Before this trip of mine to Jhallong, I had never been to any forest. I always wished to visit one but it never worked out. This time, we 3 friends, planned to start with Dooars. But as we were in the middle of a project delivery, we didn’t had much time to cover whole Dooars at once.
After scanning through the Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks in Dooars, we fixed at Jhallong. Though you technically can’t call Jhallong a National Park or a Wildlife Sanctuary, but for a night it seemed to be a perfect destination for us. Specially we were very excited about staying in a camp within Forest. Jhallong is one of the lesser known hill stations and offer beautiful landscape and peace. It is known for cardamom plantation and the journey through Chapramari Sanctuary is a pleasant experience.
Jhallong River Camp is maintained by West Bengal Forest Development Corporation (WBFDC). So every booking is done from their Website directly. The different camps have been named on the birds that you’ll find there in the forest. So, name didn’t helped much to guess what’s the difference between the camps and the reason for price difference. We couldn’t guess anything due to missing of adequate amount of pictures too. After thinking a lot, we booked the Munia Swiss Luxury Tent-IV (Non-A/C ), the highest priced one.
Our journey began by catching Darjeeling Mail from Sealdah Railway Station on Thursday night. February has just started and one can feel the Summer is on it’s way in the afternoon’s in Kolkata. But, Thanks to the Himalayan Ranges, it was still chilly in North Bengal. We felt it as soon as we reached NJP (New Jalpaiguri) in the morning.
We stayed at my sister’s place in Siliguri. We all were carrying laptop to meet our project deliverable’s. The plan was to meet the deadlines on Friday and then visit Jhallong on Saturday. As we felt one night would be enough. As some basic research showed that, we’d be staying in an isolated area, so more than one day can be boring and kill the mood of staying in a camp 🙂
Next day morning, we left for Jhallong at around 10AM. It took us around 3 Hours with a break in between, to reach Jhallong. We just got stunned when we reached there, the view was awesome. Everything was feeling no natural. The whole place is maintained so well, that we couldn’t believe it belongs to Govt.
By noticing us, the caretakers, came forward to help us with the luggage. Finally, after showing them the booking slip, they took us to our designated camp. The route to the camp was beautifully maintained with different flowers. The camp that we booked, ‘Munia’, is the last camp and the highest priced one. And this is when we understand the difference between different camps.
Though all the camps have same facility and of same size, the front ones (towards the counter) are low priced ones and as you go further the price increases. Each one have it’s advantage of staying in. Like, if you want to be away from everything and just enjoy yourself, then you should choose the further ones (i.e. higher priced ones), whereas, if you want to be near the main counter, so that you can approach there anytime with ease, the you should choose the front ones. I’d say if you are a couple and want to have both the facility of being near the counter and not being too far to walk a KM to approach the counter you should choose the middle ones.
Finally, when we reached our camp, we realized our decision was perfect. Yeah, we’d have to walk a KM to reach the Main Counter, but we can enjoy ourselves in the isolated camp along the banks of Jhallong River.
Finally we ordered our lunch and left for Bindu. Bindu is situated in the Hills on the Himalayan foothills and one of the lesser known Destinations. Scenic beauty of the settlement positioned among the high mountains with the River Jaldhaka flowing through the valley. It is a feast for the eyes and stimulating to the mind.
Jhalong, Suntaley Khola, Samsing, Chapramari, Today, Tangtey, Parren are some of the places worth visiting from Bindu. The places are also accessible same when you stay at either Bindu or Parren and visit the rest of the places. One can visit this places staying even at Gorumara or Chalsa or Chapramari Forest area. All these are small villages in the Himalayan foothills, if you wish you can stay at one of these places or even can enjoy these places as Sightseeing. There are small resorts at Parren Busty also. For birding one can come across local birds like Pheasants, Cuckoos, Minivets, Flycatchers, Mynas, Orioles, Owls, Parakeets, Partridges, Sunbirds, Swallows, Swifts, etc. Samsing is nearly 90 kilometers from Siliguri via Chalsa and is situated beside Jaldhaka River; the main attractions are for scenic beauty, orange plantation and forest resort.
One can visit the second phase of Hydro Electric Power Station constructed on the river Jaldhaka. We spent some time at Bindu in the banks of Jaldhaka River. Enjoyed the local cuisine, Thukpa and Momo with Beer. At around 4 PM, we left for our stay in Jhallong River Camp.
Our lunch was ready, when we returned. Post lunch, we explored the area. Enjoyed the scenic beauty in the banks of Jhallong River with JB.
They have arrangements for Barbeque and Camp Fire. Camp Fire costs around 500/- and Barbeque depends on the amount of Chicken you’d take. As we didn’t want to have dinner so we ordered for 1.5 KG Chicken which cost us 700/-. We asked them to arrange both Barbeque and Camp Fire at around 9 PM.
At around 10 PM, they arranged the both, as in the evening, another group ordered the same. Finally we enjoyed ourselves till 2AM in the morning, and went to sleep.
Next day morning, after having breakfast, we went to explore the local village and spent some time on the banks of the River.
