Warm, wet and wonderful-a soujourn in Dooars

#1 Sep 13th, 2013, 21:27
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#1
Well,this TR is pending for a long time.It has been three months since we are back from dooars..well not all, but a small part of it..Jayanti, and buxa with coochbehar and rashikbill.

The decision to go on this trip was kind of impromptu, I was just back from mongpong, and longed to go back, this time with my parents.We had visited some parts of dooars (murti, gorumara,jhalong, bindu and suntalekhola) a couple of years back, and had loved every bit of it. Mongpong acted like a reminder call to visit once again.Also, we longed to see the rainwashed forest.Even if the rains meant not getting to venture out much,we craved to see the rains in forest.

We had a debate whether it should be jaldapara-chilapata, or jayanti and buxa. We decided on the latter option as we had friends in dinhata(near coochbehar) and we planned to pay them a visit as well.(The other catalyst was that Hollong bungalow was fully booked..it is 'no hollong, no jaldapara" for my father,he is a puritan..he is... )

We had only 6 days, including journey time. since we had decided only 15-20 days in advance, train tickets were all waitlisted.We managed confirmed births in sleeper class only on uttarbanga express. The return tickets were in RAC though(and they never confirmed betraying our ill conceived notion of it being a lean season for tourists in the region )

We planned hurriedly,booking our accommodations in Rajabhatkhawa and jayanti. A car (alto) was arranged for the entire duration of our trip from our branch office in coochbehar. We later realised that an exclusive vehicle was not really necessary in this region, but he had hired remembering our previous trip in dooars, where the exclusive car had seemed like a blessing in jhalong and bindu, when we had to travel at 3 am to avoid gorkhaland strikes, but that is another story altogether)

The four of us reached sealdah station an hour before departure of our train. it was excruciatingly warm and humid, being early june, calcutta summer at its worst. We kept our fingers crossed that it would be more pleasant in dooars. The met office had predicted rains in north bengal and we were hopeful.

The overnight journey was uneventful,with us tossing and turning in our berths,sweating and swearing at two kids aged about 3 years who cried and screamed at the top of their voice throughout the night. Probably it was the heat,but we were not particularly in a child friendly or indulgent mood ourselves,and secretly longed to administer a nice old"kanmola"
Also, the cockroaches in the loo didnt help..

Our mood changed drastically in the morning as we crossed Kishanganj.The train was two hours behind schedule, but who cared!! It was raining!!The sky was overcast, and we were delighted as we smelt the rain drenched landscape.
The rain only seemed to gain momentum as we reached New Jalpaiguri station.There is no pantry car on the train, and not a single hawker selling food!! only a lone chai/coffee walah.We were glad we had arranged for someone to come over to NJP station to hand us our packed breakfast.
The rainwater started seeping through the closed windows and soon there was a rush to search newspapers to sit on the wet seats.

dhupguri...jalpaiguri...falaka ta...more more more rains...happy happy happy are we..
#2 Sep 16th, 2013, 15:07
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#2
Beautiful first installment of the TR. And the pic is really inviting. Waiting for the next installment eagerly...
Last edited by Saptarshi Majumdar; Sep 16th, 2013 at 18:24..
#3 Sep 16th, 2013, 15:45
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Such a nice write up!!!
#4 Sep 16th, 2013, 22:24
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When we reached Coochbehar finally at 11.15 am, it was quite warm and sunny.Our car was waiting at the station.We were scheduled for a night halt at dinhata, so we planned to make a quick tour of coochbehar first before we proceeded.Our first stop was the majestic Coochbehar Rajbari or the palace of Coochbehar.Constructed in 1887, the rajbari is the obvious highlight of the city.Rajmata Gayatri devi of Jaypur is a daughter of this house.It is a huge complex and one has to walk through the well manicured gardens to reach the palace. Though the palace has over 50 rooms, only 4-5 are open for the public. They are made into museums containing mostly photographs of the royalty. Photography is prohibited inside the museum. On fridays entry is prohibited inside the palace.



rajbari from a closer view



girgiti on rajbari grounds

palace grounds



The palace is lit up beautifully in the evenings, but since we had to proceed we couldnot wait and watch.

