Duars or Dooars literally means gateway to North East India. The area of Doors is actually starting from east of the River Teesta bordering Darjeeling district of West Bengal till the River Manas at the eastern end of Assam, Dooars known for its Tropical forests, rich biodiversity, fascinating range of flora and fauna in the entire Indian sub-continent. Lying in the Himalayan foothills, Dooars has great natural beauty. The wildlife rich tropical forests, innumerable hill streams cutting across the green carpet of tea gardens and undulating plains, low hills rising up from the rivers.
Dooars is home to 5 major national parks- Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary; Buxa National Park; Gorumara National Park; Chapramari Wildlife Reserve; and the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. Broadly the area can be divided into Eastern, Central and Western Dooars. The most popular tourist destination in Eastern Dooars is Buxa Tiger Reserve. Central Dooars is famous for Jaldapara National Park and Western Dooars is famous for Gorumara National Park.
Places of Interest in Dooars
The Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at the foothill of Eastern Himalayas and spread over an area of 141 sq. Km on the bank of River Torsa. It was declared a sanctuary in 1943 for protection of the great variety of flora and fauna and the Asiatic one horned Rhino. The Royal Bengal Tigers are another attraction of the place. Other available animals are elephants, deer, hog deer, bison including various numbers of birds, etc. It is said to be paradise for bird watchers. Rare birds like Bengal Florican, hornbill, drongo, etc. are sighted here. Thrilling elephant safari is organized from Holong in the early morning to explore the beauty of the vast grassland of Jaldapara. The elephant ride is the best way to roam around the sanctuary. Jeep safari also organized inside the sanctuary.
Chilapata Forest is a dense natural forest near Jaldapara WLS in Dooars area of West Bengal. It is about 20 kms fromAlipurduar town and is within the Jalpaiguri District. A drive through the forests is an enthralling experience.As river Torsa flows down from the hills, it travels through the plains of Dooars dividing a continuous stretch of forest into Jaldapara and Chilapata forests. Chilapata reportedly harbours 23 species of carnivores and herbivores, approximately 180 species of birds, 22 species of reptiles, several species of amphibians and a host of lesser fauna.At the micro level, some rarities in Chilapata remained unexplored until recently when some hidden treasures of biodiversity have been discovered. In spite of tremendous biotic pressure in Eastern Dooars landscapes, Chilapata palys an instrumental role in maintaining the faunal resources of the region.Major mammals recorded in Chilapata are Lesser Javan rhinoceros Rhinoceros sondaicus, Asian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus, Indian Bison or Gaur (Bos frontalis gaurus), Leopard Panthera pardus fusca, Lesser cats, Hog deer Axis porcinus porcinus, Cheetal Axis axis, Sambar Cervus unicolor niger, Barking deer Muntiacus muntjak vaginalis, Wild boar Sus scrofa cristatus, Rhesus monkey Macaca mulatta, Hispid hare Caprolagus hispidus.18 species of amphibians including the recently-discovered Assam Painted Fog and Chilapata Forg(Minervarya chilapata sp.)have been recorded from Chilapata.More than Twenty species of snakes are found in Chilapata.
In the year 1949 Gorumara forest was declared as wildlife Sanctuary. Later in the year 1992 it was declared as a National Park. This Park is situated nearly 6 kilometers from the national highway number 31 and nearly 88 kilometers from Siliguri. While in Gorumara, tourists go inside the forests for Jungle safari. Sighting of wildlife is quite common. Elephants, Rhinos, Indian Bison (Gaur), Peacock, Deer are the most common sightings. Inside the forest there are different watch towers like “Rhino watch tower” which gives a panoramic view of the entire park and the Murti Valley. The tower is the best place to observe wild animals as they regularly come to the salt leak point just below the tower. Closed to the core area of jungle there is another watch tower “Jatra prasad” named after a female elephant which was legendary for its caring nature. The elephant Jatraprasad saved lives of numerous orphaned baby elephants. The sanctuary is the most important migratory corridor of the Asiatic Elephant. Bird watching is the best pastime in this park.
Rajabhatkhawa in Dooars is the gateway to Buxa Tiger Reserve Forest. Rajabhatkhawa is located just 17 kms away from Alipurduar. Rajabhatkhawa is a small hamlet surrounding by lush green forest of Buxa Tiger Reserve with a distant view of the blue hills on it’s northern horizon. Nature’s gifts are abundant and it makes Rajabhatkhawa an ideal place for nature lovers. Rajabhatkhawa provides the much needed peace of mind and makes fresh from the hectic urban life. There are number of trekking routes which pass through Buxa forest originates from Rajabhatkhawa. Tourists entering in Buxa Tiger Reserve Forest must obtain the necessary permit from Rajabhatkhawa forest check post. Rajabhatkhawa is also a major attraction for the bird watchers. There are number of bird species along with migratory species are seen here. Forktails, Goosanders, Ibis Bill are few among them and wild animals like elephant, bison, deer, leopard ect.
