Escapade to nature : Suntalekhola, Dooars

#1 Oct 15th, 2013, 17:37
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#1
This journey can be termed as part two of my escapades to wild in Bengal. Part one was posted in west bengal forum as Buxa .

A trip in October was shaping us among indiamikers- myself, hazra.amit, ruchira.ghosh. Several places were initially chosen & there were rounds of discussion between us. In june, one of the biggest natural disaster in India’s history ended a plan in Deoriataal. We were hopeful our potential new plan in Nepal but the date was not matching. To say in few words , the Nepal trip was cancelled due various reason & it left only two of us still desperately looking for some plan to get clicked. In the process I booked and cancelled 3 different date Sealdah-NJP tickets on Darjeeling mail.

In the last week of September , as we still had a north Bengal ticket on our hand ,I, after browsing through few pages & booking condition of staying options, settled on Suntaleykhola. Indiamiker Asish Das & Subrato Sanyal was instrumental for shaping the final plan. There were few threads on the region with lots of information in the forum.

But none of my trips happen in smooth way. After much hiccup during planning, on the journey date , my office situation came as big blow. It was only 6 hrs to catch my train Kanchankanya exp & I thought that may be I will be forced to file TDR in irctc and cancel the return ticket as well as WBFDC last minute booking prize booking. It was only at 17.30 hrs when everything sorted out in office in a desperate will force and we were on our way to Sealdah.

Nothing much happened in train except that two of our co-passenger was young girls in their early twenties were accompanied by or rather I would say body-guarded by one middle aged man and all of them was behaving very funny. As a couple we enjoyed their funny styles and engaged in listening “MahisasurMardini” –the famous must-heard audio-drama by Birendra Krishna Bhadra in Mahalaya in my mp3 player. It was raining since last night and it continued till we cross sevoke. The weather was so dull & gloomy but we remain thankful to GOD to manage two days of relief from office work as we were approaching a region which lacks proper mobile communication. We had booked Suntalekhola River Camp through WBFDC online booking facility and before mobile tower wipes off from mobile , we called the canteen for our lunch and made another call to home to let them aware of our safe arrival at New Mal junction.

I was looking for a share auto or trekker which would drop us at Chalsa More but could not find any. I looked back at the platform and saw a sea of tourist flushing out from the station or locals returning home during festive time. Avoiding the drivers of parked and yet-to-get-reserved cars, which will be full in next few minutes, we quickly get into a share auto which was going towards bus stand. Now I got a trekker for Chalsa. From Chalsa more we were on front seat of another share trekker towards Metelli. In Metelli there were few trekkers waiting to go towards Samsing & we boarded one. On reaching Samsing the driver agreed us to drop us at Suntaleykhola upon extra payment. We had to bargain hard as he was not willing to drop for nothing below Rs 350. We managed to convince him for Rs 250 and we had 3 co passenger who came along for Samsing Fari Busty which was nothing but the check post for WBFDC property located around 700m before the Suntalekhola cottage/Camp.

As soon as we reached , the place won our heart despite overcast skies as we found this place for perfect “lyad”. I cannot translate but there is no word in my dictionary to express this new age Bengali word – the nearest may be “ laid back with feet up “ or “lethargy “ sometimes. The funny point was the mobile finds quite a few tower – Vodafone, Airtel, Idea, BSNL & few newer (banglalive, and some nepali/bhutani signal may be) but none of them gets connected. Wuuhaooo – that’s the place I wanted in Bengal , where there will be no mobile signal to catch me like in remote Arunachal, Sikkim hamlet or eastern Ladakh or North Eastern states.

As soon as you reach Suntalekhola upon crossing checkpost , you will find these deluxe cottages( no online booking, probably booking from forest offices at Siliguri/Jalpaiguri)
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then river camp , where we stayed. (From left Tent 3 named Swiss Spangle, Tent 4 -Windmill , Dining & kitchen & in right Tent 1&2 -Cruiser & Popinjay)
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Swiss Spangle & Swiss Windmill
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Cruiser & Popinjay
Upon further walking you find this suspension bridge for pedestrians
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Which will lead you to
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Though our train was late by 1 hr(10.30) to reach New Mal Jn , we reached river camp at 12.30. The tents had nice attached bathroom, with geyser & other fittings and a changing room with dressing table & a mini steel almirah. We finished our lunch and set out for a village & surrounding walk.



