Thursday, April 27, 2023

Neora Valley National Park - Kolakham - Lava - 2023

 Neora Valley NP - Kolakham (Diary in brief )

20.4.23 -21.4.23  Sealdah>NMZ (New Mal Junction) >Kolakham [Kanchankanya > Car ]

21.4.23  Kolakham > Changey Falls>Lava>Kolakham

22.4.23 Kolakham > NMZ [Car >Kanchankanya  ]

23.4.23 Sealdah

20.4.23 - 21.4.23

After a long time,  Mohua and I (without any group) left for Kolakham alone. We took Kanchankanya at 8.30 am from Sealdah and reached New Mal Junction at 9.30 am next day. The Route from Siliguri Junction (not NJP) to New Mal Junction (NMZ) is the most picturesque route you will ever find in India - it is a marriage between River, dense Forest and Hills. It is probably the only long distance  train, which stops at NMZ (Railway code).

Get In

From NMZ there is no direct bus to Lava (actually Kolakham is a very small village in Neora Valley NP, so no shared jeep goes there). First you have to come to Dam-dim (from NMZ , a toto will charge around Rs 100-150 to reach Damdim) and from Damdim you can take a share jeep to reach Lava. From Lava there is no shared jeep route to Kolakham. You have to reserve a car for Rs 1000 (fixed rate as per Chart) for a 6-7 Km bumpy ride to Kolakham. If you are lucky, you can hitchhike from Lava. Lava falls on the route to Kolakham. A small road at the entry point of Lava, takes you to Kolakham (entry fee to enter Neora Valley NP/Kolakham is Rs 120 per jeep since you are entering Neora Valley Forest).

After considering all this we decided to book a Wagon R for Rs 2200/- from NMZ. The name of the driver is Rajesh Kundu (+91 81580 49888 ). We bought very good Pizza at Pizza Palace (91 77973 11666 )  just beside the bus station of NMZ. Alternately you talk to owner/Manager of the resort Neora Valley Junge Camp.

On the way falls 5 tea gardens (some owned by Goodricke) - it is a good for photo op session ! On the way falls Gorubathan, the only major town, before Lava. We reached Neora Valley Jungle Camp (it is actually very near to Kolakham village) at 1230 hrs , after 2.30 hours journey. The road is very good and wide. I found the route very charming . Neora Valley Jungle Camp is owned by Help Tourism Pvt Ltd. It is surely one of the best resorts in India, at this price (Rs 7000 for two people - with breakfast and dinner), I have ever stayed. The location is amazing. The rooms are unique. There are two balconies in the room. The rooms are huge and having an attached balcony and one of them is covered by Glass in 3 sides , giving you a wonderful chance to enjoy the mighty Himalaya , from your room. All rooms are fitted with a room heater & geyser . Rooms were clean and bathrooms were well maintained. There is no TV in the room. I stayed at Shikra. I think one should stay at Shikra. Sitting in the balcony, sipping smoking hot tea , you can see snowy peaks of the Kanchenjunga, if the the weather is good. contact person is Mr Pal, 96478 24646 .

Kolakham is located in the buffer zone of the Neora Valley National Park. Neora Valley National Park is in Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling District (West Bengal). It was established in 1986 and covers around of 88 km² . It is one of the richest biological zones . It is a paradise for Bird Lovers. The lush green pine forest has such luxurious growth that even sunlight do not reach the soil. 

The highest point of the park is Rachela Danda which is around 10,600 ft from Sea level. Much of the park is still inaccessible and for nature lovers & trekkers, this is one of the most adventurous places, as it promises to explore the still-unknown. This village is a retreat from all the bustles of city life.

I quickly had my lunch (Pizza) and left for Kolakham village. The road towards the village induced an inexplicable charm. On the way falls Kalbong Check Post of Forest Deptt. From that Check post you have to take the help of Birding guide Yogen (+91 73849 91850 ) to go to Kalbong village (hair pin bend from the check post) for taking pictures of Bird. But if you are a serious birder then you can take the help of Mani (from Lava) - +91 95472 80019.  I am told he charges Rs 2000 for the whole day. Then there is Joseph who is even more famous. He works in forest deptt. You can talk to Yogen to get his numbered.

