Gorumara National Park is one of the recent introductions to the “National Parks” map of India. It is one of the last pockets left in India with a wild population of the elusive Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros. Native elephants and bisons too are found in plenty.
Gorumara National Park is spread over Lataguri, Chalsa and Nagrakata, bordered by National Highway 31, which connects Siliguri with Guwahati. Adjoining Gorumara is the Matia dam or reservoir. The Naora river flows gently on one side and on the other, the Bamni and Murti.
After sunset, Wild Boars, Nilgais and Deer assemble at the banks of these rivers to quench their thirst. Trekking and outback touring are the most popular activities here.
The Gorumara National Park is characterized by vast stretches of forest over miles of undulating land at the foot of the Himalayas. The Reserves teem with a bewildering variety of animals that are free to snoop around adjacent villages and tea plantations. When the first showers arrive in June, the terrain puts on a show that no entertainer can reproduce. The trees wear a fresh washed look and the earth exudes a distinctive wet smell.
Spacious Bungalows welcome you to spend the night in the middle of the wilds, each with a verandah and patios. Large windows bring the outdoors right inside your bedroom. For the more adventurous, there are tents pitched around the Bungalows. You wake up to the call of a wild Fowl, or perhaps the alarm cry of a deer.
Situated at the Western end of the Elephant migration route, this area shelters more than 150 Elephants during the monsoon and winter seasons. This is also the nesting ground for a host of migratory as well as resident birds like the Red Wattled Lapwing, the Spur Winged Lapwing, the Pied Crested Cuckoo, Peacocks, Barn Owls, Spotted Owlets, Falcons, Barbets and Coopersmiths.
Gorumara National Park cuts through chest-high tea gardens that still breathe of the Raj times with Victorian style Manager’s Bungalows standing in the middle of the greens. The workers of the garden, as we were to discover were fourth generation descendants of Adivasis brought in by colonial planters from Chhotanagpur, the Santhal Parganas of Bengal and Nepal. These exotic tribal communities lend a truly unique dimension to the phenomenon of Tourism in this part of the world with their fascinating culture, heritage and traditions.
The Sinclairs Retreat at Chalsa can be an ideal launching pad for excursions to the North Bengal Wilderness trail covering not just the Gorumara National Park, but also the stretch of Wildlife Sanctuaries like Jaldapara-Mahananda-Chapramari-Buxa. One huge advantage that this retreat offers is by way of its locale. Not only is the Retreat perched on an impressive hilltop, thereby commanding mesmerizing views of the surrounding mountain panorama, the setting is such that it is literally at a walking distance from the famed Wildlife Sanctuaries.
The concept of “Joint Forest Management” formulated to protect forest resources is in vogue here. The concept was recently modified and called “Joint Protected Area management”. The district administration, in association with academics, technocrats and politicians, have taken active interest in helping make the project successful.
Coordinating committees for the protection of wildlife, investigation of crime and ensuring follow-up action have been set up and they involve the law enforcement agencies in their activities. Meetings are held periodically, information exchanged and strategies worked out and implemented jointly. The project has succeeded in checking the illegal trade of animals through the Siliguri corridor.
Traveler’s Fact File:
Reaching the Mahananda-Jaldapara-Gorumara-Chalsa trail is easy. The nearest airport is at Bagdogra. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines etc. have regular flights from Delhi and Kolkata to Bagdogra. Hired Taxis and buses are readily available at the Bagdogra Airport that will take you to the sanctuary.
If you travel by train, the nearest railhead is New Jalpaiguri. Dadar Express, Rajdhani Express, Knachenjunga Express, Kamrup Express and Saraighat Express connect new Jalpaiguri with Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata.
For further information on Dooars wildlife and reservations, please feel free to contact:
10 A Lee Road
Calcutta – 700020
West Bengal, India
Tel: 91-033-2801317, 2801318, 2801319, 2801320.
Fax: 91-033-2800813 / 14