I visited Dooars during the Durga Pujas last year. Dooars includes the Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and the upper regions of the Cooch Behar districts in West Bengal and quite a few districts in Assam. The region lies south of the outer foothills of the Himalayas and forms the gateway of Bhutan. The trip was a short and quick one and I managed to catch some memorable glimpses of what is an extremely beautiful, green and picturesque region. The forests here remain closed during the monsoons, which is the mating season for the animals. So, if you’re interested in the jungle safaris, avoid the mid-July to mid-September time. The best time to visit would be from October to March when the weather would be pleasant and cool. The places we visited were Murti, Jaldapara Forest, Phuentsholing in Bhutan, Chilapata Forest, Buxa Fort and Jayanti River. This is the first part of this photo story series, covering Murti & Jaldapara forest.
Murti was our first stop and we were staying there overnight. We stayed at the WBFDC guest house, Banani. This place is right beside the Murti river, and is an amazing place to stay in if you want to spend some serene time amidst pristine nature.
We left for Jaldapara the very next day. From Murti, it was an around 2-hour drive. At Jaldapra we stayed at the Wild Hut – which is considered the best place to stay in this region. And the stay was indeed pleasant, especially because of the well mannered and helpful staff. At Jaldapara, we did the jungle safari. There are two safari options – by car and on elephant back. We chose the car option as the elephant safari takes place only in the early mornings. The forest was around 1 km away from our hotel. You can book tickets for the safari from the booking counters in the forest grounds. You’ll need to submit a photocopy of your ID in order to book the tickets – so keep that prepared.
Jaldapara was a wonderful experience. This forest, though not extremely deep, is well maintained. Zipping through the forest in an open-top jeep, taking in the uninterrupted greenery of the place and trying to spot animals in that wilderness – it was all extremely refreshing. We managed to spot elephants and rhinos here. There are bisons here as well, but we didn’t get to see one. There’s a bungalow here, right inside the forest, called Hollong Bungalow. It’s pretty famous and there are just 8 rooms here – that you need to book well in advance. I can just imagine how breathtaking it’d be to wake up to the view of lush forest grounds and rhinos walking about nonchalantly.
The safari was an exhilarating one. At the end of it, we came back to our hotel and called it a day. Our itinerary for the next day included a brief visit to Phuentsholing in Bhutan and the famous Chilapata forest. More on that in my next post!