Though I’m not a photographer, but couldn’t resist myself to try clicking some of the beautiful flowers.
And finally, after having our lunch, we left for Siliguri.
Tips For The Visitors
- Jhallong can be very boring, as you have nothing to do there, except exploring the scenic beauty. So if you are not a nature lover, this place is not for you.
- Book the camps directly from WBFDCL Website : https://www.wbfdc.com/
- If you want to booze, please bring your Bottle from Siliguri / NJP. Once you enter Dooars, you’ll have a hard time finding it. Though the local village shops have it, but options are very limited. So if you want your favorite please carry it from Plains.
- Shared cabs or other modes of Transport is not available here. So you have to book private cab, negotiating it for the whole trip. Generally they have fixed price of 3500/-, but depends on the Season you are visiting and number of people. Remember, that excludes the fooding and lodging for the Driver. Of course, you don’t need to pay the amount of the camp for him, but some basic cost is involved for his lodging.
- Don’t try to book for more than one night, as it’ll be boring. Again, this is a small village with 50 – 60 people, and have nothing to offer except scenic beauty. If you still feel staying for more than one day, book it on the spot for next day after experiencing one night.
- Food options are limited, you need to order at the counter beforehand. There are 5 – 6 caretakers who looks after this place. But if you are fine with Bengali Cuisine with regular stipulated food then you’ll face no problem at all.
- Mr. Sushanta, the main responsible person for looking after this place, is very helpful and co-operating. Shoot out any questions to him, and he’ll be happy to help.
Update – July 2019: Jhallong / Jolung River Camp has now been upgraded to beautiful luxury cottages with AC and great amenities.
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Santanu ChatterjeeSeptember 18, 2015 at 12:50 PM
Awesome article sir. I am also a travel freak. Going to jhalong on 20/09/2015,after visiting Gorumara National Park on 19/09/2015.Got loads of information from this page.Do keep sharing your traveling experiences.Thank you so much and god bless.
Krishnandu SarkarSeptember 18, 2015 at 1:17 PM
Thank You Santanu 🙂 I’m glad that the article helped you 🙂
Rajashi SarkarJanuary 5, 2016 at 2:11 PM
This is a brilliantly described article. Very informative, helped a lot in planning our trip!
Kindly let us know the approx cost for fooding per day at Jhallong River Camp.Thanks in advance. Have a good day!
Krishnandu SarkarJanuary 5, 2016 at 2:52 PM
Thank you 🙂 I’m glad that you liked it.
Regarding the cost, I still preserved the bill!!
Veg Meal and Egg Meal costs 110/- and 130/- respectively.
Puri Sabzi (Aloor Dum) breakfast costs 55/- per plate.
Darjeeling Tea & Normal Milk Tea costs 15/- per cup.
Chicken Roast was 500/- per KG and for Campfire they charged us another 500/-.
Also we walked over a bend from Jhallong River Camp and located a village where you can get Thukpa and Momo. I’d nt say they where awesome but they were really good.
Rajashi SarkarJanuary 5, 2016 at 2:57 PM
Thanx a lot for such a quick reply!! 🙂
Krishnandu SarkarJanuary 5, 2016 at 4:23 PM
Enjoy the holiday 🙂
Dr soumya AdhyaFebruary 6, 2016 at 9:29 PM
I along with my 4 frnds are looking for this destination… Please tell me if I have to book car from njp for whole trip or we can get local car booking for site seeing…and please let me know approx per head expense of your trip
Krishnandu SarkarFebruary 6, 2016 at 9:38 PM
Hi Dr. Soumya, I’d suggest to book an exclusive vehicle because it’s very isolated place and you might have to wait for hours to get local taxi’s which are very rare too. Even you’ll have problem returning from there without exclusive vehicle.
And regarding the expense I’d suggest you to read the post as it’s totally depends on what kind of food you take and activities you do. For small car it’d be around 2500/- approx per day. And regarding accommodation the prices are there in the wbfdc website.
Tanmoy SahaMay 7, 2016 at 9:41 PM
Mr.Sarkar , I came across your informative article on Jhalong. I have planned to go there on 2nd June2016 with my family. It will be helpful for me if you can tell me that
1. is there any other good accommodation as the WBFDC river camp is under maintenance.
2. Is there any ‘Foreign Liquor ‘ counter in Malbajar as we are going through Malbajar, not from Siliguri.
3. Is there any good communication from Malbajar.
Krishnandu SarkarMay 7, 2016 at 9:57 PM
1. All the tents are under maintenance? There’s no other accommodation on the river bed itself. As the whole area is under WBFDC. But you can get other accommodations nearby such as Samsing, Bindu, Suntaleykhola etc.
2. Yes. Most people carry it from Malbazar only.
3. Yes. You’ll get Shared Car from a hamlet nearby.
You can go through my latest post about Jhallong at Jholung River Camp Revisited
NOTE : I do not personally suggest to visit Jhalong River Camp at monsoon. It can be risky due to leeches. The camps do not much operate during monsoon due to obvious reasons.
