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West Bengal: Siliguri
Siliguri, about 606 km from Kolkata, is known to the people of West Bengal as a business hub of North Bengal, and gateway to all the beautiful places of North Bengal.. Siliguri is a narrow strip of land which links mainland India to its north-eastern states, acting as a true gateway. It is also an important transit point for air, road and rail traffic to the neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Siliguri acts as a transportation point to the travelers who are moving towards Darjeeling, Mongpu, Mirik (also spelt as Mirick), Lava, Lolegaon, Gangtak and Jaldapara. Siliguri is connecting two international destinations (China and Mayanmar) to India by road.
Long back in 1540 Shiva Singha was the king of Siliguri. Later he decided to transfer the capital to Jalpaiguri, the twin city of Siliguri. Siliguri is not a historical city but it is definitely a city which has a lot of potential to become one of the strong industrial cities of India. Moving in and around the city and enjoying the shopping in Hongkong market, situated at the connector of Sebak and the Hill cart road is an enticing experience for city dwellers. The Hillcart road reaches right up to Darjeeling; and is the most convenient way to travel to Darjeeling, though not the shortest. Interested tourists can buy tea, oranges or pineapples with them while coming back to their homes. Recently Siliguri had organized international sports tournaments and that has given Siliguri the recognition of a city which is coming up with hi-tech infrastructures. If you have time you can see science centre and enjoy the scenic beauty while going towards the Bagdogra, the nearest airport to Siliguri. But the city is loosing its charm due to the quick urbanization, massive people moving into the city for livelihood, and expansion of industries.
Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, about 18 km off Siliguri, is a wildlife sanctuary at the foothills of the Himalayas with spreading over a sprawling stretch of 127.22 square km. It got the status of a sanctuary on 14th June, 1976. You can hire a vehicle and enter the sanctuary at a minimal entry fee but entry to the core area of the sanctuary is restricted because of the density of vegetation of the sanctuary. Different types of wild animals like tigers (12), Himalayan Black Bear, Sambar, Pig and many species of deer are found here. However it is famous for its wild elephants and peacocks. It is said that these elephants travel for around 1000 km sometimes and come to the locality. The Gulmakhola rail station on the railway track to Alipurduar from Siliguri is abandoned now due to the accosting elephants from the impenetrable forest area. However, the sanctuary is closed in the rainy seasons but it is kept open for travelers on all Sundays during November-March every year. For a comfortable and enjoyable journey travelers can book their tickets with State Travelling Association who organizes a package tour to the sanctuary from Siliguri.
Bird lovers can visit Kalijhora, the heaven for birds, at the banks of the River Tista, for watching various species of birds in the forest. Nature lovers can view nature from a different scientific perspective from the Nature Interpretation Centre.
Madhuban, lies on the way to Mirick from Siliguri, at a distance of 10 km from Siliguri, is a destination for picnic and outing amidst nature. You can spend a nice day here watching deer and peacocks strolling in Madhuban. Hiring an auto or taxi and going to see the Tista barrage and Sukna Lake will definitely add a flavor to your picnic.
How to reach: Siliguri is well connected with Kolkata by Buses and trains and by airways as well. Buses are very regular from Esplanade bus terminus, Kolkata. You can get buses in different ranges starting from 160 to 350 rupees per head. It takes approximately 13 hours to reach Siliguri from Kolkata. If you prefer railways, you need to take a train from Sealdah or Howrah railway station, Kolkata and get down at New Jalpaiguri station (NJP). There are numerous autos, taxis, rickshwas and buses that ply from NJP to Siliguri.
Where to stay: Hilkart road and Sebak road are the heart of the city. Popular hotels are also doing businesses around that area. Hotels like Niladri Palace, Nataraj, Venus, Savoy, Blue Start, Prakash, Samrat and Saluja residency are some of the notable ones. To book hotels at Siliguri, try our link below, at the lower panel of the page.