I went further upto the Kolakham village and saw many popular home stays like Red Panda Homestay (first home stay of the village), Kolkham Casero etc. Then I came back to the resort. We had early dinner at 8.30 pm. There I met a Professor of Environment Science and learnt that Cryptomaria japonica was planted for paper industry in India by Britishers, which never materialized. But the trees which were planted for economic benefit , like Sagoon, Teak etc killed the bio diversity of forest. In fact Cryptomaria japonica is somewhat like Eucalyptus. I also learnt that the damage to the nature, is not only because of global warming, but it is also man made.


After breakfast Mohua and I walked upto the Kolakham village. After reaching Kolakham, we saw a tourist car going to Changey Falls. They charged us @ Rs 200 x 2 for the journey. One of the major attractions of Kolakham, is the 100 feet waterfall located about 6 kilometres from the village . However, the trail isn’t smooth, some may find it difficult to keep balance while moving downwards to the waterfall. It took around 15 minutes to go down and around 30 minutes go up. 

After returning to base,  we were told the car is going to Lava and we can go there by paying Rs 300 each. So we decided to go to Lava and see the famous Lava monastery. The Lava we saw in 2004 is not recognizable any more. The Lava Monastery is really interesting and very big. Do not forget to go around the monastery. After having lunch in the monastery , we came to back to Kolakham by paying Rs 1000. 

Cardamom plantations are common here and can be seen in the farms of the local people. 

Various species of birds can be seen in the resort itself : Verditer Flycatcher, Rufous Sibia, Scarlet minivet, Green-tailed Sunbird, Fantail to name a few. Later I realized that probably there is no need to go elsewhere for birding. Sitting in the balcony, you can see all the birds.

The rustic life, simple and warm local people, local market and the beautiful village are worth exploring.

I had my dinner early at 8.30 am ,so that I can go for birding tour next day. 

There are 2 options here - a) Kalbong route b) Pipeline route. We were told Pipe-line is too dense and is not good for bird sighting.


I got up at 5.15 am and reached Forest Deptt check post at 6.10 am and went to Kalbong village with Yogen for birding. 

I saw Rufous Sibia, Scarlet minivet, Great Barbet, Verditer FlycatcherI finally returned my resort at 10.30 am and had my breakfast. 

The check out time is 1100 am. So we checked out of the resort and kept the luggage at the library. Then I again left for birding in the resort and its adjoining area and finally left for NMZ at 2 am. This time the car was arranged by the resort and they charged Rs 3000 (for Innova). On the way to NMZ, we had our lunch and reached the train station in time and the train left at 5.35 pm and reached home right at time, at 8.10 am.

Booking :  Online booking is available in the below link. 

You can contact Help tourism office to get your bookings. 

Help Tourism Pvt. Ltd.
Kolkata Office:
67-A, Kali Temple Road, 1st Floor,Sadananda Kuthi, Kalighat
Kolkata - 700026
Tel : +91-33-24550917 / 24549719,Fax : +91-33-24854584
email :

Pocket Pinch :  It is Rs. 6000-7000/- for 2 persons with breakfast and dinner. 

Get away

From Kolakham it’s easy to visit several beautiful places as a day tour. Lava, Loleygaon, Rishyap, Charkhole, Rikisum, Pedong etc  are the places which are full of natural beauties along with mighty Kanchenjunga and its neighbouring peaks.

Source :

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Dooars : Jaldapara, Gorumara, Coochbehar - 2023

 Dooars  (Diary in brief )

13.4.23 -14.4.23  Sealdah>NJP>Siliguri>Fulbari>Rhino Inn (Jaldapara National Park - Salkumar Gate)               [  Uttarbanga Express > Car ]

15.4.23  Jaldapara NP> Safari> Chilapata > Kalchini Tea Garden > Raimatang>Hamilton ganj>Hashimara> Jaldapara NP

16.4.23 Jaldapara > Murti>Cooch Behar Rajbari > Cooch Behar Tea Estate> Lataguri (Gorumara)

17.4.23 Lataguri (Gorumara) > Jatraprasad Safari>Chalsa>Matelli Tea Estate >Samsing> Mission Hill > Fagu > Ambiok > Gajoldoba

18.4.23 Sealdah


We (Barun and I) took Uttarbanga Express and reached NJP/ Siliguri at 7.30 am and reached Anindya's house . Our train ticket was confirmed thanks to Mohua. Since Tutuda's ticket was not confirmed, he  reached Siliguri by bus and went to Anindya's home at  9.30 am. The bus journey took 14 hours.The roads are much better now, Tutu da informed us. We left for Jaldapara at 10.30 am. We took Fulbari (Jalpaiguri) route by Anindya's car to reach Rhino Inn (owned by Kalu Chhetri) ,  which is just beside Salkumar Gate of Jaldapara National Park. Not many people book safari at this gate. Madarihat is the popular gate. Now it is possible to book safari online at . We reached the resort at 2 pm. We were told our Elephant safari has been cancelled due to strike called by the Mahout. One of them was killed  (by the elephant) on duty and was denied the compensation of Rs 15 lakh ! They earn only 8500 per month. For the first time in my life, I supported the strike !

