A mini-trip to Dhupjhora elephant camp-my experience

#1 Feb 9th, 2014, 21:09
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This october, we had visited Dhupjhora elephant camp, in dooars for a really small trip.My work takes me to siliguri quite often, and having our base near Kishenganj,it helps us to make these miniscule trips, usually of 1N/2D.
The last time it was Mongpong, this time it was Dhupjhora.

The Preparation


We had read about Dhupjhora Elephant camp from a few threads in IM, as well as from a bengali travel magazine 'Bhraman', which had published an article on it.It seemed perfect for our small visit.It is a Govt. property.We tried booking it first from the WBFDC office in Kolkata, but they informed that they had stopped booking it, and we had to book it directly from DFO Jalpaiguri.The contact details are

Range Officer,
Eco-tourism Range,
Lataguri NIC,
Tel. + Fax: +91-3561-266340.
Mr. Manab ghosh ( Forest official) is the contact person.



After contacting Mr. Ghosh he instructed us to make a demand draft, get it copied and send a copy of the DD mentioning our name and date of booking, and type of cottage (Gachbari or other cottage) and phone no. via fax.Once they confirm the receipt of the fax and the booking, we had to send the draft to their office via speed post.

so, we had no booking document with us except the photocopy of the draft, and the original receipt of the speed post.We had tracked the speed post online, an took a print out of the screenshot that said that the draft had been delivered.

The cost of Gachhbari (Teesta) is Rs.3400/-(including bed tea, breakfast, lunch, evening tea and snacks and dinner for two people, elephant safari and tribal dance programme)The other 4 cottages were priced at Rs.3200/- (This rate is of October 2013.I heard there was a recent hike in January.please confirm before booking)

Now comes the next part, about booking a car.This time we could not manage any official vehicle, and had to arrange our own.We spoke to several drivers for a quote and ultimately settled for Mr.Bhupesh Roy, the guide at dhupjhora camp, who agreed to provide us a car (initially it was a tata nano, later it was upgraded to a scorpio as two more people were travelling to the camp on the same date, luckily for us ) for Rs.500/-

Dhupjhora is not too far from New Mal Junction,around 25 kms, but the catch is, one has to travel till lataguri first to collect the booking slip and travel back again till dhupjhora.Lataguri is around 40 km from new mal.So, the moment we said we have to go VIA LATAGURI, the drivers quoted more, as it involves 20 km of extra driving.

The contact no. of Mr.Bhupesh Roy : 9800660768.

He is a genuinely helpful local person, and is based out of the nearby Batabari village knows every bit of jungle around the camp.We were no birding experts, but for those who are, he knows a great lot about the birds. I will speak of him more in the coming parts.

We also booked our tickets in Kanchankanya Express from Aluabari Road to New Mal Jn.
#2 Feb 9th, 2014, 22:07
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The Journey
We boarded the Kanchankanya express from Aluabari Road early morning.The train dropped us at new Mal Jn at around 9.30 am.We had confirmed beforehand from Mr.Bhupesh Roy and he was waiting with a car,a scorpio.A father son duo, also bound for Dhupjhora camp, shared our car.

We went to Lataguri NIC first to collect our booking slips.Make sure you have photocopies of your ID cards with you as the nearest xerox shop is not too close(We wasted 20 mins there).From there, we went back halfway the same path to Dhupjhora.One has to enter the Gorumara forest gate(where the rhino statue is there).



register the vehicle, show the booking slip and drive for around 15 mins in the jungle to reach Dhupjhora elephant camp.One side of it are the tea gardens, and on the other side the jungle, separated by just a fence.

The destination


The ambience is really really nice and serene, and is preferable any day over the congested Lataguri.There are 4ethnic cottages and one tree hose, a common dining area and a cultural zone, where cultural programmes are held in the evening.Each cottage has one double room where max 3 persons can stay.While the other cottages are made of wood and cement, the gachbari is made entirely of bamboo and wood.

We were shown into the gachbari (Tree house) after a quick check in.



Gachhbari



The campus showing the other cottages
#3 Feb 9th, 2014, 22:25
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The room was a bit small if 3 people stay in it, but perfect for two.One can watch the activities of the tea garden below right from the bed and it feels as if you are floating over the green tea garden. The view is just awesome.



The washroom, though quite small, is kept clean,There is no running hot water, but they provide buckets if needed



The treehouse has a spacious private verandah which is ideal to relax.It is a pity they do not have room service, the evening tea and snacks would have been heavenly in the verandah, watching the fireflies.

From one side of the verandah, the dense forest is seen, the other side faces the tea gardens



The elderly people would have some problem climbiing the wooden stairs.Also the gachbari is the farthest from the dining area.In the absence of room service, walking too and fro for everything might be a problem for the elderly or the disabled

#4 Feb 9th, 2014, 22:51
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There was still some time for lunch, so we frshened up quickly and decided to take a stroll around the campus.On the right side and to the front there gorumara forest, to the left and behind there are tea gardens.Ifone walks for about 7-10 mins straight through the forest, one can reach the murti river.

