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West Bengal: Buxa Tiger Reserve and National Park
Rajbhatkhaoa, situated in the territory of Buxa, one of the oldest settlements in North Bengal, has got its name according to the story of the king of Bhutan and the king of Cooch Behar. It is believed that according to his vow the king of Cooch Behar ate rice (Bhat) in the jungle of Rajbhatkhaoa only after the king of Bhutan decided to quit and return back to Bhutan. The watchtower of Rajbhatkhaoa is an ideal place to watch wild life.
Khoerbari nature park and leopard rehabilitation center, at the left hand side on the way to Birpara from Madarihat, about 10 km from Madarihat, is a very pleasant serene forest for leopard safari. Boating in the middle of green nature here will be a refreshing experience.
Nature lovers who want to visit a forest which doesn’t have many tourists around and also wish to relax for a day or two should visit Ghutimari, a forest about 6 km from Goyerhata towards Nathura.
Chilapata Forest, at the banks of Burha Torsa River, is a dense natural forest near Jaldapara in Dooars. The prime attraction that draws the crowd here is the "Nalraja Garh" or the fort of the Nal kings. The fort was built during the Gupta period in the fifth century with a total area covering 1.295 square km inside the forest. It’s really very sad to see the condition of the fort but still it has an incredible archeological weight as it reminds a golden period of Indian history. Although the wildlife sight at this place is quite good but the site is not maintained appropriately.
Buxa National Park:
Buxa Pahar, once famous for dolomite mining, is 24 km from Alipurduar and 180 km from Siliguri (Siliguri is 606 km away from Kolkata), well connected by both road transport and by railways. Buxa has an area of 745 sq km and has got the status of the National Park in 1992. In 1993 Buxa national park also got the status of Buxa tiger reserve with 15 tigers in and around the area. Several trek routes also originate from Buxa to different destinations.
Buxa is rich with biodiversity and it has a huge assortment of medicinal plants and more than 132 different kinds of uncommon orchids. As it is difficult to get to the certain terrains, parts of Buxa hills are still somewhat uncultivated. A lot of tourists who come to Dooars also visit Buxa to explore the veritable flora and fauna of the dense forests. In account of the generic diversity of mammals, it is the second highest among all the tiger reserves of India and it has also got the second rank in tiger population in West Bengal. Even though Lal bungalow, Daragaon, fort and Sadar Bazar, all of them located within a 2 square km area in Buxa, are in ruins but their presence will take you back to the British time when East India Company was ruling West Bengal.
765 square km of Moushui forest of Buxa, has no dearth of wild animals. The park holds 67 species of mammals and 23 out of them are very rare. In the core area, (304 square km) the forest has 125 elephants, 360 Indian bison, 100 leopards, 32 tigers, 234 species of birds and reptiles. More than 149 species of trees, 250 species of shrubs, 400 species of herbs, 32 species of cane, 7 species of bamboo, 36 species of grass and 130 species of aquatic flora have been identified so far. There are more than 160 species of other monocotyledons and ferns. Main species include Sal, Champ, Gamar, Simul, Chikrasi etc. Tea gardens, dolomite along with the crisscrossed river Raidak and the villages of Dukpas (A community) lying by Raidak river are the additional attractions for the tourists.
Enthusiast can go to Manas sanctuary crossing the beautiful Sinchula and trek to the Rupam valley at a distance of 12 km from Buxa for having a delightful experience of landscapes. The journey through the entire region by the banks of Dima, Mansh, and Bala rivers is filled with unknown quest and excitements and offers spectacular views of Jayanti River Valley far below, glimpses of rare animals, ever green forest canopy, and colorful birds around.
Bhutanghat, known as Raidak North range blue heaven, is truly a heaven to the tourists. The beautiful forest, known and unknown birds, the low valley of Raidak river with its blue water, wild animals strolling around and drinking the water of Raidak River are unforgettable and rare sights for a tourist. Another forest is Raidak, which has everything to satisfy tourists. Sights of a group of elephants, chirping of birds and tea gardens on the way to Raidak will never let you feel stressed out. Tourists can stay overnight in Raidak forest bungalow or Bhutanghat forest bungalow situated at the border of India and Bhutan.
If you decide to visit nearby Nimati and Raimatang forests, then these two forests also have everything to offer, starting from small cottages of backward communities to wild animals to take you to another world away from mundane city life. In case if you decide to spend a night here in Raimatang then the only option available to you is the hotel Aranya Mahal.
Some other nearby places of Buxa that deserve a visit are Sakhiabazar, famous for oranges, at a distance of 1 km from Bhutanghat bungalow, Bhutinapara, situated about 7 km from Raidak, at the foothills and the romantic Piping, at a distance of 5 km from Bhutanghat.
Jayanti, a picture perfect spot on the banks of the twisty Jayanti River acting as a natural border with stunning Bhutan hills, is a special place with its diversified wildlife animals and beautiful birds on the surface of Jayanti River. Buxaduar to Jayanti, 13 km trek passes through the intense forest of Buxa, is a popular trekking track of Dooars. The music of wilderness and the song of wild streams are very soothing in the opaque forest of tall Sal, Simul, Palash and shirish trees all around. 234 species of birds, 149 types of trees, 169 types of shrubs, 89 species of grass and 132 species of orchids are the specialties of the rich forest. The journey ends with a stalactite cave of Jayanti, popularly known as the Mahakal cave. It is difficult to enter into the narrow, dark and damp cave but trying to do the same could be an unforgettable piece of adventure for the courageous tourists or trekkers. The road inside the cave of Pagla baba, another spiritual place, is even more dark and dangerous. Pukuri pahar and the pond on top of it, at a distance of 2 km from Paglababa cave, are famous to local people as it is believed that the pond has power to fulfill wishes of devotees. The downhill trek from here leads to Jayanti Forest Bungalow.
How to reach: A lot of express trains are running in this route to New Alipurduar from Howrah and Sealdah railway station, Kolkata. Take a train at 14:25 hours from New Alipurduar to Rajbhatkhaoa, the entry point to Buxa. It takes approximately 12 minutes to reach you to Rajbhatkhaoa. Kolkata is also very well connected to Alipurduar by bus. From Alipurduar you need to avail another bus to Rajbhatkhaoa, about 10 km away from Alipuduar.
Where to stay: The woody two storied forest bungalow in Rajbhatkhaoa should be place for staying and visiting Buxa, Jayanti, Raidak and many more nearby forest destinations. You can also try our links lower down in the page.