Inside the tent

There are few homestay came up recently near the fari basty which looks well from outside. I did not enquire tariffs , you may call them at your convenience.
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The village looked sleepy , quiet. Few young lads were playing carom. People has time here , unlike metro-dwellers. They walk slowly , they know destination – miles apart. But still they walk – I adopt their style when I go their places. The time is not in my hands, never was – it’s in hands of the pathway. I remember one line from Anjan Dutt’s Song – “ Amar rasta hatey , ami hanti naa” – (i.e my path walks, I do not ). This lyad become dense when it was getting darker. Caretaker cum cook – Kumar is also a man full of Lyad. He started cooking our dinner from 5pm and called us 7.30pm to have it. We relished the Kasha Chicken with Roti.

Next morning( Saturday), after breakfast with Thukpa we took the gardener of the cottages – Mr Kesh Thapa along us for a mild trek towards Mouchuki. He guided us through some shortcuts and we were getting rid of leeches in every few minutes. It was nice experience talking with Thapa ji about his family and other previous tour like this where tourist complain of getting tired and asking “ how far is it” in every five minutes. With shortcuts we climbed up to Mouchuki, entry gate, a 6km trek uphill in 1hr 35mins & came down in 1hr 10 mins. The dull & cloudy weather then turned into a continuous drizzle which made us stuck inside tents in most of the afternoon. In evening we could stroll around only for an hour before darkness set in.

Next day, the drizzle started in the morning and intermittently we came back and get out of the tent for the last day birding. Suntalekhola is a birder & nature lover’s heaven. The fragrance of the wild flowers , the songs and chirps of the birds and the sounds of water flowing constantly over the mountain stream makes Suntaleykhola a perfect escapade and part two of my sojourn at dooars after Buxa this year.

We aimed to catch the 14.30 bus from Samsing towards Siliguri ( the last bus is at 16.00 from Samsing). Once the drizzle took the break , we left the camp at 13.15. We were right on time to reach 5km down Samsing from suntale through nice jungle walk. A village dog accompanied us till samsing all throughout, and similar thing did happen to me in several occasion in other places. The bus roared past the tea gardens and with two men minutes stopover at Mal Bustand & Odlabari , we reached Siliguri at 17.00. The bus did not go further beyond the petrol pump near Cosmos Mall and we took a share auto towards NJP .

A Bus time chart in Matelli, it was late though when it caught my attention

Rates as of October 2013:
Share auto New Mal Junction rail station to Mal Bus stand = Rs 8
Share ( Tata Magic ) Mal Bus stand to Chalsa More =Rs 8
Share trekker Chalsa More to Metelli = Rs 10
Metelli to Samsing = Rs 15
Samsing to Suntalekhola WBFDC =Rs 350
Samsing to Siliguri Bus = Rs 50
Share auto ,Siliguri Bus stand to NJP = Rs 15, ( from Cosmos Mall to NJP I paid Rs20).
WBFDC River camp : Rs 1200/1400 per day without tax
Total expense ( from Sealdah to Sealdah ) per head = Rs 3100.
Of the total cost 33.5% constituted my transport expense, which was largely due to train ticket booking & cancellation.
Food bill was 1250 for two days for two person in WBFDC.
-Paglaghora
Paren Asola Gue Leh Ajmer Gurudongmar Hogennakkal Orchha Raiganj Agartala

Phadamchen AritarTop Gnathang Lunghtu Akpa Gramphoo Hee Osiyan Rampur Attargo
#2 Oct 15th, 2013, 17:45
Passion for Football & Trekking never die
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  • Legend is offline
#2
Nice Detail Tr & pic...
Rules r meant to be broken
But!!!!!!
Don't break rules in Himalaya
Please Keep Himalaya clean & plastic free
#3 Oct 15th, 2013, 18:15
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#3
Hi paglaghora,
Wonderful TR and nice snaps. Please share if you have some photographs of birds.
#4 Oct 15th, 2013, 18:20
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#4
Quote:
Originally Posted by phir_milenge View Post Hi paglaghora,
Wonderful TR and nice snaps. Please share if you have some photographs of birds.
Thank you . Though most of them are kind of "record shots" , I shall post them soon.
#5 Oct 17th, 2013, 01:02
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#5

