 11th-century black idol of Shiv Parvati. The three-feet-tall idol represents them in Srijan Mudra—creative posture. The temple is a magnificent work of art that testifies to the level of craftsmanship of those times. It is also very precious in terms of monetary value.
The temple is a highly revered in the region. The residents of the area regard it as the second Kashi temple because of its high religious significance. The temple also houses a host of black stone idols of other gods and goddesses. It draws large crowds of devotees during the festivals of Shiv Ratri and in Shravan month, especially on Mondays. Kanwarias end the devotional journey at this temple and offer the sacred water to the god.
Both Rajdari and Devdari waterfalls are located in the Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh. Of these two, the 65-metre-high Rajdari Waterfall is the biggest among a host of waterfalls located in the sanctuary. It is a stepped waterfall and is surrounded by a lush green forest area.
A picnic spot has been set up by the government close to the waterbody, which is a popular destination for the picnickers and the tourists.
Deo Dari, another popular waterfall is located approximately 500 metres in the downstream side of the Rajdari Waterfall.
Both Rajdari and Devdari waterfalls are fed by water from a reservoir built approximately one kilometre before the Chandraprabha Dam on a river in the forest of the same name.
The waterfalls draw huge crowds of tourists during the winter and spring months.
Located approximately 10 km from Robertsganj, Lorika Rock is the headquarters of district Sonbhadra. The colossal rock, cleft at three places, attracts the attention and admiration of the visitors.
Ghormanagar or Khodwa Pahar is located at a distance of 38 km from Robertsganj and 13 km from Mau Kalan village. The pahar or the hillock is a home to Kaua Khoh rock shelter.
It is not really easy to access the rock shelter because of its location in steep hills amongst the narrow gorge of a waterfall. But once you enter there, you are overjoyed with the experience awaiting you. The site offers a panoramic view of the magnificent landscape made up of stunning river valleys, hills and forests spread around it.
The cave shelter houses a large number of paintings portraying the culture and life of the people in those times. The paintings depict folk dances, hunting and battle scenes.
Of special interest in Ghormangar rock shelter is the Frog Dance. The skillfully executed dance was performed as a ritual to invoke rains especially during times of drought. All the participants are displayed in unique dancing poses. They carry barbed arrows, harpoons or lancers as they dance.
District Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh is home to ancient cave painting sites, which have been in existence since prehistoric times. They are situated in the cave shelters of the Vindhya and the Kaimur ranges and have about 250 rock art paintings.
Some of the noteworthy paintings sites are located in the cave shelters of Lakhania, Panchmukhi, Kauva Khoh and Lakhma. The paintings throw light on the periods ranging from the Mesolithic to the Heliolithic ages.
While Panchmukhi Caves and Lakhania Caves are located 8 km and 22 km respectively from Robertsganj, Kauva Khoh and Lakhma Caves are located near Churk and village Mau Kalan respectively.
Of these sites, Kaua Khoh rock shelter site, located in Khodwa Pahar, is the biggest and houses the largest repertoire of rock paintings. These works of art speak eloquently about the culture and lifestyle of the people ranging from their origin to the subsequent periods in the history.
Spread over an area of 9,600 hectares, Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the hillocks of Vijaygarh and Naugarh in the Vindhya Range in Chandauli in Uttar Pradesh.
The sanctuary was set up in May 1957 and three Asiatic lions were brought in the first instance in 1958. They multiplied to 11 by the end of 1969. Unfortunately, they disappeared by 1970.
The sanctuary is a habitat to a host of other species of wild animals. Some of these are chital, nilgai, chinkara, blackbucks, rabbit, sambhar, chausingha, monkey, porcupine, hyena, wild fox, Indian gazelle, wild cat and wild boar.
The habitat is a paradise for birdwatchers and ornithologists. It is a home to approximately 150 species of birds. The wild plants in the sanctuary comprise saagun, amaltas, mahua, koriaya, ber, tendu besides several medicinal plants.
Chandra Prabha and Kamnasha rivers running through the sanctuary host a large variety of fish in their waters. It draws huge crowds of tourists during the winter and rainy seasons when the waterfalls in the sanctuary run in full swing amidst its lush green environment.
Salkhan Fossil Park is situated inside the Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary of Sonbhadra district in UP. It lies 17 km from Robertsganj, the district headquarter. The park essentially represents the geological heritage of the district Sonbhadra.
The tree fossils are, in fact, the petrified or concretised form of the organic matter found in tree stumps. The algae or the stromatolites type fossils appear as circular stony formations over the boulders scattered in the region.
According to geologists, the tree fossils are approximately 1400 millions years old and their origin date back to Proterozoic period.
Spread over an area of around 25 hectares, the park is three times larger and much older than the Yellowstone National Park of USA.
As pointed out by the local environment protection activists, Salkhan Fossil Park is an invaluable geological treasure not only of the country, but for the whole world. Its fossils provide a wealth of information about the origin of the planet earth as well of life itself.