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Old 14th June 2016, 22:55   #1
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Post Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)

It appeared as if it were a never ending drive. It was raining. The light had started fading. We were driving on a road which was not paved, and according to GPS in my phone, the road didn't even exist! Given the rain, there were not many person on the road. The last thing we would have wanted there is to get lost in the middle of nowhere. On the hilly terrain, taking an u-turn would have been a challenge too.

So when we saw a small grocery shop, we stopped and asked for directions from the shop owner. It turned out that we were not lost. However we were told to continue our uphill drive for some more time. The process of asking for the direction was repeated at every available opportunity. In the meantime, I heard a worried voice of my better half from the back seat: "Did you not check the distance properly"? It was bit embarrassing, specially for a person like me who would often plan till the last mile. Clearly, I had underestimated the distance to our destination as well as the time required to reach there.

The bumpy gravel road on which we were driving our hatchbacks finally ended. Literally, there was no more road to go! However, as the proverb says, all's well that ends well. By the time we were at the gate of our destination, Paren Nature Resort run by West Bengal Forest Development Corporation Limited (WBFDC).


Our Destination - Paren Nature Resort by WBFDC
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6262.jpg


Our shelter for the nights - Cottages at Paren Nature Resort
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6372.jpg


Two little cars - The machines we drove from Kolkata
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6249.jpg


The companions : Sakuntala, Reeha, Nadira, Ananda and ... myself (behind the camera)
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6266.jpg


Butterflies on the lawn
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6378.jpg


Wild leaves in the compound
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6273.jpg


On a sightseeing trip to Bindu - Last border outpost of India
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6435.jpg


Natural border - Indian rock on the left, Bhutanese on the right!
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6439.jpg


A photo break that we took
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6137.jpg


The road we drove
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6158.jpg


The track we crossed
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6185.jpg


Unlike last few of our roads trips, this one was relatively well planned. Online bookings were made more than a month before the journey. The planning, nevertheless, was done due to the compulsion rather than the intention. The assembly election was going on in West Bengal and the last day of election was on May 5. We didn't want to drive for a road trip during the election period. Due to a prior commitment, I had to return at my workplace by May 20. We also needed to visit our family home at Malda for a week during the summer break. Unfortunately, we could not begin our journey before May 12 due to some other works. So effectively I had just eight days in hand.

Ananda had been asking for some time to plan for a road trip during the break. So I suggested him a travel plan explaining my own constraints. He readily agreed to it. As per the plan, we would drive to our family home on May 12 and spend three nights there in the first leg. Ananda and Sakuntala would drive on May 14 and would stay the night at Malda town. We would join them in the early morning of May 15 and we would drive together to North Bengal. On the return leg, we would drive back together to Malda on May 18. They would drive back to Kolkata on the next day whereas we would spend one more day at home and drive back to Kalyani on May 20.

Last edited by gmhossain : 28th June 2016 at 06:40.
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Old 16th June 2016, 07:29   #2
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Day 1: Drive to Malda:

Anyone who has driven on Kolkata-Siliguri route would appreciate that driving on this route requires some additional preparation compared to many other routes in our country. This thread at Team-BHP (Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34) is a testament to this fact. There are known bottlenecks. There are also suggested bypasses, some are official and the rest are unofficial. It is often "normal" to see a 10 km long truck queue at a railway level crossing. It is also pretty "normal" to receive suggestion to drive through some narrow bylane rather than a National Highway! The suggested route often varies based on time whether you are driving during the day or during the night. If you are going a cross a point in the morning then there is one suggestion. If you do the same in the afternoon then there is another one. The route also varies based on the season whether you are driving during the summer or during the monsoon!

However, most would agree that National Highway 34 (NH-34) provides the shortest route, and the best time to drive on it would be early in the morning. Krishnanagar-Baharampur stretch, which was in a dreaded shape until a couple months ago, was repaired recently. So we decided to follow the NH-34 route at the maximum. As planned, we began our drive early in the morning and by 5 am we had entered NH-34 at Kalyani More. The traffic were sparse and the road surface was smooth. We made a steady progress and decided not to stop at Krishnanagar, our usual pit stop. At around 7:45 am, we encountered our first hiccup of the day at Beldanga. Local businessmen had blocked NH-34 there with certain demands. By then we had covered around 130 km of distance. While I was waiting there, a passer-by suggested to take some local roads to skirt the blockade. It turned out be a good decision as we were able to re-join NH-34 within 20 minutes to continue our onward journey.


