Heavenly Dooars, Assam

The Banani Resort of West Bengal Forest Development Corporation is a great place to stay. One can book the rooms through online and the process and cooperation is excellent. Foods are excellent. Simply home away from home. the interior is a wood furnished decor and just takes everyone to heaven. Just outside the premises back side garden River Murti flows in its glory. There are other resort and hotels at Murti but one should try to avail this one to get the real essence.

Inside Banani there are two concrete double storied buildings.One of them having two cottage like rooms named “Koyal” and “Doyal” at the ground and first floor of that premises. We stayed in the other premises which has a spectacular view of river Murti from its common first floor balcony. The premises consists of some of the living arrangements like “Teeshta” , “Torsa”, “Jaldhaka”, “Mukti”, “Sukti”, “Murti” etc. The price range varies from INR 1800 to INR 3000 excluding tax. One interested to book can see all the prices online from WBFDC website and can book from there easily also.

Its better to book in the first floor and other than “Koyal” and “Doyal”.Our time was not a peak time and the jungle was supposed to close within 15 days. The best time to visit Murti in September to March for animal sighting. As for me the best should be just before shut down that means we got the real time because the jungle started its full green after one and two shower and in the hope of monsoon the sky became overcast most of the day. Personally I feel its more important to feel the jungle rather to see the occupants as a must. Well if one can get a chance then that is extra but always its good to feel the melancholy of the jungle, its serenity.

Banani Resort at Murti

Banani Resort at Murti

The total distance from Kolkata to Banani resort at Murti destination was around 670Kms. We reached Murti at around 1330hrs on 20th May 2016. We had our lunch and had some rest before a watch tower safari at Gorumara forest. The resort authority instruct us to gather near their gate to the safari jeep at 1600hrs. One can take tower safaries in gorumara, Chapramari and Khunia from here. Besically all are in the same stretch of jungle.

River Murti from the Balcony of Banani Resort

The location of Gorumara forest is in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. Nearest cities are malbazar, Mainaguri and Jalpaiguri. The establishment was back on 1949 with a status of Wild Life Sanctuary.It is located in the Tarai region of the Himalayan foothills,The midium sized park has its grasslands and forests and primarily know for Rhino population, also known for elephants, Bison( Indian Gaur) numerous types of snakes, monkeys, sloth bear,Chital deer, wild boar and Leopards. The lack of big carnivore like bengal tiger is absent from here though some incidents occured on sighting. according to jungle guide , back in 1994 last Tiger was sighted. One can find small carnivore like civets, mongooses and small cats. The park has a large resident population of wild boar and critically endangered pygmy hog. Numerous rodents including giant squirrels, rare hispid hare also been reported.

Animal sighting from "Jatra Prasad" watch tower at Gorumara forest Animal sighting from “Jatra Prasad” watch tower at Gorumara forest

Watch tower safari costs a total of INR 1990 including jeep fare, guide charge, ticket and all. After all the formalities made we started through Nation park gate to the Jatra Prasad watch Tower. The ride was excellent with all jungle flavor. The sound of jungle birds and continuous humming sound of cricket make you hallucinate of sudden ghostly feel of the pristine like jungle.

When we reached Tower there were already some visitors there and the tranquility was already broken by layman’s ignorance but all negative thoughts gone when we stand out in the open of the watch tower only to see river Murti flowing very far down below and a great herd of Bison grazing. After some observations with the help of guide we also discovered grazing Chitals and a lone Rhino. We stayed there for another 45 minuets and started for another watch tower near inspection bang low inside the forest. there were artificial salt licks near the towers to increase the animal sighting.

Our journey ended at the forest by the prompt actions of Mr guide and a very energetic oddisi tribal dance organised by the local tribal village with a cup of tea and biscuits. On our way to resort after the sun down our driver managed a narrow run over of a python, which was quite a tale.

Next day in the first half of the day we started for samsing to avail Laligurans picnic spot, Suntanikhola and near by Rocky Island. there was a route through chapramari jungle which was about 28 Kms instead we took the shortest road of 24 Kms following GPS through Chalsa, Metali then to Samsing. The road was excellent through numerous tea gardens with a back drop of beautiful forested hill.

Samsing is a small hill village and tourist spot in the Malbazar subdivision of Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal situated at an elevation of 3000 ft in the foothills of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts border. It is known for its beautiful landscape with green tea gardens, hills and forests, which attract a lot of tourists. It lies 18 km from the Neora Valley National Park.

