A First-Timer's Guide To Jalpaiguri, West Bengal

The town of Jalpaiguri, bordered by Bhutan and Bangladesh, is a stone's throw from Siliguri and is popular for its untouched beauty and natural landscape
'Jalpaiguri' translates to 'Town of Olive'
'Jalpaiguri' translates to 'Town of Olive'Shutterstock

The name "Jalpaiguri" has its roots in the 1900s when the area was known for its abundant olive plantations. The city serves as the administrative centre of Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal. Characterized by numerous small streams and hills, Jalpaiguri is a charming tourist destination offering picturesque views of tea plantations, flowing streams, and expansive rice farms. It is also renowned for its heavy rainfall.

The district is predominantly rural, with around 80 per cent of the population residing in forest villages. Jalpaiguri's unspoiled natural beauty and serene environment make it an attractive, less crowded and tranquil destination. The town features vast tea gardens stretching as far as the eye can see, rice plantations, verdant hills, breathtaking landscapes, and a quaint, secluded ambience awaiting exploration.

Best Places To Visit

Buxa Tiger Reserve, Rajabhatkhawa

Adorning the northeastern corner of West Bengal, bordering Bhutan and Assam, Buxa Tiger Reserve was set up on 16th February, 1983, and was then the 15th tiger reserve of the country. The forest, constituting the Buxa Tiger Reserve, is the largest in the Dooars -- the Alluvial floodplains of Northeast India. Spanning over a whopping 759 sq. km., this tiger reserve is irrigated by several rivers and their tributaries. It boasts of a diverse and breathtaking landscape. In fact, because of the rocky terrain, many parts of the forest in the Buxa hills that lie in the Sinchula Range are inaccessible even by the authorities and remain unexplored even after so many years.

Another interesting fact about this tiger reserve is that it serves as an international corridor for the migration of elephants between India and Bhutan. This is because the Phipsu Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan is adjacent to the northern part of the Buxa Tiger Reserve. This reserve is home to 67 species of mammals, 36 species of reptiles and 230 species of unidentified avifauna and encompasses more than eight types of forests. This reserve's great diversity of mammals makes it the second highest among all tiger reserves in India.

The river Baniya on the banks of which the Mendabari Fort is located
The river Baniya on the banks of which the Mendabari Fort is located

Mendabari Fort

Located 3 km from the city centre, on the bank of river Baniya, Mendabari Fort, known as Nalrajagarh, is an ancient fort dating back to the 5th century. The remains of the fort interest archaeology and history enthusiasts, while the location and historical stories around the fort fascinate the travellers.

Buxa Duar Trek

The Buxa Duar Trek, cradled in the Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal, offers an opportunity to peek into the mysteries of the wild jungles of the Buxa Tiger Reserve. It is a densely forested reserve boasting of being the only tiger reserve in the entire Kanchenjunga circuit. Today, it offers its visitors a chance to observe the animals in their natural habitat. Buxa Range provides ample opportunities to trek, a short 5 km walk from Santalabari near Sealdah. An hour's trek from this quaint little village takes you to Buxa Duar and Buxa Tiger Reserve. Jayanti Forest, located 13 km from Buxa Duar, is one of the most popular treks in the area.

Apart from being enriched with a diverse variety of flora and fauna, the trail is adorned with a stalactite cave called Mahakal, housing a Shivalinga. The Buxa Duar Fort is a living shadow of the past of this region, which once served as the prison during the time of the East India Company.

The Buxa range is also home to many bird varieties, serving as a paradise for bird lovers. Trans-Himalayan migratory goosander, the beautiful ibis bill, fork-tails, red-stars, wagtails and migratory birds such as common teal, Gargani teal, large whistling teal and white-eyed pochard are some among many. The place is the epitome of solitude, peaceful ambience and stunning mountain views making this trek worth every moment away from the hustle and bustle of the city crowd.

Where To Stay

Jalpaiguri offers a range of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. From comfortable hotels to guesthouses and resorts, visitors can find a place to stay that caters to their needs. For those seeking government-run accommodations, the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) operates several properties in Jalpaiguri. The WBTDC tourist lodge near Jalpaiguri Railway Station is popular, offering well-appointed rooms and modern amenities. Another option is the government-run Circuit House, known for its serene ambience and convenient location. These government options provide travellers with a hassle-free stay while exploring the enchanting landscapes and attractions that Jalpaiguri offers.

Best Time To Visit

Jalpaiguri can be visited anytime throughout the year, however, the best time is October to March. Some visitors prefer visiting the town during the festive season, as the town's enthusiasm, excitement and unity are worth seeing. During November and December, exclusive tourism festivals called Teesta Tea and Tourism Fest are celebrated it is a great time to visit the city as these festivals are really fun to be a part of. In February and March, the town celebrates Jalpesh Mela on the occasion of Shivratri with grand festivities.

How To Reach

Air Jalpaiguri is not well connected to other major cities via regular flights. The nearest airport is in Siliguri, at a distance of 42 km.

Rail No regular trains to Jalpaiguri from other major cities exist. The nearest Railway station is at Siliguri, located at a distance of 39 km. Railway Station(s) -- New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri Jn

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