Kolkata - Murti - Jungle Safari (Chapramari - Medla - Chandrachur) - Darjeeling - Kolkata

dip0780

Member
Introduction:
Let me ask you all a query, how bored you are feeling today……The obvious answer to this question is “I am completely feeling bored need a break” ……This was the line I was uttering myself for the past 3 yrs. Maybe you all will be thinking why 3yrs…pandemic has started only 1 yr. back.
Yes, that is true, the pandemic has started a year back, but I have last travelled in the year 2017. Though that travel was not at all a self-driven road trip a journey with the extended family members (We went to the Holy place of Kedarnath and Badrinath Dham). I have no regret to that at all because, after 2017, God has gifted us our second angel in our family. I am now a proud father of 2 sons, the elder one named Ruhaan and the younger one named Rishaan. My parents used to utter one sentence, that one kid will make you active, but 2 kids will make you super active. Frankly speaking, time flew like anything and soon we realized that 2 years have passed, and we have not ventured anywhere neither a day trip also. This was the situation I am talking about before the beginning of the dreadful year “2020”. One fine winter morning while we were soaking in the cool winter sun rays, I and my wife were planning a road trip to Mukteshwar during the summer holidays.
Who knows then that the entire situation will go for a complete toss? As the pandemic was gradually grasping us, we were also moving to our state of depression. Days were passing by and we were gradually getting accustomed to the new normal method. In September, we decided enough is enough.
We can’t stay without a road trip. Always in the backend fear of COVID-19 is hammering us. With all the fear in mind, we embarked on the first day trip in the pandemic year to Garhpanchkot. Packing all the food from home we spent a good day out. On that trip, while we were meandering through the small panchakot hillock my elder son Ruhaan ushered that “Baba amake jungle e niye jabe next trip” (Father will you please take me to the jungle on our next trip).
The idea of this trip nurtured from there itself. I promised him that ok done…we will go to the jungle. So, the days are again passing and by each day we were witnessing a new high in the Covid cases. The worst fear which we were all fearing finally got materialized. The dreaded COVID-19 virus was incubating in our bodies.
In November 2020, our entire family was tested Covid +ve. Initially, I thought that after 1 month I will be fit and fine but truly speaking it took us 3 months to be able to fit enough for regular work. I would confess that post covid driving even 5 km would make me so tired that I thought I will never be able to do the road trip. This encouraged me to do my exercise regime once again.
There is a popular quote that “Travel far enough, you meet yourself” …I was getting depressed, and my elder son's school finally got over in March. One day I was sitting lazily and while surfing the internet I came across a photograph which instantly gave me a spark in my mind. I always believe that “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind”.
It was in the mid of the afternoon when this happened, and I immediately called my wife and conveyed what I was thinking. She promptly agreed but both of us came to a conscious decision that as we have kids, we will take cautious steps for this road trip.
So, after a long time, I finally started the work which I love to do. That is planning for a road trip. After a lot of research, we finally pinned down that considering the situation we will not stay many places and the trip time will be 7 days. This will be the first road trip for my younger son so planning should be meticulous. We decided that the first half of the trip will be Jungle Safari and the second half of the trip will be in the hills. Keeping this in mind we fixed MURTI and DARJEELING as the 2 places where we will stay and we will hover around these places.
That day itself I booked the WBSFDC cottages in the Murti Riverbed and Darjeeling Tourist Lodge in Darjeeling. It is strange that now when the trip is planned days are not passing quickly. Every night I was thinking why the days are so long now.
With the days passing by excitements were also rising gradually. In the meantime, I and my wife were constantly discussing whether we will do the Kolkata-Siliguri in the night or the daytime. We discussed with our fellow friends and finally decided that we will do the night travel. The thought process behind this decision was that we will stay in a fewer number of hotels, as well younger son will be sleeping which will help me to drive with greater concentration.

Teaser Picture: More to Come

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Let me introduce the team that travelled and the companion.