Buxa was declared a tiger reserve in 1983 and got the status of National park in 1992. Buxa Tiger reserve is one of the best and most diversified reserve forests of the region spread over an area of nearly 759 square kilometres. Buxa Tiger Reserve lies in the eastern most corner of North Bengal. The northern boundary of Buxa Tiger Reserve goes along with Bhutan and Sinchula hills create a natural border with Bhutan. The park holds maximum number of elephant, Indian bison, leopard, many species of deer and many smaller mammals, innumerable species of birds and reptiles. Buxa is rich with bio-diversity and has a great collection of rare orchids and medicinal plants. The other places of visit in Buxa are Rajabhatkhawa, Jayanti, Buxa, Chilapata, and Rashikbill.
Lepchakha,a plateau over hill surrounded by five peaks. A place to stay under the clear sky in a full moon night. A place where one can enjoy the hospitality provided by the Drukpa community and can relish the view of Buxa Tiger Reserve from the hilltop. Lapchakha often called the “Queen of the Dooars” and an hidden treasure of Dooars is a plateau surrounded by five hills. It is a place where silence extends its own magic and loneliness finds its true definition. It is a place to gaze the clear sky on a full moon night, a place where one can enjoy the hospitality of the Dukpa community. In fact, the beauty of Lapchakha lies in the view from the plateau. About 12 rivers flowing through Dooars starting from Sankosh to the Torsa look like glistening snakes meandering through the plains below. The night offers a different view when the lights of Alipurduar town seem to merge seamlessly with the stars all around.
Chapramari forest is essentially a continuation of the Gorumara National Park. The two forests are divided by the Murti River. The North East side of the river is Chapramari Wild Life Sanctuary whereas the South West side is where Gorumara is located. Chapramari forests is nearly 80 kilometers from Siliguri. The forest is relatively small in size but is one of the oldest in India. It was declared a reserve forest back in 1895. The West side of the river is bounded by River Murti and on the Eastern side by river Jaldhaka. The total area of the forest is about 10 square km. Chapramari Sanctuary is famous for Bison and Elephant herds. With fascinating diversity of flora and fauna and the vast texture of massive trees sheltering varieties of orchids will definitely impress the visitors. Most common animals in the area are one horned Indian rhino, Elephant, Indian Bison, Leopards and deer. Watchtower like Medhla, Jatraprasad, Chapramari is the best place to observe wild animals as animals come regularly to the salt reservoir.
Excellent scenic beaury is the main attraction of this site. It is an experience to listen to the music of Murti River staying at Govt. Nature Resort and Private Resorts. Both Gorumara National Park and Chapramari Wild Life Sanctuary are very close to this place. One can get day visit pass from Lataguri. A place besides river Murti, around 8 km away from Chalsa and 60 km away from Jalpaiguri is famous for its scenic beauty. This place is located in between Gorumara and Chapramari
Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary is situated in the Darjeeling Wild Life division is only 13 Km from Siliguri and spread over 159 Sq. Km of reserve forest. It was started as a game sanctuary in 1955. In 1959 it got the status of a sanctuary mainly to protect the Indian Bison and Royal Bengal Tiger, which were facing the threat of extinction. The variation in altitude and forest types helps the existence of a large number of species of mammals, birds and reptiles. The important mammalian species include majestic Royal Bengal Tiger, gigantic elephants, sturdy Indian bison, timid spotted and barking deer, many species of lesser cat, Himalayan black bear, leopard including clouded leopard and many other smaller animals. Among the others; swallow, swift, thrush, babbler, warbler, roller, minivet, sunbird can be found in abundance.
Jayanti is in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal in India. This forest village is about 30 Km from Alipurduar. Located along the Jayanti River, which forms a natural border with the Bhutan hills, this beautiful place offers all the peace and tranquility that is so missing in a busy city life. A tour of Jayanti, away from the humdrum of city life is an ideal leisure holiday destination where time seems to have slowed down its fast pace. Music of the swift flowing Jayanti River, chirping of unknown birds, sweet fragrance of nature and refreshingly cool breeze at Jayanti will make you feel completely rejuvenated. Though the river remains dry for most of the year but its white beds with pebbles all around imparts an unmatched beauty to the place.
