New Year Trip to Dooars-Jaldapara & Baradabri
I thought of sharing my experience of my recent trip to doaars which I made in the last week of December. In my trip I had planned to spent 2 nights in Jaldapara following by 1 night in Baradabri. I had booked the WBTDC Tourist Lodge at Jaldapara(didnít get booking for Hollong) & the WBFDC Malangi Lodge at Baradabri.
We boarded the Kanchankanya Express from Sealdah and had planned to get down at Hasimara and take a car/auto to the Jaldapara Tourist lodge. But I also had an alternate plan for getting down at Madarihat station(the Jaldapara Tourist lodge is around 10 mins walking from Madarihat station) incase the train stop there. This is exactly what happened, the train stopped for few mins at Madarihat station & we jumped down there. Just to make a point out here that there was no platform beside the track at Madarihat station and you have to get down on bare land(There is only 1 platform at the station which was at the far side). But I would recommend this to those who book the Jaldapara Tourist Lodge(this way you can save both time & money). Madarihat station comes around 10 mins before Hasimara. So we dragged our trolley luggage to the lodge from the station and reached the lodge before 12 noon.
Some words about the Jaldapara Tourist Lodge. I would highly rate the ambience & comfort of this lodge. The rooms were large & spacious & clean. The food(Morning tea, Breakfast, Lunch, Evening tea, Dinner) was included in the room tariff and it was all served in buffet fashion. All the staffs were very polite & helpful inspite of the fact that the lodge was choc a bloc full being it a peak season. So after checking in I straight away enquired for the afternoon safariís availability and my disappointment started. The guy at the reception told that they do booking only for the Morning jeep safari & Morning elephant ride from Hollong. For the afternoon Jeep safari I needed to go to the WBFDC booking office which is in front of the lodge. I went there but found out that due to peak season the afternoon safari booking is all getting priorly done through various channels, quotas(DO,VIP etc).
So with utter disappointment returned to the lodge and decided to go to the South Khairibari Tiger & Leopard rescue centre in the afternoon. The reception guy managed to hire a Maruti Omni for us. We started after lunch at 2 PM. The rescue centre is around 45 mins drive from Jaldapara through horrible roads & a village. The rescue centre has leopards & royal bengal tigers inside cages & fencing jungle areas. It also has battery operated cars on which you can take a ride & see the cages. But unfortunately it was not operational the day when we went there.(I wonder if it operates at all since 1 of my friend visited here 1 year ago & he also couldnít find it being operational!!) So we roamed around the centre, spotted couple of leopards and some tigers in cages from quite a distance. It was their fasting day(we were told that every Thursday they are not feeded). We could hear very loud roars coming from the cages as they were hungry. We stayed there for more than 1 hour and returned to the lodge around 5 pm. I would recommend going to this place only if you donít have any plans other than the jungle safari at Jaldapara.
In the evening we got the booking confirmed for the next morningís Jeep Safari as the reception guy told that the elephant ride quota was already full and I had to wait for the next day to get my booking done for the elephant ride(that too if it is available). The Jaldapara Tourist Lodge has 5open jeeps for doing the jeep safaris and they have 4 elephants in their quota for the elephant rides from hollong. The jeep safaris are of 1.5 hrs duration & the elephant ride of 1 hr duration. In each Jeep 6 persons can go & in each elephant 4. So 1 can understand the reason for mad rush for these during peak seasons . The jeep safaris start at 6 am from the front of lodge, though I spotted another group starting at 7:30 am once the 1st group is back. I would strongly recommend taking the 6 am one as you can hardly spot any animals if you take the later 1.
We were woken up at 5 am by the lodge staffs and they served tea at room at 5:30. We started our safari even before 6 am since everybody came before time and our jeep was the 1st to make a start. We were 2 persons and there was another family of 4 persons including 2 kids along with us in our jeep. We entered the jungle through the checkpost. It was still kind of dark then and was just about 6 am. Just after going around for 10 mins we spotted our 1st fortune. A one horned rhino, just beside a stream at a short distance from the road. Couldnít believe our luck and stared clicking snaps. Our luck had just started from there and continued to be with us till the end of the safari. We spotted many bisons, herd of wild elephants, lots of peacocks, deers(sambars & barking deers), owls. We spotted yet another rhino near the salt pit of Hollong Lodge. Clicked numerous snaps of the entire safari and returned to the lodge very satisfied & smiling after 7:30 am. We thought of going to Totopara in the afternoon but dropped the idea eventually as we were tired and after having a delicious & heavy lunch we slept for hours. I have heard that in Totopara its nothing much which you can see, just the Toto tribes with whom you can spent time in the village.
In the evening we watched a documentary on Jaldapara at the Conference hall of the lodge in a giant screen which was quite good. Also I kept up my repeated enquires flowing in the reception for getting the confirmation of the next morningís elephant ride from hollong. The guy at reception told that he could only manage the booking for the elephant ride for the last trip at 8 am for us. There are in total 3 trips of elephant rides which happen at hollong. 1st at 6 am followed by 7 am & 8 am and in each trip 4 elephants go together. We also had to pay extra for hiring a car till hollong which would take us to hollong in the morning , wait there until our elephant ride finishes and take us back to the Jaldapara lodge.