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Top Left: RUHAAN [Elder Son]
Top Right: DIPOMOY [ME]
Center: BORN FREE [ Our Trusted Companion]
Bottom Left: RISHAAN [Younger Son]
Bottom Right: SOHINI [Betterhalf]

The Companion Duster 4X4 [BORNFREE]
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dip0780

Member
Day-0 & 1: 3rd April-21 & 4th April-21
Kolkata-Moregram-Malda-Raigunj-Siliguri-Gorumara Tent (Murti)-Chapramari Watch Tower
Distance Covered: 634 KM
Stay: GORUMARA MURTI TENTS
Rating (Scale -5): ****
Booking Link: WBSFDA Ecotourism
Email:
[email protected]

Let's begin the trip….we started from our home at 6 pm sharp. In the morning itself I had filled up boot with all the luggage.

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I thought that I will be having a good sleep in the noon as I will be driving the whole night. As usual excitement and pending works took most of the time and by the time I realized it was already 5 pm. So took a power nap and started the journey. There were no significant incidents that happened during the night driving, the only difference in the feeling was that we could feel the night life of the villages in West Bengal. I forgot to mention another important fact which needs worth mentioning regarding our decision to drive at night. Last time during our Garhpanchkot day trip, while I was returning in the night we felt that light was not sufficient. Hence this time I upgraded the bulbs to Night Breaker from Osram. I must confess that I am very much happy with the luminous of the bulb. The upgrade of the light had saved us from many sudden spotting of people in the highways and the village road.

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Effect of the Car bulb change.

This is in the mid of the night. The surroundings were jet black. Excitement was gradually building up among all of us. It took exactly 1hr negotiating the city traffic to reach the Dankuni Toll Plaza. For me crossing the Dankuni Toll Plaza means the trip has started. To my utter surprise, I found that Rishaan (my younger son) was enjoying it a lot. We have made a small bed for him in the back seat to make himself cozy. There was another companion on this trip also, whose name is “TUNI”. He is none other than Rishaan’s little friend. In a lot of cases, this TUNI helped us to make ourselves engaged.

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We reached the NH2 junction of Bardhaman cut out in 45 mins and, then took the Futisako – Moregram road. Since we were in the State Highway [SH-7] so average speed was less compared to NH speeds. One noticeable picture I encountered is that streets were getting deserted very fast and after a particular point in time we could not even spot a single human being on the road. Maybe due to the ongoing assembly election situation was not pertinent for venturing in the night. Now, this deserted look hurt our planning. While we were doing the planning, we thought that around 10 pm we will take a halt somewhere midway and will complete the dinner. But I was not feeling confident to take a halt in this situation. Around 10 PM we reached Futisako where also we did not find any suitable halting place. My wife decided that let us give the food to the children on the go and we will have dinner at BP Moregram petrol pump. We reached BP Moregram Petrol Pump at 12.30 pm and had a sumptuous dinner from the delicacy of CHOWMEN. We took 30 mins break and refueled ‘BORNFREE’ [Our DUSTER 4X4].

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We at Indian Oil Petrol Pump just crossing Malda.

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The Deserted Malda Golden Park.
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The empty pardesi dhaba near malda.

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By the way, let me mention out here that the name of the car is given by Ruhaan [Elder Son]. He is very passionate about cars. From childhood days itself, he is traveling, and he loves to sleep, eat, and even does all other works in the car itself. Sharing an old picture of Ruhaan traveling in a car (That time we used to have Santro).

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Rishaan by the time we were having dinner went to sleep along with TUNI in his cosy bed. This helped me to make up for the lost time. Luckily there was no major jam at Farakka barrage, and we sailed past easily. We crossed Malda bypass at 2 pm and reached the single-lane Raiganj road at 3 pm. There was a lot of diversion and speed got reduced in this stretch. I followed google and it asked me to take a right turn at the Dohomona-Islampur more to bypass Dalkhola.
To be honest this stretch of driving was one of my most pleasant and enjoyable drives on this trip. It cherished my childhood memories of spending time in the grandmother's place in the village. Till this time AC was in full blow. We thought that why to churn AC when the outside environment is giving us soothing weather. We stopped the AC and rolled down the glasses of Bornfree.
It relived our mind and the calmness it gave to our body was mesmerizing. After so many days we could breathe fresh air without Mask. How much relief it gave to our body and mind was unthinkable. In the city, we are all feared with this COVID-19..but seeing the people in these villages and the place, who will say whether this pandemic exists or not. It is worth mentioning here that throughout this whole night of driving my better half has always supplied me the necessary hot drinks and food to keep myself awake.