It is the home of more than 2500 people. Its climate is noted for fog and cool breezes and a high rainfall. It has lots of beautiful picnic spots and tourist place. Some of them are Lali Guras,Rocky Island and Suntaley Khola. Neora Valley National Park is in a distance of an hour from here. Here you can find the fusion of hills, plains, rivers, forest, tea-garden and villages. In fact,it is a cute tea garden inhabited by lovely and helpful nepali people. Many local people are associated with tourism / tea / timber – related businesses.

Samsing tea gardens

Samsing tea gardens

Laligurans is a small picturesque sport by the side of fast flowing river and the time when we reached there the place was totally desolate except few domestic grazing. From the view point it was a stiff down hill drive to reach the extreme spot with 4 critical hairpins with a broken paved road. The spot was naturally classy but all man made structures was eroded by the lack of maintenance but personally I felt good to see that all the artificiality and debris was in the grip of nature with growing vegetation with the bliss of rainy season.

Laligurans

Laligurans

After Laligurans we started for Suntani khola and the mid way we had our breakfast with home made momo and wi-wi noodles in a local homely shop. Suntalekhola or Suntaley Khola (also Suntaleykhola) is a small village and a tourist spot in the Darjeeling District of West Bengal. The altitude of the place ranges from 650 to 950 m. It gets it name from a small stream: Suntaley Khola. In Nepali,Suntaley means orange and khola means stream.

This place is nearly 5 km from Samsing, which is also a small picturesque serene village. The green patch on the left side of the way to Suntalekhola is amazing and holds many varities of birds and butterflies. Locals told about leopard and himalayan black bear also. Before reaching the WBFDC resort at Suntani Khola one have to avail local ride in exchange of INR 150 for a ride of one and half Kms and have to part the car near the stand unless you have a booking over there but its worth taking. Total journey from Laligurans to Sultani Khola was 5.4 Kms. The road was broken and not good for two vehicals side by side in some places but acceptable.

At Suntalekhola, there are WBFDC cottages for the tourists to reside. Several trek routes originate from Suntalekhola, most of which are within theNeora Valley National Park, which is located adjacent to this place. It is known for its beautiful landscape with green tea gardens, hills and forests, which attract a lot of tourists.

Species of birds are found here include: pond heron, black eagle, hill partridge, red-vented bulbul, ashy wood pigeon, bronzed drongo,white-throated fantail, blue rock thrush, scarlet minivet, lesser racket-tailed drongo, rufous sibia, grey treepie, spangled drongo andcommon green magpie. Many locals are involved in tourism-related business.

Suntalekhola WBFDC Resort

Suntalekhola WBFDC Resort

From Suntani Khola to Rocky Island its mere 4.6Kms and form a hair pin bend of suntani Khola road the newly tared road is excellent.Rocky Island is an upcoming destination in Dooars. Murti River flows through the destination. The place is surrounded by hills and ideal for land base adventure activities like trekking, rock climbing & rappelling. Tented accommodation & a river bath are added attractions. Only a few accommodation options are available here for the tourists for accommodation with only basic needs. This is the most ideal place to dwell for the adventure loving travelers.

Rocky Island

Rocky Island

In the beginning we scheduled our trip by doing 3 to 4 watch tower safaris but consulting with the authorities we decided to take a 32 Kms jeep safari through the jungle which cost us INR 2100 including all. So after returning from Samsing and having a hearty lunch and some rest,the ride began at 1430Hrs on 21st May starting from Lataguri entry point.

After that the in between time passed in a hush and at the end we all longed for another visit to come.The life time journey includes neora jungle and its resort with lower stretch of neora river the Gorumara near core area, numerous jungle paths and a very exciting eerie feel. Though we only ended with a lone elephant bull and a bull bison crossed our path but the feel was simple more than satisfying.

Neora Jungle Camp

Neora Jungle Camp

22nd May started with a classy jungle drive to Jhalong through Chapramari forest of 14 kms.The total distance was 30 kms and to Bindu another 12 kms.The hill station is situated near the Indo-Bhutan border on the banks of the Jaldhaka River, on the way to Bindu.

Jaldhaka Hydro Electricity Project on the Jaldhaka River is a major attraction in this area. Bird lovers can enjoy a varied collection of hill birds as well as migratory water fowl here. The road is not so bad except few stretches and a bit stiff while returning from Bindu. One can enjoy the full valley view from Jhalong view point.

