Dazzling Dooars

#1 May 20th, 2017, 09:45
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#2 May 20th, 2017, 09:55
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Dazzling Dooars

Dazzling Dooars Part 1

Recently I with my family visited the eastern part of Dooars. I went with my wife, father, mother & my 5 yr old son. I will describe the entire tour details in several posts day wise. At the end I will disclose the Accommodation details with total expenditure. Hope it will be helpful for future tourists going to Dooars.

Day 0:
On 12.05.2017 we started for Sealdah railway station from our home at Baguiati around 6:45 pm by an ola cab. We reached Sealdah around 7:30 pm. Kanchankanya Express is the most favourite train to go to Dooars, as it passes through the Jungles and beautiful landscapes of Dooars overlooking the tea gardens and mountains. The train started exactly on its scheduled departure at 8:30 pm. We had 2 middle berths & 2 upper berths. But somehow I was able to manage 2 lower berths for my senior citizen parents in exchange of 2 upper berths. We completed our dinner with Luchi, Alur Dum & Mishti around 10:30 pm and went to our berths for a sleep.

Day1 (13.05.2017):
It was around 5:30 am in the morning when I woke up. Train was stationed at Barsoi station. Weather was very much overcast. The train was running late by 45 minutes. As we reached Kishenganj,it started raining heavily. After coming from scorching heat of Kolkata, it was like a great relief to our body and soul. We reached NJP around 8:10 am. I had a quick look on the left side of the train to catch a glimpse of Mt. Kanchenjunga, but the entire hill was invisible due to huge work up of cloud. After crossing Sivok, rain started to fall again. The jungle of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary looked even greener in that rain. Aaah! what a spectacle to behold. Ultimately, we reached our destination New Mal Junction (Malbazar) at 10:05 am.
New Mal Junction

Our ever smiling friend Mr. Hasanur Kabir was ready with his white Bolero in the parking space. We quickly loaded our luggage on the back of the vehicle and started for our first destination "Neora Jungle Camp" in Gorumara National Park.
After turning right from Chalsa, Neora Jungle Camp is around 9 km situated on the right side just few metres after lataguri mahakaal temple.On the way you have to cross small localities like Mangalbari, Batabari & Tilabari. We took a right turn on the Chalsa-Lataguri highway after mahakaal temple. The camp is situated 1.5 km inside the jungle (Kalakhawa beat of GNP). The road from main road to the camp is very thrilling as you can at anytime be faced off with any wild animals.
The camp is situated within the jungle and it is fenced with electrical wires. It has 2 entry points through forest. One goes to Lataguri main road (by which we entered) and another one from rear side goes to Batabari, which is a stretch of around 5 km through jungle. This path is used by local people only, tourists are not allowed in this route (except gypsy safari)

Entrance to Neora Jungle Camp

Rear Gate of NJC

The Cottages

After checking in around 11:30 am, we were provide 2 cottages at the extreme end of the camp. We got refreshed and took bath. Then we were requested to take our lunch around 1 pm. They served us with Rice, Alu-patol curry, Alu Bhaja, Dal & 4 egg curries (8 eggs with potatoes). After finishing our lunch my parents went to cottege for taking some rest. We went to the Neora river side, which is just behind the camp area. The river bed was more or less dried, with very scanty flow of water. We saw some River Lapwings (Hattimatimtim) on the dried riverbed, but could not take photographs as I was not carrying my camera with me then. After 30 minutes we came back and sat on the watchtower to experience the serenity of the forest. There was a water body just beside the camp area, which is very near from the watchtower. We came to know from the camp people that previous night there was a herd of elephants comprising of around 10-15 of them, in the water body & they stayed adjacent to the camp area the whole night. We were very excited in anticipation of seeing them. But we could see only some peacocks, 2 Maina & 2 Bulbul there.

Our Cottages: Front view

Rear View

Dining Hall

Dining Hall Outside View

Watch Tower

Watchtower Side View

Forest Bungalow

Neora River on the back

The lawn

2 Mainas

Peacocks Beside Water body

Water Body Beside WT

Bulbuls

Camp area from WT

Around 4 pm, Safari gypsies started to plying with tourists to visit the WT. It is the part of Gorumara Gypsy Safari. The tranquillity of the place was disturbed with the shoutings of the so called eco tourists. It lasted till 5:30 pm. All the tourists have seen herd of elephants during the safari at "Bridge no 5" which is merely 1.5 kms from the camp near the plantation area. We could see the movement of elephants near the plantation area but photography was not possible due to the limitation of my camera lens .

Safari Gypsy coming to WT

Rear Gate overlooking Junglee Trail

We spent the evening sitting in the lawn and felt goosebumps with the trumpet of elephants coming from forest. The camp people were constantly focusing search lights in order to see any animal activity outside the fence, but we could not spot any such activity. We decided to go for morning gypsy safari and communicated the same with the manager. He told us to wake up early in next morning & be ready around 5 am. We took our dinner around 8:45 pm with Rice, Dal, Cauliflower Curry & Deshi Chicken curry.