Sun was about to rise - Shantipur Bypass on NH-34
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s1.jpg


Traffic snarl due to a road blockade at Beldanga
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-sp3.jpg


Through the bylanes of Beldanga - To skirt traffic snarl on NH-34
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-sp4.jpg


After crossing Beldanga, we reached Shibpur Toll Plaza at around 8:45 am. The next stretch of NH-34 were 4-laned tolled section where one could speed up a bit. So we decided to stop at the toll plaza to freshen up and have our breakfast that we were carrying with us. We resumed our journey from there about half an later. Along the way, we encountered regular traffic snarls at Ballalpur and Kaliachak where we lost about an hour in total. Nevertheless, we could reach our family home to have a hot lunch just in time!


Food break at Shibpur
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6012.jpg


Shibpur Toll Plaza
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6016.jpg

Shibpur Toll Plaza
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6019.jpg

Tolled section of NH-34
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-sp5.jpg

Approaching Farakka town
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-sp6.jpg



Day 2 and 3: At home:

We spent next two days at home. On the third day, Ananda and Sakuntala were driving to Malda from Kolkata. I had suggested them to take NH-2/SH-7 route to reach Morgram and from there to follow NH-34. During the day, I ranged them up frequently to check their progress. Barring a very rough stretch of SH-7 near Panchgram, they had more or less smooth drive and were able to check into Golden Park hotel at Malda town in the afternoon.

Last edited by gmhossain : 28th June 2016 at 07:02.
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Old 18th June 2016, 20:18   #3
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Day 4: Drive to Siliguri:

It was another early start of the day as we began our drive at around 5:15 am. The plan was to reach the hotel where Ananda and Sakuntala were staying and from there we would drive together towards Siliguri. From Kaliachak, we took the Mothabari route. The road surface of this stretch seemed to have deteriorated compared to last year. So progress was bit slower than we had anticipated. By the time we reached their hotel, they had already checked out and were waiting for us at the parking lot.


At Golden Park, Malda
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s51.jpg


After spending only few minutes there, we resumed our drive at around 6:30 am. The traffic was less in the morning and we were able to cruise at a decent speed. It was around 7:15 am, when I noticed a long queue of stranded vehicles on the highway. What was perplexing to me that even smaller vehicles were not trying to move ahead by taking the empty lane. In a normal traffic jam situation, that would have been an expected behaviour. I asked a passer-by to know what has happened. He could only tell me that apparently there had been an accident. I was in a dilemma whether to wait there or push ahead a little bit. This stretch of NH-34 was being widened to 4-lane with several diversions and traffic seemed to be plying in both directions in both the lanes! After going ahead about a kilometer using the right lane, I could see a crowd that had gathered on the highway. I decided to stop the car at the right edge of the highway which was around couple hundred meters away from the crowd.


It was a cloudy morning but it was pleasant. A nice breeze was blowing. Nevertheless, I was having an eerie feeling about the situation. I asked a gentleman who was coming from the direction of the crowd. He told me that a middle-aged man who was getting into the highway from a cross-road in his bicycle, was hit by a speeding state transport bus. The person had died on the spot and his body was still lying on the road. The state bus had fled the scene. The irate crowd then had smashed the glasses of all vehicles that were parked near the spot and were refusing to move out the body.


Couple of hundred meters away from the spot
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s52.jpg


Given the situation, we had nothing much to do. After around 20 minutes or so, the first police van arrived at the scene. They tried to pacify the crowd but in vain. Soon another police van arrived there together with an ambulance. After an hour or so, the police finally managed to convince the crowd and traffic movement was allowed to begin on NH-34.

