Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary

Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at the foothills of Eastern Himalayas in Alipurduar Sub-Division of Jalpaiguri District in West Bengal. The river Torsha flows through this rain forest sanctuary and have an area of 141 Sq.km and altitude of 61 m. Jaldapara, the vast grassland with patches of riverine forests was declared a sanctuary in 1941 for protection of the great variety flora and fauna, particularly the one-horned rhinoceros, an animal threatened with extinction. The Jaldapara Sanctuary covers 216 sq km, is a mosaic of woods, grasslands, perennial streams, sandy river banks and extensive belts of tall grass. It contains a great diversity of flora and fauna of mixed deciduous forest, grasslands and river banks. The Malangi River also flows nearby from east to west. Drained by rivers Torsa, Malangi, Hollong, Chirakhawa, Kalijhora, Sissamara, Bhaluka and Buri Torsa, the Sanctuary provides extensive grassland which is last refuge to a wide variety of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.

General Information

  • Area: 100 sq. km.
    Altitude: 61 meters.
    Best season: October to May.
    Clothing: Summer- Cottons, Winter- Woolens.
    Languages spoken: Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, English.
    Entry-point to the sanctuary is at Madarihat.
    Entry fee: Rs. 25/head, Rs. 50 – Rs. 200/vehicle, Rs. 250/vedio camera
    Elephant ride charge: Rs. 240/head

How to reach

Air- Bagdogra 145kms from Jaldapara is the nearest airport from where tourist can reach Jaldapara by road-route via Siliguri.Bagdogra to Siliguri is 13 km.

Rail- The most important railway station in the North East India is NJP. NJP is directly connected with all major stations in India. The nearest railway station is Madarihat which is only 7 km from the sanctuary. All the mail and express trains stop at Birpara/Hasimara railway stations, both are 20 km. away from the sanctuary.

Road- Jaldapara is connected by National Highway with Siliguri and can be reached by car within 3hrs.Madarihat is the entry point for the sanctuary. It is located on the NH 31 (Siliguri-Hasimara), 140 km east from Siliguri, 80 km north from Cooch Behar and 50 km west from Alipurduar. North Bengal State Transport Corporation buses, Bhutan Government buses, minibuses are available from Siliguri to Alipurduar via Madarihat. Cars can also be hired at Siliguri.

Lodging

Tourist Lodge, Hollong – It has only very limited capacity but it is at the core of the forest. It is 7 km from Madarihat.
No. of rooms: (7) Seven Double Bedded rooms @ Rs.1000/- per room per day + Compulsory food @ Rs.175/- per head per day (dinner, breakfast & bed tea only). Lunch – Optional Rs.75/- per head.

Jaldapara Tourist Lodge, PO Madarihat, Dist. Jalpaiguri PIN 735 220 – It much bigger than Hollong tourist lodge and has dormitories too. Direct booking at Tourist Lodge, Telefax +91 3563 262230, +91 3563 262606. Rates Rs. 1,000 (non AC double bed), Rs. 300 (dormitory – 5 bedded), Rs. 650 (double-bedded Tourist Hut).

Malangi Nature Resort at Baradabari (West Bengal Forest Development Corporation), on the other side of the sanctuary.

Chilapata Jungle Camp – a new outfit near Chilapata Wildlife Sanctuary, run by Help Tourism. For bookings contact: info@helptourism.com.

Booking-
From Kolkata – West Bengal Tourism, 3/2 B.B.D. Bag (E), Kolkata-700029. Telephone +91 33 2225 4723, +91 33 2210 3199, e-mail: dtwbtour@vsnl.net,
From Siliguri – West Bengal Tourism, M-4 Building, Hill Cart Road, Siliguri, Telephone +91 353 2511974, +91 353 2516306.
Priority to enter Jaldapara Sanctuary is first given to those booked into the tourist lodges only if there are less people booked in the lodges, can people not staying at the lodges get a safari. There are only a limited number of safaris per day. (May 2008)

Best Time to visit

The park opens to visitors throughout the year except from 15 June to 14 September for Monsoon. During the period from October to May, and particularly March and April, new grass starts growing.  The best season to visit is Middle of October to the end of February.

