Again in Dooars Oct 2013 : Dooars, West Bengal Travelogue by Goutom Bandyopadhyay

 

   

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Again in Dooars Oct 2013

Again in Dooars Oct 2013

A write-up of my trip from Kolkata to Dooars via Siliguri, West Bengal

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Dooars called again in October 2013

After two 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).

After reaching 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.

Distinct 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. 

 

Hope you enjoyed reading my travelogue.

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This Travelogue 'Again in Dooars Oct 2013' was posted by Goutom Bandyopadhyay on Friday, July 18, 2014.

Goutom Bandyopadhyay

Goutom Bandyopadhyay lives in Kolkata(West Bengal) and is interested in Travelling, photography, listening old melodies, internet surfing, multimedia.
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