Our plan of having an early lunch at Siliguri was all but dashed. However, we still had enough time to reach there just in time. After crossing Raiganj, we took Botolbari-Rudel-Dhantola route to reach NH-31. By taking this detour, one could avoid going through Dalkhola which at times can be completely unpredictable to highway traffic. Besides, this route has its own charm as it passes through beautiful rural landscapes! At around 11 am, we reached Dhantola on NH-31. We took a small snacks break there. After Islampur, the landscape changes quite drastically. One could sense the features of sub-Himalayan terrain along the highway. Beautiful tea gardens dot both side of the highway. We took multiple photo breaks along the way.


On Botolbari-Rudel-Dhantola route
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s53.jpg


A corn field
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6023.jpg


Corns are being Sun-dried on the road!
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s54.jpg


Sprinklers are in use - a tea garden beside NH-31
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6045.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6038.jpg


Tea garden along NH-31
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6041.jpg


Photo break near a tea garden along NH-31
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6044.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6039.jpg


At around 1 pm, we parked our car at the basement of City Center Mall in Siliguri. We were feeling hungry as we didn't have a proper breakfast. So we went straight to the food court for lunch. Our final destination for the day was another 28 km from there. So there was no hurry for us. After completing our lunch, we went to refuel our cars. Withing few minutes after leaving the petrol bunk, my car was flagged down by a police officer and was signaled to pull over. The officer then asked for the papers of the car and later asked for my driving license. After checking them for few minutes, he returned all our documents and gave us a go-ahead sign.

On the way, we took few more photo breaks at Sevoke and later at Coronation bridge before reaching Mongpong just before 4 pm.


NH-31C At Sevoke
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6058.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6055.jpg


The first taste of hill drive for the trip
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s56.jpg


Iconic Coronation Bridge
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6064v2.jpg

Last edited by gmhossain : 29th June 2016 at 18:24.
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Old 21st June 2016, 08:52   #4
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Stay at Mongpong

We had booked our stay for the night at WBFDC Mongpong rather than at Siliguri. It was less than an hour's drive from Siliguri and was situated at a picturesque location.

The evening there was cloudy. The weather was warm and humid. It looked like that it might rain in the night. We ordered for a light dinner and soon after the dinner we decided to retire for the night. When we woke up in the morning, it was raining. Weather had considerably cooled down. From the courtyard, the grand view of the Teesta river valley was soothing for the eyes. Clouds were coming down from the mountain and as if they were touching the ground. We enjoyed a simple yet delicious breakfast. In the meantime the rain had stopped. Sun was playing hide and seek with the cloud. After breakfast, we went for a short walk in the vicinity.

It was just around 10 am when we checked out from WBFDC Mongpong and headed towards the final destination of our trip - Paren. According to my phone's GPS, the destination was around 74 km from Mongpong and out of that around 40 km was through NH-31C. So it appeared that we would reach at our destination well before lunch time.


Cottages at WBFDC Mongpong
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6092v2.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6094.jpg


Teesta River Valley
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6091.jpg


Soaked in Rain
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6087.jpg


Enjoying the view of the Valley
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6117.jpg


Having breakfast at the Courtyard
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6125.jpg


The jungle trail
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6129v2.jpg


On a morning stroll
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6127v2.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6130v2.jpg


Wood logs in the stockyard
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6132v2.jpg

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Old 23rd June 2016, 09:07   #5
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Day 5: Drive to Paren

Soon after Mongpong, east-bound NH-31C descended into the plain. This stretch of the highway is a visual delight for a nature lover. One would drive through the highway surrounded by a green cover of nature. On the left, one could see the grand Himalayan mountain range whereas the plain of Dooars extends up to the horizon on the right.


Soon After Mongpong
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s61.jpg


Colours of the nature
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s63.jpg


Crossing the town of Malbazar
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s62.jpg


We reached the town of Malbazar at around 10:40 am. There we stocked up our supply of drinking water as we were running low in it. Soon after we resumed our drive towards Khunia More which was our exit point from NH-31C.

