Garuchira village eco tourism is a brilliant initiative of the government to assist development in the hilly region of north Bengal. The government bungalow as part of the tourism is located in Bandapani Bil, Dalgaon Range of Jalpaiguri Forest Division. Garuchira is located at a distance of 80 kilometers from Jalpaiguri and is a beautiful place surrounded by rivers. The eco tourism spot is a lovely one with elephants making rounds of the place. Its position in the foothills of Bhutan gives it a special place in the heart of the tourists. The peaceful ambiance and the vast greenery attract tourists to this heavenly place.

How to Reach Garuchira Village


Garuchira is around 80 kilometers from Alipurduar and you can reach the place by hiring a car from either Jalpaiguri or Alipurduar. Get down at the New Jalpaiguri railway station and take a taxi/car to Garuchira via Birpara. Dalgaon is another station where you can disembark from the train to arrive at Garuchira.

Accommodation in Garuchira Village


The eco spot at Garuchira has 3 cottages which have basic amenities for the guests. The cottages can accommodate 3 people at a time. Food is provided at the cottages. Plans for 2 more cottages and 5 tents are on the pipeline.

Attractions & Activities in Garuchira Village


Garuchira eco spot lies between the holy Supti and Reti Rivers making the land fertile and adding to the charm of the region. Fresh air, lot of greenery and peaceful atmosphere works wonders on the mind and soul of the visitors. The forest is full of Saal and Teak trees which you can explore with the guide. There is a watchtower at the eco spot from where you can frequently spot elephants. Garuchira serves as the gateway to the elephants from the neighboring land of Nepal. During the rainy season the rivers overflow and it looks extremely beautiful.

There is also a children’s park at Garuchira eco spot and also a man-made tank full of fish. You will find various species of colorful fish swimming inside the tank and holding your attention. For the adventure loving souls you can follow the trekking trail around 10 kilometers from the forest and reach Bhutan Hills. There is a monastery and a cement factory at Gomtu in Bhutan which is only 5 kilometers from Garuchira. Also visit the kali Temple in Makrapara close to Gomtu. Experience sheer bliss in these lands among the local village people and the wildlife free from your worries.

 

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Godk or Godak village in North Bengal is an upcoming tourist destination. The village is situated at a distance of 15 kilometers from Bindu at an elevated height with beautiful picturesque landscapes. It is also the seat of a tribal Goddess known as Debi sthan and is a sacred place for the tribal people. As tourists the landscape and also the tribal goddess will attract you to the place. You will get a glimpse of their religious rituals at this place. The tribal people worship the river here which they believe has originated from a rock which never dries.

How to Reach Godak village


Godk is an offbeat destination and hence is not crowded. It has also received assistance from the government in terms of the eco village tourism initiative. To reach Godk you have to reach Bindu which is well connected to the network of communication. Government buses, private buses and cars ply from Siliguri to Bindu covering a distance of 106 kilometers in 2 hours and 30 minutes. When hiring a taxi from Siliguri you will be charged per kilometer and the taxi fare is multiplied by either 12 or 15 INR per kilometers depending on the season. Bagdogra is the nearest airport which is only 16 kilometers from Siliguri and from there you have to hire a cab to arrive at Godk through Bindu. Alternatively, if you are taking the train, then get down at New Jalpaiguri and hire a taxi to Bindu.

Accommodation in Godak village


Godk does not offer any place to stay. You have to stay at Bindu to visit Godk village. There are private accommodations as well as government bungalow for tourists to stay. Making reservation for the government bungalow is recommended. The private accommodation facilities will suit every pocket.

Attractions & Activities in Godak village


The road leading to Bindu is wonderful with mountains, forests and rivulets. The beauty of nature will unfurl gradually in front of your eyes in its glory. Apart from the tribal goddess, Godk is also famous for cardamom plantation. There is a Cardamom Curing Center set up here by the government where cardamom is dyed and processed prior to delivery. This is the source of income for the tribal people settled here. You can also watch the process if you wish to.