Inside Dining Hall

We went to our cottages around 9:30 for having sleep. Around 10:30 pm it started raining heavily. The sound of torrential rain on the asbestor roof reminded me of the song "Rimjhim Rimjhim, Rumjhum Rumjhum" from the film 1942 a love story. With this orchestra I fall asleep.
Last edited by ideeep; May 20th, 2017 at 11:45..
#3 May 20th, 2017, 09:57
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#3

Dazzling Dooars

Our Cottages: Front View
Rear View
#4 May 20th, 2017, 23:37
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#4
Nice! Waiting for the rest of it.. By the way I stay in vip enclave and I generally leave my Home much early when i have a train to catch! Can't trust the vip road traffic!
#5 Jun 3rd, 2017, 23:51
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#5
Waiting for the next part of your trip!
Is the neora jungle camp under wbfdc?
#6 Jun 4th, 2017, 11:33
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Dazzling Dooars

Dazzling Dooars Part 2:
Spine Chilling Chilapata

Day 2 (14.05.2017):
Whenever I go to a trip, I do not require any alarm clock for wake up. As usual I woke up around 4 am. I opened the door and stood in the balcony of the cottage to experience the dawn in the forest. I never miss any opportunity to behold the beauty of forest in the morning. It was still raining moderately. We were supposed to go for gypsy safari on that morning. The forest was drenched with rain water and the meadow pot holes were filled with water. The birds were chirping everywhere. When I went into the room to wake up my wife & son, I felt my son has developed a feverish temperature. My wife also confirmed the same. Therefore, we thought of cancelling the morning gypsy safari as the next few days we will have very hectic schedule.As per pre scheduled, the Maruti Alto came sharp at 5 am (for dropping us at Lataguri bazar, from where gypsy safari starts), but I told the driver about our inability to go. Though the deal was for Rs. 400/- for to & fro journey to Lataguri bazar, I had to pay him Rs. 300/- . I again went to Neora river and spent an hour over there. Nothing happened there worth mentioning, except some fresh air & pittir patter rain.We had our tea around 7 am & had our breakfast with Luchi, Alu Dum & Rosogolla. We settled our bills and started for our next destination "Mendabari Jungle Camp" at Chilapata Forest at 10 am.

Shaded Seating Area beside Neora River

The road is very scenic from NJC to Mendabari. It goes via Murti River - Nagrakata- Banarhat- Binnaguri- Telipara- Birpara- Madarihat- Hasimara. On the way wee crossed Murti, Jaldhaka, Diana, Dima & Torsha rivers.

Murti River

Till Telipara on both the sides innumerable tea gardens appeared. We could see the Chamurchi range of Bhutan while crossing Banarhat. We went to Jaldapara Tourist Lodge at Madarihat to confirm our Elephant safari on 16.05.2017 but the manager said that it can not be pre booked as the demand is very high and they have only 12 seats quota per day. So we decided to have our lunch at Relax Hotel at Madarihat around 12 noon. It was a roadside restaurant with basic meal facility. We ordered for 4 Omelette Rice & 1 Fish Rice for us. They served us with Rice, Dheki Shaak, Dal, Cauliflower curry, Alu-posto & Omelette/Katla Fish. After lunch we started for Mendabari around 12:30 pm. We reached Mendabari around 1:15 pm.
Mendabari Jungle Camp is situated just outside of the Chilapata forest in Mendabari range.

Entrance of Mendabari Jungle Camp

A slender wooden bridge on a stream separates the camp & the Chilapata forest. We have booked 4 bedded dormitory for us. When we checked in, we found that our dormitory was not available as a group of middle aged people from Coochbehar was having a party in our room. After a long 30 minutes waiting, the caretaker moved the party animals to another room and arranged the room for us. It was very shocking that in spite of prior booking we had to wait for such a long time, that too in a WBSFDA property.The property is set over a huge area. There are 2 AC rooms in a single building. The dormitory is in another building. There is a caretaker quarters cum kitchen in one separate building and a separate drivers accommodation also. There is a playing area for kids as well. The dining room is also separate. But the property is somehow ill managed as per my observation goes.Inside the campus, there is a huge tree where you can see 21 bee hives.

The wooden bridge

Mendabari Jungle Camp

Dormitory

AC Cottages and Dining Area

The Tree with 21 Bee hives

A stream under the bridge

Anyway, we told the caretaker to arrange for the evening safari at Chilapata. The gypsy came in the camp premises around 3:15 pm with a guide accompanying and we started for our safari. As soon as we crossed the narrow bridge, the primitive forest engulfed us. The forest is much denser than Gorumara.