Chalsa - Matiali drive

Along the highway, when we were about to reach Chalsa, we had a change of heart. Instead of driving straight to Khunia More, we decided to take a north-bound detour to drive along Chalsa-Matiali road. I had read recently that this road was extremely beautiful. Most would agree on the advantage of having a road trip is that it allows to alter the travel plan on the fly. So, as we thought, we exited from the highway at Chalsa to drive towards Matiali. Immediately after Chalsa crossing we started gaining heights through a series of moderate hairpin bends. Afterwards, we reached a plain-land that extended up to Matiali. We took several photo breaks amidst the beautiful tea gardens. This road too was in a prime shape. After completing around 15 km of this round-trip drive, we were back at NH-31C just before noon.


Chalsa Railway Station
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6134v2.jpg


Chalsa-Matiali Road
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6159.jpg


Sakuntala and Ananda
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6139.jpg


Two and half leaves
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6143.jpg


Natural green
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6144.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6155.jpg


Dream Road
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6156.jpg


My better half, our daughter Reeha and yours truly
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6141.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6145v2.jpg


Delightful drive
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6173.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s66.jpg

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Old 25th June 2016, 13:20   #6
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Drive through Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary

We crossed Murti river bridge soon after leaving Chalsa and began to drive through Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary. The highway NH-31C passes right through the sanctuary, effectively bisecting it in two parts. Our exit point, Khunia More, however was in the middle of this reserve forest. At around 12:05 pm, we began our north-bound drive through the forest after exiting from NH-31C. The sound of moving vehicles on the highway started slowly disappearing. After a while only sounds that we could hear, were the sounds of crickets and the slowly revving engines of the cars. After Khunia More, it was a single lane road. So we were driving at a moderate speed. Further, in order too allow an oncoming vehicle to pass, we had to put one of the tires off the road every time. Luckily, we encountered only few oncoming vehicles in the entire stretch.

Inside Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary along NH-31C
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6177.jpg


At Khunia More
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s67.jpg


Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary along Khunia - Jhalong Road
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6181.jpg


After reaching Chapramari railway level crossing, we decided to stop our cars for a while. The calmness of the jungle was simply mesmerizing. The sounds of crickets was so prominent that it would confuse one's mind to believe that it was during the middle of a night rather than a day. The songs of different birds was often breaking up the monologues of crickets.


Railway level crossing inside the forest
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6183.jpg


Chapramari Sanctuary is known to host large number to elephants. Unfortunately, this very railway track has become a killer track for the elephants. In last couple of years, tens of elephants have been mowed down by speeding trains along this track.


Railway track through Chapramari WLS
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6184.jpg


Elephant crossing zone
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6186.jpg


The road ahead - through a dense jungle
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6187.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6182v2.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s611.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s612.jpg


The road from Khunia More was narrow but at least it was smooth. However, after 10 kilometers or so the road surface started deteriorating. It made progress even slower. After 17 kilometers of driving through the wildlife sanctuary, we came out from the jungle finally through the check post towards Jhalong.


A stretch of bad road
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s613.jpg


Check post - out of Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s614.jpg

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Old 25th June 2016, 18:25   #7
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The first view of Bhutan


As soon as we came out of the wildlife sanctuary, we could see the open horizon once again. The Himalayan mountain range in the backdrop was becoming abundantly clear. We crossed over a small Bailey bridge at Naksal Khola and we began our hilly ascent from there. As we drove further we kept on gaining heights. After a while we reached the viewpoint where we could have our first view of Bhutan. Jaldhaka river valley forms a natural border between India and Bhutan in this stretch and it was quite steep, dropping a few hundred meters almost vertically.


Open horizon in the Himalayan backdrop
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6196.jpg


Art of nature
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s615.jpg


Naksal Khola - A tributary of Jaldhaka river
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6199.jpg


Photo break at Naksal Khola
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6200.jpg


Majestic view of Jaldhaka river - natural border between India and Bhutan
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6217.jpg


Jaldhaka river valley
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6205.jpg


A Bhutanese village atop the river valley
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6219.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6206.jpg


A photo session
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6211.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6215v2.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6216.jpg


From Gairibas to Paren - The final drive


We resumed our drive immediately after the photo session at the viewpoint. By the time, we could reach the village of Gairibas, it was already 1:15 pm. Our earlier plan of having lunch after reaching WBFDC Paren, did not seem feasible anymore. We had taken many breaks since morning for taking photographs and enjoying the views. These breaks had somehow made us tired and we were already feeling very hungry. So we decided to stop and have our lunch at a roadside eatery at Gairibas.

