Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is located at the Eastern Himalayan foothills in Alipurduar sub-division of Jalpaiguri district in the state of West Bengal.  It covers an extensive area of 216 square kilometers and is a maze of grasslands, perennial streams, woods, extensive belts of tall grass and sandy river banks. The beauty of the forest lies in the fact that it is home to an amazingly wide variety of flora and fauna with some endangered species. The one horned rhinoceros in particular is the most famed one inhabiting the forest. Jaldapara was declared to be a wildlife sanctuary in 1914 to preserve the diverse flora and fauna of this land. Rivers Torsha, Malangi, Kalijhora, Sissmara and Chirakhawa have created banks along which the wildlife sustains itself.

How to reach Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary


Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is easily accessible by air, road and railway. The nearest airport is Bagdogra which is 145 kilometers away from Jaldapara. You have to reach Siliguri which is only 13 kilometers from Bagdogra by arranging a car or hiring a taxi. Alternatively, you can take the train to arrive at New Jalpaiguri Junction which is the major station in North Bengal. However, you can also arrive at Madarihat, Birpara/Hasimpara to reach the sanctuary which is 7 and 20 kilometers from the respective stations. If you are traveling by car, then it’s a drive through the NH-31 and once you reach Siliguri it is only 3 hours drive from there. Madarihat is the entry point of the sanctuary public buses of North Bengal and Bhutan ply on the Alipurduar route via Madarihat to reach the sanctuary.

Accommodation in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary


Accommodation facilities are a plenty in and around Jaldapara. Aranya Bhawan is the Jaldapara holiday home located in Madarihat. It is only 1.5 kilometers from the main entrance of Jaldapara and on a clear day you can see the majestic Kanchenjunga from here. It offers 1 double bed room and 2- 4 bedrooms with modern amenities. The double bedroom costs 1200 INR while the 4 bedrooms cost 1800 INR. Food at the restaurant costs 350-400 INR. The Hollong Tourist Lodge enjoys a central location with the forest which is thrilling. There are 5 double bedrooms priced at 2500 INR. This is the most preferred accommodation for adventurous tourists. The Jaldapara Tourist Lodge is situated in front of the main gate. They offer 5 double bedrooms divided into cottages and a suite priced at 2500 INR. Food is provided inside the lodge.

Attraction and activities in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary


Lapard at jungle

Lapard at jaldapara National Park in west bengal

Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is most famous for Asiatic one horned rhinos and you will spot many while you explore the forest on elephant back. Other animals found here include barking deer, tigers, elephants, sambhar, wild boars, bisons and hog deer. This place is a bird watcher’s paradise since it offers the greatest variety of birds in Bengal. Birds like Hornbill, Racket-Tailed Drongo and Asian Paradise Fycatcher, Green Pigeons, Doves, Bee-eaters, Rollers, Hoopoe, Shrikes, Bengal Florican, Black partridge, Shaheen Falcon, Great Pied Hornbills, Forest Eagle Owl, Large Green billed Malkoha and White Rumped Vulture are spotted here.

Some other places of interest include Totapara, Chilapata, Khayerbari, Gorumara National Park, Buxa Tiger Reserve and Bhutan Ghaat.

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The Sundarbans is a mangrove forest extending from Bangladesh into the hinterlands of West Bengal, India. It has been named as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The forest is thick and the area, covered with marshy swamps and salt water. It is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, of which only 400 are left here. Crocodiles, spotted deers, snakes, primates and many different species of birds can be seen here. Tourists need to have a permit to visit the Sunderbans especially the Tiger Reserve.

How to Reach


The Sunderbans are easily accessible from Kolkata. The popular means of reaching there include:-

Railways– It is possible to take the local train from Kolkata to Canning and travel by boat thereafter.

Road– Travelling by bus to various locations like Namkhana, Canning, Raidighi, Najat, and Sonakhali, is mandatory as the riverine waterways are accessible only from these areas.

Motoboat– A number of motorboat routes operates in the Sunderbans. The most popular routes are:-

  • From Namkhana – Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project- Sagar Island to Jambudwip
  • From Sajnekhali – Sudhanyakhali-Buridabri- Netidhopan to Holiday Island
  • From Sonakhali  to Gosaba
  • From Raidighi to Kalas

It is also possible to hire private boats along with an experienced guide. The prices range from Rs 1500-Rs 2000 per day for a boat.

Attractions & Activities


The rich animal life along with the unique mangrove forest are the main attractions of the place. Some of the ‘must see’ attractions of the Sunderbans include:-

  • Holiday Island famous for the Barking Deers.
  • Sudhanyakhali Watch Tower – An ideal place for tiger sighting. Other wildlife like deers and crocodiles may also be observed.
  • Sajnekhali Pakiralaya – Bird watching center containing 248 species of birds.
  • Sajnekhali Watch Tower – This watch tower also contains a museum, a crocodile park and a Bonobibi Temple within its premises.
  • Bhagbatpur crocodile project – This is a crocodile-breeding farm and the hatchery of the largest estuarine crocodile.
  • Netidhopani – It has a 400-year-old temple.
  • Kanak – Olive Ridley Turtles can be sighted here.

It is also possible to visit the nearby villages and chat to the local people about the hardships of living in the Sunderbans.

Accommodation


There are a few private resorts apart from the Government lodging facilities like the Sajnekhali Tourist Lodge, available in the Sunderbans. Bookings need to be made from Kolkata and most of them include a sightseeing trip as well.

When to Visit


The best season for visiting the Sunderbans is between September and February. The monsoon season is best avoided as the rainwater gets trapped by the trees making it impossible to get around. However, a few International tourists insist on visiting the area in April-may during the peak norwester season.

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