Record Bird shots

Now some of the bird photos , most of them are "record shot" due to several reasons:

Striated Laughingthrush


Red Headed Trogon


White Crested Laughingthrush


Grey Treepie


Pied Bushchat


Grey Backed Shrike


White Capped water redstart


Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush
Last edited by Paglaghora; Oct 18th, 2013 at 20:00..
#6 Oct 17th, 2013, 01:20
a LEARNER here......be careful or ignore his posts
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#6
another amazing presentation with micro details clicks are awesome
.


Totaly confused how to explore the beautiful earth when one life is too short to complete my great India


Photo-Story: HARI-SILA or HARSIL Deoriatal-Chopta,
#7 Oct 17th, 2013, 11:31
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#7
The place is awesome......
Great snaps, specially the birds
#8 Oct 17th, 2013, 12:11
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#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by PKanti View Post another amazing presentation with micro details clicks are awesome
Really encouraging words PKanti. Glad you liked it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by soumiksett View Post The place is awesome......
Great snaps, specially the birds
Not so great place for bird photography though in my opinion, as an amateur. But if one enjoys birding , want to hear songs and watch their activity , I am sure there are not enough places to compete.
I shall post the entire list of the birds sighted once I get confirmation on few unidentified birds.
#9 Oct 17th, 2013, 14:26
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#9
Nice trip and nice trip report PG

Suntalekhola is a beautiful place and I liked the road through Meteli tea garden too. We didn't stay at Suntalekhola but have great desire to stay there. Hope can do it in future.

Nice photos PG.
aamar payer tolai sorshe...(I have wheels under my feet)
#10 Oct 18th, 2013, 17:41
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#10

Some more photos

The birds I sighted/photographed during the trip were as under:

Sl No Name
1 White Capped water redstart
2 Blue Whistling Thrush
3 Grey Backed Shrike
4 Pied Bushchat
5 Red vented Bulbul
6 Grey Treepie
7 Spangled Drongo
8 White Crested Laughingthrush
9 Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush
10 Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush
11 Red Headed Trogon
12 Striated Laughingthrush
13 Grey headed Canary Flycatcher
14 Black Drongo
15 Dollar bird
16 Brown Breasted Flycatcher
18 Brown Shrike
19 Common green magpie
20 Scarlet Minivet (M&F)
22 Red Breasted Parakeet
23 Collared Treepie


Common Green Magpie


Grey headed Canary Flycatcher

Now some flowers :







And some small winged species – Butterflies ..



Some Common Crow it seems, not very sure.


Chocolate Albatross


Himalayan Large Yeoman


Blue Tiger
#11 Oct 18th, 2013, 17:55
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#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duronto Jajabar View Post Nice trip and nice trip report PG

Suntalekhola is a beautiful place and I liked the road through Meteli tea garden too. We didn't stay at Suntalekhola but have great desire to stay there. Hope can do it in future.

Nice photos PG.
I read your rocky island TR , DJ ! The river camp stay was an awesome experience in Suntale.
#12 Oct 18th, 2013, 17:56
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#12
Lovely pictures.and well written
#13 Oct 18th, 2013, 19:40
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#13
Awesome click ...just loved that detailing...What model you are using paglaghora?
#14 Oct 18th, 2013, 19:44
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#14
Bah bah..besh! (Great!!)
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid Albert Einstein


Trip reports:

Syalsaur/ Deoria taal/ Chopta trip report, West and South Sikkim trip report , Puri/ Konark trip report
#15 Oct 18th, 2013, 20:09
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Legend View Post Awesome click ...just loved that detailing...What model you are using paglaghora?
I am using entry level EOS-600D ( Canon ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by sagarneel View Post Bah bah..besh! (Great!!)
Glad to know that you liked. And I am happy that you are back there safely.

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