After having our lunch,  I opted for 4-5.30 pm slot for safari. Since there was one vacant slot in one car , I managed to do the safari. While rest of our group could not manage it. I paid Rs 600 for the Safari. Actually the rates are like this : Rs 350 for the guide charge. Rs 187 per head as entry fee/permit and car hiring charges are Rs 1500. The area is around 216 sq Km, but only 6 Km is allowed to the tourists. 

You will have to get down at 3 watch towers :  Hollong (which is not a watch tower actually), Harin-danga (non operational) and Jaldapara watch tower. So out of 3 watch towers, 1 is not operational. So unlike other famous National forests you have to get down at certain points ! 

There are 4 safaris in a day @ 1.30 hours each !  There is no zone. There is only a fixed route ! This is completely ridiculous.

We paid Rs 1200 for the room for 2 people in Rhino Inn. The food is extra @ Rs 600 per day. The food is really good. The owner Kalu Chhetri is a Nepali, but speaks perfect Bengali. He booked elephant safari for us. We made the payment by G-pay to him and sent him the PAN Card. He did the Elephant safari booking for us. His number is +91 97331 05135 and +91 97334 48204Call phone (+919733448204). He is the ideal person to do the booking for Elephant safari from this gate. He is known to all the forest department staffs.

He said it will take some time to get the refund, since the elephant safari has been cancelled. Interestingly Victoria aka Sampa (Ranju Kaku's daughter) is also staying at the same hotel. She is now teaching in a Coochbehar College. She told me she will be soon transferred to Chandan Nagar. They have also come here for a safari.


Today we did the morning Safari at 5.30 am - 7 am. We made the payment yesterday. Kalu da has been great help while booking the jeep safari off line. Everybody knows him.Since we were very apprehensive about the Jeep Safari (rightly), we did not book any safari online.  His resort is jest beside the Safari booking counter. 

We saw Rhino, Gaur, Red breasted Parakeet, Green Imperial Pigeon, Yellow footed Green Pigeon,Barking deer,Sambhar and peacock. The guide told us, they have been last trained in the year 2016 and he has no knowledge of birds ! He shouted "Sambhar-Sambhar" on sighting a Sambhar in the same vein, when a guide in Ranthambhore would have shouted on sighting a tiger !!

After breakfast we left for Raimatang. To reach Raimatang we took the route of Chilapata forest. On the way we saw Kalchini Tea Garden. We had lunch before reaching Raimatang. To reach Raimatang you have to travel on the dry river bed for some time. After reaching Raimatang we trekked till the river bed. There is a wonderful homestay there. After spending some time we returned back to our resort. 

On the way back, we saw Hamiltonganj (where Tutu da bought Insect repellant) and Hashimara Air Force base.

You can write/email to DFO of Jaldapara at for any complain.


Today we checked out of our hotel and left for Cooch Behar Palace/Rajbari. 

The Rajbari was constructed in the year 1887. It was really impressive. Inspired from the Western Renaissance period, Cooch Behar Palace is a unique blend of European and Indian architecture.Maharaja Nripendra Narayan created the Cooch Behar Palace in 1887. Inside the Palace is quite impressive too, it is straight out of Vatican ! It is one of the architectural masterpieces, that displays the regal era of the Koch Dynasty in India. It was part of Ahom kingdom. It is apparently the first planned city. The city centre is Sagardighi Lake. The  houses around the lake are quite impressive.

Then we left for Lataguri. On the way to Lataguri we saw Cooch Behar Tea Estate. We saw the plucking by the woman workers. In fact we also saw the tea leaves were weighed and dumped into a pick up truck. We learnt that they get Rs 232/250 per day of work. They also get Ration. They have 1 day leave per week. They are paid after 15 days. Most of them were wearing "gloves" .

We reached our resort Camping de Dooars at 5.30 pm. We paid only Rs 1200 + GST per day for 2 person. The food is extra. It is one of the most impressive budget hotels I have seen in India. I booked it online from goibibo. It is owned by a lady from Siliguri.