Our next stop was the old Madanmohan temple. Built in 1885, the temple has the famous "madan mohan bigraha' along with ma kali. The rash mela at this temple, celebrated during rash purnima in november is the oldest and most famous in north bengal. So much so,that trains through coochbehar are provided with extra coaches to meet up the mad rush. The temple is a simple white structure with a large 'dighi'(pond) and well decorated garden. We rested here for a while while my mother offered pujas.
It is here that we observed the strange customer of "payra boli"(pigeon sacrifice).Two common brown pigeons were brought alive to the "harikath" and their necks were simply twisted and broken in the name of boli.Having lived in Kalighat area, we are no strangers to the concept of boli. But it seemed out of place at a 'madan mohan" temple!! However, we accepted this as a local custom.




We saw the famous "sagardighi" and jenkins public school and just roamed about aimlessly on the lanes of coochbehar. It is an old, faded city, rich in heritage and planned, with countless temples and ponds in every lane and bylane. The names of the streets and monuments also speak of the princely state that it was till 1949."names like rajmata library and naranarayan sarani makes one nostalgic indeed.

Though we didnt stay there, we found the the maharaja Tourist complex run by Benfish a very nice option to stay.Anyone willing to spend a night in coochbehar can consider this option.

We then started for Dinhata which was almost an hours ride away.
#5 Sep 16th, 2013, 22:26
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@saptarshi and Subhadyuti
Thanks for your encouragements!!am writing in installments as it is really hectic in office. Do bear with me..
#6 Sep 22nd, 2013, 17:18
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We reached Dinhata, a sub divisional headquarter of Coochbehar around lunchtime.After a heavy lunch which included the famed 'mahashol" fish from torsa, we all decided for a nap.In the afternoon we decided to visit the old ruins of Kamtapur at Gosanimari and the Bangladesh border at Gitaldaha, where the remnants of a railway line joining India and Bangladesh can still be seen.
Gosanimari is around 20 mins drive from Dinhata.The road is beautiful, across the river torsa, and a slice of life of a typical north bengal village can be seen

The ruins found here are believed to be of 11th and 12th century AD.It was the ancient State of Kamtapur, ruled by the Palas and then the Khen dynasty, from whom the rule went to the Koch dynasty in 16th century AD.
The ruins are now popularly known as "rajpat' and the entire area is under the Archeological Survey of India.So far, only two large stone wells have been excavated, along with idols and pottery work. temples and buildings are still waiting to be unearthed beneath the grounds. Excavation is currently stopped temporarily, as we learnt.

We visited the Kamteshwari temple as well, the goddess worshiped by the ruler of Kamtapur.Here as well, the ritual ofpigeon sacrifice is common as we observed.The rajpat is a mound of velvety green grass with the excavated wells. It seemed that in the afternoons the place serves as a romantic hotspot for local young couples
rajpat



We enjoyed a beautiful sunset atop the mound and returned back. After sundown, there was no point in visiting Gitaldaha as the border is open from sunrise to sunset.
The evening was spent in adda. We went to sleep late at night. our jungle trip would start the next morning
#7 Sep 22nd, 2013, 17:42
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The next morning we started for Rajabhatkhawa after breakfast. We planned to start earlier, but our hosts reminded us that it was not a hotel, but their residence and so, leaving without taking our breakfast was a serious offence.
We obliged and hence could not start before 9.30.

Our first stop was Baneswar temple, near Alipurduar.It is midway between Coochbehar and Alipurduar, about 12 km from Coochbehar.

Dating back to 1100 B.C., this temple has a Shiva Lingam, 10 feet below the plinth level.It reminded us of the Jalpesh temple in Jalpaiguri, which has similar but larger structure.By the side of the main temple an another temple of Ardhanarinateshwar can be found that has been named as ‘movable Baneshwar’, as on the occasion of Madan Chaturdashi and Dol Purnima the idol is being carried away to Madan Mohan Bari of the main town Coochbehar.There is a big two storied rest house in the temple compound which is run by the temple trust

As per Mythology Lord Krishna’s grandson Anirudha married Usha, the daughter of AsurRaj Banasur without his consent. Out of rage Banasur chained Anirudha in his palace. This resulted in a war between Lord Krishna and Banasur and Lord Shiva became a pacifier between them since Banasur was the greatest devotee of Lord Shiva. The place where the marriage of Usha and Anirudha was conducted with Banasur’s consent was then turned into a temple which was named after him.

