Most travellers will tend to head to well-known destinations in the Eastern Himalayas, such as Darjeeling, Sikkim, or Kalimpong. Not many know about the rolling green Himalayan foothills and lush jungles of the Dooars region, where there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. The gateway to India from Bhutan, set in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas, the Sankosh River splits the Dooars into its western and eastern regions, spread over Sikkim and West Bengal. The Dooars is a hub of natural diversity with a variety of tea gardens and a number of wildlife hotspots like Manas National Park, Buxa National Park, Gorumara National Park, and the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. Nature enthusiasts and adventure-seekers can head to the Teesta River for whitewater rafting. You can also go on some interesting treks and jungle safaris here. The region is also a birder's delight, as it's home to a huge variety of avian species. Here are five offbeat places in Dooars to add to your travel bucket list
This lush jungle area at Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is spread out along the Bania and Torsha rivers. The grassland ecology here supports an incredible variety of plants and fauna. Chilapata also serves as an elephant corridor connecting Jaldapara National Park and the Buxa Tiger Reserve. Bison, cheetal, sambar, one-horned rhinoceros, leopards, and wild pigs are among the many animals that call Chilapata home. It is also well-known for its enormous number of butterflies. Crested eagles, pied hornbills, fishing eagles, and Bengal floricans are among the many bird species seen here. Visit the Nalraja Garh, or Nal kings' fort, which was built during the Gupta dynasty in the 5th century CE.
Located along the Raimatang River, this forest village near the Bhutan border is surrounded by hills and lush tea gardens. The forests here used to be home to a large rhinoceros population, but hunting caused the population to dwindle. There are a variety of activities available here, including angling, birding, safaris, and treks to Lepchakha and Chunabhati. You can also go for a walk along the Raimatang riverbed. Or book a guided jungle safari through the dense area of Buxa Tiger Reserve. The watchtower here provides excellent views of the Buxa Forest as well as glimpses of wildlife.
This town, located on the outskirts of Gorumara National Park, has become a centre for visitors looking to experience the wilderness of Gorumara National Park or Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary. Lataguri has enticed many visitors with its view of the broad undulating woodland and the flowing Neora River. From the home of the Asiatic one-horned rhino, Gorumara National Park, to the elephant corridor, Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary, Lataguri also includes a natural information centre where visitors may learn more about the flora and fauna of the nearby forest area. Nearby attractions include Buxa Forest, Chapramari, Samsing, Jaldhaka, Bindu, Suntalekhola, and many more.
Mongpong, located 45 minutes from Siliguri and on the fringes of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, provides a spectacular view of the Teesta basin. Witness the Teesta's strength at Mongpong, where it leaves the confines of the rocks it encounters over the 200-kilometre journey from Sikkim's snow-capped mountains. It's a great place to go bird watching you can spot several species like the pintail duck, bar-headed geese, poachard, brahminy duck, mallard, and others. The trip to this small settlement is notable in and of itself, as it includes a stop at the Coronation Bridge, a work of excellent British engineering set against a view of the Himalayan foothills. Visit Washabari, a historic and respected tea estate in the area. You can also go for a trek in the virgin sal forests which overlook the magnificent Teesta basin.
Gajoldoba, located 10 km from Siliguri and near the Baikunthapur forest, is notable for being the first reservoir built in the Teesta basin. It has the Mahananda River to the west and the Teesta River to the east. The Baikunthapur forest, a Terai forest zone in the South Himalayan foothills, surrounds it. According to legend, Lord Krishna went into hiding in this forest with his wife and queen, Rukmini. Many migratory species from Ladakh and Central Asia visit the reservoir, including the small grebe, bar-headed geese, greylag goose, lesser whistling duck, red shelduck, Eurasian wigeon, big cormorant, Indian Cormorant, small cormorant, purple heron, northern lapwing, and others.
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