Jalpaiguri -the narrow stretch of land lying between the Sikkim-Darjeeling Himalayas and Gangetic West Bengal – has amazingly retained most of its colonial charm even six decades after independence. The core town retains almost the original shape it had during the end of British rule. A walk along the Teesta beside the colonial bungalows,now housing Government officials, would evoke the same feelings. A visit to the beautiful parks and gardens along the banks of the Karala will rejuvenate the minds of those tired ofthe daily humdrums of city life. Blessed with mighty rivers like the Teesta, Torsa, Jaldhaka, Dyna, Neora, Sankosh etc, this land with a wealthy soil has been aptly named the land of ‘Tea, Timber and Tourism.’ The tourism attractions in Jalpaiguri are potentially rich and is yet to be explored. Sunrise at Teesta spur is refreshing. Turbulent rivers battling out of steep gorges, the vast stretches of forests, the undulating Tea Estates and the panoramic grandeur of the Himalayas are only a fewjewels that drew the British to this beautiful land.
If you are a nature lover or an admirer of wildlife, then Jalpaiguri must be in your travel itinerary. It houses the best Sanctuaries, National Parks and Tiger Reserves. And that is not all! One can leisure out by the sides of tumultuous rivers or simply stroll through beautiful Tea Gardens. The more adventurous ones can engage in a trek to Rupang Valley and Buxa-Duar in the Buxa Tiger Reserve. Tourists can also visit ancient temples like the Jalpeshwar and Jatileshwar and have a smell of history by peeping into the Prisoners cell at the Buxa Fort area. This was the place where fighters of the preindependence era were imprisoned.
How to get there National Highway 31, running through Jalpaiguri, connects the district with the other parts of the State. The North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) operates bus services from the Tenzing Norgay central bus terminal (Hill Cart Road), between Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri. The most convenient railheads are Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri (NJP), which are important railway junctions in the northeastern region. The nearest airport is Baghdogra (153 km).
HI Places of interest
Barrage Project Site: A fascinating drive
along the Teesta Canal through Gajaldoba’s
forest leads to the Barrage Project Site. It is an enchanting picnic spot.
Buxa Duar Fort: The fort located at Buxa Duar in the eastern Dooars is popularly known as ‘the Gateway to the Kingdom of Bhutan.’ Located at a height of 867 meters, the fort once served as a prison for India’s freedom fighters. The fort can be approached through the Jainti Hills. It also served as a refugee camp for Tibetans and Bangladeshis.
Buxa Tiger Reserve: See box for details.
Gorumara National Park: See box for
Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary: See box for
Jalgaon: Situated by the side of Jaldhaka River on the Indo-Bhutan border, Jalgaon is a beautiful picnic spot. The West Bengal State Electricity Board’s Jaldhaka Hydel Project is also located here.
Madarihat: It serves as a gateway to Jaldapara. This beautiful Madarihat is the site of a tourist villa made entirely of timber. Nalrajar Garh: The ruins of this long forgotten fort are hidden in the forests of Chilapata Range. Excavations prove that it belonged to the Gupta age.
Wildlife Sanctuaries/National Parks in West Bengal
Neora Valley National Park Location: Darjeeling District Best time to visit: March to June and September to November Nearest town: Kalimpong (32 km) Main Attractions: Red Panda, Clouded leopard, Musk deer
How to get there: Nearest Airport is Bagdogra (100 km). Nearest railhead is NJP (130 km). Bus services available from Siliguri to Kalimpong (100 km) and Siliguri to Chalsa (65 km). Get down at Samsing (18 km) and the park can be reached by road. The main entry point to the park is Lava (7,016 ft), a small village adjacent to the park. It has another entry point at Samsing (3,000 ft).
Note: Visitors should take an entry permit from the park authorities in Lava or Samsing. The park known for its rich bio-diversity lies in the Himalayan foothills and is spread over 88 sq. km. Interestingly, it sustains a unique ecosystem where tropical, sub-tropical, sub- temperate, and temperate vegetative systems still nurse a wealth of flora and fauna. The forests consist of mixed species like rhododendron, bamboo, sal, oak, ferns, etc. The Valley abounds in many species of orchids. It forms a natural habitat to several species of wildlife including endangered species like the clouded leopard, red-panda and musk deer. Other species are leopard, civet, black bear, sloth bear, barking deer, sambar, golden gat, wild boar, leopard cat, Thar and Himalayan flying squirrel.
The park rich in avifaunal species houses the bearded vulture, Himalayan griffon, red legged falcon, pigeons, doves, great pied hornbill and a large number of migratory birds like the whistling thrush etc. King cobra, common cobra krait, green pit viper, blind snake and lizards are also found.
Buxa National Park Location: Alipurduar Court, Jalpaiguri District
Best time to visit: October to April Nearest Town: Alipurduar Court Main Attractions: Royal Bengal Tiger
How to get there: The nearest Railway station is New Jalpaiguri. The two main entry points are Jayanti (30 km) via Buxa from Alipurduar. Another entry point Rajabhatkhawa is 12 km from Jayanthi. Two buses run daily to the entry point Jayanti (30 km) from Alipurduar.
Established in 1982-83, the Buxa Tiger Reserve, sprawling over 759 sq. km, is in the northeast. This park is located in eastern Dooars (rolling humid plains) at 2600 ft. The Dooars comprising deciduous forests are home to some of West Bengal’s most varied flora and fauna. About 150 species of plants and a variety of creepers, orchids, grasses, bamboo and cane are found here. Trees like teak, sal, simul, sishu abound this place. This park boasts of the Royal Bengal tiger and their population is the second largest in West Bengal after Sunderbans. Other wildlife include the elephants, bears, civets, giant squirrel, gaur, chital, clouded leopard, wild buffalo, antelope and snakes including the regal Python. You can also find a vast array of avian species like hornbills, Trans Himalayan Goosanders, wag-tails, black stork, Large Whistling Teal, Minivets etc.
<^j|| Sunderbans National Park Location: 24 Paraganas District Best time to visit: September to March Nearest Town: Gosaba (50 km)
Main Attractions: Royal Bengal Tiger, Crocodiles, Olive ridley turtles and Migratory Birds.