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Dooars Diary: How we made most of an extended weekend

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It was the ‘spring festival’ day offs in our offices in March 2015 (March 5- March 8) and we, a group of 5, thought of taking a short trip amidst the forests of North Bengal which is commonly referred to as the Dooars. A little bit of Googling will tell you that the name ‘Dooars’ is derived from ‘duar’ the term for ‘door’ in Assamese, Bengali, Nepali, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Magahi and Telugu languages. The Dooars, located in the districts of Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar in Bengal, provides a gateway to the hills in North Bengal, Sikkim and other North-East Indian states.

Day 1, March 5: We took the Darjeeling Mail from Sealdah station to New Jalpiaguri (NJP) station. The train leaves Sealdah station at 10.05 pm. We had packed our dinner with us- parantha and chicken kasha. And trust me nothing tastes better on a train ride!

Day 2, March 6: We reached NJP station in the morning and took a Tata Sumo and started our journey to Gorumara Eco Village, Kalipur. On the way, we stopped near the Torsha river, at a small roadside stall, to taste some fresh catch. Two of our group members got busy in clicking some nice snaps of the Indian cormorant [ pankouri in Bengali ].

A few more hours drive and we finally arrived at the much sought after Kalipur Eco Village. There were 4 cottages one and a half storey in height, and luckily there were no other tourists, as the forest department stay was only allowed to us during the holidays, under special approval from the WBFDC in-charge, thanks to one of our friend’s father, who is an ex- IPS.

We had a sumptuous lunch and then planned to take few nice snaps in the surrounding forests. The place has its own watch tower called Medhla, on the banks of river Murti. The Forest Department also has two elephants which exclusively take tourists staying there for forest safaris. The forest is thick with rhinos, bison and elephants, and many species of birds. We spotted hornbills, barbets, babblers and kingfishers. From the watch tower, we got a splendid view of the thick forests, and managed to get the rare sight of peacock dance, with a rhino family grazing in the distance.

Evening has its own charm, as we sat quietly in the balcony, enjoying the tranquillity of the forest, its own distinct sounds- the crickets and the chirping of the birds. The darkness of the dense forest just in front of us and its strange silence filled our senses with a sense of peace and calm.

For dinner we did some cooking, the guesthouse staff was very cooperative and arranged all the required ingredients for us.

At around 11, when we all were thinking ‘let’s call it a day’, we could hear some strange murmuring sound just behind the trees. The sound gradually intensified and we could even feel an animal’s breath. Quickly, we called the guards and we got to know that a bison and an elephant were standing very close by. As the sound progressed towards us , we asked the guard to put the searchlight on and we saw a huge tusker brushing his trunk against the branches of a ‘sal’ tree’ It was there for around 10 – 12 minutes, and we kept on putting the search light on him at regular intervals, after which it went inside the forest.  It was an experience, which we all shall cherish, lifelong, an experience that cannot be penned down.

Day 3, March 7: We went for the elephant safari early in the morning, and we were lucky to spot some beautiful species of birds, a baby rhino sleeping with his mother and some white spotted deer.

After taking our breakfast we started for our next destination, Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary. The forest bungalow is hardly 1 or 2 kms from the entry point and the watch-tower is within 100 meters from the bungalow. For safety, there is electrical fencing around. The watch-tower overlooks marshy grasslands and a waterhole. On the other side of the waterhole is the salt-pit. As soon as we climbed the watchtower, we were lucky enough to see a herd of around 22 – 25 Indian bisons or ‘gaur’ which had come to drink water.

The day gradually went by. Towards the evening, we planned to take a short walk and while doing so, we spotted hornbills and barbets.

Our evening plan was to ideally sit in the balcony enjoying the peace and tranquility of the area with some roasted chicken, made by one of our friends.

It was a splendid sight, the grassland and the dark deep woods just in front of us and with the occasional night calls of birds. We just did so and time went by.

After dinner, we all went out of the forest bungalow to try our luck at spotting some wildlife as the thrill of this place is heightened at night when jungle sounds become more pronounced. The caretaker provided us a searchlight and soon we could see the eyes of the Bison herd glowing all around the grassland right in front of us.

Day 4, March 8: We had our evening return train from NJP and we all suddenly decided to take a short halt at a place called Mongpong, which happens to be the gateway to Dooars, enroute.  It gives a panoramic view of the wide Teesta basin.  We had a nice Bengali lunch at the WBFDC resort over there and then headed towards NJP station.

It was a trip to remember. And we knew we wanted to be back every soon.

At a glance

Gorumara
Location :
Located in the flood plains of Murti and Jaldhaka river of the dooars region in Jalpaiguri.
Approach & Access : It is 15 km from Lataguri, 10 km from Chalsa and 52 km from Jalpaiguri. It is recommended to hire vehicles from Chalsa or Lataguri to enter the National Park. It takes 45 minutes to reach Gorumara from Malbazar railway station and 2 hours from New Jalpaiguri Railway Station. The nearest airport is at Bagdogra.
Accommodation : Accommodation is available at Gorumara Forest Rest House (Contact- DFO, Wildlife Divn.-II, Aranyabhavan, Jalpaiguri. Ph : 03561-224907) and private resorts in Lataguri and Chalsa
Prime Attraction : The scenic landscapes, magnificent forests, tall elephant grasses and rippling streams are added to the nature of this park. The main attractions are Rhinoceros, Elephant, Gaur, Leopard, Hornbill etc. *Gorumara N.P. is closed during rainy season from 16th. June to 15th. Sept.

Chapramari
Location : This wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the foothills of Eastern Himalayas in the district of Jalpaiguri.
Approach & Access : Can be approached by road from Siliguri or Jalpaiguri. Its 70 km from Jalpaiguri. The nearest airport is at Bagdogra. This sanctuary is arround 20 kms away from Gorumara.
Accommodation : Accommodation is available at Chapramari rest house (Contact- DFO, Wildlife Divn.-II, Aranyabhavan, Jalpaiguri. Ph : 03561-224907) and accommodation used to visit Gorumara may also be used to visit Chapramari.
Prime Attraction : It provides a breathtaking view of forests against the backdrop of the Kanchanjungha and other Himalayan peaks. It is the home to diverse avifauna and mammals like Elephant, Gaur, Leopard etc. * Chapramari W.L.S. is closed during rainy season from 16th. June to 15th. Sept

source as jalpaiguri.gov.in/html/tourism.htm

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