Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Dooars - er duarey (Eastern part)

Abar Aranye - Dooars- er Duarey - Dooars tour (Eastern side) - Chilapata-Sikijhori-Buxa-Jayanti-Jaldapara  - in brief 


Day 1 

By Kanchankanya from Sealdah at 8.30 pm.

Team members: Sourabh, Debasree and her son, Barun and family of 3, Subirda and family of 3, Arindam and family of 3 and Arun.


The Western part of Teesta is called Terai region and Eastern Part of Teesta river is called Dooars. Dooars can be roughly divided into parts - Western Part consists of Murti,Khunia, Chapramari, Suntalekhola, Jhalong, Bindu, Gorumara. You can go to this place either by car or bus or by train. If you come by train (Kanchankanya - you have to get down at Mal junction). For animal sighting you should only go to Gorumara only.

We went to the Eastern part (get down at Hasimara - this is also the place to go to Bhutan - Bhutan border Jaigaon is only 30 minutes from here - you don't need passport to go to Bhutan.) of Dooars. In the Eastern part you will find Chilapata,Jaldapara, Jayanti and Buxa (Rajabhatkhawa).


Day 2 - Chilapata

Got down in the morning at Hashimara (scheduled stop ; Madarihat - non Scheduled stop, but nearer to Jaldapara) . From Hasimara, Jaigaon - Indian side of Bhutan border - is only 30 minutes by auto and popular entry point.

Distance from station to Medabari Eco resort (Chilapata) – 20 Km –@ 600/- per sumo/Bolero + one Maruti Omni. We are 12.5 people ! total amount paid is Rs 1200/-. Reached hotel at 1.30 pm- 2 hrs late !

Tips : Can hire an auto and reserve it for a much lesser rate from the station @ Rs 150-200/- we have been told

(At chilapata one can move around tribal village - hire jeep at 1 pm - Rs 1000 for 3 hours )

Evening safari in Chilapata by 6 seater jeep 

Quite disappointing - hardly any sighting . Elephant seen on the main road (which is not strictly a core forest area) - which leads to Jaigaon - Indian side of Bhutan border ( Phuntsholing - is Bhutan side of the border)

Animal Sighting - 2/100 - few birds and elephant
Jeep - 30/100
Resort - 30/100
Forest flora and fauna - 80/100

6 person can somehow seat in the jeep. For photographers maximum should be 4 per jeep.

# Evening safari ...1810/- jungle safari car rate – for 6 person (car entry fee Rs 250 + Guide 200/- + per person entry fee 60/- + car hire Rs 1000 )


# safari in a separate car (personal or Tourist car from outside not allowed - you have to hire it exclusively from Forest Deptt - unlike, say, Masai Mara )

Hidden deep inside the Chilapata Forests the ruins of a thousand years old fort of Nal King has a tremendous historical and archeological importance. A trip through the deep and dark Chilapata Forest is a pleasant and exciting experience. 

Built in the 5th century during the Gupta Empire the ruins still recall the memories of the Golden Age of India.

# Contact no for tourist cars outside :

i. Nitu bhattacharya – Buxa based (can provide car from Chilapata) 9733 41 08 24

ii. Thapa for car - Jayanti based 8509 47 25 73

iii. Mithun das (9735 02 87 33 - Relax Lodge - Madarihat based - 24 Km) - he provided our car

iv. Sanjay at the resort - Chilapata based.

a. Rates for dry car 1200/- or 1500/- (fuel @ 10 km per litre for minimum 3 days)

b. 2600/- all inclusive - We paid Rs 2600 for whole day - 7.30 am to 7 pm.

c. point to point - varies

# Night halt at Chilapata forest, Cooch Behar, West Bengal, India - at Mendipara Forest Resort @ RS 1500/- ( with commode shower - very basic room - not highly recommended at this price - should negotiate the price) + Food Rs 400/- per person per day


Day 3 - Chilapta - Sikijhora - Rajabhatkhawa-Buxa-Jayanti-Chilapata

Morning - left at 8.40 am for Sikiajhora (Amazon cruize of Dooars) - only for 40 minutes [20 minutes one side and 20 minutes back- same route] @ Rs 50 per head. Only one boat at the moment. can be contacted at 96 79 408438 (Paresh) to hold the boat till you reach !