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To view the sunrise along a paddy field is distant thinking in today’s lifestyle. So why should we miss this opportunity, we thought that let’s have a morning cup of tea in this beautiful environment. Finding a suitable place was not a problem and the moment we found a good place took the halt and sipped the cup of tea.

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We spent a good 45 mins, soaked in nature, and felt the first morning rays of the sun. It also helped me to get out of the fatigue and rejuvenated the next hours of drive.

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Taking the first sip of tea in the rising morning sun rays [ Picture Courtesy: Sohini Saha]

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We meandered ourselves gradually within the village roads and reached the ISLAMPUR bypass in the next 1 hr. From there it was a smooth silky drive till Bagdogra. Just before Bagdogra, I was feeling sleepy so thought of why not take a break amid the tea garden and do some photoshoot. The next few pictures will speak the stories of the moment.

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We took a bio break at Siliguri city center and moved slowly towards Sevoke -Coronation bridge road. Viewing the Coronation Bridge is another landmark for whoever comes to the hill. It is an iconic bridge that holds lots of memories that may be good or bad for everyone. By this time Rishaan woke up and saw he is indifferent place. As this was his first road trip it took time for him to understand how things work on the road trip.
Gradually we passed the Gazole more and Damdin. Last time when we took our i10 to Lava-Loleygaon-Pelling trip we took the left turn from Damdin and went through Gorubathan to Lava.

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While I was showing the directions to Ruhaan, he asked me that “Baba amra jungle e giye ki dekhbo” [ Father what we will see in the jungle]. Before I could say to him that if luck permits you can spot animals…and suddenly I have to put a hard break….Alias we have spotted the first animal on our Trip. We found that a 5 feet long snake was crossing the road. I thanked God that at the right time I have pressed the break, otherwise it would have been very sad if I have run over the species. That moment somehow my sixth sense told me that we will be able to spot animals this trip.
North Bengal and Dooars have a lot of sweet fond memories of our past. Let me tell you one such story which was relevant and pertinent to this trip also. Before starting the story let me give you a conclusion of the snake incident that happened earlier. While we overcame the snake incident and were moving ahead, we were crossing the New Mal Junction station and Malbazar. My wife was sitting in the back seat and I was just telling her that “Can you remember this place and the road and the Malbazar petrol pump”. She gave me a killer smile and started soaking the environment. My son Ruhaan is now gradually soaking the smell and biodiversity of the jungle. In the meantime, the scenery has also changed a lot. The two sides of the road are now lined up with huge trees. The road is getting undulated and winding. The mesmerizing play of the lights and shades is happening in the streets. All in one mood are swinging for all of us. Each one of us is getting nostalgic in his or her memories.
Let me narrate one such story and you will understand why I and my wife got nostalgic. This incident happened way back in September 2010. Both of us were working in the same company and there was tremendous pressure of work. We were working day and night relentlessly but there were no signs of relieving the pressure. Out of sheer frustration, we both decided that we need a break. On the same day sitting in the office itself, we booked the Tatkal Ticket in Kanchan-Kanya Express for the next morning and luckily, we got the ticket. We immediately booked the WBFDC Cottage at Paren for 3 days. Mind it that day was Monday when we were planning all this stuff. We did not have any return ticket booked also. The good part of the story was that there were no Internet connectivity and telephone connectivity at Paren. While we were passing the Chapramari forest then-wife was bewildered by the Chapramari Forest. The chirping sound of the birds and the crackling sound of the insects made us love the forest. The wish which she had made that day got fulfilled this time. Also, why malbazar petrol pump came up in our stories? Ok…At the cottages of Paren we were having a gala time and as we are tea lovers people, they served us a good flavored Darjeeling tea. At that point, we asked the caretaker whose name was Paresh from where do you buy these tea leaves. He replied from the malbazar petrol pump. So, while we came down from Paren we bought 1 kg of the tea from the tea shop at this Malbazar petrol pump.