Jhalong View Point

Jhalong View Point

Bindu Dam at Indo-Bhutan Border

Bindu Dam at Indo-Bhutan Border

After returning Murti we leisurely pass our time by taking a stroll to river side, collecting some colored pebbles, took a visit to nearby Tree house resort and local market, retail Tata tea outlet. As our trip was supposed to come to an end but extended for another day to take a road trip to Mirik, which is another story and may carry on to my next travelogue.​

7 Comments

  • Archana Ravichander says:

    Beautiful location Debjit. It must have been a visual treat to see so many attractions in one trip – Nature, wildlife, tribal group and vast expanse of tea gardens.
    It is saddening to know that even in such nature reserves big carnivores are spotted less often these days.Wish something can be done about it.

    Your next lap is about Mirik, I am eager to read about it.. I have been there and your post should definitely bring back some good memories for me!

  • Debjit Chakraborty says:

    Thanks Archana for showing such encouraging interest to the topic.It’s always encouraging to be rewarded with some words from your like travel stalwarts. Thanks you once again.

  • Sharmistha Dan says:

    Your blog reminded me of my Murti-Kolakham trip back in 2013. Banani Resort is the best place to stay where one can spend an entire day listening to the gurgling sound of Murti River. You also reminded me of the picturesque North Bengal roads meandering thorough the acreas of tea gardens. Would love to revisit it on a road trip like yours.

  • Sumit Chaudhary says:

    Dear all,

    I have planned to visit Dooars during Dec2016. Here is the prog as of now, please give me your suggestions and expert views-

    Day 0-16 Dec-Fri board Kanchanknya from SDAH to new mal or Kamrup for New Moynaguri
    Day 1- 17-Dec- Sat reach New Mal at 9.05-move to suntale,eve at leisure
    Day 2 -18-Dec- Sun after brk fast leave for Banani Murti, visit rocky island on way, eve safari to JP WT + tribal dance
    Day 3- 19-Dec-Mon- day at leisure, walk by teesta, eve safari to Chapramari
    Day 4- 20-Dec -Tue after brk fast move to Ramsai, eve Medhla WT on bullock cart
    Day 5 -21-Dec-Wed after brk fast move to Aranya resort, day at leisure
    Day 6 -22-Dec-Thu after brk fast trip to jhalong, bindu and back to Aranya resort
    Day 7 -23-Dec-Fri-after brk fast move to Dhupjhora, afternoon watch elephants being fed & bathed, eve elephant safari + tribal dance
    Day 8 24-Dec -Sat morning safari, after lunch check out visit a few sightseeing places around lataguri, then to new mal stn to catch KKnya
    Day 9 -25Dec Sun reach Sdah.

    My questions-
    1) Is the sequence of places to be visited/to be stayed at ok, considering location/convenience of movement etc ? (very important)

    2) Can safaris Chapramari & Jatraprasad Wt arrangements/ passes be made from Murti(Banani) itself or we have to personally queue up at the Nature Interpretation centre at Lataguri? Medhla comes free with Ramsai and Kalipur.right?

    3) Which is a better place to stay Kalipur/Ramsai or Panjhora.

    4) Booking at Murti & Suntale can be done online 110 days in advance from WBFDC website. For Dhup/Kalipur/Ramsai/Panjhora, is tedious I believe. Have to contact Range officer, Eco Tourism Range over phone then fax DD. Correct? Any other easier means?

    5) Any other suggestions? Also for car hire.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Such green pics, I can imagine that this area (and the national park) would be as close to nature as one can go. And If my memory doesn’t fail me then probably this is the first story on Dooras, so bravo Debjit.

    I also see a question from a fellow Ghumakkar Sumit, so if you could suggest it would help Sumit plan better.

    Looking forward to read your Mirik story.

  • Debjit Chakraborty says:

    It must be an well organised trip where I may add a point. It seems according to your planning that you are more interested in safaries and safari releted activities which is actually desirable in Dooars trip.So as I think it would be a better option to stay at Banani and you can have all thejungle related activities from there. Also you can avail Jhalong Bindu from there. For Suntaleykhola and Rocky you can do it in half day or can stay at Suntaleykhola at WBFDC.

    Lastly I can assure you Banani is the BEST place to stay at Dooars specially in the concerned area. Believe me you’ll not regret. All the best and bon voyage.

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