In the meantime, the sky had started slowly turning dark. A large black cloud was forming and a thunderstorm appeared imminent. It was almost 2 pm when we could complete our lunch. Soon after we started our cars. By then it had started to drizzle. The light had faded considerably. From Gairibas, it was a steep descent towards Jhalong. After crossing Jhalong bridge we reached a fork where the road divided into two. The first one went to immediate right with a slight downward slope whereas the second one went straight for a few meters followed by an almost 40 degree upward slope towards the right. It was crazy to see that my GPS navigation system was suggesting me to drive on the second one!

I had never driven our Estilo at such a steep gradient and was not sure whether it can generate enough power to do so even in principle. Moreover, it was raining and the loss of traction was a real possibility. So I decided to stop there and asked a passer-by whether indeed one could use the second road to reach the forest department cottages. He answered in affirmative! He further told me that it was in fact the shortest route to our destination. However given the slope, he was not sure whether our hatchbacks could make it. He then suggested us to take the first route which went to Lower Paren. From there our hatchbacks could easily climb up to our destination. This suggested route nevertheless would be much longer compared to the shorter one.


A few drops of rain - at Gairibas
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s616.jpg


Bailey bridge over Jhalong river
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s617.jpg


Driving uphill on a wet road
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s618.jpg


Rain and mist
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s619.jpg


The final stretch to Paren Nature Resort
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-s620.jpg

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Old 25th June 2016, 22:45   #8
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Stay at Paren Nature Resort run by WBFDC

We reached our destination just before 3 pm. The last one hour's drive was mentally taxing. We were driving amid inclement weather and fading lights. The territory was completely unknown to us. The GPS navigation was not reliable. Some stretches of the road were not in good shape. Some of the stretches were not even in the map. We were forced to seek frequent guidance from the locals wherever available.

However, our mental agony vanished as soon as we entered into the gate of Paren Nature Resort. It looked like a wonderland at the end of a grueling journey. It was still drizzling but had considerably slowed down. Amid the light mist, the cottages of the jungle resort appeared as if it were painted by an artist in a natural landscape.


Gate to the wonderland
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6233.jpg


Paren Nature Resort
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Estilo in the lawn of Paren Nature Resort
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Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6229v2.jpg


Happy to have reached safely at the end
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A joyous moment
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Parked for next two days
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Paren Nature Resort had just four cottages. Two of them were booked by us. The caretaker of the resort told us that there would be no more guests on the night. The other two cottages will have guests only on the next day. The cottages had very basic amenities but it was very clean. There were no TVs in the cottages on the day we arrived. However on the very next day, a team of people came to install TVs in the cottages with satellite dish connection. Apparently, it was being done as a part of government's recent efforts to upgrade its tourism infrastructure.

After our luggage were put into the cottages, we freshened up a bit. The caretaker came back to inquire about our order for the dinner. He also asked whether we would like to have some evening snacks along with tea. We were offered two choices: veg pakoda and onion pakoda. We ordered for the both along with tea!


The cottages
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6261v2.jpg


The wooden ceiling
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6241.jpg


Simple interior
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6242.jpg


By the time our snacks were served, it was already dark. The rain had stopped. Fireflies were out and shining discreetly in the compound. All of us were seating together at the portico of one our cottages to enjoy the evening tea.

There were two water streams that were flowing besides the resort. The first stream was a smaller one and was flowing just below the front entrance. We had crossed over it using a small bridge in front of the gate. The second stream was a larger one, was flowing down on the other side of the resort. The recent rain had added some extra energy to their flow. The soothing sound from the stream was creating an environment that was overwhelming our senses.


