Dooars - The Uninhibited

1st Jan 2020
Photo of Dooars - The Uninhibited by Arijit Sarkar

What is Dooars?

The region at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas spanning about eight hundred eighty square kilometers is called the Dooars. Dooars use to be the part of kingdom of Bhutan, but after Bhutan war in 1865 the British took over the control and split the area into two parts - Western Dooars (which eventually became part of West Bengal) and Eastern Dooars which is now part of Assam.

Why Dooars?

a) The area is bestowed with few of the best National Park's of India- Gorumara National Park, Jaldapara National Park and Buxa Tiger Reserve. Jungles of Chilapata and Buxa are still pristine and less explored with rich biodiversity.

b) If you long to spend a day amidst a sprawling Tea Estates, Dooars can be a great option. Tea Estates like Upper Fagu, Saylee and Saraswatipur offer most lavish and cozy accommodation.

c) The place has a historical hangover. One can trek to Buxa Fort - Buxa Fort is located at an altitude of 867 meters. The Bhutan King used the fort to protect the portion of famous Silk Route connecting Tibet with India, via Bhutan.

d) Enjoy boating at Gajoldoba – A natural wetland drained by River Teesta and a birding hotspot. In winters migratory birds and waders congregate at Gajoldoba Wetlands.

The list is endless. Jotted down few things I found pertinent to myself to make a trip of Dooars – The uninhibited.

Dooars is best explored from railheads like Jalpaiguri Road(JPE)/ New Mal Junction(NMZ)/ New Jalpaiguri(NJP). Alternatively, nearest airport is Bagdogra.

Day 1

1st Jan 2020 -

On the eve of New Year, I started my journey from Jalpaiguri Road to explore the Gorumara Forest area of Dooars. Dooars is a vast expanse of area, and to explore the entire Dooars and the common tourist destinations you need to have at least 6-8 days which is a constrain these days. So it’s my personal opinion to explore Dooars phase wise. This time it was a solo trip for 2N 3D. Early morning I headed for Lataguri – in my opinion the best place to stay and explore Gorumara National Park and its habitat. Lataguri made its mark as a prominent tourist destination of Dooars in the last decade. Remnants of wooden houses of Dooars can be found in Lataguri. The place is known for its wooden handicrafts. There are shops along the NH, with beautiful display of wooden artifacts’. Lush green tea estates like Borodighi, Batabari, Neora Nody, Aibhell, and Chulsa adds to the beauty of the place. Hilly streams like Mal Nody, Neora Nody, and Murti Nody menders through the outskirts of Lataguri. The resorts in Lataguri are quite decent and offer best of amenities. It’s about half an hour drive from Jalpaiguri Road. It was about 9:00 am, I reached Lataguri.

After a sumptuous lunch and quick power nap, I went for a trail in the Murti River. On the backdrop of Murti River in the jungle of Gorumara. It feels relaxing and refreshing to soak your feet in the cold water of Murti River. As the last lights of the day were fading away the landscape became surreal.

As the night falls you can feel the silence of the forest with occasional sound of cricket breaking the silence.

Photo of Murti River, West Bengal by Arijit Sarkar
Day 2

02nd Jan 2020 -

Today was the day for customary 8 points visit – Samsing, Suntalekhola, Rocky Island, Jhalong, Bindu, Paren, Laligarous and Dalgaon.

Suntalekhola – Lets first get into the name of the place and its meaning. In Nepali “Suntale” means oranges and “Khola” means stream. There is a mountain stream and what about oranges? Of course, you will find oranges too. Oranges are grown here. Thus the place is called “Suntalekhola”.

There is a Hanging Bridge at Suntalekhola. Suntalekhola is surrounded from all sides by lush green rain forest.

Suntalekhola Suspension Bridge

Photo of Dalgaon View Point, Rango Forest, West Bengal, India by Arijit Sarkar

Rocky Island – Don’t get confused by the name. There is no island at Rocky Island. But as the name suggests there are rocks of different shapes and sizes and making its trough this rocks flows the mountain river Murti.

Dalgaon- The best of the day was the visit to Dalgaon Viewpoint. Dalgaon is a hidden treasure. It’s a flat land on the top of a hill. Dalgaon is known for its pristine beauty and a viewpoint.

Dalgaon Viewpoint

Photo of Dalgaon View Point, Rango Forest, West Bengal, India by Arijit Sarkar

Jhalong - Jhalong is on the banks of Jaldhaka River. On the far end are the Bhutan hills. The prime attraction of Jhalong is Jhaldhaka Hydro Electric Project.

A small market has developed along the Jaldhaka River. The border is porous in nature. Bhutanese people on the other side of the Jaldhaka River come to this market for their ration. There is a market in Bhutan hills also. Known as ‘Gol Bazaar’ and villagers from Indian to go there… an amazing harmony exists.

Bindu – Bindu is about 10 km from Jhalong. There is a hydro-electric project at Bindu and on the other side of the dam is Bhutan hills. Bindu is the last point of my 8 points tour. It’s called Bindu or a dot because it is the last point of India. You can try steamy momos at Bindu.

The road from Lataguri to 8 points goes through famous Chapramari Sanctuary and multiple forest villages. The scenic beauty of the road is indescribable in words. You can have a stopover at Rubber Plantations of Gairibas. The best part of the day was sighting of Great Indian Hornbills on the way to Dalgaon. In the late evening I returned to the resort. It was really cold that day and it was bliss to see my host/ travel partner has arranged for campfire with barbecue.

Jhalong-Rongo Road

Photo of Jhalong Village Road, Rango Forest, West Bengal, India by Arijit Sarkar

Great Indian Hornbill - on the way to Dalgaon

Photo of Jhalong Village Road, Rango Forest, West Bengal, India by Arijit Sarkar

With the sound of the forest, I was lulled to sleep. Next I need to get ready by 5:30 am for Medla Watchtower Safari.

Day 3

03rd Jan 2020 -

It was foggy. By 6:00 we reached Medla Watchtower, about a half hours drive from Lataguri. The ticket counter has not yet opened. Finally at 6:30 am the counter was opened. From Kalipur(the last vehicle point) you will be taken in bullock-cart to the tower. The narrow ‘kacha’ path goes through beautiful tea gardens. On the way a peacock was perched on a tree top, displaying its beautiful feathers.

Medla Watchtower is the buffer zone of Gorumara National Park. The watchtower is open for the tourists throughout the year. Crisscrossed by Mountain Rivers like – Murti, Jaldhaka and Dyana, the habitat around Medla is primarily grassland. On the backdrop of the vast expanse of grassland lies the majestic Mt. Kanchenjunga. Medla is the best place to see One Horned Rhinos in Dooars.

It was no surprise that two rhinos were ready to welcome me. The rhinos were taking rest near a swampy water-body. There are two salt leaks at Medla and is frequented by wildlife.

You can stay at the watchtower for 1 hr. The view of the jungle from Medla is simply awesome.

Rhinos of Medla

Photo of Medla Watch Tower, Gorumara, Ramsai River Side Road, Panbari, West Bengal, India by Arijit Sarkar

It was the day of return and say goodbye to this beautiful place, the people and its culture. After having breakfast, checked-out from resort to pay a visit to ‘Bhramri Devi Temple’- a very old temple inside Baikunthapur Forest. The temple premise has idols of Shiva and Parvati and a number of other deities. Locals as well as people from the surrounding area visit here in large numbers.

The entire trip was an amazing experience for me. The trip was planned my travel partner – Dooars Tours and Travels Planner, Jalpaiguri( My Travel Consultant: Anindya – 6294369096.

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