Totopara name comes from the Toto tribes. The majority people lived in totapara belongs in Toto communities. Toto people belong in Indo-Bhutanese tribal community. It is a very primitive inhabitance, considered as Mongoloid people. Now a dayâ€™s all Toto people concentrate in Totopara, They have flat nose, small eye, broad and square cheeks, thick lips and black iris. Some Nepalese are also there but it is very minimum populous. The total area of Totapara is nearly 8 square kilometers, which is located on the fringe of Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the famous wildlife in Dooars and Southern area of the indo-Bhutan borderline. There is river Torsha to the east. It divided into six Gram or Gaon (Villages) namely, Panchayatgaon, Mandolgaon, Subbagaon, Mitrang-gaon, Pujagaon and Dumchigaon. A primary school, a High School and a primary Health centre are there. A total numbers of 1184 (according with 2001 census) Totos live in nearly 200 houses in Totopara. 22 kilometers away from Madarihat, Jajpaiguri District.
Bindu is a small settlement or a village situated at an altitude of nearly 700 meters on the India Bhutan border. Bindu lies in between the high mountains Jaldhaka River singing by the side through the valley, making a natural border within India and Bhutan. Bindu is a lesser known hill station and offer beautiful landscape and peace. It is known for cardamom plantation.
Chalsa is on the way to Dooars from Siliguri. The national highway connecting the North-East with West Bengal passes through Chalsa. Chalsa is the base for visit to other tourist destinations nearby including Samsing, Bindu, Murti etc. Chalsa has gained in prominence as a tourist destination due to its proximity to the Gorumara National Park just 10 kms away. The place is also famous for the many tea gardens surrounding it.
Suntalekhola is the valley with a stream of the same name, where there is absolutely no human habitation except the Forest Department cottages. The fairytale setting of Suntalekhola elevates you to far greater heights than the altimeter’s reading of 2,475 ft. Lovingly girdled by a gurgling brook and surrounded on all sides by towering mountains in varying shades of green, Suntalekhola is connected to the civilised world only by a hanging footbridge that shakes every time you take a step. It doesn’t get further away from it all than this. Step into the surrounding woods, where there’s no sound save the rumble of flowing water and the rustling of leaves underfoot, lit by slanting sunrays playing hide-and-seek on the forest floor. The Suntalekhola stream emerges gently from the Neora Valley National Park here and lends its name to the place. The stream in turn got its name from the orange trees (in Nepali suntale means orange and khola, a rivulet) laden with fruit in winter, which dot the unending greenery.
This Park stretches from Kalimpong till Dooars nearly 87 square kilometers. The forest in Neora Valley has such a luxurious growth that even sunlight finds it difficult to touch the ground. Much of the park is still inaccessible making it an adventurous place for the nature lovers / trekkers who can take the challenge to explore the still-unknown terrain in the Kalimpong hills. It is famous for the Red Panda, Himalayan Tahr, goral, Clouded Leopard, Siberian Weasel, Himalayan Black Bear, Asiatic black bear, barking deer, and gaur. The park reaches up to an elevation of 10600 ft at Rechela Danda, the highest point of Neora Valley National park, which borders Sikkim and Bhutan.
Jaldhaka (1500ft) is a good tourist destination, situated by the side of river Jaldhaka. Jaldhaka River forms the border between India and Bhutan for several kilometers till the river enters Dooars plains. Though situated on the hill section of Gorubathan under Kalimpong sub-division, it is separated by a mountain ridge descending south-west from Reche-la and is separated from Bhutan by the Jaldhaka River. Other places of visit in Jaldhaka are Jhalong and Paren.
Coochbehar is one of the easternmost towns of Dooars and a town with great historical significance. The place got its name from the Cooch dynasty which made this town its capital for more than 400 years. The center of attraction in Cooch Behar is the huge and beautiful Palace. Established by the king Nripendra Narayan in the year 1885 is one of the largest building of the region till date. The huge palace is built in Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture combining British architectural style with Mughal style. The other places of visit in Coochbehar are: Madan Mohan Temple, Baneswar Temple, Gosanimari.