A small stream beside the resort
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6255.jpg


Sound of water stream ... if you could hear
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6252.jpg


Simple yet tasty dinner
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6291.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6293.jpg


Half Moon on the sky
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6294v2.jpg

Last edited by gmhossain : 29th June 2016 at 22:34.
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Old 26th June 2016, 12:02   #9
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Day 6: At Paren and a sightseeing trip to Bindu


I woke up after a long night's sleep. The curtains were drawn but I could see the light of dawn. The morning was calm and others were still in bed. So I took my camera and went out in the courtyard alone. The sky was relatively clear and it appeared that it's not going to rain anytime soon. After strolling around in the compound for a while, I decided to go out for a walk along the unpaved road.


The closed gate
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6296.jpg


Paren Nature Resort - from a distance
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6302.jpg


Morning Sky
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6300.jpg


Golden Sky
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6320.jpg


The unpaved road
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6301.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6303v2.jpg


Abandoned micro hydel power plant at Paren
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6310.jpg


Water stream
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6311.jpg


The village of "Compoun"
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6306.jpg


Football ground on a hill
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6326.jpg


Road to Paren
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6350.jpg


Slushy road on which we drove
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6351.jpg


Hill Farming
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6353.jpg


Farmland on the hill
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6370.jpg


The village of Paren
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6362.jpg


Let's go to School
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6355.jpg


Jholung Khola
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6345.jpg


The bridge over Jholung Khola
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6333v2.jpg


The mountains
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6369.jpg

Last edited by gmhossain : 29th June 2016 at 19:23.
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Old 26th June 2016, 20:00   #10
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Back to the nature resort

After a long solitary walk, I started walking back towards our resort. The road at this time didn't look as bad as we felt on the day before. May be the inclement weather and the anxiety of driving through an unknown territory had made us feel exhausted rather than the ground reality. On the way back I met others near the bridge over Jholung Khola. They too were out for walking to enjoy the beautiful morning.


Road back to Paren
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6357v2.jpg


Direction to Paren - did not notice it a day before
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6360v2.jpg


On Jholung Khola bridge
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6334.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6344.jpg


Back to Paren Nature Resort
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6323.jpg


On the portico
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6374.jpg


Kaleidoscope - Butterflies on the lawn
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6377.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6376.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6379.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6380.jpg


While I was seating on the portico, my better half pointed out that a few drops of blood was dripping from the instep of my leg. I was not having any bruising feeling at all. In the morning, I went for a walk with a sudden decision. At the time I was wearing a strapped sandal. During the walk, I had gone down to the stream walking over the undergrowth to see the abandoned micro hydel power plant. So it looked like a leech must have sucked off some blood from my leg before falling off somewhere during the walk. The caretaker also agreed and told me that during the rain, its pretty common to find leeches there. It took a while for the dripping to stop.


Shades of Fern
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6269.jpg


White wild leaves
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6272.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6276.jpg


Coloured leaves
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6506.jpg


Resort Compound
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6387.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6392.jpg

Last edited by gmhossain : 29th June 2016 at 22:39.
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Old 26th June 2016, 21:48   #11
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A sightseeing trip to Jaldhaka and Bindu:

While having the breakfast we made a plan to visit Bindu. It was just 10 km away from our resort. Bindu is the last border outpost of India on this stretch. Considering the uncertainty of the road condition further north, we decided to rent a vehicle for the sightseeing trip. During the trip, our first destination was at Jaldhaka where one of the oldest hydel power stations of India is located.


Aloo Parantha with Bhutanese (Druk) tomato sauce!
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6395.jpg


Jaldhaka Hydel Power Station
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6407.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6398.jpg


Jaldhaka river
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6404.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6418.jpg


Reeha with papa
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6408.jpg


An Illusion
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6415.jpg

A confluence
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6419.jpg


After spending some time at Jaldhaka, we began our journey towards Bindu. We retraced our path until Upper Paren. From there the road to Bindu was heading north whereas the road to Paren Nature Resort was heading west.


A giant rock on the middle of a stream
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6427.jpg


Road to Bindu
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6430.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6432.jpg


At Bindu

It took around half an hour to reach Bindu from Jaldhaka hydel power station. During the trip, I was seating on the front seat of the Omni van and was having a chat with the driver. He was a retired army personnel and his house was in the village of Compoun. Evidently, he was a very careful hill driver as we had a comfortable ride even in Omni. After spending around 40 minutes there, we decided to return.


