Dhupjhora Elephant Camp

I always keep planning for my next trip…Have my list of dream destinations with every little details of each place… and always have a disclaimer at the end…Whenever I go…we should plan it this way…one such pending activity was staying in the forest house…Sit in the balcony in a moonlit night and be amazed at the beauty of your surroundings…..I had once stayed in a 7th floor apartment with my private balcony overlooking the sanjay Gandhi national park …but somehow never managed to even take a evening stroll to the park gate…so this time it was my chance…



We were planning for a weekend trip…given a option I can just relax…wake up in the warmth of the first ray of the sun…Have breakfast…Go for a morning walk…do nothing for the whole day…But this time we wanted some jungle safari in a not so crowded location…

My 2 and a half year old nephew was completely mesmerized with this place. With his eyes wide open he had told me how he loved surya, aman and aranyak (the elephants in this camp). I got to know the details from my brother and we were all set for the trip. It’s a package deal…you get to stay in tree house or cottages and go for an early morning elephant ride into the forest..Evening tribal dance…And all the meals including delicious pakoras served as evening snack…

Getting There:

Flight takes only 1 hour but timings are odd (You reach Bagdograh by afternoon). So we opted for the overnight train journey and all we could manage was reservations in special trains (Durga Puja Specials J ).  We had booked the tree house for two nights. Arpan, the travel agent, had informed that there was only one tree house and rests of the cottages were regular eco-friendly cottages, made to look like tree house.

Journey from NJP to dhupjhora was kind of a mixed path…we took the left turn after Sevak Bridge..With the increased chill we were under an impression that there would be lot of steep curves and sharp bends…initially there were steep curves, rivulets and culverts. But soon we bade goodbye to the hills and we were heading on a road with lush green tea gardens on both the side…sometimes you would just stop and wonder how come life was so peaceful over there…

The Camp

It took us exactly 2 and a half hours… last 40-45 minutes were quite disappointing…there was no distant sign of forest or mountain…all we could see was small huts, village people and cows roaming around. We had almost started cursing my brother when we entered the elephant camp area. You could see thick forest starting just where the camp fence had ended. People seemed friendly and the tree house was wonderful. Lunch was ready so we rushed to our room to unpack and take a bath. Bucket full of hot water is served at your doorstep with no extra charge.

Lunch was good. And Bhupesh (the guide cum elephant trainer) was ready to take us to the river where the camp elephants were going to have a bath. These camp elephants are the ones who got deserted from their family. They get proper nourishment here and once they become adult they start venturing in the forest bringing back woods and other required stuffs to the camp at the end of the day.

River murti is just a walking distance away. We walked through the forest for 5 minutes and we could see murti. He just partially covered his mouth with both his palms and made some noise and I could see 6 elephants popping out of nowhere. And those mahuts seemed to be the coolest guys, standing casually on their back.

The total bathing thing was kind of a ritual which these elephants really enjoy. They would just toss their side and bhupesh and mahuts would just scrub and clean their body. They almost look like those pampered kids thrown in the swimming pool. We joined them in bathing the kiddo, who still has not got any name.

The elephants were on their way back home and we were told it’s not that safe staying back in the riverside…we turned back to feed Surya and the unnamed kiddo. These elephants eat all the time and hardly sleep for 2-3 hours. Rice grains are put inside banana leaves to add the ‘x’ factor they would miss if they run away from the camp.

Bhupesh asked if we were interested in a stroll through the jungle and we agreed immediately. Forest in gorumara is quite dense and very soon we found out that we had just missed out a herd of elephants. A man was killed here a day before, we were told.

Sun set was beautiful in the forest and on our way back we managed to see a hornbill and a pair of peacocks. A handful of people reside in a village, just a stone’s throw away from the camp. Most of them work in this camp.

Our balcony overlooked the forest and the tea garden, it was full moon night and we arranged for a romantic candle lit evening time. It was cold really cold and amidst the pin-drop silence we could only hear elephants and birds making their way back home.

Snacks(Tea and Pakoda) were served and we were all geared up for the evening entertainment. They performed folk dance on stage. I have always loved all kind of folk music and dances, so it was an added bonanza for me.