We did our safari in the morning to Jatraprasad watch tower. We were told Chuk chuki watch tower is not functional ! The charges are similar to Jaldapara National Park. Anindya did not join us for the safari.

After breakfast we left for Chalsa and took the route of Chalsa (we passed by famous Sinclairs Hotel) >Matelli Tea Estate >Samsing> Mission Hill>Fagu>Ambiok Tea Estate   via Gorubathan and finally came back to Siliguri via Gajoldoba. We had some photo session at Ambiok. We had tea at Gajoldoba. We saw the impressive Bhorer Alo nearby.

But we missed the train and came back by combination of Bus and Train. We got down from the bus at Baharampur at 6 am and took an auto rickshaw to reach Baharampur Train Station and finally took Bhagirathi Express train at 6.38 am to reach Sealdah at 10.40 am.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

G-Plot Gobordhanpur , Sundarban

 G-Plot Diary

7.4.23. Kolkata>GPlot

8.4.23  GPlot

9.4.23  GPlot >Kolkata

We are planning to go there for quite some time. But finally we went there on 7.4.2023. with 3 people. From 8 we are down to 3 ! Most of my friends dropped out at the last moment.

Blogger Krishnendu Sarkar nicely summed up G plot as :

"GPlot is a small island located in South 24 Parganas within the confluence of the sea with the river. GPlot is a completely offbeat and relaxing destination. GPlot being newly discovered and unknown to mainstream tourists is a perfect destination if your idea of spending a weekend far away from the hustle bustle of the city where you can even listen to your heartbeat. GPlot boasts about the village culture, thus if you don’t mind leaving your urban sophistication and luxuries behind and just looking for a clean bed where you can crash down, you should visit GPlot before it gets popular! "

Get Lost 'owned' by Sintu and Subhrangshu , "has taken this risk of setting up tourism amongst this village, far away from the city, where someone would rarely think of doing anything!" ... "So they comes up with off beat destinations" like Kotra Khali, Mousuni Island, Jhandi, Bangriposhi ...."every other day" !


Get In :

Ballygunge Station (Train) >Kakdwip Train Station (auto) > Kakdwip Bus stop > Pathar-pratima Bus Stand (Bus/Toto) > Chand-mari'r Ghat (walk) > Chand-mari Ghat (By Ferry, which leaves at 9.30 am) > Tawter Hat (by vano)>Indrapur Bazar(by vano)>Gobardhanpur (By Vano)

1. We took local train (5.27 am) from Ballygunge to Kakdwip.   It stopped for 15 minutes at Laxmikantapur.                                             

2.From train station take an auto rickshaw to reach bus stand by Toto (Rs 10 - around 1.5 Km)    

3. Then we hired a Toto for Rs 200 (or you can take a Bus) to PatharpratimaThen go to the Ferry terminal/Ghat (by walk, if  you take bus) which leaves for Chadmari (Chadmari's  Ghat). There is another Ghat for a different direction. Our Toto dropped us at the wrong Ghat - which is 5 minutes walk from "Chadmari's Ghat". So if you do not want to walk, tell the auto Rickshaw to drop you at Chadmari jawar Ghat.  The journey from Kakdwip to Patharpratima takes around 45 minutes.  (Alternately you can come to Patharpratima by a bus, from Esplanade Bus Depot in the morning. This is now possible due to construction of a new bridge)     

"NOTE: There are various islands which are only connected via this waterways. So from Patharpratima / Ramganga, there are several ferries going in different directions, so keep in mind that you have to take the ferry for Chandmari Ghat. "  

4.From Patharpratima you have to take a ferry to Chandmari and get down at Chandmari Ghat which takes 1 hour 15 minutes. After several other stops (picking up and dropping passengers) it reaches Chandmari Ghat which is the last stop.                                           

5. From Chandmari Ghat you have to reserve a Vano to reach Gobardhanpur which takes around 45 minutes - 1 hour. You have to pay Rs 450 to Vano. If it is Toto, then you have to pay around Rs 300. But there is a syndicate, so normally you have to get down at Tawter Hat and Indrapur Bazar, if you take shared VanoWhile catching the vano from Indrapur Bazar/ Chand-mari Ghat, one should mention Gobordhan-pur, Baghajatin Club for easy understanding. GPlot is divided into many part. At the end is Gobordhan-pur. G Plot is around 30 Km in length

This is the most convenient to go to G-Plot because of the boat timing. But while coming back , there is another route, which suits the boat timing - which I will discuss later. Anyway we got down at Baghajatin Club at around 12.30 pm. So it took more than 7 hours !