Fees/Permits

A permit is required for visit to the sanctuary. (As of 2007-08) Entry Fees to visit the park (Hollong) : Rs. 25/- Per head for Indian Nationals. Rs. 50/- Per light vehicle. Rs. 200/- Per heavy vehicle. Rs. 5/- Per still camera. Rs. 250/- Per video camera.

A thrilling elephant safari is organized in the early morning from Hollong to offer the exquisite beauty of the vast grassland of Jaldapara. The elephant ride is the best possible way to explore the sanctuary with the rare sight of Indian rhinos and Asiatic elephants. The jeep safari inside the sanctuary is another main attraction. Jeeps can be hired from Madarihat for day visits.

Elephant Ride Charge (as of 2007-08): a) Adult Rs. 120/- Per head (Maximum 4 persons are allowed on each Elephant)

Flora and fauna

The forest is mainly savannah covered with tall elephant grasses. The main attraction of the sanctuary is Asiatic one-horned rhinoceros. The sanctuary holds the maximum number of rhinos population in India after Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The other animals consists of Royal Bengal Tigers, elephants, deers, sambhar, barking deer, spotted deer and hog deer, wild pig, bisons. The wild life, in addition to the famous Great Indian One Horned rhinos, consists of Royal Bengal Tigers, wild elephants, deers, swamp deers, hog deers, wild pigs, bisons. Some rare species like the hispid hare and the hog-badger are also found here. Besides wildlife viewing, there is scope for unusual holiday activities like elephant riding and leisurely strolls through the towering grass.

Jaldapara is a paradise for bird watchers. It is one of the very few places in India, where the Bengal Florican is sighted. The other birds to be found here are the Crested Eagle, Pallas’s Fishing Eagle and shikra, besides Jungle fowl, peafowl, patridges, Bengal Florican and lesser Pied Hornbill. Python, monitor lizards, kraits, cobras, geckos and about 8 species of fresh water turtles have also found sanctuary here. Many of the animals are endangered like – the Asiatic one-horned rhino and elephants in Jaldapara sanctuary.

A thrilling elephant safari is organized in the early morning from Hollong to offer the exquisite beauty of the vast grassland of Jaldapara. The elephant ride is the best possible way to explore the sanctuary with the rare sight of Indian rhinos and Asiatic elephants. The jeep safari inside the sanctuary is another main attraction.

Bird Watchers Paradise

Jaldapara is a paradise for bird watchers. It is one of the very few places in India, where the Bengal Florican was sighted. Set out with a binocular and see the majestic flight of hornbill, racket-tailed drongo and paradise flycatcher. See the splendors of sun set beyond the vast grassland of Jaldapara from you Bungalow deck. Jaldapara is exceptionally rich in avifauna because of varied terrain, mosaic of vegetation and rich insect life. More than 240 species of birds are found in variety of habitat- Grassland, water bodies, woodland. The varied tree forests and rich shrub growth on the forest floor provide ideal setting for many woodland birds, such as Green Pigeons, Hornbills, Barbets, Parakeets, Woodpeckers, Cuckoos, Orioles, Drongos, Babblers, Thrushes etc. Brahminy ducks, whistling teals and Goosanders are winter visitors. The most common water birds are the large and little cormorant, Indian Shag, Darter, Egrets, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Pied Wagtail, Spur Winged Lapwing, Moorhen, White Breasted Waterhen etc. The night hunters in Jaldapara are the owls and the nightjars.

The varied tree forests and rich shrub growth on the forest floor provide ideal setting for many woodland birds, such as Green Pigeons, Hornbills, Barbets, Parakeets, Woodpeckers, Cuckoos, Orioles, Drongos, Babblers, Thrushes etc. Brahminy ducks, Whistling Teals and Merganser are winter visitors. The most common birds are the large and little Cormorant, Indian Shag, Darter, Egret, Pied Wagtail, River Lapwing, Moorhen, White Breasted Waterhen etc.

The hunters in Jaldapara are the Owls and Nightjars. Crested serpent Eagle is common raptorial bird. The other main birds of prey are Pallas’s Fishing Eagle, Pied Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk etc. A variety of birds, typical of grassland and open country, can be seen from watchtowers viz. Doves, Bee-eaters, Rollers, Hoopoe, Shrikes, Larks, Hill Mynas, Bulbuls, Finches. Call of the Red jungle fowl is as common as the musical sound of crickets. Bengal Florican, Black partridge, Shaheen Falcon, Great Pied Hornbills, Forest Eagle Owl, Large Green billed Malkoha and White Rumped Vulture, Lesser Adjutant Stork are the endangered bird species found in the Sanctuary. Some fortunate visitors can see the Peacock displaying his full array of feathers during the breeding season.

