Khunia forest is basically a vast stretch of grassland with a huge watchtower standing almost in the middle of it. It is a part of the vast expanse of jungle covering the banks of Murti River from Latagur-Chalsa-Murti-Dhupjhora-Batabri-Ramsai-Kalipur and Neora river bed. Khunia lies on the way to Chapramari from Gorumara. The distance of Chapramari from Khunia is only 1 kilometer. The watchtower inside the forest is known as the Chandrachur watchtower which was formerly known as Khunia watchtower. This watchtower is famous for offering views of the entire expanse of the forest and also animals like bisons and elephants.

How to reach Khunia forest


Khunia forest can be reached by driving on the NH-31 Highway because the Khunia junction just outside the forest interconnects eastern and western Dooars. Khunia lies on the western part of the jungle. You will have to drive straight from Gorumara National Park from Murti River to reach Khunia forest. You will reach a crossing from where you have to take the left diversion to arrive at Khunia.

Attractions in Khunia forest


Formerly, there used to be a small settlement known as the Khunia Basti inside the forest only. However, the settlement was cleared and shifted outside the forest to keep the vast stretch of forest intact. Now, the Chandrachur watchtower (Khunia formerly) provides uninterrupted view of animals. The watchtower is also a vantage point offering panoramic view of the wilderness with the meandering Murti River. Unfortunately, there is no lodging facility in the forest. It is an open wilderness with a watchtower for the visitors to enjoy the panoramic view of the sprawling forest.

Just outside the Khunia forest is the Khunia More which is a significant junction. Near the Khunia More is the Batabari forest with the Batabari settlement. The Batabari is a part of the Gorumara Park but is a less significant one. From the Khunia junction one road extends towards Bindu which is the Indo-Bhutan border area and the other leads to Batabari, Murti and Lataguri which is also the entrance of Gorumara. A third extension goes towards Malbazar and the 4th one towards Jaldapara.

While you can find out which road leads where, pay a short visit to the Khunia Park just off the road. This is also a beautiful example of natural abundance in North Bengal. The best time to drive through the forest is of course in the morning. Start early and drive safely and you may spot an elephant crossing the road.

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Located at a distance of 52 kilometers from Jalpaiguri, 15 kilometers from Lataguri and 10 kilometers from Chalsa, Gorumara National Park can be found on the floodplains of Rivers Murti and Jaldhaka in the Terai Region of the Himalayan foothills. The main highlight of Gorumara National Park is the overwhelming population of Indian rhinos. It is one of the best protected and well maintained parks according to the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The park covers an area of 80 square kilometers and the best time to visit the park is during the month of November through February when the weather is pleasant.

How to reach Gorumara National Park


Gorumara is located at a convenient position which can be reached by air, through rails and roads. Gorumara can be reached from Bagdogra within 2 hours through a winding road flanked by tea gardens. Alternatively one can reach the park by hiring a jeep or car from New Malbazar railway station or Maynaguri railway station. The car will take the National Highway 31 to Lataguri, the entrance to the park. For adventurous tourists you can take the path less trodden through Gajaldoba barrage over Teesta to reach Lataguri on the park outskirts.

Accommodation in Gorumara National Park


Staying option at Gorumara National Park: Gachbari or Dhupjhora Elephant Camp

Gachbari or Dhupjhora Elephant Camp

There are plenty of accommodation options around Gorumara National Park suiting the pocket of the travelers. There are budget accommodation facilities for tourists traveling on a stringent budget and on the other hand 3-4 star hotels and resorts display grand hospitality to the ones traveling extravagantly. The largest concentration of big budget resorts can be found in Lataguri. Both government and private resorts are available. Aranya Jungle Resort and Banai, WBFDC forest lodge near Murti River are the most popular ones. Some of the others include Aranya Resort – Lataguri, Riverwood forest retreat – Dhupjhora, Kakur Bari Resort – Dhupjhora, Sinclairs Retreast, Murti Cottages, Kalipur Eco Village and Dhupjhora Elephant Camps.

Attractions in Gorumara National Park


The diversity in the national park in terms of flora and fauna is astounding. It is home to 193 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, 22 species of reptiles, 27 species of fish and 7 kinds of turtles. All these different kinds of animals inhabit the park full of sal, teak, Bombax, grassland vegetation and Shirish trees. Different types of tropical orchids can also be found at the park. Gorumara is also famous for the safaris conducted for tourists. The entry fee at Gorumara is 40 INR. To see the fauna from close quarters you can opt for safaris which you have to book from the forest department.

Jataprasad is a famous watchtower named after the legendary female elephant Jataprasad located on the northern side of the park. There is also the Rhino Point close by. Methla Watchtower is in Kalipur eco village where a unique bullock cart driven safari is available. The others include Chukchuki Watchtower, Chandrachur Watchtower and Chapramari Watchtower. Rhinos, elephants, bisons, leopards and many other animals can be spotted from the watchtowers. Some of the other tourist attractions nearby include Jhalong, Bindu, Caron, Diana, Bhutan, Paren, Kalimpong Hills, and Jaldhaka.

Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Matthias Rosenkranz, Abhisek Bhattacharya

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