Next morning we woke up after 6 am Got ready by 7 am. But the car got late and it arrived around 7:45 to pick us up. We reached Hollong at 8 am only to find that the 2nd trip of elephants has left 10 mins back. So it seemed our trip would begin around 9 am instead of 8. My hope of seeing wildlife diminished further. So we waited in front of the hollong salt pit in hope of seeing some animals over there. We could only see various birds(mostly parrots). No sign of rhinos . All the elephants of the 2nd trip returned eventually and we saw 2 baby elephants along with the 4 big ones. We were told that these baby elephants always accompany their mothers in the entire trip. So we boarded 1 of the elephant(named Meenakshi!!!) and our ride began. The track was through the core jungle and 1 needed to be careful to save himself/herself from the bushes/branches of tree which was brushing our body sitting on top of the elephants. As I expected this time luck was not with us, in the entire trip we just managed to spot 1 owl & 1 bison. Well the elephant ride experience was 1 of its kind and if you donít do this your trip to jaldapara will not be complete. So with some disappointment we returned to the lodge at around 10:30 am. Only had to console ourself by saying that the previous day we have spotted the majority of the wildlife.
Our next destination was malangi Lodge at Baradabri of which I will be sharing my experience in the next post.
hey nice trip indeed... now come up with the next installment :)
We checked out from the Jaldapara tourist lodge at about 11:30 am and started our journey to Malangi lodge at Baradabri in a Maruti Omni which was pre arranged. It took us around 40 mins to reach the lodge at Baradabri. On the way we saw the army & airforce bases of hashimara. There were mainly 2 reasons for staying 1 night in here. 1st I wanted to do the Chilapota Jungle safari and it was very near from here and 2nd I wanted to visit the Bhutan border Phuentsholing which was also near from here. Few words about the Malangi Lodge. This is a small lodge operated by WBFDC, has only 7 rooms(each named after a river of Doaars). It is located in a calm & quite place and there is a small river named Malangi flowing at the backside of the lodge. Food is not included in the room tariff and they have a canteen operated by local boys. You have to give prior order for having the food over there. Though the quality of the food was ok over there and the price was also reasonable. The rooms were also ok but there was no TV in the rooms. They had couple of TVs in the common area.
So after checking in I straight away enquired for the afternoon safari of Chilapota forest. The manager arranged for a Maruti Omni and told the driver to go to the checkpost and get the permit done. For entering the Chilapota forest one can go with their private vehicle also, but you need to take a permit & a mandatory guide. Also I was told that for each Safari only 12 vehicles can enter the forest. After having our lunch we started after 2:30 pm for Chilapota forest. This forest is much denser than the Jaldapara forest. We stopped at various points inside the forest. There was a point from where you can see the Torsha river flowing which was beautiful. We saw peacocks, elephants, bisons inside the forest. There was also a few tamed elephants in a spot. We saw them having their midday meal and also we fed them too. Their food was uncooked rice, daal stuffed inside hays. Then we went to a spot call ‘Nal Rajar Garh’- the most dense part of Chilapota. Our guide told that there was a fort here and we could see the boundary walls and ruins scattered. I enquired about the so called bleeding tree ‘Ramgua’ which I came to know off from other posts in IM. The guide showed the tree and smashed a portion of the tree with a stone. From there the red liquid started pouring. I was really amazed to see this. We roamed in the forest in our vehicle for around 2 hours and returned to the lodge around 5 pm. There is 1 sbi atm in a few distance from the malangi lodge. I guess it’s the only in the locality as it remains crowded everytime. In the evening we didn’t have much to do. Stayed in the lodge and watched tv. Since it was the 31st night there were lots of programs happening so enjoyed those as well.
Next morning we woke up a bit late and went to the Malangi river at the backside of the lodge. Took some snaps and enjoyed the natural beauty over there. We had a late & heavy breakfast after 10 am. The earlier day I had booked the same vehicle(which we took for Chilapota safari) for going to Phuentsholing. Our plan was to check out from the lodge-visit Phuentsholing and return to Hasimara railway station for boarding the Kanchankanya Exp at 5:25 pm. We checked out from Malangi Lodge after 11:30 am. The lodge reception had a counter of Ayurvedic goods which was marketed by the forest dept. We purchased some ‘Amloki’ packets and some packets of ‘Dhup’ before checking out. We started our journey to Phuntsholing which was around 45 mins drive from there. For entering Bhutan through Phuntsholling you don’t need a passport but if want to visit Thimpu which is 160+ KM from Phuentsholling you need your Passport and need to make permit. Once entering Bhutan our driver took us to a Buddhist Monastery which was further up on the hills and the road was really good and reminded me of trips to other hill stations. The monastery was really big and beside it there was a huge picnic spot as well and lots of people have come over there since it was 1st Jan for picnic. We stayed and roamed there for 1 hr. Took lots of snaps of the monastery and the wonderful view of the town of Phuentsholling which can be seen from there. Then we went to the crocodile breeding centre from there. Saw lots of huge crocodiles and large & baby alligators. Most of the crocodiles were lazy like anything. They were hardly moving. From there we came down to the market place of Phuensholling. We roamed around the shops and had nice chicken & pork momos for lunch from 1 of the restaurant. We left Phuentsholling around 4 pm and came to Hashimara station before 5 pm. Our train was on time but by the time it reached Sealdah next morning it was 1.5 hrs late.