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The Jhalong river camp on the banks of river Jaldhaka is a natural resort in the wilderness of Himalayan foothills known as Dooars. Jhalong is a small village which has been included in the eco tourism initiative taken up by West Bengal Forest Development Corporation. Visitors seeking peace amidst nature will find this place attractive with its pristine beauty. It is actually located on the Indo-Bhutan border which adds to the thrill of the visitors. The place is full of orange orchards, small houses amidst rolling hills and lush greenery. The Jaldhaka hydel power project of phase 2 is the highlight of the region.

How to Reach Jhalong River Camp


Jhallong is around 103 kilometers from Siliguri which is considered to be the gateway of North Bengal. It takes more or less 3 hours to arrive at Jhallong from SIliguri in bus or by a car. From Chalsa Jhallong is 55 kilometers and if you are travelling by train, you have to reach at New Mal junction. The nearest airport is Bagdogra. The route leading to Bindu-Jhallong is beautiful with forests, villages, hills and elephant corridors. This zone is famous for animal viewing where you can find leopards, bison, deer and of course elephants. The first glimpse of Jhallong from a hilltop is absolutely out of the world.

Accommodation in Jhallong River Camp


The best option for accommodation is the Jhallong river camp along the banks of Jaldhaka River. You have to leave your camp at the check post before entering the charming river camp. A small wooden footbridge over the meandering Jaldhaka and massive boulders will take you to the camps developed by WBFDC. There are 10 tents in the area and all are well facilitated and insulated to provide protection from the cold outside. The bed inside the tent is huge and the bathroom is attached to the room. They also have a small dressing unit for the visitors and a camp cot outside tents. The cost for the river camps is 1200-1500 INR depending on the bedrooms.

Attractions & Activities in Jhalong River Camp


Apart from the pollution free mesmerizing weather, there is another advantage of living in the camp; the performance of the local people. In the evening you can witness a lovely song and dance performance by the local people while feasting on hot momos and barbecued chicken. For dinner the Hakka noodles and Chilli chicken is highly recommended. In the morning and also during the evening you will be served with high quality fragrant tea to calm your taste buds.

They can arrange Barbeque and Camp Fire with extra cost. Camp Fire costs around 500/- and Barbeque depends on the amount of Chicken you’d take. Chicken cost cost may vary 400/ – to 500/- per KG.

Wake up to the gushing sound of the Jaldhaka in the morning and admiring the sunrise over the mountains while sipping a cup of hot tea. Once you have finished the breakfast start the day with a village tour followed by a visit to the hydel power station. If you love the river most, then you can angel in it for sometime or go bird watching. Brown Dipper, Little Fortail, Crested Kingfisher, Slaty-backed Forktail, Eurasian Wryneck, Laughing Thrush are some the species you will notice. Since the entire region is full of trekking trails you can take one to reach Todey and Tagta points to admire the panoramic view.

Photo Courtesy: krishnandusarkar.com

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Rocky Island is an upcoming tourist destination in the Samsing hills of Dooars region in northern Bengal. The name Rocky Island promises lot of adventure and the place actually fulfills them. The name not only promises adventure but also evokes images of big and small rocks making an interesting trail for the tourists to follow. Well, the place has it all and once you reach there you will know that it has lived up to your expectations. You will spot massive rocks on the island named as Bhimsen, Hansdunga, Pathar Kailas, and Neel Kanta. Rocky Island is about 3 kilometers uphill from Suntalekhola and is an enchanting place away from the crowds amidst the sound of the flowing Murti River.

How to reach Rocky Island


how-to-reach-rocky-island-state-of-west-bengalRocky Island is only 3 kilometers from Suntalekhola and can be travelled on foot only. You can arrive at Suntalekhola by getting down at New Mal junction if you are traveling by train and rent a trekker to reach Samsing which is only 34 kilometers from the junction. Do not forget to bargain the charge with the driver. Suntalekhola is uphill about 3 kilometers from Samsing. The entire route is charming with lush tea gardens, mountains and small brooks. You will see and feel nature bounty in this place and breathe some fresh air. The Bagdogra airport is around 75 kilometers from Suntalekhola.

