Every year as the month of May comes my soul starts raising voice against me demanding a cool break for a few days. Generally I listen to my soul’s call. But this year due to time crunch I had to negotiate the break and reduce it to just 4days and 3nights. After a few weaks of search we decided to fix our destination place to Kolakham, a quiet village in North Bengal hills. Before that we decided to spend a night beside the Murti River in the Dooars. Fair enough! said my soul and finally we set off merrily on the 31st of May from Kolkata for Siliguri. Initially we had booked the tickets for Kanchankanya Express which was supposed to reach us till New Mall Junction from where our first destination Murti River was a mere 15kms by car. But as the the train has only 1 AC compartment, our tickets were not confirmed till the last day.
With no other way we had to cancel the tickets and opt for a volvo bus to Siliguri. It was perhaps the worst possible journey I had in my lifetime and henceforth given any amount of money I will never ever take this route. NH34 is perhaps the worst possible National Highways of India. Even a super luxury bus like Royal Cruiser cannot save you from the horrific bumps a through till Dalkola. But the road from Dalkola onwards is a treat. Anyways the scheduled time of 12hrs was extended to 17hours! My back was aching terribly. Anyways we hurridly took a car and set off for the West Bengal Forest Department Resort at Murti (Bonani). On the way we satisfied our revolting stomach with tasty lunch at Sevoke. The restaurants at Sevoke have a beautiful location with mountain and river view. You can even have a glass of beer alongwith food. With a satisfied tummy, a 1.5 hours drive will take you to Murti. Although there are other private resorts, the location of WBFDC resort is the best possible. Below is the photo of the view of river Murti from our resort.
One advise to anybody booking WBFDC Murti Resort. Please make sure while booking that they are booking the rooms in the First floor of the resort and not the ones on ground floor, which are horrible. There are four large AC rooms on the first floor named Tista, Torsa, Murti and Jaldhaka. The rooms are well furnished with a big attached balcony where you can sit and enjoy the calmness of the environment around with only the gurgling sound of the ever busy river Murti. The best part is the common area on the first floor. A complete wooden furnished sitting area with very comfortable couches and dining table. The rooms here do not have television but a single tv is provided in the common area. So that can be a problem for some. Apart from that this can be a really nice place if you visit this place in a group. There is plenty of space for the children to play in the common area as well as in the ground in front of the resort. A view of the resort exterior is shown below.
Since my fellow Ghumakkars have suggested me to put up more photos of the places I am writing about, I am putting up some more photos of this place. Below is the photo of Murti river at dusk.
You can go for a safari to Chapramari or Gorumara National Parks. The hotel authorities arrange for safari jeeps. But sadly we had to drop the plan as we were running short of time. I stood on the bridge over the river for a long time watching how merrily the river danced along its way. Jumping over the small stones on its path, it seemed to tell us the story of near and far. It is a very shallow river where you can lay down and warm yourself up with a bottle of chilled bear as you can fell the thrust of the ice cold water of the river hitting you softly. It is an absolute place for relaxation, be it with family or with friends. The cook of the resort is indeed very good. Warm and fresh food is served in the common place dining room. Apart from all these there is also a small library in the resort. To sum it all, this resort will make you feel completely at home. Although a day more would have given me more time to absorb the beauty of the place, but due to time constraints we had to set off for our next destination Kolakham, the next morning. The way from Murti to Kolakham starts though the mesmerizing tea gardens of Dooars. Straight smooth road with green tea gardens on both the sides is a sight that one can never forget. Below is the photo of the road.
Slowly you will find the road moving uphill showing beautiful views on both sides all through.The way to Kolakham passes through Lava, a small village near the Neora Valley Forest. You can stop here to have some lunch and visit the Lava Monastery. Having travelled Lava before, we did not want to spend any more time there and headed for Kolakham after a quick snack. You might have to change your vehicle at Lava to go to Kolakham as only four-wheeled care can travel through the rough road to Kolakham. The local people call it the Dancing Road and you will find that they are not quite wrong. It is not a proper road you can say. It is just a way local people have made through the Neora Valley Forest. As the car moves ahead you will find yourself moving deeper and deeper into the dense and raw forest. The best part is that this forest is yet untouched by mankind. It is as it is. It is dotted with sky high pine trees and plants and trees I had never seen before. Some were beautiful and some looked dangerous.It is a different ride altogether which I doubt you will get to go anywhere in India. Specially during May-June when this region receives good rainfall, the forest is a different beauty in itself. A drive of about 1 hour through this rough and rugged terrain will reach you to Kolakham, a small village in the forest. Silence is the only sound that you can hear once you reach this place. Kolakham is a tiny village atop the hills with only about 600 people of local Rai tribe residing there. Vehicles are perhaps the only kind of machinery that you will find in this place. With just a handful of tiny cottages, you will feel that perhaps you are the only tourist visiting this place. We had booked the Neora Valley Eco Huts Resort-Drongo. In such a remote location, we were really not expecting such beautiful accommodation as was provided by this Resort. A view of our cottage-Drongo.
These huts are built by the resort authorities but are completely run and maintained by the local people. That is really nice as the people of the village are happily serving the guests as well as earning their livelihood. Anyways, the cottages were really beautiful from inside. These are two storey huts, the ground floor being built of concrete. This is the kitchen and dining room. The first floor is completely wooden built and these are the duplex rooms for staying. A pretty big room with a big comfortable bed, provided a picturesque view of the hills around through the large glass windows on all the walls of the room. Really, what better place can be than here for a relaxing and de-stressing holiday, I thought. The was also a nice tea table and chairs in the room where you can just keep looking at the beauty of the place while sipping a hot cup of tea or coffee and local made cookies(which I really loved).These rooms are all duplex with a set of staircase from inside the room leading to an attic upstairs. This was the best part of the room, according to me. Each and every window pane here presents a breath-taking view.
After a quick lunch prepared from vegetables picked up from the surrounding forests, we could not wait anymore to take a stroll around the village. Every turn and bend of the path down the village revealed a different beauty of the place.
The cook of our cottage was kind enough to make pakoras and coffee for us in the evening which we had sitting in the big open balcony in front of our cottage (which was another favourite place of mine).
There is not much that you can do here except for the nearby Changey falls which you can also trek. But we decided to skip the falls as we had already visited it on our visit to Lava before. We decided to relax the entire day sitting in our room reading some books and listening to some good music and soaking ourselves in the mesmerising beauty of mother nature. So friends if you are an adventure lover and can’t sit at one place for long, this is not exactly the place for you. This is truly a place for people like me, tired of daily chores, city hustle and bustle and want to rejuvenate and gather energy on holidays rather than spend much. So, we spent the day strolling around the village, talking with the local people and sitting at the edge of the hills, singing and some like things. The next day it was time to say goodbye. Before we left, the girls who took care of us these 2days presented us with their signature green scarves and chocolates, what more could they do to stay in our heart forever.