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Old 15th February 2010, 21:53   #46
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Originally Posted by Captdey View Post
Shantanu,

Good to see that you finally you took NH34 ,
Did you use Siliguri bypass while going / coming
from Doars ?

I have stayed there in Murti WBFDC
cottage 6 years back, it was very good service
then. Next month I will drive again to Doars this
time I booked Eco Tourism Cottage in Dhupjhora
Elephant camp and Rhino Camp in Ramsai.


Keep it going .

P.S. For Doars Lovers - Grab a latest copy of Magazine
"Wrong Route " which is exclusively on Doars , with Driving
Directions , Booking information on FRH / Rest Houses /
Eco Resorts.


Cheers
Hi Capt. Dey, we never used the Siliguri byepass while coming or going, we used the Sevoke road, coronation bridge route for our to and fro journey.

The locals said going via Jalpaiguri is a bit longer route and the road is not good.

The service of Murti Banani is still very good, hope, you can see the same level of service when you go there next. Please let us know your experiences in the Dhupjhora Elephant camp. I've also desire to stay there when i go next mainly due to the elephant ride facility they provide.

Thanks for the info on wrong route mag. will get it soon.
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Old 17th February 2010, 09:59   #47
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Great travelogue Shantanu, and great pics. Gorumara National Park seems to have undergone a sea change since we visited in 1999. At that time, the famous Jatraprasad was alive. They had a baby rhino called Ratul kept in an enclosure. Apparently he had fallen into the raging river from Jaldapara and washed down to Gorumara. Is he still there?

The watch tower was nothing more than a "machan" on a tree. We have thrilling experiences of watching a leopard which had come to hunt at night at the salt lick, as well as a rhino and a herd of bisons.
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Old 17th February 2010, 14:12   #48
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I've also heard about Ratul through newspaper, but, frankly speaking, while being in Gorumara, I was so overwhelmed with the forest and its inhabitants who came to give us a pose for my snaps, I completely forgot about him (Ratul). Will ask about him next time when I visit. This was my first visit to these forests and I found it splendid. Hope you will see much changes since you went there in 1999. The amenities definitely had a welcome change in these years. There are now many private resorts in Lataguri which means, even if govt resorts are full, one still has options to stay in the private resorts and enjoy the beauty of pristine Dooars.
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Old 17th February 2010, 14:41   #49
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2nd Feb 2010 Tuesday 9.00 am

This morning we were heading towards Jaldapara WLS. For this trip our guide Govinda was not accompanying us as Jaldapara WLS organises its own jeep safari from 3-5 pm on weekdays (except thursday). Our driver Sajid was guiding us in this trip. The distance between Murti Banani to Jaldapara is about 75-76 kms one way. Since the car safari was scheduled at 3 pm, Sajid suggested that we should visit South Khairbari Nature park under Madarihat Range of Coochbihar division. This park is the home for animals rescued from circus (after animal shows being banned) and those rescued from forests in injured state or orphans or abandoned by mother. To reach here one has to turn right about 15 kms before Jaldapara. Another 15 kms of travel on the forest road, and we can reach the Nature park. We reached there by 11.30 am

A board on the turning of the highway
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We saw a sorry state of the forest here, for the first time ever since we have come to Dooars. This forest is dwindling fast enough due to wood smugglers. They are so daring that we saw them operating in broad daylight just beside the road and carrying it away after cutting it into pieces. Just as they hear the sound of any oncoming vehicle, they stop there work and pretend to chat or pick leaves, as they did after seeing our vehicle. But when they realised that we were tourist, they were soon back to business and were sawing a full grown segun (teak) tree. It was so painful to see that as we could do nothing to save the forest. The forest guards were nowhere to be seen and if it continues like this, this forest would be nothing but a piece of barren land in a few years. The most pathetic part was, the tree hackers were none but local people from nereby villages (seems that lots of village arround as people were carrying logs on bicycles). The authorities must do something immediately to save this beautiful gift of nature.

Some pictures of the place

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A notice board asking the visitors to behave naturally

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Old 17th February 2010, 19:59   #50
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Some more pictures of the road leading to the place and the surrounding forest that we might not see next time we plan to visit unless authorities take immediate steps to stop illegal felling.
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The gate of the park
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A view from the watch tower. This is a canal surrounding the place.
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Here the authorities have kept some of the leopards (may be 3) in an large wooded enclosed area and one has to buy tickets separately to have a ride on a battery powered vehicle (a three wheeler with steering and seating arrangements for 4 people). It is a closed vehicle with no locking handle inside the passenger cabin to ensure that passengers cannot get down from the vehicle. Only the driver can unlock the door for the passengers to get down at the entry/exit gate. We saw all three of them eagerly awaiting their lunch. They came very near to our vehicle and sniffed it for some time before moving away.

Leopards coming close to our vehicle
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In a separate place, 9 leopards and 9 tigers are kept, so the total population of big cats here is 21.