The main attraction of the temple is the adjacent large pond which is home to large ancient turtles.Each of them are fondly called "Mohan" by the locals. They are regularly fed with "muri" and 'nakuldana" by the devotees. though there is an instruction board nearby forbidding such feeding.Once you stand on the steps and call out "mohan' one or more of the large turtles will surely come to your feet



We had heard of the famed "dalpuri" of Baneswar but it was already lunchtime and none of us particularly fancied dalpuris at that hour. So we started for Alipurduar, our lunch stop.
#8 Sep 22nd, 2013, 18:56
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Alipurduar is just 30 mins away from Baneswar.It is a large town and is the last major railhead in Bengal near Assam border.The places like buxa, jayanti, rajabhatkhawa Chilapata can all be made as a day trip from Alipurduar.Of course that way you won't get the real feel of the places, but it is convenient for those having little kids, with whom the parents are unsure if they can cope up with the rustic and basic facilities of the jungle. There are numerous tour operators who conduct dooars tours based in alipurduar.
We met two such families while we had lunch at Hotel Sinchula.I must admit I was pleasantly surprised at the authentic and very tasty chinese and North Indian dishes we got there.Really wasn't expecting that much.
Post lunch, we started for Rajabhatkhawa We had our booking at the WBFDC property there.
We fell in love with the place.It was great. We have stayed earlier in WBFDC properties in Murti, Jhalong, Suntaleykhola and Mongpong, and were satisfied and happy each time.The tradition continued this time as well.

The compound was huge,just beside the rail line.the jungle started just after the lodge.The forest lodge is just outside the main gate.Before booking people had told us that there was nothing to 'see" in Rajabhatkhawa, as it was outside the jungle, and we should be spending more time in jayanti which is right inside the core area. But we can safely say that staying here was the high point of the tour.The entire atmosphere was extremely tranquil, and one can wander deep into the forest without meeting another soul, or simply walk following the rail line.This line and the quaint little station added to the charm of the place.

We had booked the non attatched bath family room,as all other better rooms were booked.It was a four bedded room on the first floor of the old building.It was clean,comfortable and spacious.from one window we could see the occassional goods train passing through the forest, and from the other the well manicured lawn and garden of the lodge, complete with swings and slides on one side could be seen.The washroom was just outside, and though not attatched it was not 'shared" or "common' toilet. each room had their own washroom with the keys. It was very clean, spacious and we were happy.

the entrance



view from the room


the room




the reception area

.

After aimlessly roaming around the compound and beyond,thoroughly enjoying ourselves, we set on the Jungle Safari at 4pm in a Bolero. The forest department even allows your own cars, provided they are SUVs. Since we had an alto, that was not allowed inside. A guide is mandatory. The total cost of Safari including everything for four of us was Rs.1300/- for two hours.
Please note that each time you enter the Buxa tiger reserve you need to pay Rs.40/- per person,and 200/- for each car.
The first thing we noticed after we entered was that the forest was much thicker and much more dense than gorumara or chapramari.May be due to the rains,but the undergrowths were really thick and the car had to dance through the muddy trails pushing aside the stooping trees and dense foliage.
The best part was that we could walk through at some parts deep in the forest. At other forests we could never get down from the jeeps except at watchtowers. here we could move about pushing through the trees and getting the real jungle feel. it was awsome.We waded through the Buxa jhora, the rivulet running through the forest, which is semi dry at other parts of the year.We didnot see many animals, except herds of deer, but we were not at all disappointed.







We returned back after after it was fairly dark. The evening was spent in adda, with hot tea and chicken pakodas for accompaniment. It started to rain after 8, and the whole atmosphere was thereal, the smell of the jungle and the sounds of rain...we loved it.