Baghajatin Club : "This was actually a club which was lying around unutilized. So Sintu  and Subhrangshu renovated this into a cottage in order to support and boost tourism. The cottage has 4 Bedrooms which can accommodate 2 people each. And a spacious hall which is mostly where you’d sit down to relax and have your food ! The hall has a dining table on one end and 2 beds on the other end where another 2 more persons can accommodate easily. So in total, the place can accommodate around 10 persons."

We had a lunch just after reaching. We have informed Janomejay babu that we are very hungry. 

There are 2 different directions to go to the beach. From the road (from where you have to take a right turn to reach Baghajatin Club) , if you take left (just in front of the road boat repairing is going on) then you reach the sea while passing through the Mangrove Forest. On the way falls small thatched huts. So it is the confluence of Forest and Sea. 

If you take right, towards the market, then you will reach the 'proper' beach (Gobardhanpur Beach). 

After lunch Kaushik and I took the left turn and went at the end of the road, where it meets the sea. This way to the beach is really a nice walk through the forest. We met some local villagers. Kaushik spotted lot of birds - Pied Kingfisher, Sandpiper, Green Bee eater, Eurasian Curlew, Cuckoo,Coucal etc.

We came back just after the sun set. In the afternoon we had some snacks with tea. We had dinner at around 9.30 pm. The food is good.


Kaushik woke up early morning and did bird photography. Since I was very tired got up at 8.30 am Kaushik came back and had breakfast with us. After breakfast we went to Gobardhanpur Beach. This is actually a proper beach. We spent some time walking around the beach ! There are 3 shops selling tea and snacks near the beach. We saw 2 tourist group at the beach. I learnt there are 2/3 resorts nearby. They are staying there. Kaushik and I went for Bird photography and went inside the forest.

We came back to our resort at around 1.30 PM and had lunch. After that we went for a small afternoon nap! Then we went to the confluence of sea and mangrove forest.  While coming back we chatted with the locals and got to know the sea was further away when his grandfather came from Medinipur / Midnapore. Now it has been engulfed by the sea. 

Janmejay Babu served us evening snacks – Alu Chop (on my request) and Muri same as like yesterday. Alu Chop (Potato Chop) was really good.


Since we planned to take 8.30 am boat, we left at around 7.15 am. There are 2 options - either we can get down at Indrapur Bazar and take a boat to reach Ramganga Pier (Patharpratima and Ramganga are just the opposite Piers facing each other. Ferries leave from Patharpratima and stops at Ramganga to pick up passengers before proceeding further). But since the Pier at Indrapur Bazar is broken we decided to go to Chand-mari Pier. 

At Chandmari Ghat, we decided,  instead of going to Kakdwip Train station , we took a bus to go to Laxmikantapur for a 1 hour ride. One can go to Laxmi-kantapur Train Station from Ramganga ghat also.

From Laxmi-kantapur we took a train to reach Sonarpur and another train to reach Ballygunge Station. We reached home at 2 pm.

Tip : According to the blogger K Sarkar , " I have personally taken both the route... I felt the route via Lakshmikantapur – Ramganga have a little more advantage over Kakdwip – Patharpratima especially while returning back to Kolkata. 

1. . if you get down at Lakshmikantapur (since it falls before Kakdwip) you save around 15-20 mins of trains journey. Also while coming back, there are direct trains from Lakshmikantapur, so possibilities of getting seats are more than that of Kakdwip. Because there are no direct trains from Kakdwip. Most of them leaves from Namkhana and most of the seats gets filled up at Namkhana only. So getting seats from Kakdwip can be a little bit challenging though. So Lakshmikantapur have a bit of advantage here over Kakdwip.

2. So if you are coming from Lakshmikantapur, you can factor in both the direct trains from Lakshmikantapur and the trains coming from Namkhana as well."

I think he is correct. So unknowingly we took the right decision.

Get away

We were told by Amit of Get Lost (, that the journey to Kalash / Bonnie Camp costs around Rs. 10,000 – 12,000 including the ferry, fooding and permit charges.

Contact person is - Amit :  - 9836830342 , 9831309512 , 6291377154

(You can refer to this nice blog - The one which is in italics is taken from his blog)

Chronological order