Accommodation in Rocky Island


rocky-island-state_of_west_bengal3Visitors can stay overnight at Rocky Island. The Rocky Island Adventure Camp is the perfect place for adventure enthusiasts. The best part about the eco resort is that the owners haven’t fallen prey to commercialization of the place. It still holds its natural charm which enthralls and allures tourists. Accommodation is available in the form of tents to provide the real feel of camping. The double and single bed rooms with attached baths cost between 800 and 1200 INR while the ones with unattached facility costs 800 INR. The dome rent facility is available at 400 INR and for food you have to spend 250 INR which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Attractions in Rocky Island


The camp provides a great opportunity to explore the diverse flora and fauna of the lower Neora Valley Valley Park. There are caves adjacent to the massive rocks which can be explored by the adventure lovers. Since a number of trekking trails originate from this zone, you can take them to reach different points like Bhalukope, Mouchuki, Jhandidara and Sherpagaon. You can also indulge in rappelling in Rocky Island which is generally not facilitated on hills in India. If you are visiting during summer season, enjoy a bath in the river.

Photo Courtesy: northbengaltourism.com, virtualtourist.com and indiamike.com

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Suntalekhola is a small hamlet located at an altitude of around 750 meters in the Dooars Himalayan foothills of West Bengal. Suntalekhola when translated in English means ‘orange stream’ and is quite a beautiful and peaceful tourist destination. It lies about 4 kilometers from Samsing and is also the south eastern entry point of Neora Valley National Park. The WBFDC cottages or river camp is the best place to stay in Suntalekhola because it offers unhindered view of the beautiful green landscape and the high mountains. A number of trekking routes originate from Suntalekhola most of which lead to the National Valley National Park. This is an added attraction for the adventurous souls.

How to reach Suntalekhola River Camp


Disembark at New Mal junction if you are traveling by train and hire a car to arrive at Samsing which is only 34 kilometers from the junction. Do not forget to negotiate the fare with the driver. Suntalekhola is uphill about 4 kilometers from Samsing. The entire route is charming with lush tea gardens, mountains and small streams. You can feel the nature here and breathe some fresh air. The Bagdogra airport is around 75 kilometers from Suntalekhola.

Accommodation in Suntalekhola River Camp


You will find the deluxe cottages as soon as you cross the check post. There are 4 tents which are names Cruiser, Popinjay, Windmill and Swiss Spangle. The tents are well facilitated for camping. There are attached bathrooms with geysers and also mini steel wardrobe along with dressing units. They also provide fan and light inside the tents. They serve to the guests as well and you can have chicken at dinner. A plastic table and chairs are furnished inside the tent for the guests to use. The Swiss Luxury tent comes at 1200-1400 INR and the Nature Education and Wilderness Resort with 2 bedrooms come at 1100 INR and the suite at 1500 INR. The reservation can be done at the forest department office.

Attractions in Suntalekhola River Camp


You will have a close contact with nature and explore it at your freewill. There is a suspended footbridge in front of the camp area which leads to the Suntalekhola Nature Resort. Here, you can spend time amidst beautiful and colorful flowers and enjoy the sight. Coming so close to nature also provides an opportunity to bird watching. This place is famous for that and you will find Golden-spectacled and Chestnut-crowned Warblers, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Grey Nightjar, White-naped and Black-chinned Yuhinas, Long-tailed Sibia and many more. Apart from bird watching you can trek to the entry point of Neora Valley National Park known as Mouchuki which is 6 kilometers trek from Suntalekhola.

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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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Chukchuki Watchtower is also known as Chukchuki Birding Point inside the Gorumara National Park. It is an ideal vantage point for watching myriad birds and photographing them. Tourists visiting Gorumara are taken to the watchtower for bird watching either on elephant back or by a car. It is a bird watcher’s paradise where one can spot local as well as migratory birds. The watchtower is situated towards the end of the park and provides perfect view of the birds. It is one among many other watchtowers in the park from where visitors can spot different animals like rhinos for which the park is famous.