After an early dinner of rotis, dal, vegetables and chicken curry, we retired for the night
#9 Sep 24th, 2013, 01:30
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#9

Exclamation Question on Murti accomodation

Hello abhinandab,

Need some help/suggestion from you. I posted the same question in other thread too, but none answered
As you have mentioned you stayed in many WBFDC accomodations earlier, can you please let me know how is the "Lees Family Room (Non-A/C) 2 -TIER BUNK " 4 bedded ground floor room in Murti Accomodation? We are 4 in group (2 of them are above 55). Are the 2 beds good enough to sit and talk, without head reaching the bunks.
I know my question is very specific, but what to do? That's the only available room for the day and this time we're travelling with parents, so a bit more concerned..
#10 Sep 24th, 2013, 12:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subhadyuti View Post Hello abhinandab,

Need some help/suggestion from you. I posted the same question in other thread too, but none answered
As you have mentioned you stayed in many WBFDC accomodations earlier, can you please let me know how is the "Lees Family Room (Non-A/C) 2 -TIER BUNK " 4 bedded ground floor room in Murti Accomodation? We are 4 in group (2 of them are above 55). Are the 2 beds good enough to sit and talk, without head reaching the bunks.
I know my question is very specific, but what to do? That's the only available room for the day and this time we're travelling with parents, so a bit more concerned..
Hi subhadyuti,

First of all, when you post a question and don't get any answers in IM, assume that either nobody knows about your query or the few who may know have not been online after you posted the question. Otherwise IM members are really helpful.
I also don't have idea about the specific room you have queried about. But since I have stayed in many WBFDC accommodations like abhinandab and stayed specially in dormitories wherever available, I can say that these are quiet good and are decently spacious. The rooms are not luxurious obviously but are neat and clean and comfortable. I understand your concern when you say this
Quote:
Are the 2 beds good enough to sit and talk, without head reaching the bunks.
This might be a little problem. The head might reach the upper bunk if the person is tall enough. Otherwise for a short person like me it will not be a problem.
#11 Oct 16th, 2013, 16:35
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The next morning we had planned an outing to Phuentsholling in Bhutan.
We started our journey from rajabhatkhawa after breakfast,and a quick stroll in the adjoining jungle(we really didnt seem to get enough of it..and later during the day really wished that we had spent another night here than at jayanti..but thats another story)

We drove towards Alipurduar.The path bifurcates a few kms before alipurduar .The straight road goes towards alipur duar, and another road goes right towards hasimara, jaigaon.Phuentsholling is around 50 km from rajabhatkhawa,It took us a 1.5 hrs to reach jaigaon. it is an extremely dusty and crowded town.Broken roads, zero traffic control, and mad honks of trucks made us instantly dislike the place.
Its a total different world beyond the gate.Its the same road, just muchmore clean and maintained, no noise, much lesser traffic and pollution.The change is really surprising.
However, there is not much to see in Phuentsholling.There is a smallish monastery,and a crocodile breeding firm.It serves mostly as an entry point and transit for tourists who want to proceed further in Bhutan.
However, for that matter, hotels in Jaigaon are much cheaper for food as well as stay.

Gharial eggs at the breeding Firm



Gharials at leisure
Wehadour lunch with local Bhutanese cuisine at a restaurant.Bhutanese food is usually bland,without much spice or oil.Pork and beef is staple, along with cheese and potatoes.We tried EmaDatsi, a signature bhutanese dish with chilies in cheese gravy. it was okayish.We also tried pork shapta which is a milder version of dry chilly pork.We felt that blue poppy restaurant in Kolkata does a better job with these dishes

Before returning back to India,we filled our car with petrol.Petrol price in Bhutan is much cheaper than india(about Rs.10/- to Rs 12/- cheaper per litre)
Many cars simply enter phuenstsholling refill the car, make a U turn and head out to India.As a reason there is no petrolpump at the Indian side of the border for 25kms.

We headed back through the same route, through rajabhatkhawa.This time towards Jayanti, where we were scheduled for the next two nights.
Mobile signal vanishes as soon as one crosses Rajabhatkhawa and enters Buxa Tiger reserve.The road is through dense jungle, denser due to the monsoon. We had to cross the Bala river otherwise dry at other parts of the year, but now it was filled with water
#12 Oct 16th, 2013, 17:20
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We reached Jayanti and headed for Rovers Inn where we had prebooked a four bed family room.It is from here that our disappointment started.
The entrance to this hotel is through a muddy and crowded dirty by lane, basically through a bustee, where you have to walk crisscrossing the verandahs and courtyards of people, ignoring giggles and stares, and the cowdung and hens click clicking behind you.