Dinner was ready and the best part about this camp kitchen is that it is a very homely set up. They serve fish in lunch and chicken/mutton at dinner.We were dead tired and beside we had to wake up early for the elephant safari.

Alarm went on perfectly @ 5 and we started at 5-15. Aranyak and surya was ready to take us to the forest.

ok. they do not have a chair kind of seat ..you just have a rope to hold on to. The best part was we were the only guests taking the safari that day. It was a complete VIP treatment.We crossed the river and headed towards the deeper part of the jungle.

The grasses in the wet land area were taller than us and we had to make our way through them by cutting whatever came on the way. By that time bhupesh had a ‘feel’ that a rhino family should be very close by. We spotted a kiddo one and he insisted that the parents too must be around. He led the way and we just took a turn and saw a huge rhino standing still, staring at us. Obviously he was not pleased at all. Apparently elephants and rhinos don’t generally mess with each other. So after standing there for almost 10 minutes bhupesh said its better we change our direction and move on. The safari lasted 2long hours and by the end of it we had spotted a herd of elephants, another herd of bison, and two rare hornbills.

One amazing thing we noticed is that these camp elephants are aware of the fact that they have been domesticated and they know that other wild elephants will not mingle with them if they find out the truth. So whenever they are about to enter the forest they just put loads of mud in their body and pretend to be a wild thing.


Moral of the story is if you don’t like popular(read crowded) wild destination and love to be left alone with mother nature, this can be a dream vacation for you. You’ll surely love the raw freshness of this camp. A point of caution ..if you are staying in Dhupjhora, you don’t need to take the touristy trip to gorumara watch tower. that’s a sheer waste of energy and money.

 

Accommodation

You can contact Arpan (9836006067/ 9434229003). He’ll guide you and book your rooms for the trip. For cabs from NJP to the camp, you can reach out to Deben (9932865637/ 9475218162). Both of them were really helpful. For any other queries you can contact Bhupesh (guide – 9800660768 )

 

29 Comments

  • Very good post . nice pics.specially i liked the photo of that rhino…………………………..

    keep traveling and posting……………………

  • vinaymusafir says:

    Well narated post with well clicked pics.
    First pic is amazing. :)

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Very well written & equally supported by beautiful picture. The first picture show that you are very creative.

  • Vibha says:

    Very Cool Sanghamitra. I had never heard of Dhupjhora before. Elephants are intelligent and endearing creatures. Though I never knew that they were cunning as well as you’ve observed that they throw mud on themselves to mingle with the wild elephants. Thanks for the wonderful post. Keep writing.

  • Sanghamitra says:

    Thank u guys..

  • Asish K Das says:

    I had heard of Dhupjhora earlier, but did not have any feed back from actual traveler so far. Great to read this story…now I can plan a trip to this relatively unknown part of Dooars. But I would have been happy had there been some indication of cost (for budget purpose). Thanks Sanghamitra for a lovely travelogue and brilliant photographs.

    • Sanghamitra says:

      I’m glad you liked it…
      My mistake about the cost part..
      I had been there almost 2 years bk..it had cost me 3.5k per night for the tree house..including all the meals and the elephant safari..it was really good…..Arpan can tell you the latest tariff ..

  • ashok sharma says:

    it seems to be heaven,or one can say heaven may not be as beautiful as this one.great photographs,one having a tree and vivid colors of sky is superb.

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    @ Sanghamitra ,

    Very nicely written supported with superb pics. Thanks for introducing a lesser known place. Hope to read more from you.

    Sahil

  • hemanth says:

    Tree house looks very cool. Can’t imagine getting up for the sounds of the bird chirpps, watching domestic elephants doing their things, over a cup of hot tea from the awesome tree house. Lucky you.

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    very nice pictures & good Post ..

    Thanx

  • Naman says:

    Outrageous…. The first pic is adorable. :)

  • Nandan says:

    Glad to see you back Sanghamitra. Your log on Cherrapunji and those bridges are still there on top of my mind :-).

    Great pictures and it seems like a brilliant weekend option for Kolkata.

    Hope to read more of your stuff soon.

  • Angela says:

    Hello. Do you have a website or an email address for this camp? I live in Dubai and am planning a trip to this area and would like to find out more about it. Thanks!