Experience - 75/100

Tip: if you pay more then apparently they will go further

Rajabhatkhawa (65 Km) for entry ticket of Buxa and Jayanti - Rajabhatkhawa Museum (worth visiting)  

Buxa Santalbari (had lunch - Momo @ Rs 20 for 8) - Trekking for 20 minutes only (out of 2 hours of trek time) - Experience - 35/100

Choto mahakal (through Jayanti river) - the car will follow the route of river. Not Possible during rainy season....not for unfit people
Experience - 85/100

Chunia Jhora Tea Garden - owned by Mcleod Russel
Experience - 75/100

Chuniya watch tower ( evening safari at Jayanti ) - 
Experience - 20/100

# Raydak forest bunglow, Pokri lake, Bird watch Tower could not make it due to lack of time

Came back in the evening at Chilapata at 7 pm.


Day 4 - Chilapata - Jaldapara

# Morning safari at Chilapata 

Animal Sighting - 0/100 - No sighting at all !!

Then left for Madarihat at 11 am (24 Km) at Rs 900 per Sumo - over priced. On the way we saw an elephant.

Reached Jaldapara Stayam Lodge (@ Rs 800- with commode shower) at 12 pm. - just in front of Forest gate / ticket counter/ Madarihat lodge of WB Govt. 

# Evening safari - no tour left.

We opted for alternative trolley line @ Rs 1840 for 6 person (not highly recommended)

Animal sighting - 5/100 - seen a bison and few birds

# Just after the safari we stood in the line from 5 pm for next day safari at 6 am, 8 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. counter opens at 6 pm. So much for the tourist ! - Jungle safari car rate – for 6 person (car entry fee Rs 250 + Guide 200/- + per person entry fee 60/- + car hire Rs 800 )

No online booking like other states, say Tadoba at Maharashtra, where we are going in April 2016. 

We somehow managed to book the morning safari at 8 am. But in spite of valiant effort of Arun and almost fighting with some person missed the pricey elephant tour @ Rs 850 per person approx. What a way to promote tourism in WB !

## In the evening we had our snacks at WB Govt owned Madarihat tourist lodge and even had our dinner at the tourist lodge - Mixed fried rice @ Rs 150/- is good - considering the place you are in. We even walked inside the lawn ! Outsiders are allowed inside the dining room.

1. Hollong (inside the Jaldapara forest - very difficult to get. Booking open 120 days before stay date - you have to book 120 days in advance when it opens.) - highly recommended - salt pit just in front of resort) or 

2.Madarihat Bungalow (at the Gate of Jaldapara Forest ) - No question of sighting from resort - may opt for any other resort, if budget is a constraint - though very nicely maintained

3. Bivash roy 9933160106 and 9733 000 440 

4. Jaldapara Jungle Camp - help tourism 1200/- and 1600/- for booking - 67A kali temple road ,Kolkata -9733 000 442 


Day 5 - Jaldapara

# Morning safari at jaldapara. Highly recommended. 

Good sighting - 30/100 by Indian standard - seen 3-4 Rhino, few deer, 2-3 elephants, 8-10 peacock, few monkey, few bison

Left for train station at Hasimara at 3.45 pm to catch Kanchankanya at 4.45 pm. - @ 200-300/- for Toto or Rs 350-400/- for Sumo - 10 Km from our hotel/reserve forest main entry gate.

# Totopara (30 km from Jaldapara). A small village on the banks of River Torsha bordering Bhutan is the only habitation of Toto, a primitive tribe in the Dooars. 

Their number has dwindled to less than 1000. Could not go for lack of time.



Dooars is a shame, when you compare it with other reserve forests in India - in every possible way- be it mismanagement of booking safari, safari car quality, animal density, resort quality. There is no need to look at Doors with frosted glass and romanticizing about it. Somebody needs to bell the cat. There is also pathetic animal density to say the least. e.g. In Tadoba you can book safari sitting in Kolkata for April 2016 in January 2016 - which I did. What is going on in the name of elephant ride is nothing short of a scam.

Probably the only bright spot is Jaldapara and a resort at Jaldapara Rhino Cottage (+91 94 34 607825 - Aloke Guha) at Jaldapara beside Sishamara river where you can see animals from the resort (near Shalkumar, Falakata) !

NB: Make no mistake - we enjoyed a lot , over all !!

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