called again in October 2013
consecutive visits to Dooars in 2010 February & November it was always
blinking in our minds to have trips to Dooars whenever we make a plan for a
short trip, but due to non-availability of train tickets from Kolkata to
Siliguri unless planned & booked well in advance, we could not materialized
our wish. Off late we planned in advance to visit again during the festive
season, in between Durga Puja festival & Diwali to make a trip again and
booked the train tickets in advance.
We commenced our
journey on 22nd October night by “Padatik Express” a/c-I, depart
from Sealdah at 11:00pm and reaches next day at 9:00 am. Reaching in Siliguri
on 23rd, we spent the day with our relatives and next day we
entrained in “Kanchankanya Express” at Siliguri Junction for a short journey through
Dooars forest up to Hasimara station (near Jaldapara Forest) and from there
took a cab to reach Madarihat tourist lodge, where we booked for one day stay.
During our first
trip to Dooars we stayed two days in this tourist lodge of WBTDC (West Bengal
Tourism Development Corporation) in February 2010 and found it a nice place to
stay in the lap of green forest of Dooars. We could find lot of changes to the
tourist lodge from our earlier visit. The room rent for double bed was Rs
1400/- with AP, now it is Rs 1800/- with CP, the wooden deluxe room Rs 2200/- CP
(quit spacious neat & clean, attached bath & dressing enclosure). New
cottages are constructed renting Rs 2500/- per day. Moreover, in the pick
season the charges are 20% extra. On one side of the lodge arrangement is made
for light & sound shows, the models of creatures of Jaldapara are placed in
a designed fashion and the illustration with dramatic presentation (the
recorded voice of eminent personality of Bengali film and a nature lover).
to the lodge we rested for a hour, took our bath and lunch at attached
restaurant and proceeded towards Jaigaon Market, adjacent to the entrance to
Bhutan. The dealing and service of the restaurant waiter and stewards were very
pleasing & just appropriate neither overwhelming nor underwhelming. We
ordered some preparations and fish curry, shared some dishes amongst ourselves
and truly speaking we never expected such a delicious homely foods we could get
there. The cost per head will remain Rs 200/- to 250/- per head for reasonably
tasty cooked food. The restaurant is also having some other dishes of North
Indian preparation and may serve some continental preparations on demand.
We commenced our
journey at 2:00pm towards Jaigaon, the border town, 19Km away from the lodge
but took one hour to reach there. Jaigaon is typical Indian market and nothing
to be remembered for any specialty but at the end the Royal Bhutan Army gate
exists. We crossed the gate with our car and entered Bhutan border city
Phuentsholing. Peoples from India are allowed to enter Phuentsholing without
any visa and could get visa at Customs office for further proceeding to Thimpu,
the Capital and other places. However, we never intended to visit Bhutan this
time thus spend some time in a nearby Buddhist monastery and then walked in to
crocodile breading centre taking tickets from the adjacent counter. Plenty of
crocodile and gharials (a variety of fish eating crocodile) and cubs were found
there inside the breading centre rather appears to be over crowded.
difference between two adjacent town, Jaigaon & Phuentsholing could be
visualized, one is damaged roads, dusts, shabby constructions, litters are
spread all over and the later one is just opposite. However, after our visit to
Phuentsholing we returned to the lodge and stood in the queue for cab booking
for next morning car safari.
Next day early
morning we entered the Jaldapara forest for car safari, could find only a
single horn rhino, hiding in long savanna grass and some peacocks trilling
& chirruping continually.
Returned back to
the lodge at the end of safari, took our breakfast and packed up for next
destination. Our next stay was at ‘Buxa Jungle Lodge” of WBFDC (West Bengal
Forest Development Corporation) on 25th & 26th. One of our
relatives suggested for a halt to have lunch at “”Isti Kutum” farm house, while
we were at Siliguri. On the way to Buxa Jungle Lodge at Rajabhatkhaoa we
enquired for the farm house. The normal root to Rajabhatkhaoa would have been
through NH12B, 45Km journey instead we had to take NH31C and at Nimti crossing
we took left, crossed Nimtijhora Tea Estate and on the right we found the farm
house “Isti Kutum”. Just few months back the farmhouse commenced accommodating
guests. Isti Kutum is the name of a bird in Bengali, a myth is believed by many
Bengalis that while the bird chips declares expectation for arrival of guests
in the home.
The farm house
just started developing, adjacent to the river Torsa, a paddy field in between
river & the accommodation, vegetables are ploughed and some trees
surrounding area exists. Elephant ride at Malangi for Chilapata forest could be
a half days programme while staying here, else spend your time leisurely.
We called the
farmhouse owner over phone and requested if lunch could be arranged for us
there, though we were not having any staying programme, the gentleman honoured
us by arranging the lunch, good taste. Completing our lunch we proceeded
towards next destination to Buxa lodge, an old office building from British
period converted to lodge in recent past. Our booking was AC deluxe room, large
room of 18ft x 18ft & ceiling height 15ft with CFL lamp, badly illuminated.
The surrounding of the lodge campus is forest; rather the lodge is at the edge
of Buxa forest, adjacent to Rajabhatkhaoa Rail station. A local myth prevails that
after the nonaggression treaty between Bhutan Raj and Coochbehar Prince, both
of them took their lunch at this place,
thus named Rajabhatkhaoa (Raja = King + Bhat = Rice + Khaoa = Eating).
We reached there
around 3:00pm and after check in the room we asked for cab for going to Jayanti
hill. Adjacent to Jayanti hill the wide Jayanti River, it is an eye soothing
view from the river bed. There are places to visit for tourists centering the
lodge like Pukri Lake, full of different fishes, need to go by trekking for
1Km, but it got closed by 3:00pm every day. We didn’t have any programme to
visit the Buxa fort because it is 2500ft climbing on hill by 4Km trekking,
required a full day for us. This fort was used to serve a prison for the
freedom fighters, particularly The Azad Hind Force members were kept here
considering the remoteness of the fort location. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was said to
have been imprisoned here for some time.
Next day on 26th
we commenced our journey at 11:00am with a cab towards Rasikbill 45Km away from
the lodge, a lake famous for presence of migratory birds during winter. It was
unfortunate for us during our visit we could not find any birds in the lake,
though our trip was not in winter still we expected to find some Heron / Egret
etc. However, within the vicinity of the lake a Resort of forest department
exists for bird watchers. A mini zoo with leopards, deers, pythons and peacocks
was built adjacent to the Lake. The resort manager at Buxa was courteous to
call the manager at Rasikbill lodge for arranging our lunch, so without any
additional botheration for finding restaurant for lunch we got nicely cooked
Bengali lunch with fish curry.
Next place of
visit was Coochbehar Rajbari, constructed in the regime of Maharaja Nripendra
Narayan, the architect of present Coochbehar, built in 1887 and after visiting
the famous Madan Mohan Temple we returned to the lodge by early evening, the
last night of our tour at Dooars.
Next day our
train was from New Alipurduar station – Tista-Torsa Express at 12:15pm, after
taking breakfast at the lodge we spent some leisure hours at the nicely
maintained garden in front of the lodge and then proceeded towards New
Alipurduar station and reached at New Jalpaiguri station at 4:00pm. Night we
stayed in our relative’s house and next days spent meeting some other relatives
and marketing and embarked train “Darjeeling Mail”, departed at 8:00pm & reached
next day early morning at 6-O-Clock, tour ended.