A vast texture of dense forests teemed with wildlife, unending tea gardens, babbling rivers, interspersed with sleepy or busy settlements constitute a fascinating tourist destination – the Dooars where nature has kept her doors wide open. The valley stretching from River Teesta on the west to River Sankoshi on the east, over a span of 130 kms by 40 kms, forms a major part of Jalpaiguri district. The dense naturals forest interwoven with lush green tea gardens are criss-crossed by Teesta, Raidak, Torsha, Jaldhaka, Kaliani and other rivers and their innumerable tributaries trotting and rolling down from the hills. The entire region is served with a network of motorable roads running through the deep forests and tea gardens. A meter gauge railway service connects Siliguri to Cooch Behar via Alipurduar. A journey itself by rail or on road through this region gives immense delight to both the mind and eyes.
Jaldapara Sanctuary, 124 kms from Siliguri, abounds in a fascinating diversity of flora and fauna. The vast texture of massive trees sheltering varieties of orchids and resounded with echo of birds and wild animals make it a veritable paradise for lovers of nature and eco-tourism. Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is the habitats of the rare one-horned Rhino, the mighty Bison, Leopard, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Hog Deer, Reptiles, huge wild tusters, wild boars and the rarest variety of animals and birds including plenty of Peacocks. Elephant riding through the Jaldapara forest in search of wild animals, particularly the one-horned rhinos, has become a craze among the tourists to this area. The picturesque landscape of Gorumara National Park compromises of pristine forest, tall elephant grass, rugged reeds shallow pools, meandering river spread in the flood plains of Murti and Jaldhaka rivers against the background of snowcapped kanchendzonga and other Himalayan ranges. Gorumara National Park covers an area of 80 sq. km. including the upper Tondu Reserve and Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary, possessing an extremely rich bio-diversity. Staying one night in the Garati Watch Tower will be a lifetime experience. The watch is situated in the deep and dense forest of Gorumara national Park. It provides an amazingly beautiful view of wandering rhinos, Gaurs, Elephants and other wild animals. Buxa Tiger Reserve covering an area of 761 sq. km. nestles in the misty mountain trains in the North Eastern part of Jalpaiguri district. A 4kms trek to Buxa Duar & Buxa Fort (5600 feet) through the hilly terrain covered with sub-tropical forest from Santarabari will be a paradise for nature lover and trekkers. Regular train & bus services are available from Siliguri to Alipurduar (180 kms), from Alipurduar one can hire taxi to venture inside the Buxa Tiger Reserve. Dormitories and forest rest houses are available at Rajabhatkhawa, Jayanti and Buxaduar for the tourist.
JALDAPARA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Jaldapara Wild Life Sanctuary situated in Alipurduar Sub-Division of Jalpaiguri District in West Bengal is about 124 km from Siliguri. This sanctuary was constituted in the year 1941 for the protection of Wild Life, particularly one-horned rhinos, an animal threatened with extinction. River Toorsa runs through the Sanctuary. The forest is mainly savannah covered with tall elephant grasses. The wild life, in addition to one-horned rhinos, consists of Royal Bengal Tigers, wild elephants, deer’s, sambhar, barking deer, spotted deer and hog deer, wild pig, bison’s and a number of birds, peafowl’s. Elephant ride is arranged for viewing of wild life preferably at dawn. Nestled in the heart of the picturesque Dooars, is the habitat of the rare one-horned rhinoceros, the mighty bison, the spotted deer, the barking deer, huge tuskers, fearsome wild boars and a variety of birds and animals. Elephant safaris can be enjoyed at the Sanctuary. Spread in vast 114 sq km area is the Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary in northern part of West Bengal. The entire sanctuary lies in a level flood plain. Jaldapara Sanctuary holds the largest expanse of terai grasslands in North Bengal intersected with riverine forests, dry-mixed forests and wet-forests. The Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary was constituted in the year 1943 for the protection of wild life, particularly single horned Rhinos. It is a paradise for animal lovers and bird-watchers. The sanctuary is famous for One-horned Rhinos and the Royal Bengal Tigers. In winters, it becomes a favored destination for the migratory birds. The western part of the sanctuary is crossed by river Torsa, while the eastern stretch is drained by river Malangi. Torsa River rises in Tibet and flows across Bhutan before entering the Brahmaputra. Since the whole area is on the flood plains, floods can be serious, with entire forests washed downstream. The whole park can be seen on a thrilling Elephant-safari, organized from Hollong. Jeep safaris are also organized inside the sanctuary.
Wildlife Attractions in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary
The Fauna: The sanctuary is home to the Great Indian rhinoceros. A small population of the Royal Bengal Tiger is also here. Sloth bear, Swamp deer, Bison, Wild Boar, Indian Muntjac, Chital Hog Deer, Leopard, Asiatic Elephant are the major species of mammals present here. The park holds maximum number of rhino population in India after Kajiranga National Park in Assam.
The Flora: The sanctuary consists mainly of riverine forests, with grasslands, maintained by burning and flooding. Cassia grass is the widely spread of new riverine accretions. Found mainly on sandy soils, it can be encountered in clay pockets. The Sal trees are also found on the east banks of river Malangi. The sanctuary is covered with innumerable species of shrubs and trees.
The Avifauna: The sanctuary is a haven for bird watcher, especially in the winters, when the migratory birds flock here. The sanctuary is supposed to be the land of Bengal Florican. The other birds found here are the Crested Eagle, Pallas's Fishing Eagle, Shikra, Jungle fowl, Peafowl, Patridges, Bengal Florican and Pied Hornbill.
The Park Trip: The sanctuary can be best viewed on an adventurous elephant safari. The Jeep safaris are also arranged in the park. The sights of rhino in a muddy pond, the herd of elephants or the running deer are the thrilling experiences in Jaldapara.
The place is well-connected by National Highways and State Highways to important railway stations like New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri. The Delhi-Gauhati and Howrah-Gauhati routes also connect this area. Flights to Bagdogra, which is approximately 140 km from Madarihat, are available from Delhi and Calcutta.
By Road: From Siliguri by road to Jaladapara is 214 kms to 240 kms from Siliguri depending on the route taken. NH 31 is the main highway.
By Train: From New Jalpaiguri (north Bengal's largest railway junction); all trains stop at Birpara and Hansimara Railway stations. Jaldapara is 20 kms from here. Only passenger trains stop at Madarihat which is 7 kms from the sanctuary.
Madarihat has some good hotels. The Forest Department and Tourism of West Bengal also provide the accommodation inside the sanctuary.