Starting of Jungle

We went through a dense forest to reach Hasimara-Coochbehar Highway. From there we took right turn to reach to the Chilapata Beat Office from where permit was given. We went through the jungle trail to reach to a 5th centuryremains of a fort called as "Nal Rajar Garh" (Ruins of the fort of the Nala Kings). From gypsy we saw a banded krait (Sakhamuti in Bengali), so we decided not to get down at that place as we have child on board.

Nal Rajar Garh

The guide also showed us the "Ramguna Tree" which bleeds. The secretions that comes out when the tree is hit with sharp weapons, look like human blood. There is a myth that some loyal guards of the "Nal Rajar Garh" transformed into trees while the fort was getting destroyed. The formidable ambience of the broken fort is highly exciting for the tourists.

Monkey having lunch

The thrilling experience continues as we roamed around the jungle trails. Finally we reached at a watch tower beside the Torsha River called "CC Line" watch tower. The river torsha separates Jaldapara National Park with Chilapata forest. As there was scorching sunlight, nothing was visible from that watchtower. Around 5:30 pm the guide spotted a Rhino roaming in the grassland on the opposite side. It was around 1 km away from the WT. I could not take a clear photograph of that due to this distance.

Rhino as seen from Watchtower

After that we came back to our camp where Rava dance was arranged for the tourists. As I am not very fond of these folk dances, I spent my time on the wooden bridge instead listening to chirping of birds & occasional call of animals.(By the way, the party animals from Coochbehar were gone by then, left behind their empty plastic glasses & liquor bottles & remnants of chicken pakodas everywhere ). We were served with Pakoda & tea around 7 pm. I spent the evening chatting with my friend & chauffeur Mr. Hasanur Kabir listening to his stories about elephants & leopards. Our dinner was ready at 8:30 pm. We finished our dinner with Rice, Dal, Potato-Squash curry & Chicken curry.
The caretaker warned us not to move in the premises without torch as it is the high time for snakes to come out from their holes. He also told that on previous day a Rock Python killed a monkey and did the feast just beside the wooden bridge. We fled to our room and straight laid on our beds for a night to get over quickly. The unknown sounds coming out of jungle frightened us all the night.
#7 Jun 4th, 2017, 12:06
Try to be a Traveler....not a Tourist
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Great details.....Hooked.
#8 Jun 7th, 2017, 19:26
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ideep

Great going - waiting for the rest. I have planned to visit dooars in mid oct.
#9 Jun 7th, 2017, 22:26
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Dazzling Dooars

Dazzling Dooars Part 3:
Jaldi Jaldi Jaldapara

Day 3 (15.05.2017):
Today our booking was in Jaldapara Tourist Lodge at Madarihat. As we had to ensure Elephant Safari at Jaldapara, we had to move early from Mendabari. As scheduled, I woke up around 5 am. Roamed around the camp for around an hour. As in our dormitory there was only one toilet we took our baths and was ready for breakfast around 7:30 am. The caretaker gave us breakfast with Luchi, Soyabeen curry & Sweets. We checked out from Mendabari around 8:30 am and proceeded towards Madarihat. We reached Jaldapara Tourist Lodge around 9:20 am. On enquiring in the front desk, we came to know that out of 12 quotas 9 seats have already been booked by the boarders. We immediately booked for the rest 3 seats. As we were 4 adults, we had to book another seat from the Elephant Safari ticket counter, which was just beside the lodge. We rushed there and we were the first party to queue up for the next morning’s elephant safari at the counter. With a sigh of relief we sat there as there was nothing to do as the check in time was 12 noon.
The gypsy safari counter opened at 10 am. We decided to go for the 3:30 pm slot for Gypsy Safari. Now, the problem arises as if we go for gypsy safari, no one will be available to be present in the queue of Elephant safari till we come back from safari. Again Mr. Hasanur came with the solution. He told us he’ll be present in the counter till we come back as the Elephant safari counter opens around 6:30 pm. We collected the 3:30 pm gypsy safari ticket and checked in into the lodge around 11:30 am. Me & Mr. Hasanur presented ourselves in rotation at the elephant safari counter in the meanwhile. Within 12:30 pm there were almost 25-30 contenders in the queue. On the number 2 position in the counter, there were a mother-daughter duo waiting. We requested them to tag 2 people of ours with themselves to make a single permit (max 4 persons are allowed on a single permit). We handed over the permit fee as they were quite comfortable to wait outside the counter till its opening. Then we went for lunch at Jaldapara family tourism Centre (they have lodging facility also) just opposite to Madarihat Police Station. There we ordered 5 egg meals. They served us with Rice, Dal, Alu-patol curry, Egg curry, Papad & Chutney. The food was very delectable, I must admit. We also ordered them for our dinner.