So this was our entire trip of to Dooars. We thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to cover the other parts of Doaars in future.
sounds like a great trip. can you share some snaps
really enjoyed being a part of your Dooars journey... what about photos??... :)
Good trip report. Any pictures?????
Excellent trip report and good wild life sightings at Jaldapara as well as at Chilapata. Didn't you visit Kodalia Basti range? However, once again we will be visiting Dooars and would be staying at Malangi Lodge, Hasimara. We have booked the lodge. How is the Maruti Omni booked by you at Borodabri Lodge with the help of Lodge staff? What are the charges paid by you for each of your safari? Do you recommend the same guy for us? If yes, can you please share the driver's name and contact number with me through PM? Our plan is to hire a cab who will pick us up from Hasimara Station and would take us to Chilapata and Kodalia safari and again next day early morning Elephant/Jeep Safar at Jaldapara and finally drop us at Hasimara Station. If we can pre book the cab with a trusted guy, it will be ideal! Please help us.
Regarding Kodalbasti range i guess its the same as Chilapota safari as our guide for the Chilapota safari told that the entire area was under Kodalbasti range. The maruti Omni that we booked from Malangi lodge was good and the driver was very polite & helpful. The driver's name was Amol. Unfortunately i dont have his contact no. but it seemed his car was dedicated to the people coming in the lodge itself and he lived nearby only so dont think would be a prob of getting it. The Chilapota safari costed us a fortune. In total it was 1200. 800 for car rent and 400 for the permit, entry charge, camera charge etc. From hasimara if you are planning to come to malangi lodge i suggest you hire an auto as its around 2 km from the station as i saw many autos plying in this route. It seems you are planning to do the Jaldapara safari from Baradabri itslef so you can hire the same car which you will be taking for Chilapota safari. Regarding the maruti omni it seemed the cost of hiring it per day is flat 800 bucks as next day when we did our Phuntsilling trip it also costed us 800 bucks. Let me know if you need any more info.
Few images from my trip
Seen the images which you have uploaded in your Facebook A/c. Good coverage. But I have a few quarries:
1. You have not properly captioned the images. In fact, some of the captions are quite misleading for newbies. I suggest you recast your captions suitably. Where is the wooden bridge (which appeared in couple of your photographs) located?
2. In some of the snaps, time of clicking the snaps were shown at 22 hours or so. That means these photographs were clicked in the night and a few wild animals viz. Rhinos, Bison etc. are featured in those particular snaps. Did you really undertake any night safari? If so, where and how? As far as my knowledge goes, no night safaris are allowed either in Jaldapara or in Chilapata.
1) I will look at the captions and will see if those are misleading or not and chnage accordingly. Regarding the wooden bridge its on the Malangi river which is at the backside of the Malangi lodge at Baradabri. Its a nice place to roam around.
2) Sorry, the date/time settings of my camera got screwed up which i rectified once i spotted it. Indeed there is no night safari in those area.
I am facing difficulty in embedding images in this post. Can anybody help me with the steps for doing the same please?
I am visiting Barodabri on Feb. for 2 nights. Please let me know the charges of each person for riding the elephant. Can we ride elephant from Barodabri?
Although the quarry has been addressed to Tiruptati, may I take the liberty to reply? Me with my family stayed at Borodabri (Monlongi) Lodge in 2010 and we could get elephant safari at Jaldapara forest. I do not know the latest position, which Tirupati will be able to tell, but those days, Molongi Lodge people contacted Hollong and got our safari ticket booked a day in advance. Not only that, one of the lodge employees accompanied us to Hollong and ensured hassle free safari for us! I have not seen any official Circular about who are entitled to take elephant safari, but it looked to me that first preference is given to Hollong Lodge residents, then Madarihat Tourist Lodge and then Molongi Lodge in that order. Incidentally all the three Lodges are Govt. owned. As regards latest charges, Tirupati will be able to state the latest rates. Incidentally, I am again going to Dooars with my family on Feb 20 and would stay at Molongi Lodge (already booked).
Thanks Asishda for your reply. We would be reaching Molongi Lodge on 23rd Feb. Before that we are staying at Rajabhatkhawa for 2 nights. We would like to visit Jayanti from there.
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