You may have visited many exotic parks in the world with adorable gardens or magnificent butterflies. Have you ever imagined visiting a park dedicated to fossils? Today I would like my readers to experience a wonderful journey through an exclusive place, the Amkhoi Fossil Park. Located in the eastern part of India near Shantiniketan in the state of West Bengal, Amkhoi Fossil Park is a unique tourist destination. Before I describe the exquisite features of the park, let me provide you some information about the history of the fossil park.
The History of Amkhoi Fossil Park
The wood fossils in the Amkhoi Park was first discovered while the Forest department officials dug up a pond at the Amkhoi village situated near the Ilambazar forest. The angiosperm wood fossils specimens are proof of the dense deciduous forest that existed in the park premises. Analysis and research proved that these trees existed way back 15 to 20 million years ago. The scientists identified some of the species of the trees, the names and the history can be seen displayed at the park near the fossil leftovers. The Forest Department of West Bengal was instrumental in the protection and preservation of the wood fossils, encompassing the area to form the Amkhoi Fossil Park. The contribution of the local villagers is immense as they guide the tourists through the park explaining to them the significance of each fossil.
The deciduous forests originally existed in the Chota Nagpur Plateau and the Rajmahal Hills. The trees were carried by the floodwaters into the river basins of the districts of West Bengal, depositing sand and clay leading to the formation of the wood fossils.
The Unique Beauty of the Amkhoi Fossil Park
Once you enter the park, you will be spellbound to watch the fossil tree trunks scattered all around. Spread across an area of 10 hectares of land, the forest was initially being robbed of the fossils by thieves and hunters. It was the dedicated effort of the Amkhoi villagers that stopped the robbery and was turned into this wonderful fossil park, supported and assisted by the Forest Department.
The area is dominated by the Laterite soil or the red soil, hence the colour of the fossils is mostly red in colour. Traversing across the villages of Amkhoi and Jamboni, you can find different types of trees inside the park like Sal, Eucalyptus, Neem and many more. The large fossil tree trunks are placed on cemented platforms. The smaller fossil specimens are arranged systematically, grouping them for the tourists to observe and appreciate.
In the center of the fossil park, you can find the huge pond from where the fossils were discovered. You can find some of the fossils inside the water body. Adorned by huge trees and millions and millions of years old fossils attract tourists appreciating its enigmatic beauty.
The Amkhoi Eco Tourism Project
Under the sincere initiative of the West Bengal Forest Department, the park is now being transformed into an eco-forest. Several honest attempts have been taken up by the department, namely a deer park, children’s park, further pond excavations, beautification of the park and a picnic spot. These measures are being undertaken to increase the footfall of tourists inside the fossil park.
The locals have opened a cafeteria for entertaining the tourists visiting the park. It is run by the womenfolk. The local women have also set up a sales center inside the park premises. A museum is also present inside the park.
How to reach the park?
The park is situated near Shantiniketan, well connected to Kolkata which is the capital city of West Bengal. By road, you can board a bus or hire a cab from Kolkata to reach the park. Luxury AC buses are available easily from Kolkata and you can opt to reserve seats before for additional comfort.
You can reach the park by rail too. The nearest railway station is Bolpur which is well connected with Howrah and Sealdah, the two prominent railway stations of West Bengal. You can hire a cab or board a local bus from Bolpur to Amkhoi, covering a distance of 18 km.
By air, there are two options. One is to catch a domestic flight from Kolkata International Airport or Delhi International Airport to reach the Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport at Andul. From Andul you can avail trains or buses to reach Amkhoi via Panagarh. The other option is to reach Amkhoi directly from Kolkata International Airport. You can hire a cab or board a bus to reach Bolpur from the airport.
Though East India allures thousands of tourists every year with its pristine natural beauty and historical heritage, these unique parks miss the attention of many. It is my earnest request to respect the undaunted effort of the locals of East India to preserve and protect Mother Nature’s exquisite creation. Please visit the park and add it to your bucket list, if you are planning to visit East India.
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