Jholung River Camp Revisited - Krishnandu SarkarMarch 15, 2016 at 12:15 AM
[…] popped up on my cellphone. It was from Facebook notifying me of memories about our trip to Jhalong River Camp about a year ago. I immediately shared the pic on my timeline and tagged my co-travelers, my […]
Rahul SenMay 30, 2016 at 4:45 PM
We had a booking on 21st May, 2016. When we reached the place, we found the place broken and closed (Probably under maintenance). There was only a caretaker (in-charge of canteen) who reported that the entire place is in a broken state and everyday people with prior bookings are being refused. We made an online booking with full payment and yet the department did not even think of informing me about the closure. We feel cheated by the Forest department . Possibly it is here in India only where we can expect this sort of uncivilized attitude from a Government department.
Krishnandu SarkarMay 30, 2016 at 9:22 PM
Yes, I’m actually aware about this. I mean, Sushanta Da (the caretaker of Jhalong River Camp) informed that Govt. is renovating the place and they are replacing the tents with cottages.
But I was not aware that Govt. had accepted bookings for the dates when they planned for the maintenance.
Few weeks back when I checked, all the tents showed “Under Maintenance”. But it’s very sad that you had to face such bad situation from a great destination due to Govt.
WBFDC Portal should not have accepted the bookings for the dates they planned this maintenance.
Did you complained to WBFDC? Will they be returning your money back?
Rahul SenJune 1, 2016 at 2:45 PM
Thanks Krishnendu. Today I have visited the WBFDC office at KB-19, Sector III and submitted a letter mentioning the A/C holder’s name, Bank Name, Branch Name, A/C No., IFSC code along with a copy of the booking slip. They have promised full refund of booking amount within a month to my account.
Krishnandu SarkarJune 1, 2016 at 4:08 PM
That’s great news!! But I think we all will now miss the environment and enjoyment of staying in a tent within lush green forest.
Cottages were already there in Suntaleykhola River Camp. So if someone prefers Cottages over Tents he/she could have opt for Suntaleykhola. Even Sushanta Da said that they do get great number of tourists. But I don’t know why Govt. took such decission.
Rahul SenJune 2, 2016 at 3:09 PM
I fully agree with you. People will miss the tents.
Krishnandu SarkarJune 2, 2016 at 4:22 PM
subhankar gangulyJune 1, 2016 at 12:32 PM
nice article sir…I’m a engg student as well as a travel freak.I’ve already explored most of the areas of dooars…This time I’m planning for a 2days visit at dooars & this river camp is best option for me….so do u have anyone’s contact in siliguri or jhallong to whom I can contact with?????
If u have then please inform me….Thank u
Krishnandu SarkarJune 1, 2016 at 1:02 PM
Hi Subhankar, I have some good and some bad news for you.
First of all you don’t need to call me sir!! Just call me Krishnandu or if you wish you can add Da to it!!
Anyway sp the good news, regarding booking you don’t need to contact anyone. It’s a West Bengal Forest Development property. So you need to book it online from WBFDC. Check the link above in the post.
I visited there this year also on April, so you can check my updated post at Jholung River Camp Revisited. You’ll get the number of Mr. Sushanta, the caretaker of this property. Though you don’t need to talk to him to book. You just need to book it online.
Now the bad news Jhalong River Camp is under maintainence. So you can’t book it anymore. When I last visited there on April they said they will be replacing the camps with cottages. So after checking the “Under Maintenance” status on WBFDC website I called up Mr. Sushanta to verify the same and they indeed are destroying the camps now to build up cottages.
So I’m sorry you have to drop this plan 🙁
Aritra DuttaJuly 11, 2016 at 9:50 PM
Please suggest the no f tents or rooms, v need to book for 4 ppl… All r male..
Krishnandu SarkarJuly 11, 2016 at 9:59 PM
Hi Aritra, Presently Jhallong River Camp is undergoing renovation. Govt. is replacing the tents with cottages. Generally 3 people can sleep comfortably in one double bed tents. So for 4 people you can consider booking 2.
But right now I’d say check WBFDC site whether the property is available for booking.
AnonymousMarch 25, 2017 at 11:20 PM
AnonymousApril 17, 2017 at 3:27 PM
partha Sarathi GhoshJuly 19, 2017 at 6:27 PM
Could you please provide your contact number to me or Sushanta Da’s contact number to me. I am planning to go Jhalong..
Krishnandu SarkarJuly 20, 2017 at 10:54 AM
You may contact Sushanta Da at +91-9476392026. But it’s worth noting that, he’s just the assigned caretaker cum manager of the property and bookings cannot be done through him. Instead you need to book online through WBFDC Website
However as far as I know, the property at Jhalong is undergoing maintenance and cannot be booked as of now. Also the area is not stable due to the current agitation for tourism as of today.
You may check my updated thread at Jholung River Camp – Revisited for details.
swarup mallickDecember 27, 2017 at 8:30 PM
can i book cabs for the whole trip from malbazar junction?
Krishnandu SarkarJanuary 3, 2018 at 11:06 PM
Hi Swarup, Yes you can book cabs from New Mal Jn.
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