How to reach Chukchuki Watchtower


Chukchuki can be reached only after you have arrived at Gorumara National Park. Gorumara can be reached by air, rail or by road depending on the place you are coming from. The park is only 10 kilometers from Chalsa and 1 kilometer from Lataguri. Bagdogra is the nearest airport if you are traveling by flight and New Jalpaiguri or Maalbazar are the stations where you have to reach to arrive at Gorumara. Alternatively, you can take your car and opt for a long drive also. In that case, Highway NH-31 will be the route.

Attractions in Chukchuki Watchtower


There are 5 camps in Gorumara National Park where you can put up during your sojourn. However, you will have to book in advance in order to get rooms and guide for your elephant ride. There is a cafeteria where you can have food and snacks and also watch tribal dance in the evening.

You will be taken to the Chukchuki watchtower on the back of an elephant which is the most exciting activity in the forest or you can also opt for the four wheeler safari in which case you will ride a jeep. You will watch birds like Indian Hornbill, Spangled Drongo, Scarelet Minivet, Peafowls, Peacocks, woodpeckers, pheasants, Asian paradise suncatcher. These are all submontane forest birds and the place is also famous for migratory birds among which the rare Brahminy duck can also be spotted.

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Duarsini in Purulia is located on the foothills of a nearby mound. River Satgurang flows right next to this ethnic tourist destination. In fact it is said that one can spend hours on the end sitting right next to the river bank. Its location near forests and hills makes it an ideal destination for people looking for a break from regular lives. In short it can be termed as a fantastic destination where one can spend a weekend. The forest is full of trees such as shal, shimul, piyal and palash.

During the night tourists may also hear the drum beats that come from the tribal village, which is located a short distance away. In local language this form of music is referred to as Madol. One of the major draws at Duarsini is spending a moonlit night that is accompanied by the drumbeats thus creating an enchanting experience. It is also worth to see how suddenly daylight fades and evening starts here in the lap of nature. It is said that with the exception of the rainy season one can visit Duarsini at any time.

How to get to Duarsini


Duarsini is located at a distance of 13 km from Burdwan, which is a town situated 65 km from Sadar Purulia. It is also 20 km from Ghatshila. This effectively means that the tourist spot is located at the border of West Bengal and Jharkhand. The closest railway stations to Duarsini are Purulia and Ghatsila. The trains to this destination are operated by Southeastern Railways.

One can also avail the Ispat Express that leaves the Howrah Station at 6:55 in the morning and get down at either Galudi or Ghatshila. The only advantage that Galudi has over Ghatshila in terms of getting to Duarsini is that it is only 13 km away from the tourist spot.

The distance between Kolkata and Duarsini is 178 km by road. So it is advisable to avail a car on rent from Ghatshila. The expenses should be somewhere around INR 500 to 600.

What to do at Duarsini


Duarsini offers interested tourists the chance to watch birds or study the culture and traditions of the local tribal people. The local folks observe a number of festivals across the year and this means that any time may be a good time to visit Duarsini. This region is home to a number of tribes such as Santhal, Shabaradh, Munda and Kheriya. One can visit their homes but they should be accompanied by a local person.

It also provides the opportunity to indulge in some trekking. At the nearby jungle one can see wild animals such as the following:

  • Bear
  • Hyena
  • Wild pig
  • Wolf
  • Elephants
  • Varieties of birds

Where to stay at Duarsini


The West Bengal Forest Development Corporation Limited has a bungalow at Duarsini and that is perhaps the only place where one can stay in Duarsini. The bungalow resembles a tribal cottage. The WBFDC employs local villagers in order to attend to the food and other requirements of the visitors.

In order to make a booking at the bungalow one can use the following contact details:
6A, Raja Subodh Mullick Square, 7th Floor, Kolkata – 700013
Telephone: 033-2237-0060/2225-8549/2237-0061

Otherwise you can go to Kuilapal through bus from Bandwan and take rest at forest bungalow. There are only two rooms available. For booking:
DFO: Kangsabati Soil conservation, Divn – 2, PO & Dist – Purulia
Telephone: 03252 222604

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