Indian flag flying high
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6468v2.jpg


Bhutanese rocks across river
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6436.jpg


Bindu Dam
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6451.jpg


The hamlet of Bindu
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6448.jpg


Jaldhaka river valley at Bindu
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6474.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6482.jpg


On the way back to Paren
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6486.jpg

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Old 27th June 2016, 08:15   #12
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Last afternoon at Paren

It was around 12 noon when we returned to Paren from the sightseeing trip of Bindu. There we saw an Innova which was parked next to our cars. So it seemed that other guests that the caretaker had mentioned about, might have arrived. From the yellow number plate, it looked like a rented vehicle from Siliguri. In the meantime, another set of people had arrived at the nature resort to install TVs in the cottages. Later while having lunch we learnt that the administration was making efforts to upgrade the infrastructure at the resort. With so many people around, this afternoon was in a quite contrast to the previous one.


Lunch at Paren
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6496.jpg


Staffs at maintenance work
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6494v2.jpg


The cottages
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6499.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6500.jpg


Few more cars
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6508.jpg


Lost in thoughts
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6511.jpg



Day 7: Return drive to Malda:

Finally, the day had arrived. We had spent last few days thoroughly enjoying the drives and the destinations. However, as the reality bites, we had to return to our place of work. There was a long drive ahead of us. We were ready to depart from Paren Nature Resort by 5:30 am. All of a sudden, a misty cloud came down over the entire area. It brought down the visibility to less than few meters around us. We decided to wait for some time to see any improvement. By 6 am, the visibility had increased only a little bit. However, considering the distance that we needed to travel on that day, we decided to begin our drive slowly from the hill.

During the drive, we had our breakfast at Siliguri and then had lunch at Raiganj. At around 4:30 pm, we bade good bye to Ananda and Sakuntala as they checked into the hotel at Malda town and we continued our drive. We reached our family home at around 6:00 pm.



Day 8 and 9: Return drive to Kolkata:

The eighth day was also the counting day for the assembly election in West Bengal. Ananda and Sakuntala left Malda town early in the morning so that they could reach Kolkata at the earliest. They followed full NH-34 route from Malda and comfortably reached Kolkata by lunch time. On the ninth day, we began our return journey at around 5:15 am from our Malda home. We reached our campus by 11:05 am using full NH-34 as we did for onward journey. This return drive turned out to be our fastest run ever on this 265 km stretch.


The cloud engulfed the resort at once
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6526.jpg

Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6528.jpg


During this 1300 km round trip, we had moments of joy and fun, some moments that gave us opportunity to ponder over the meaning of life. There were also moments that made us anxious over the uncertainty. At the end, this road trip has etched some sweet memory in our mind. With these thoughts, let me end this travelogue here. Thank you for reading and good bye for now!


The route that we took to reach Paren Nature Resort from Gairibas
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-gairibastoparen.png


The route we took from Siliguri to Paren Nature Resort
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-siliguritoparen.png


Goodbye! Paren Nature Resort
Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)-img_6298.jpg

Last edited by gmhossain : 29th June 2016 at 20:46.
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Old 30th June 2016, 07:00   #13
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 30th June 2016, 09:43   #14
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Default Re: Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)

very interesting travelogue. after reading, i feel like i had travelled from kozhikode(kerala) to paren.
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Old 30th June 2016, 12:18   #15
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Default Re: Paren - A li'l wonderland along the Indo-Bhutan border (West Bengal)

Very nice & crisp narration Hossain Sa'ab. Your narration did take us along with you on your journey. North Bengal has some very nice places like these where one can for weekend.

So NH34 according to you is fully traversable ? Also, what does the checkpost at Jhalong check ?

EDIT : Please cross post some photos in this (West Bengal - A treasure for tourists) thread so that more people are benefited.
Regards,

Pawan

Last edited by PapaBravo : 30th June 2016 at 12:21. Reason: Adding a suggestion.
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