After chilling in the foggy Himalayas and feeling the cool winter bridge of the hill step down to the land of dense forests and lush green tea gardens, sprinkling rivers and reserves of wildlife Sanctuaries, National park, Wild orchids and Tiger reserves. It’s located in the District of Jalpaiguri, accessible by any traveling mode like air/road. The beauty of this place lies not only in the tea gardens but also in the virgin forests and the river Teesta and its tributaries which is the root of the countryside. Below is the list of places to visit :
The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary :
The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary constitutes the forests of the lower catchment area of the Mahananda river, and covers an area of 159.86 sq.km. Situated at the western end of the elephant migration route, more than 150 elephants shelter here during the monsoon and winter seasons. Migratory water birds are common in winter. The other animals found are the rare mountain goat (Serow), some tigers and herds of Gaur, leopards, wild pig, arieties of deer and monkeys, jungle cats, porcupines, civets, monitor lizards and snakes. The Sanctuary offers some beautiful trekking routes from Sukna. Golaghat, Deorali and the Latpancher-Mana track are the favorites for trekking and bird watching. Sukna, about 7 km from Siliguri, is the main entry point, and has a Nature Interpretation Centre.
Singhalila National Park
Singhalila National Park is the highest located National Park(between 2400 m to 3650m A.S.L.) in West Bengal, and is situated in the extreme north western boundary of Darjeeling District. The park is not only famous for its wildlife but also offers one of the best trekking routes in the eastern Himalayas -from Maneybhanjang near Darjeeling, via Tonglu to Sandakphu (35Km) and Phalut. The view of the Kanchendzonga range of peaks from Sandakphu is a breathtaking and unforgettable one. Viewed from Phalut, the Kanchedzonga looks close enough to touch. There is also a motorable road upto Sandakphu. Rail, road and air routes via New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri and Bagdogra, connect Darjeeling from Calcutta and Delhi.
Gorumara National Park
This is the migratory route of the Asiatic elephant. The Indian Bison or Gaur is found almost everywhere. The endangered one homed rhino can be seen at Jaldapara and Gorumara. The Royal Bengal Tiger can be found at Mahananda & Buxa with other numbers of the cat–family dominating all forests & tea gardens. The flora & fauna breaks all records of bio-diversity. In between are the settlements of small tribes like Mech, Rava, Oraon, Munda, Kora etc. and even the smallest surviving tribe, the Toto. A large number of rivers & streams, gushing and gurgling down the hills meets you at every mile or two. Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks of Interest in Dooars & adjoining areas are Mahananda Wildlife sanctuary, Sevoke, Kalijhora, Purbakhola, Mongpong, Malbazar, Gorumara National Park, Jaldhaka, Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Rasikbill and much more.
Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary
Jaldapara Sanctuary holds the largest expanse of terai grasslands in North Bengal intersected with riverine forests, dry-mixed forests and wet-forests. Tall riparian grasslands lined with bamboo clumps are the favorite homes of the Rhino and the Asiatic elephant. A host of other species like the python, monitor lizard, kraits, cobra and a variety of frogs can be seen here. Hog Deer, a typical animal of short grasslands quite often shoots out of cover in small groups on approach. The cheetal is confined to the edge – areas between treelands and grasslands. The sambar hides in a good shrubby undergrowth. Gaurs - Indian bison – roam over grasslands and forest. A tiger or leopard may be surprised on the sandy banks of a stream. Forest safari in stealthily moving elephants is a most wonderful experience in Jaldapara Sanctuary.
Buxa Fort is located at an altitude of about 2600 ft A.S.L. at a two-hour trekking distance from Santrabari. The trek is a very pleasant one with some beautiful scenery en route. Originally established as a cantonment by the British East India company in 1873, it was used by the British as a deportation camp for political prisoners during India's struggle for freedom. The area's general inaccessibility, as well as dense forests, made it ideal for this.Some illustrious freedom fighters who were imprisoned here were - Triloki Sen, Arun Guha, Surendra Mohan Ghosh, Hemendra Ghosh, Anil Roy, Maj. Satya Gupta, Amalendu Dasgupta, Jagannath Das Gupta, Khitish Chandra Mullick, Bhupati Majumdar and many others. Post-independence, it lost its significance and until today remains rather neglected. In the sixties, Buxa Fort was used as a relief camp for Tibetan refugees. The Tibetan Buddhist monks who also sheltered here, attracted quite a few national and international tourists. During 1970-71, it was again used as a relief camp for Bangladeshi refugees for about six months. The trekking route to the fort both from Mahakal and Santrabari, is set amidst breathtaking scenery and provides trekkers with an opportunity to sample nature in a form unspoiled by modern influences. Details regarding Buxa are available from the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation, Calcutta. This mixed dry deciduous forest land dotted with grasslands, harbors the largest diversity of mega fauna in West Bengal. Two major sanctuaries - Jaldapara Sanctuary and Gorumara National Park are home to the Great Indian one horned rhinoceros. After reaching an all-time low in the mid-seventies, the population has now bounced back and the rhinos are kept under constant surveillance.