Once we reached we found that the four bed family room was in fact a very small and extremely dirty 3 bed room.The linen was black with filth and there was only 3 pillows of the size fit for a newborn.Their candid reply was,"are borshar samay, thanda ache, thik dhore jabe 4 jonke'(its cold as its monsson time, 4 people can fit in cosily).We were appalled to say the least.upon our insistance that they HAVE TO change the linen, they changed it to a fairly clean set, but definitely not spotless.Their lame excuse was "ghore kacha hoy to, tai laundryr moto poriskar hoy na' (the linen is washed at home, so dnt expect laundry cleanliness)
We bathroom door could not be locked properly and the tap was dripping constantly.the bathroom fittings were rusty and looked like they would come off at moment.Just in front of the ground floor rooms there is a common corridor cum verandah which doubly serves as the dining space.The only window of the room opens into this verandah, ensuring zero view, zero privacy and noise throughout the day. at one end of this verandah is the kitchen (which is equally muddy and filthy), the other end goes into the bustee, ensuring that it is used by kids for playing, and women for drying their hair, clothes and peeping through the window in the room.It was a nightmare..
The 1st floor balcony seemed better in terms of cleanliness and privacy.dont know about the rooms though.



Rovers Inn



Side view from balcony



Front view (of washed clothes) from 1st floor balcony

We immediately decided that we cold not spend more than a night here,though we had fully paid Rs.3000/- for 2 days.
With a bitter taste in mouth we went out to the jayanti river.Here too is was crowded with a picnic party, and loudspeakers were blaring.we walked through the river till we could find a lonely spot.
We could say that it was beautiful,that nature had given in abundance,it was the people who spoilt completely.



It started raining in the evening,and we spent it in the room.The food was good at rovers inn, tasty bengali food. we retired early, planning to move out first thing in the morning.Till late night, we could hear loud hindi filmmusic coming from the adjacent bustee.

The shock came the next morning, at the time of bill payment.The co-owner Mr. Partha was present. he demanded Rs1000/- a night plus Rs.350/- for food for our drivers accomodation!!
We had enquired during check inn if drivers stay was available and he said that driver accomodation is available.he now insisted that driver accomodation was full, and he had to accomodate him in a seperate room which costs Rs,1000/- per nite!!!,that too without prior information to us
I must stay this man is a complete cheater.He also claimed that he was a locally influencial man with political connections. we didnot go into details as we were itching to move out.Also,itwas raining heavily.we just paid the illogical sum and moved out promising to ourselves never to return.

Its is my advise to anyone visiting Jayanti,Please DO NOT stay Rovers Inn Jayanti.The property next door, "banante" seemed a much better option in terms of location as well as rooms.
#13 Oct 21st, 2013, 15:29
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#13
Hi,
Thanks for sharing your experince in details, specially the 'Rovers Inn' part. I am going to Jayanti 'Bonante' and RBK (WBFDC) with my family with 2 of my office colleagues.
We are going to stay there from 15-18th Nov'13. This is my first trip to Dooars.
I have not heard of 'Rovers Inn' though, My colleaague took all the pain for accomodation booking. But I will definitely share this information to all.
--Partha
#14 Oct 21st, 2013, 15:45
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#14
Welcome to IM family. Please do share your experience not only on "Bonante", but for all the places you had visited. Best of luck for your ensuing travel. Thanks.
#15 Oct 23rd, 2013, 14:07
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#15
So nice a reporting abhinabdeb Very nice. The last photo with a truck on Bala River bed in Jayanti (for collecting boulders) reminded me our short truck journey on that same river bed. Oh!!! how horrible it was with all kind of shaking, jumping, roaring, rocking ..... etc. etc. etc.

However, nice TR and photos, I repeat.


@Partha Majumdar,

Welcome to Indiamike - the best place to inquire and share your India trips.

Happy journey.
aamar payer tolai sorshe...(I have wheels under my feet)

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