Nothing much was there to be seen, so we quickly moved out of the place towards Jaldapara WLS.
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Old 17th February 2010, 20:55   #51
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Our driver Sajid had called his friend in Jaldapara to confirm our tickets for the jeep safari. We had our lunch at a roadside dhaba just before reaching Jaldapara lodge. We reached there at 2.15, so had to wait till 3. We had time to visit the nature interpretation center adjacent to the booking counter. Some snaps of the area

The ticket counter
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Jaldapara Tourist Lodge
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Some flowers in the adjacent garden to booking counter
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Info on Jaldapara WLS at the nature interpretation center
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Entrance of Jaldapara WLS
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The jeep safari entering Jaldapara WLS
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Old 18th February 2010, 17:10   #52
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We entered the forest aboard 5 Gypsy's carrying 6 tourist each. This time ours was the 2nd last one and thus had to breathe in a lot of dust thrown by the vehicles in the front. Although we were extremely exited about this trip, the most irritating was the guide that was provided to us during this trip by the authorities. In the whole trip his only job seems to chase us to board the Gypsy and keep going (so as to minimise the time of the trip). It was so frustrating to see a guide to keep talking loudly throughout the journey (ensuring the whatsoever chances of sighting wildlife that we had, was ruined) .

Some pics of the Jaldapara WLS

A rivulet inside the WLS
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A bird (probably an eagle)
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A view of the skyline
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View from the watch tower
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The watchtower
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A barking deer
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2nd watchtower
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Hollong Bungalow
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Salt pit in front of Hollong bunglow
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-383.jpg
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Old 19th February 2010, 16:42   #53
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So after seeing all these places in about 1.40 hrs (3.00 pm - 4.40 pm) we were again asked to get on to the gypsy and were rushed out of the forest area as soon as possible. This was the costliest and most time consuming (considering we started in the morning from Murti at 9am and returned back to Murti at about 8.30 pm) tour of this trip to dooars and yet proved to be the worst experience of my entire trip. I would not opt for this trip again. The thing one can do to get the best out of this place is to stay there (Hollong) for at least one night (have heard that getting reservations in Hollong Bunglow is very difficult) and the guides said that Rhinos make regular visit every morning and evening to the salt pit in front of this bunglow. I have seen rooms of the Bunglow having large windows facing the salt pit. Will think about trying to stay in this place next time.

3 Feb 2010 (Wednesday)

Today was the last day of our stay in Murti and we were supposed to visit another nearby forest named Chuk-Chuki mostly famous for birds in the evening at about 3 pm. My friend Chandan along with his family was also supposed to join in with us here (I've booked a ground floor room in the for him in the main building of the same resort immediately as we had reached here on 31st Jan) by 10 am.


As our car got very dirty, we thought to utilise our free time to wash it ourselves (no car washers available). So, we got a bucket, and a 1 litre bottle cut from middle to make a mug and we were on our job.
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-image164.jpg
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Soon the i-10 was looking perfect and we had some photo shoots with her as the main subject
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Just as Chandan arrived with his family, we were having great time together. We had our lunch and got ready to leave for our final trip to the forest ChukChuki

The full team having lunch
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Chukchuki entry gate
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Roads arround
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A peacock
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Road leading to the watchtower
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Photography competition
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Chukchuki watch tower
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The water body in front of the watch tower
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View arround the tower
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Sun setting
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Although we never got to see any wild life from here, except some common birds, the ambience of the place was awesome. We could hear a lots of birds chirping arround. The condition of the waterbody is not so good and it seems to be not well maintained by the authorities, otherwise it seemed to be a perfect place to attract migratory birds.
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Old 19th February 2010, 17:16   #54
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Hey, the pics from the watch tower is awesome. Endless beauty. You feel like staying there for ever isnt it?
Wonder what you felt after returning to the crowded streets of Kolkata?

Abhi
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Old 19th February 2010, 19:15   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shantanu Sarkar View Post
A notice board asking the visitors to behave naturally

Attachment 289690
LOL - let your bowels behave naturally, then answer nature's call naturally.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 09:07   #56
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Well said, but wont it be dangerous to answer nature's call in this place dotted by fiery leopards. Can't get up and run also while answering the call, if a leopard wishes to check my answers there. . So never tried to....
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Old 22nd February 2010, 09:16   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
Hey, the pics from the watch tower is awesome. Endless beauty. You feel like staying there for ever isnt it?
Wonder what you felt after returning to the crowded streets of Kolkata?

Abhi
Hey Abhi,

Thanks for your remarks. Really I was mesmerized by the views from atop the watch towers. I felt like spending a whole day there. But the authorities don't allow.

