In the morning, we decided to go to Jaldapara from Lataguri. We had nice breakfast in Lataguri and then drove to Jaldapara. The best part of this trip was that we didn’t have any prior plan and reservations. We just decided and moved ahead.

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Beautiful NH31
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Driving to Jaldapara from Lataguri, West Bengal
The drive to Jaldapara from Lataguri was very smooth and nice through forests, tea gardens with huge mountain range bordering the horizon.

After almost 2 hours of drive, we reached the gate of Jaldapara National Park. The gate was closed, obviously for monsoon and animal mating season from 16 June to 15 September.

The Jaldapara National Park is situated at the foothill of Eastern Himalayas on the bank of river Torsa in West Bengal (India). The vast grassland with patches of riverine forests, was declared a sanctuary in 1943 for protection of the great variety of flora and fauna. The main attraction of the sanctuary is Asiatic one-horned rhinoceros. The sanctuary holds the maximum number of rhinos population in India after Kaziranga National Park in Assam.

A huge statue of a rhinoceros was waiting to welcome us at the gate of the Jaldapara National Park, West Bengal, India
A huge statue of a rhinoceros was waiting to welcome us at the gate of the Jaldapara National Park, West Bengal, India

The chowkidar (check-post guard) at the gate of the forest came down seeing us and informed us that we could not be allowed in. If we want to stay there then we have to stay in hotels outside the forest area.

The gateway to Jaldapara National Park
The gateway to Jaldapara National Park: Sculptures of two rhinoceros are watching from the top!

The chowkidar was a nice man from our state — Jharkhand. He asked us to call a number and then he talked to a person, who happens to be the owner of a resort named Jaldapara Jungle Camp and Aranya Restaurant. He drove to us soon and led us to his resort in Madarihat on the National Highway, just adjacent to Reliance Petrol pump around a kilometer away. It was a nice resort. It’s situated just outside the main forest area. The Jaldapara forest is right where the resort grounds end. In fact, an electric wire fence at the back, just a few feet away from our cottage, is preventing animals wandering into the resort area. There is a small playing corner in the resort with swings.

We checked in the last cottage named after a famous river Rangeet. Rangeet is the largest river of Sikkim and is a tributary of Teesta river. For a long distance, Rangeet river marks the border between Sikkim and West Bengal. The adjacent one was named after another famous river Teesta. It has an excellent view and a tranquil atmosphere, far away from the hullabaloo of the cities.

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Other side of the fence is the national park area
Attic-cottages at the resort Jaldapara Jungle Camp, West Bengal
Attic-cottages at the resort Jaldapara Jungle Camp, West Bengal
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Our attic-cottage named Rangeet at Jaldapara Jungle Camp, West Bengal
Our attic-cottage named Rangeet at Jaldapara Jungle Camp, West Bengal
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When we opened the door of the air-conditioned cottage, we were excited to find it a quaint and cozy cabin in a duplex arrangement. There’s no TV in the cottage and that’s the best thing for a stay in a forest. Also, there is phone or wifi in the room.

It has an attic — machan style mezzanine floor inside the cottage with mattresses kept as a bed on the floor and a table fan!

The food at the Aranya Restaurant was quite good. We had nice Bengali lunch of rice, dal with a dash of Gandhoraj Lebu and fish curry.

Literally translated — King of flavours — the Gondhoraj Lebu (lemon) holds a special place in all Bengali households. It lends its unique fragrance to celebrated Bengali dishes.

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Waiting for our lunch at Jaldapara Jungle Camp, West Bengal
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Lunch at the resort restaurant
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It was a short trip here since the sanctuary was closed for rains, We stayed in the resort and visited Phuentsholing in Bhutan. After our short stay, we returned to Siliguri. Although it was a very short stay, we enjoyed our stay in the resort.

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