Me standing on the Chapramari forest road during our Paren Trip

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Passing through the Khunia forest.

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Finally, after 15hrs of the drive, we reached our Destination…. Gorumara Murti Tents. The first view of the place relived all the tiredness. Previously I was telling that one photo gave me the spark for this trip. It was this photo only.

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Our Cottage:

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View of the cottage:

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My son woke me up at 3.30 pm asking me to get myself ready for the safari. The advantage of staying in these Forest development cottages is you do not have to rush for the tickets, all is available at the doorstep. At 4 PM we saw that a Rhino Car is waiting for us to take to the Chapramari Watch Tower. From now onwards let's picture narrate all the stories. I will give you the necessary information as we go along this journey.
We reached the entry gate of the watchtower within the timing of the forest. Normally the safari starts at 4.30 pm and ends at 6 pm. Luckily, we were the second car in the convoy. Wanted to be the first car as that gives the privilege to sight and take snaps but later we realized that it was good to be the second car. Suddenly there was a rush among the drivers as they have got the information that Rhino is roaming around in the pit. But who knows luck is along with us, as before we see the Rhino, Indian Gaur blocked the road and was telling us “ if Rhino is beautiful we are also beautiful, so please take a photo of us then enter the forest”. I have heard a lot that Bison, Indian Gaur often blocks your way and we saw today right in front of our eyes. We were bewildered to see so many animals. The most dangerous part of the story was that some Indian Gaurs were blocking the way others are hiding in the bush. This gave us a real goosebump.

On the way towards Chapramari Sanctuary.

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We spotted the barking deer.

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The Bison/Indian Gaur hidden behind the bushes.

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Gaur blocking the pathway.

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All went fine as the Indian Gaurs herd paved the way to see the Rhino. I was very sure that by the time we will be reaching everything will go away. But to our utter surprise, we could see all the animals are roaming around the salt pit. These images will tell you the rest of the story.

The Asian Rhino at the salt pit.

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Sun setting another time in Chapramari.

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After the end of today’s journey, everyone was very happy. It fulfilled the dream of seeing wild animals. I will tell you one fact when you are not expecting to see the animal and suddenly you see & spot wild animals then obviously mood will be rejuvenated.
With this enlightened memory bidding goodbye and see you on the Medla Watchtower of Gorumara National Park tomorrow.
 

AnupamR

Super User
Loved it reading and seeing those places. I am from Kolkata but born in Jalpaiguri and did schooling from Siliguri.

Looks like you are driving Duster Adventure, nice SUV, even I had the same model when I was in India.
 

dip0780

Member
Loved it reading and seeing those places. I am from Kolkata but born in Jalpaiguri and did schooling from Siliguri.

Looks like you are driving Duster Adventure, nice SUV, even I had the same model when I was in India.
Thanks for your reply .....I am having Duster 4X4....
 

dip0780

Member
Day-2: 5th April-21
Gorumara Tent (Murti)-Medla Watch Tower- Batabari – Chandrachur Watch Tower- back
Distance Covered: 100 KM
Stay: GORUMARA MURTI TENTS
Rating (Scale -5): ****
Booking Link: WBSFDA Ecotourism
Email:
[email protected]
Our spirit and mood were very high and specially Rishaan was jubilant from previous days activities. Yesterday night itself we decided that we will not visit Jatraprasad Watchtower inside the Gorumara National Park, rather we will visit the Medla Watch Tower which is also part of Gorumara National Park. Jatraprasad Watch Tower is visited by almost 90 % of tourists. So chaos and silence both will be sacrificed if we visit Jatraprasad.
Gorumara National Park is a National Park in northern West Bengal, India. Located in the Dooars region of the Himalayan foothills, it is a medium-sized park with grasslands and forests. It is primarily known for its population of Indian rhinoceros. Originally the park was as small as 7 km2. Since then, Gorumara has grown by incorporating neighboring lands to about 80 km2.
The watchtowers are:

