Celebrating Wild Life Day: A Visit to Gorumara National Park, Eastern India
“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.” —Robert Louis Stevenson.
These lines are very true. I keep visiting the forests often. I feel charged and energised by the little break from the daily mundane. Gorumara National Park in the Dooars region of Bengal in India is one such place where I keep returning and always find something new. This forest is accessible from Chalsa and/or Lataguri; the small towns situated at the lush Himalayan foothill in Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal, India.
Lataguri has a Nature Interpretation Centre; from where tickets, entry permits and other enquiries regarding the forest safaris of Gorumara National Park can be obtained. Even an Animal Transit Centre is here for the treatment of rescued animals.
Nature’s abundance is felt here at the Gorumara National Park. Let us see have a look at the things to do on visiting the National Park.
Safaris at Gorumara National Park
Gorumara National Park is spread over an area of 80 square kilometres; with Rivers Murti, Jaldhaka and Raidak flowing through, at the foothills of the Himalayas. This dense and moist deciduous forest with riverine grasslands is an enticing place to visit. Gorumara National Park is popular for its variety of flora and fauna. A guided jeep safari takes tourists to the core area. One can often spot elephants, one-horse Indian rhinos, wild boars, deer, snakes, peacocks and giant squirrels. Two safaris take place; one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The watchtowers are pivotal to the safaris. Climb them and spend some time up there silently and patiently. The watchtowers are high and provide 360 degrees views. The watchtowers are strategically made near the river banks and salt licks are placed near the watchtowers. From the watchtowers, sighting the wild animals is definite as they come to drink water from the river. They are often seen crossing the river. They lick minerals and the salt from the salt licks. The dense forest, the flowing river, wildlife on its bank and near the salt licks and the silhouette of the Himalayan Mountains weave unknown magic.
The significant watch towers in the Gorumara National Park are Jatra Proshad, Medla, Chukchuki and Chandrachur.
Medla Watch Tower
The safari to the Medla Watch Tower is absolutely unique and is a complete package. The Watch Tower is near Kalipur Eco Village. It is 1 kilometre from the entry point at the Eastern Gate of the Gorumara National Park. We walked through the woods and climbed the Medla Watch Tower. And we were delighted to see many animals. We saw elephants crossing the river, gaurs (Indian bison), wild boars, rhinos, peacocks dancing in the field and numerous birds including an eagle and a hornbill.
Kalipur Eco Centre
By the time we reached the Kalipur Eco Centre, it was dusk. There we watched an amazing tribal dance. In the end, we danced with them. One cannot keep calm during a tribal dance. Such is the power and rhythm of their music. The promotion of rural folk culture and their handicrafts is significant. They coexist with the wild on a daily basis.
The morning safaris start at 5 am. The earlier you reach, the better it is. The drive through the mist at dawn feels like some good dream. The forest is mysterious. It allures. It has stories to tell. During the safari, one has to be alert and quiet. There could be an animal in front of you anytime. The animals always keep a watch. They are often camouflaged or are hidden behind large trees. Perfumes and bright coloured clothing should be avoided. Using flash during photography is absolutely prohibited.
Jatra Proshad Watch Tower
Jatra Proshad is a remarkable watchtower. Last month when I stood at the tower speechless and watched the foggy sunrise; I thought to myself, ‘Does heaven look any better?’ Structurally too, it is different from the rest of the watchtowers. It is a wide platform on the hilltop. The wide plains can be seen from the top.
Chukchuki Watch Tower
Chukchuki Watch Tower is a bird lovers’ paradise. It is called the Birding Point of Gorumara National Park. Well, even if I conclude the safari part, things to do near Gorumara National Park doesn’t end.
Visit the Dhupjhora Elephant Camp
Even if you are not lodging at the Dhupjhora Elephant Camp or Gachbari, do not skip visiting the place. The Elephant Camp is essentially the elephant stable of the Gorumara National Park. It is home to several rescued elephants who are now assisting the forest department for patrolling. Ecotourism has been developed in this area. Few rustic cottages are available and one of them is a treehouse. The reason for the place being named Gachbari meaning ‘tree house’. We saw many elephants. This place amidst dense forest and tea gardens is absolutely enchanting.
Watch the Sunset at Murti
Drive to the tranquil banks of River Murti, lying in between Gorumara and Chapramari. Watching the sunset; while sitting calmly by the river is relaxing for both the body and the soul. Dip your feet in the cool river water. It is therapeutic. Then enjoy a thrilling drive through the road which goes through the Nagrakata forest. The drive will be etched in your mind. Any moment you may encounter elephants crossing the highway. Definitely, you have to drive carefully.
Visit the Tea Gardens of Chalsa
The lush tea gardens with the Himalayan hills at the backdrop is bound to attract you. Go inside the tea gardens and walk through the bushes. You will be rejuvenated. Tea is a proven detox anyway. It is better to take a guide with you and/or enter when people are working in the gardens. Leopards often reside amidst the low bushes.
Safari at Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary
Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary with the Himalayas at the backdrop is just 20 kilometres from Gorumara National Park. It is a spectacular place to visit. Tourists can often spot elephants, gaur, wild boar and leopards during a jeep safari through the deep forest.
Gorumara National Park is one place where you can experience the thrill of the wild; the tranquillity of the Himalayan foothills; the serenity of rivers and streams and the composure of lush tea gardens.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.