Places Around Jaldapara

Totopara – It is a small village located on the banks of River Torsha bordering Bhutan in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, India. This village is the only habitation of Toto, a primitive tribe in Dooars which is 30 km away from Jaldapara. The village is about 22 km from Madarihat, which is the entry point of the famous Jaldapara National Park. It is bounded by the foothills of Bhutan to the north, Torsa River to the east, and Titi river and the Titi reserve forest on the south-west separated by the Hauri river.

Chilapata– Hidden deep inside the Chilapata Forests the ruins of a thousand yeas old fort of Nal King has a tremendous historical and archeological importance. On way to Cooch Behar, a trip through the deep and dark Chilapata Forest (20 km from Alipurduar) is a pleasant and exciting experience. Built in the 5th century during the Gupta Empire the ruins still recall the memories of the Golden Age of India.

Gorumara National Park– Gorumara National Park is 80kms from Jaldapara.Gorumara National Park is situated on the bank of rivers Murti and Raidak in the terai region of Dooars on the foothills of Eastern Himalayas. Gorumara is famous for its Asiatic one horned Rhino, Asian Elephants, Bisons, Peacocks. This was a reserve forest since 1895. In the year 1949, the park was declared as Wildlife Sanctuary for its breeding population of one horned Indian Rhinoceros. On January 31, 1994, it was declared as a National Park. The 80 sq. km area of the Gorumara National Park is famous for its rich variety of flora & fauna. The park is located in the Malbazar subdivision of Jalpaiguri district, in the state of West Bengal in India. The Murti, Jaldhaka, and Indong rivers flow through the Park on the foothills of the Himalayan ranges in the North making the whole region picturesque. The park offers breathtaking landscape with its rivers and mountain ranges. Lataguri a small town adjacent to the park is the entry point.

Phuntsoling – Bhutan: 32km. Phuentsholing (also sometimes spelled Phuntsholing), the second largest town in Bhutan (population around 40,000), is on the Indian border, next to the town of Jaigaon. Phuentsholing is the point of entry for travelers arriving by bus from Kolkata and Siliguri and the town functions primarily as a place where Bhutanese and Indians do business. The architecture is modern, and there is no dzong, famous monastery or in fact anything of particular interest to tourists. However, like all of Bhutan, it does offer a clean, pleasant and safe environment in which to go about your business. NB: Until 2005, it was possible for overseas visitors to enter the town without a Bhutanese visa. Except for Indian nationals, this is no longer possible. Indians are denied entry beyond the checkpost in the absence of a permit.

Buxa Tiger Reserve– It was established in the year of 1982-83 to save the most important species of North Bengal The Royal Bengal Tiger. The park is located at the north eastern corner of Dooars plains of North Bengal bordering Bhutan and Assam. The core area of 315sq.kms around the Buxa Duar Fort was declared a National Park in January 1992. It is 56 kms away from Jaldapara. This tropical rain forests having an annual rainfall exceeding 5000mm has 150 species of plants and a variety of creepers, grasses, bamboo and cane along with some rare species of orchids. Trees like Teak, Sal, Simul, Sishu are found in great numbers. Because of its wilderness and difficult terrain most part of Buxa still remains unexplored. So far 67 species of mammals, including 23 endangered ones and 36 species of reptiles have been recorded in Buxa. The most important animal here is the Royal Bengal tiger.

Jayanti – Jayanti is 75 kms from Madarihat a beautiful picnic spot on the bank of Jayanti river. It provides an excellent view of the hills of Bhutan and attraction of flora and fauna of the region.

Bhutan Ghat – It is 85 kms from Madarihat, the road passes through beautiful forest and tea gardens. and a picnic spot.

Bison killed after tranquillizer shot

bisonThe Statesman reported that two bison strayed out of the Jaldapara and Chilapata forests respectively, and killed two women and injured several others at Ghoksadanga and Mechbill areas of Cooch Behar district yesterday.
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