  • Sanghamitra says:

    Hello Angela,

    You can find some details in th website http://www.jalpaiguriwildlife.org/geco.html
    and you can always call Arpan..

    Sanghamitra

  • Sandip says:

    Sanghamitra,

    Wonderful pictures taken… I am planning my next holiday to the North East

    Sandip

  • ABReg says:

    Hi Sanghamitra,
    I am having trouble finding a way to book a cottage at the Dhupjhora Elephant Camp. WB Tourism in Kolkata says its not their property and WB Forest Dept says its not their either. It’s getting very frustrating :( Could you please advise how you made the booking. Thanks much.

  • Sanghamitra says:

    @ABReg..
    sorry for my delayed reply…Are you not able to contact Arpan at the given no? if not, you can find out the reservation details from the website http://www.jalpaiguriwildlife.org/geco.html
    you might also conatct Mr. Bishwapriya Rahut from thirdeye at 91-3561-30645
    In my case, we normally call Arpan for our reservations..he is also from thirdeye..
    Sanghamitra

  • ABRe says:

    Thanks so much, and no need to be sorry for getting behind. You are doing a great help to others by sharing your experience and advice :)
    I tried to call Arpan’s number a few times earlier but it was busy. I will try again today. One thing I am not sure about is how to make the reservation, as I presume that until they receive full payment they cannot really reserve it for sure. I saw that Third Eye is based in Jalpaiguri which we won’t reach until the morning of checking in Gorumara. Maybe there is a way to book with them in Kolkata…

  • Sanghamitra says:

    @ABRe..
    Arpan is normally very busy with all the reservation thing..when we did the booking we talked to him over phone..payment is easy….you can transfer money to their account..

  • Anubrata says:

    Hi, thanks a lot for the information..i need a simple information from you..suppose i have paid the money for booking to Third Eye..now how am i going to get the receipts??

    Thanks in advance.

    Keep it up..

  • Anubrata says:

    MOreover Arpans number is no more valid.can you pls give me his current valid cell no.?

    thanks again.

    • Sanghamitra says:

      Hi Anubrata,

      Sorry for the delayed response..the first no 9836006067 mentioned here still works.
      About the receipt..we had transferred the money and later when we met Arpan he gave us the booking papers..it’s all mutual trust..but if you ask and there is enough time they can normally send the details to your address..

    • ABReg says:

      I will completely back Sanghamitra. My wife and I went to Gorumara Elephant Camp at Dhupjhora about a month ago, and did the booking for the cottage through Arpan. His service was excellent to say the least, he replied to all my queries most kindly, and refused to even take a service charge. It’s truly rare to find such people/organisations these days.
      Anyways, trust is a question of personal choice and there’s nothing wrong feeling a bit iffy with sending money to people you are unfamiliar with, nevermind what others (like me) have to say. I had transferred the money to Arpan’s company account, and he sent me a receipt by email. The receipt has a booking serial number that you can verify if you wanted to with Ecotourism Range Officer at Gorumara (99327 86001). If you want to do the booking directly with the Ecotourism Range, that may also be possible (inquire at the same number, more info – http://www.jalpaiguriwildlife.org/gev.html). The process will be the same though – you will have to send the money first, and only after they receive the money you will get a confirmation. Unfortunately WBFDC does not have an online booking system unlike WBTDC, so this is the only way out of town tourists can make reservations.
      Hope this helps!

      • Sanjukta says:

        Hi Sanghamitra,
        first to tell u that its a very very useful blog…it will help us a lot…I have a question about this dear…that..can we see river murti from the tree hoses? how far the river is?

        • Sanghamitra says:

          Hi Sanjukta,

          I’m glad that you liked it. Unfortunately you cannot see river murti from the tree house. But the river is very much walkable from the camp( hardly takes 5 mint, through the jungle).

          Sanghamitra

          • Sanjukta says:

            thank you Sanghamitra, thanks for ur quick reply…stay well, keep fit and enrich us with more n more of ur travel stories. :)
            bye..

  • Anjan Nandy says:

    Hi

    Your write up & photograph is so good. I think if you give details about charges like rooms, elephant riding etc. it will be good for us.

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