Dooars, which stretches from West Bengal to Assam in the eastern Himalayan foothills, is the gateway to Bhutan. A generation ago, the forests and wildlife sanctuaries of Gorumara and Jaldapara were the stuff of summer vacation adventure stories for children in and around Bengal. The Dooars region is located between the Teesta and Sankosh rivers and borders Bhutan. Many rivers cut and splice their natural woodlands and man-made tea terraces. The rivers Teesta and Dhansiri pass through the endless expanse of untouched forests. Buxa, Jaldapara, Chapramari, Gorumara, and Manas are among the several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries located in Dooars.
Several resorts and hotels that have opened up in Dooars, but probably the most atmospheric accommodation option in Dooars is a simple forest rest house. These are located in the middle of or close to wildlife sanctuaries. Most of these came up because of the need for convenient rest houses for the forest management departments. Here are a few that you can book.
Rajabhatkhawa Buxa Jungle Lodge
This property is managed by the WBFDC (West Bengal Forest Development Corporation) and is located in Rajabhatkhawa, a picturesque forest settlement near to the Buxa Tiger Reserve in the Dooars foothills. If you are coming in a large group and want to stay together, you can choose from the three four-bedrooms and one three-bedroom available here. There are additionally ten double bedrooms and a six-bed dormitory. The majority of the rooms have air conditioning. Rajabhatkhawa Buxa Jungle Lodge, surrounded by subtropical forest, is a perfect spot to stay for anyone who enjoys observing nature and wildness up close. The forest around the resort is crisscrossed by trails, making nature hikes, treks, and birdwatching popular pastimes.
You can also explore the surroundings of the Jayanti River, which is famous for its natural splendour. The Buxa Fort is a historic fort where freedom fighters were imprisoned for a brief period during the independence movement. South Khayerbari, located 10 km away, is another popular tourist destination. The border town of Phuentsholing, situated next to the renowned Rajabhatkhawa Animal Rescue Centre, is another popular tourist attraction. Rajabhatkhawa's Orchidarium is home to almost 1,500 types of beautiful orchids. Find more information here.
Getting There Located 162 km from Siliguri, visitors can hire a car to reach RBK Buxa Jungle Lodge from Siliguri. But if the visitors are from other regions, they can board a train for Alipurduar. At a distance of 15 km, Alipurduar is the closest railway station to Rajabhatkhawa Buxa Jungle Lodge. They can also board a flight to Bagdogra. Bagdogra Airport, at a distance of 171 km, is the closest airport to Rajabhatkhawa Buxa Jungle Lodge. From the respective junction, visitors can hire a car to reach Buxa Jungle Lodge.
Banani Forest Bungalow
Banani Forest Bungalow is a nature resort on the banks of the Murti River in the northern region of Dhupjhora in the Dooars Gorumara National Park. The WBFDC manages this forest bungalow with a breathtaking view of Gorumara National Park on the east and the magnificent Himalayan range on the north. The facility features 15 rooms with both AC and non-AC rooms which are spacious and equipped with modern conveniences. There are also cottage-style rooms available. Throughout their stay, guests will be able to experience authentic Bengali cuisine. Gorumara National Park, Chilapata Forest, and the Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary are close by. Popular activities include strolling along the riverbed, trekking, and forest excursions. The area also serves as a sanctuary for various migrating birds. In the evenings, you can even see wild elephants and bison along the Murti River. Find more information here.
Getting There The resort is located close to the Batabari market. The nearest railhead is in Siligur, 73km away, and at New Mal Junction, 18 km away.
Mendabari Forest Bungalow
This forest bungalow maintained by the WBFDC is set in a lovely green forest. Mendabari, located approximately 20 km from Alipurduar and 18 km from Hasimara, is an offbeat location in the Dooars region famed for cascading rivers and lush forests that are home to fauna such as rhinoceros and bison, as well as numerous bird species and several rare species of frog and butterfly. Mendabari is also historically and archaeologically significant. One of the main attractions in Mendabari is the Nalraja Garh or Mendabari Fort, which is located along the Bania river. The fort's ruins tell the story of the Nal rulers. The fort's construction dates back to the Gupta dynasty in the fifth century. In the area, you can find an unusual tree named Ramgua, which has a strange red substance in its bark that looks like blood. According to legend, the fort guards were so devoted that they were transformed into trees (Ramgua), which still protect the fort. As a result, when the trees are cut down, their blood spills. Find more information here.
Getting There The nearest railway stations are in Alipurduar Junction (20 km), New Alipurduar Junction, Hasimara, and New Jalpaiguri Junction (150 km). Bagdogra its nearest airport (around 162 km).
Lepchaghat Forest Bungalow
Located at an elevation of 6959 feet, the name (Lepchajagat) alludes to the land of the Lepcha people. The WFDC-managed forest resort at Lepchaghat is set among lush deodar and rhododendron trees. The two-story structure comprises six rooms. The two rooms on the first level have a private balcony with a breathtaking view of the snowcapped Himalayan mountains. To get a clear glimpse of the mountains, visit Lepchajagat during the winter season. Nature walks and treks are recommended because the woodlands here are filled with beautiful routes. The paths are particularly great for bird watching because they are home to some of the most beautiful Himalayan avifauna. There are several points of interest close by. Sukiapokhari, located on the Indo-Bhutan border, is well-known for its unobstructed views of the Himalayan peaks and bustling market. Jorepokhari, surrounded by the beautiful forest of Senchel Wildlife Sanctuary, is another popular destination to explore while staying here. Jorepokhari is one of the few remaining Himalayan Salamander habitats in India. Manebhanjan is a peaceful woodland settlement known for being the starting point for climbing Mt Sandakphu. Find more information here.
Getting There The nearest mainline railhead is at New Jalpaiguri. And the nearest airport is Bagdogra. The distances between NJP and Lolegaon and Bagdogra and Lolegaon are 75 km and 68 km respectively. You can also access the place via hired vehicles from Darjeeling's Ghoom Station. The distance between Ghoom and Lepchajagat is 7km..
Chapramari Wilderness Camp
Chapramari Wilderness Camp (Panjhora) is a forest bungalow maintained by the Gorumara Wildlife Division. The forest inspection bungalow in the sanctuary has two rooms for four persons. The Reserve Forest has existed since 1895 and was declared a Game Sanctuary in 1939. In view of its great diversity of flora and fauna, it was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1998, comprising a total area of 9.6031 sq. km. You can also book rooms at the Chapramari Forest Bungalow, a Nature Education and Wilderness Resort maintained by WBFDC. The forests here are home to elephants, gaur, chital, sambar, barking deer, and wild boar. The sanctuary provides an excellent opportunity for the study of the habitat, behaviour, food, and population dynamics of these animals. There is a single observation tower that provides a bird's-eye view of the glade and wildlife sightings. Find more information here.
Getting There The nearest railway station is Chalsa, but all major trains don&rsquot stop here. The most convenient railway station is Malbazar, (around 45 minutes away). The most connected one is New Jalpaiguri (around two hours away). The nearest airport is Bagdogra (102 km).