Rasikbil is situated at the foothill of Sintura Hill of the great Himalaya in the Coochbehar district of West Bengal.Total area of 175 Hector and 34 km from Alipurduar, 45 km from Coochbehar, 212 km from Shiliguri It is basically low water land (Bil or Bill) or swamp, where water may be available all over the year. There are five such a kind of low water land or marshland, namely, Neeldaba, Bochamari, Raichangmari, Shankhadanga and Rasikbil. These attract a lot of birds which make nests in the trees around this area. And a Bird Sanctuary is grown up with 175 hector area. Besides the bill a tribal village is also there. Various kind of local birds are available in and around the Rasikbil all over the year and also some migrant birds are available in winter. The bird variety includes Cormorants, different varieties of storks, ibis, spoonbill, kingfisher, parrots, owl and many others. Famous water birds are Lesser Whistling Teal, Common Teal, White eyed pochard, Red Crested pochard, Shoveler, Pintail, Wigeon duck, Grey headed Lapwing and many more. There are also a dear Park, a python house, a leopard house, Aviary, a tortoise rescue center and a crocodile rehabilitation center. Tourists who loved to watch the local birds and migratory birds, Rasikbil is the real place for them.
Samsing is a nice cool shady place, ideal for nature lovers. It is situated at an elevation of 3000ft; the journey to Samsing is a memorable one, as you slowly ride uphill through the most picturesque Dooars tea garden on the rolling hill slopes. The places to visit in Samsing are Suntale Khola which has WBFDC cottages and a bicameral bungalow. One has to walk over a small hanging bridge to reach the WBFDC forest resort here. Next to Suntalekhola is the small picturesque village of Faribasti. Another attractive tourist spot is the `Rocky island nature resort` on the banks of river Murti. The view of the river and surrounding forests are excellent from Rocky Island. A small river flows through Samsing namely River Murti.
Kalijhora is a small village in the Darjeeling District of West Bengal. Perched at an altitude of 300 m, it lies on the banks of the Teesta River. It is 28 kms away from Siliguri on the National Highway-31A and about 13 km from Latpancher.Kalijhora is a splendid picnic spot by the side of the spectacular River Teesta. Close by are Peshok, famous for the confluence of Teesta and Rangeet; Mongpu reminiscent of association of the place with Rabindranath Tagore; and Latpanchor is emerging as an excellent tourist destination.
Mongpong is a small hill village located in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. This village is located on the bank of Teesta river. The Teesta river breaks into several streams here. Mongpong is located on the fringe of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and is home to several birds like Brahminy duck, Pintail duck, Poachard, Mallard and Bar-headed goose that come here from Central Asia and Ladakh during winter. It is known for its beautiful landscape of the Teesta river, mountains and forests, which attract a lot of tourists.
Jhalong is a lesser-trodden offbeat wonder of Dooars Himalayan foothills.It is situated on the bank of Jaldhaka river on the way to Bindu in Kalimpong Sub-division.Jhalong is 103 km by road from Siliguri. There is one direct bus from the Mittal bus stand of Siliguri, but it is irregular. It is best to go to Chalsa and then hire a cab to reach Jhalong in approx 2 Hrs journey. Jhalong is small but busy, full of houses and shops. It even boasts a police station just at the entry point to Jhalong.There is a small and placid Buddhist monastery.
Rocky Island is an upcoming destination in Dooars. Situated on the banks of the River Murti is about 2 km from Samsing and is a popular camping site. Murti River flows through the destination. The place is surrounded by hills and ideal for land base adventure activities like trekking, rock climbing & rappelling. The campsite provides an excellent opportunity to explore the rich biodiversity and its abundant avifauna of the lower part of Neora Valley National Sanctuary.The place is adorned with the views of massive large rocks like Neel kanta, Pathar Kailas, Bhimsen, Hansdunga etc provides easy climbing practice for everyone with riverside cave to complete the adventure.
Lava is situated at an altitude of 7200 feet, it is famous for its proximity to the Neora Valley National Park and its beautiful view of the Jelep La and Rechi La passes. Lava is about 32 km east of Kalimpong. Oak and fir trees welcome the visitor at Lava. Lava is also known for its leaches. During the rainy season, vegetation around the place gets covered with leaches.Common tourist places around Lava include Ratnarishi Gumpha, Neora Lake, Silviculture Research Centre, and Chhangey falls. Treks to the Neora valley starts from Lava. Apart from long treks across the valley, small treks are also possible in the region. Common treks include trek to Tiffin Dara, Aluabari etc. The small town is located at a distance of 12 km from Lava at an altitude of 5,500 ft. A spectacular view of the Himalayan snow will take you to a different world. Loleygaon offers panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga. The tranquility of the surrounding area remains unfazed by the increase in tourist influx. Nearby hilltop, Jhandi Dara offers beautiful views at sunrise.