We decided to take a stroll through the tea gardens first after a quick cup of tea in the dining room.(even a cup of tea will not be served in the room, one has to walk to dining hall for it).There are strict instructions pasted in every cottage that no canteen staff is to be requested for any service outside the canteen.



After a quick stroll through the tea garden, we paid a visit to the jute factory which is also within the camp.It is run by a self help group employing local girls who weave jute carpets for sale.



The products are of good quality.purchase can be made from the salescounter of the camp
#5 Feb 10th, 2014, 21:13
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After the stroll through the camp, It was time for lunch.Timings are quite strictly maintained here.Menu is fixed, fish for lunch and chicken for dinner.the canteen is run by the local residents.Some other guests informed us that it is really a treat when local fishes like bhoroli is served, but we were served good old rohu.The cooking is homely.



soon after the lunch it was time to see the elephants bathe in the murti river.This is one of the main activities of the camp.There were about 3 captive elephants, who are taken for a bathe daily to the river.The guests can also participate in the clean up process.It would be an extremely enjoyable experience for kids, and a great ad unique experience for adults as well.

We walked for around 10 mins through the narrow jungle trail to the river, accompanied by our guide, Bhupesh.



He showed us many birds and different kinds of trees.Though we were no experts, we enjoyed the ambience thoroughly.

Rain clouds had started to gather over the river.Being autumn, the ubiquitous "kaash" flowers were in full bloom.the white sands, the dark sky, the blue river and the green jungle beyond was a mesmerizing sight to behold







#6 Feb 10th, 2014, 21:23
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The elephants arrived soon. They come by a different path crossing the river.





they lie down comfortably in the river and playfully sprinkle water over each other.They are scrubbed clean one by one by the attendants and we lent our hand, standing in ankle to knee deep water.



squeaky clean, they happily start their journey, now a bit hurriedly towards the camp.It is their lunch time now!! We follow them.
The entire exercise takes about 45 mins to 1 hour.




#7 Feb 10th, 2014, 23:40
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#7
Wonderful picture of Kaas flower! Nostalgic for me. Just loved all these pics. Thanks a ton.
#8 Feb 11th, 2014, 13:54
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Really nice photos Abhinanda and report too
aamar payer tolai sorshe...(I have wheels under my feet)
#9 Feb 11th, 2014, 20:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asishdas View Post Just loved all these pics. Thanks a ton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duronto Jajabar View Post Really nice photos Abhinanda and report too
Thanks a lot, both of you. All the pictures of this trip were clicked with my mobile camera, as I had forgotten to take my camera with me
#10 Mar 3rd, 2014, 17:10
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Awesome
#11 Mar 9th, 2014, 17:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arjunrobert View Post Awesome
Thanks arjunrobert.Couldn't find time to complete this report till date.Will try today
#12 Mar 9th, 2014, 17:21
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#12

Thumbs down

After the lunch of the elephants we took rest in our tree house for a while.At around 4, bhupesh came calling.He said that there was a possibility of rain and a heavy shower forecast next morning.So he would like us to do the elephant safari in the evening, in case we miss it the next morning.We were more than willing, so we hurried down to ride the elephants.

Please remember to wear sneakers or similar shoes or else you will be required to leave your shoes at the tower where you board the elephant and go barefoot.

The elephant back was covered just by a jute gunny bag and some ropes.no proper seating arrangement like jaldapara or kaziranga.It is difficult for the elderly and the aged to sit with their legs spread so wide holding of tightly to the coir rope for near about 1.30 hrs.Two persons and the mahout are taken on each elephant.



They took us first to the kanzel watchtower by river murti, we stayed there for a brief while and continued our journey into the jungle crossing the murti river.It is an experience of a lifetime, as darkness had set in.We saw two bisons and a elephant.I could not click as I was sure to drop my mobile.As we were returning to the it was pitch dark and we could see thousands of fireflies (jonaki) blinking in the forest.it was an eerie and etherial sight. We felt like we were straight out of some fairytale, king and queen, returning to our kingdom on elephant back, greeted by glittering fairies.
#13 Mar 9th, 2014, 18:17
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We quicky ate some onion pakoras and tea as the cultural programme was about to start.It is performed by the local village artistes and was quite good, though i found the group which performed at hornbill nest during my earlier gorumara trip, to be better.However, it is a good one time watch as there is nothing to do as such in the evenings.Just keep the Odomos handy



We had an early dinner of chapatis, dal, vegetables chicken and rosogolla and went back to our tree top.It had started to pitter patter, and it was heavenly, sitting on the balcony and enjoying them.

The next morning it was drizzling continuously and we remained in the room, enjoying the lush green tea gardens and jungles around.It was pure bliss, listening to the rains on the bamboo walls and the tree above.We ventured out only once for breakfast (luchi, torkari,eggs and tea/milk)

We checked out at around 11.They presented us with two small just carpets each from the factory.Bhupesh drove us to siliguri in his tata nano.The road condition was excellent and it was a very very smooth ride
#14 May 31st, 2014, 20:03
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#14
Love it, hope to go there sometime

cheers
somnath
#15 May 31st, 2014, 20:20
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thanks Somnathda.
It is indeed a beautiful place.especially kids would love the experience.Won't suggest the elephant ride to the elderly or those with arthritis/back pain problems.

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