We are so much used to the crowded streets of Kolkata, getting such views are a real pleasure for eyes. Cannot expect the same here in Kolkata though, but you know, I always love my city (except the polluting vehicles), and now the polluting vehicles are being shown doors (banning of >15 years old comercial vehicles and bringing in new swanky buses under JNURM scheme, introduction of LPG autos), which has resulted in a better quality of air. I always keep hope for a better Kolkata, always....
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Old 22nd February 2010, 09:50   #58
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Awesome travelogue and pics. Went through all the pages at one go.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 16:32   #59
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Thanks Black Pearl for your comments.

Our trip was coming to an end and we were feeling that we were going to miss something, some thing that we enjoyed to the core of our heart, from tomorrow onwards.

We then proceeded to a nearby tribal village where the local tribal men & women were getting ready for a tribal song and dance show. We had some time to look arround and found this farmland with yellow flowers (looked like small sunflowers).

The farmland
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-468.jpg

The tribal dance
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The lead dancer invited lady tourists to join them. We men folks were left behind to click the performers.
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-488.jpg

A group photo with the dancers
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-493.jpg

It was a wonderful experience to see the dancers perform to rhythmic song and drum. The rhythm was so catchy that all the viewers were tapping their feet along with.

Here is another interesting story to share with. Another group who have also come to this forest(Chukchuki) today (This was the only other group apart from us), were frustated to the extreme, as they had not sighted any big wildlife for past 2-3 days inspite of visiting these forests. They were even unwilling to see the tribal dance and were passing comments on their flop show. However they also joined the dance and enjoyed it thoroughly. As soon as the dance ended, the other group quickly got on to their vehicle and moved ahead of us towards the exit gate (may be 6-7 kms away. We chose to wait a bit to avoid the dust raised by the vehicle in the front. It was pitch dark and only source of light were the headlights. After about travelling 2 kms we saw the tail lights of the Qualis which went ahead of us. They were static for a couple of minutes and then left. Soon we reached the spot where they were standing and found a buffalo (domestic) standing on the side of the road. They seemed to have mistaken the buffalo for a wild one and were looking at it, however the headlight of our car made the vision clear and it was even more frustrating for them .

We reached our resort at about 7 pm and bade good bye to our guide (Govinda) and driver (Sajid). They did a wonderful job for us and we were delighted by their effort, patience, dutiful attitude and knowledge.

Suman found this unwanted guest on his neck. Our guide said that the sting of this insect is very painful and the infected area gets swollen for about 2 days.

A photo of the insect. Can any one guess the name/type of this one?
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-495.jpg

As we were scheduled to leave early next morning, I decided to take some snaps of the place.

The reception
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The dining area (1st floor) and the adjacent rooms
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The waiting lounge on 1st floor
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Interiors of our cottage
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Night shot of the resort
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Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-396.jpg
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Old 24th February 2010, 15:02   #60
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4th Feb 2010, 4.30 am

Got up early in the morning at about 4 am. We had done our packing the previous night. Got ready and by 4.50 am we were ready to move out. Chandan and his wife woke up to see us off. We started at arround 5 am. Suman was on the driving seat. It was still dark and we were speeding on the NH towards Chalsa. Soon we came near coronation bridge. It was misty morning. Still we thought to stop a bit for a quick photo from the view point.

The Coronation bridge
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-498.jpg

Beautiful Teesta
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We were running low on fuel and had to stop for refuelling at a BP pump just after crossing Siliguri but before reaching Darjeeling more.

This rally car was also filling up itself. It was a participant of the Siliguri Bhutan Rally and was getting itself ready.
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-504.jpg

We were preparing our car for our rally (Siliguri-Kolkata) too
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-503.jpg

This is Kalagach (The place where we were stuck in Jam for about an hour in our onward journey)
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-505.jpg

We stopped at Islampur for our breakfast at about 8.20 am. There was a tree just across the road, it was home of numerous bats.

Pics of some of them
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-506.jpg
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-507.jpg


As we reached Dalkhola we went straight instead of turning left and took the flyover by mistake (This takes one to Purnea), quickly realised our mistake, got down from the flyover on the other side, turned back and entered NH34.

Some road signs
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-road-sign.jpg
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-road-sign1.jpg

Saw this broken bridge somewhere on NH34
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-broken-bridge.jpg
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-broken-bridge-1.jpg

Reached Malda by 11.30 am and had our lunch at Hotel Golden Park. We were stuck in a jam in the Malda city for about 30-35 mins. Crossed Bethuadahari at about 5.30 pm and then stopped again for a refuelling. Soon we went passed Krishnanagar and reached the BP pump/Ghar. Had our evening tea and snacks. It was 7.30pm. We were a bit relaxed as we were near home.

Night shot of the pump
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-517.jpg
Kolkata to Dooars- A memorable road trip-pic-518.jpg

Reached home at about 9.20 pm.

In all these days we had great experiences of the beautiful Dooars that we will cherish all through our lives.

Hope to explore some more of it in coming years.

Last edited by Shantanu Sarkar : 24th February 2010 at 15:17.
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