  • Jatraprasad Watch Tower: Named after a legendary elephant.
  • Medla Watch Tower (Rhino Observation Point): Watchtower in front of the Gorumara forest bungalow.
  • Chandrachur Watch Tower (Old Khunia Watch Tower): Near the Murti forest bungalow.
  • Chukchuki Bird-watching Point: Good for birding

I would like to give you a piece of small information. What is the difference between National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary? In a sanctuary on top of the natural resources, you can plant your trees beautify the surroundings, and also cut the unwanted plants to enhance the habitat of the sanctuary. But in the national park, you can’t even take away a single leaf from the park. It is a bio-diversified environment where even if a tree breaks it will lay in the same place as it is. Added to this in a National park there is a core wildlife section where no one can visit except some specialized forest officers and that for certain specific reasons should be there for any visit.
Medla Watch Tower is closest to the core wildlife section and it is also nearest to the Grassland section. In these grassland sections often you can spot elephants and leopards. If you have the opportunity of visiting the doors in the Rainy season the tea garden hosts many Leopards.
If you have your vehicle then you can easily visit these places. It is very interior to the National Park and also facilities are less. But 90 % chance of spotting the animals.

You have to visit Ramsai to visit the Medla Watchtower.

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En route to Ramsai bisecting the Gorumara forests.

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There are multiple elephant corridors in these areas. You can see elephants during months of November and December when they come to eat and invade the paddy fields.

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To visit Medla Watchtower you do not need prior booking. Even to my surprise when we visited the ticket counter we found no one in the office. Luckily I met one person named Sushil through whom we contacted the Ticket counter personnel. He arrived on a bicycle and was asking us do we want to visit this watchtower. Normally tourist does not come to these places. Later we found that Sushil is our Guide for the entire 2 hrs.

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My 2 kids posing in front of the Medla Ticket Counter.

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Interested people can stay in the Rhino Camp which can be booked from the website given above.

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Above are the cottages inside the rhino camp.

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The good point is that as we have our vehicle we took the vehicle almost 3 km inside the jungle and parked just 200 meters before the watchtower.
We walked 200 meters on the boundary of the jungle to reach the watchtower. Believe me, it is one of the best experiences of the jungle safari. On one side the dense tea garden and the other side Gorumara National Park. The feelings are truly spellbound.
We reached the watchtower and immediately spotted the 2 Asian Rhino roaming in the core area. There was complete silence in the entire area and you will not believe we were the only person in the tower. We spent 2 hrs sitting in the tower and watched the Rhino’s Movement. I will never in my life forget this experience.
We were supposed to go by the bullock carts for the next 200 meters but there were fewer tourists they were not operating. It is in fact a boon for us.

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In these dense tea gardens, you will often spot leopards with their cubs. These are good hiding places for the big cats.

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We were walking 200mtr towards the watchtower.

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Now the big picture comes spotting the Rhino in the core area.

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Day 2 Contds........
 

AnupamR

Super User
Hello, I could not explain how much I am enjoying reading your T-log sitting 12,000 Km’s away from home country.

My Mamabari is in Maynaguri and we used to visit Garumara every weekend during our visit and I am very much emotionally attached to North Bengal.

Duster has very good build quality, though it lacks on features but still worth to own one. Back home I had the 4X2 model and I was extremely happy with the performance. Renault does not do business in North America else I would have bought one hear as well.
 

dip0780

Member
Hello, I could not explain how much I am enjoying reading your T-log sitting 12,000 Km’s away from home country.

My Mamabari is in Maynaguri and we used to visit Garumara every weekend during our visit and I am very much emotionally attached to North Bengal.

Duster has very good build quality, though it lacks on features but still worth to own one. Back home I had the 4X2 model and I was extremely happy with the performance. Renault does not do business in North America else I would have bought one hear as well.
Yes...it is one of the best cars I have driven till now....
 
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