Overcast Sky around 3 pm

We started for Jaldapara Gypsy safari sharp at 3 pm from counter premises. Within 5 minutes we reached the entrance of Jaldapara National Park. After a brief formality at the checkpost our safari started. As we were the first gypsy to enter the park, chances of sighting of wild animals were higher. Soon we were very excited by seeing an elephant grazing on the grass. But our guide told us that it was a Kunki.

Kunki Elephant

Then we moved towards the very famous Hollong Bungalow. It is located 6km inside the entry gate. It is a lifetime experience staying over here. Just before Hollong, we saw the bathing of elephants in the river. There were 2 baby elephants also, sticking to their mothers.

Bathing Time

With Mother

Anyway, we turned on right from Hollong bungalow following the wild trails passing through the famous grassland of Jaldapara. The guide told us to keep a vigilant eye as Rhinos and Bison (Indian Gaur) are often seen in this area full with swamps. We were not so lucky to see any one of them.

Famous Grassland of Jaldapara


Our gypsy stopped at Jaldapara Watchtower. The sky was covered with thick cloud & gushing cool air almost blown us away. We started to feel very cold. All the animals went into deeper forest by now in anticipation of rain. We could not spot any animal except 2 peacocks.

From Jaldapara Watchtower

Then we moved towards another WT called “Harindanga WT”. Here also our bad luck continued. But the position of the WT is excellent. Anyone can spend hours sitting on top of this WT. Then we went towards Hollong Bungalow.

Harindanga Watchtower

View from Harindanga Watchtower

On the way, our guide spotted a Rhino hiding behind a bush. It was very hard to spot that one. We could see only the ribs of the rhino. Anyway, at last something to cherish about. Soon after we crossed a wooden narrow bridge, suddenly our guide told the driver to stop the gypsy. He also pointed his index finger on his lips to indicate us to be quiet. Then from nowhere emerges a Hog Deer in front of us from under the bridge. It gave us ample time and posed for us to take good pictures too. Then it disappeared behind the thick grassland.

Hog Deer

We moved forward for our last stop of the safari, the Hollong Bungalow. I got mesmerized by seeing its position. I wish, if I were a resident (or even a sweeper) there. There is a salt pit in an open area facing the bungalow, separated by a small stream (around 6 feet in breadth) which is encircled by dense forest. Wild animals come to this salt pit invariably on every day & night and the residents of this bungalow quench their thirst of seeing the herbivores including Rhino, Elephant, Bison, Deer etc. We were fortunate enough to see only 4 peacocks & flock of doves & pigeons (mainly comprising of Oriental Dove & Yellow Footed Green Pigeon).

The Hollong Bungalow

Oriental Doves & Green Pigeons

It started to rain by then. Bodo dance performance by local tribes was also a part of the safari. We decided not to attend that dance and told our driver to go back for our lodge instead, as we had to ensure our elephant ride permits for the next day also. All the gypsies except ours, went for the tribal dance and we took the return path towards park entry gate. After 2/3 km, again our guide told the driver to stop suddenly. With our sheer exuberance, we saw the black beast of the jungle- a solitary Bison (Indian Gaur) hiding in a shrub on our left side. It looked straight to my camera lens for a perfect pose. After staring for about 5 minutes, it disappeared into the jungle. What a wise decision we took by not opting for the tribal dance!

The Beast

Posing for Camera

On returning to the ticket counter around 5:45 pm, we saw a heavy gathering around for the next day’s Elephant Safari. Meanwhile we were assured that, my son can go for the safari without a permit as he is only 5 yrs old. We informed the JTL manager regarding the same and asked him to book 2 seats for us instead of three and deposited the fee. Our proposed co tourists for Elephant Safari (Mousumi aunty & Damayanti) were still holding the 1st position in the queue. Around 6:45 pm the counter opened and the counter person started to write available seat number on the board to be booked from that counter (After Hollong, Jaldapara TL, South Khayerbari TL & Salkumar TL). There was pin drop silence and every eyes were on that white board. The staff confirmed that, only 16 seats are available for next day’s safari. We then filled the form and completed the payment formality and grabbed our permit. It was in the 1st trip (5:30 am to 6:30 am). We then went to the manager of the JTL and came to know that from there we got permit for the 2nd trip (6:30 am to 7:30 am). Yahoo, we are going to Elephant Safari tomorrow.
In the Jaldapara TL, a Light & Sound show was arranged at 8 pm. It was about Jaldapara NP and its fauna. Children enjoyed the show very much. It is a wonderful initiative from West Bengal Government.
As our battery were almost exhausted, we decided to go for dinner around 8:45 pm. As per our order placed in the morning, we enjoyed our dinner with Roti & Egg Tarka. We came back to TL around 9:30 pm and called it a day. I could not sleep the entire night in anticipation of next morning’s thrilling Elephant Safari at Jaldapara. I literally spent the entire night killing mosquitoes in the room.

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