Unique Visitor 500499

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Name : ANURADHA GHOSH  [On Aug 18, 2012]

State : WB


Article :

With a desire to experience the scenic beauty of North Bengal in the onset of rainy season, we set out in Kanchankanya Express on the 16th of June for Malbazar, a small town in Jalpaiguri district. We reached dot in time .New MalTown is a sub-division of Jalpaiguri. Buses are frequently plying to Siliguri, Jalpaiguri town, Lataguri, Kalimpong etc from here. Cars are also available on daily/contract rates to a number of places of tourist interest like Jhalang, Bindu, Suntalekhola, Lava, Rishop, Lolegaon etc.
Since monsoon had already set in, we were welcomed by a slight drizzle which soon turned to pattering rain, when we headed for Sevoke to visit the CoronationBridge, after having checked in at Udichi ;a fairly good holiday home maintained by MalbazarMunicipality though it does not have a restaurant. A telephonic booking (Ph- 03562-257452)   from Kolkata -10 days prior to the date of journey –proved useful.
In Sevoke we visited the CoronationBridge, also known as the Sevoke Bridge-situated across the Teesta, connecting the two districts of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. It was built on the occasion of coronation of King George vi in 1937.Adjoining the bridge, the Sevokeshwari kali temple is another tourist attraction .A climb of 150 steps to reach the temple top is quite an exercise. On our way to the Teesta Barrage we visited Mong Pong a heavenly forest area 32 km from Siliguri. The breath taking view of the Teesta is spectacular! Amidst the deep Sal forest ,the forest log huts are worth staying for a day or two  .   One can even get to see some rare birds and animals in their natural surroundings if luck favours.For reservation one can contact -6/A Raja Subodh Malli Square ,Arya Mansion ,(7th floor) OR Tourist Centre ,Reservation counter,WBFDC,Govt of W.B,M-4 Building ,Hill Cart Rd,Pradhannagar  ,Siliguri-734403.
When we proceeded towards the Teesta Barrage, - the largest irrigation project of the North East India, situated 9 km from Odlabari -it was raining cats and dogs. It is a one- hour drive from Siliguri.However a hot cup of coffee kept us warm in our wet clothes .Our last destination on the first day was Kumlai Tea Estate owned by Kumlai Tea and Industries Ltd.Rain was our constant companion till then. We got the rare experience of visiting the factory and witnessing the tea making process ,of course with a prior permission taken through an old acquaintance of ours.
The next day was kept for Samsing and Suntalekhola touching Chalsa and Metelli on the way on NH31,the road which connects West Bengal to the North Eastern States .Chalsa is surrounded by tea gardens, forests and variety of flora and fauna.
Samsing is another beauty spot of N Bengal. It is a quiet shady haunt of nature lovers. The simple village folks and their carefully tended huts, the green hill slopes, the orange orchards and the cardamom plantations, make Samsing a unique place to visit.4km ahead of Samsing is Suntalekhola Nature Education and Wilderness resort. It is a place surrounded by dense forested hills. No other sound of civilization seems to reach the place except the sound of chirping birds, and the roaring sound of the Suntale stream. After having crossed the rope bridge in the approach point, one feels the seclusion of being attached to the primeval world. There are cottages and bungalows of WBFDC here. A valid document of booking of resort will save you from paying an extra charge of Rs 150 to the local vehicles owners who will take you to the Khola otherwise.
The next day after breakfast we set out in a cab for Jhalong, Bindu, Murti and Gorumara.River Jaldhaka was our constant companion on the way. Jhalong, 103 km from Siliguri, is a small village on the foothills of the Himalayas It is quite a busy locality.  On the way to Bindu from Jhalong we came across the Mahanadi and Chapramari Wild life Sanctuaries. Bindu is surrounded by hills on all sides and the main attraction is the Bindu Dam built over river Jaldhaka as a part of hydro-electric Project. The rapid flowing Jaldhaka is the demarcating line between the two countries –Bhutan and India. So the existence of an SSB camp is obvious. The river quite unaware of of the petty disputes of the human world flows rapidly fixed of purpose towards its destination .Spending an hour near the dam we returned to Chalsa for lunch. By 2pm we were ready for our next spot- Murti.It is about 25 km from Mal, 15km from Lataguri and 18km from Chalsa. The adjoining area is a deep forest of sal, sirish, and simul. The bungalows of WBFCD-‘Banani’are built in the lap of nature overlooking the forest. As gathered from the locals the area is quite frequently visited by the elephants, bison, deer and even rhinos to quench their thirst in the river after the dusk. Therefore it is advisable not to venture out after dusk.
The next day was kept for Lava and Lolegaon. The unpredictable weather at the onset of monsoon is typical of Dooers. The weather was fairly good in Mal when we left for Lava, although we did see some clouds gathering up amongst the distant mountains. Lava is a three hrs journey via Gorubathan from Chalsa .It can be approached from Kalimpong also. The up –hill journey towards Lava was a journey to the wonderland. Fog and mist was all over .At times the visibility was just five feet .Sometimes I wonder how the drivers find their way! Our Sumo driver Vishnu –an experienced man- was saying, conditions become worse in winters. However when we finally reached Lava the sun was still not visible .Being quite a known place Lava has many hotels and restaurants to offer apart from its scenic beauty and a monastery .The Lava Monastery also known as Ratnarishi Bihar Buddhist Gumpa is a majestic and spacious area. We met a host of Buddhist monks looking gorgeous in crimson dress. Here we had a rare view of one of the rare flowers-‘the bird of paradise’ in one of the gardens attached to the monastery .It’s golden hue was fascinating! After lunch we proceeded towards Lolegaon.The major part of the journey was undulating, full of sharp bends ,ups and downs and surrounded by pine  forests where  the lazy sunrays occasionally visit .The area seems to exist under a veil of fog and mist remaining wet and dark throughout. For the first time the sun appeared for a short while in the late afternoon when we had already reached Lolegaon –a comparatively less crowded place and more known for its scenic beauty and a serene atmosphere. After some refreshment with hot cup of tea and steaming ‘momos’ we went to visit the HeritageForest (entry fee 10/-per head) A forest of numerous known and unknown trees which are also the shelter for a rich variety of birds. A rope bridge is well maintained perhaps for watching birds in tranquility. At four in the afternoon we started our return journey. On the way back we experienced torrential rain typical of mountainous region in this time of the year. Experiencing poor visibility, overflowing rivulets, dry river-beds coming alive to quench their season-long thirst in the fresh shower of rain etc, the day came to a satisfying end .Surprisingly Malbazar knew nothing of the game the weather-gods played in the mountains. It had remained dry all through the day.
25km from Malbazar on NH31 is The Gorumara Wild Sanctuary. It is quite a popular tourist spot .But it is essential to know that the forest remains closed for the tourists from 16th June to 15th Sept.A few more kilometers ahead of the forest is Lataguri-another place worth visiting. We noticed a good number of tourist resorts are there .Permission for entry into Gorumara and Chapramari forest is given from Lataguri.
  The last day was a day of forced rest due to ill-health .However the six-days drifted away amidst the tea gardens and pine forest in no time and boarded the Kanchankanya Express bidding farewell to Dooers and making a silent promise to come back again.