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Travelogue / West Bengal

Bungkulung – Bird Watchers Paradise

Bungkulung Jungle Camp

Located on the Siliguri-Mirik road, just 15Kms from Mirik, Bungkulung is the perfect place for an offbeat wanderlust. The picturesque hamlet of Bungkulung is one of the places in North Bengal where one will find nature in abundance and in its unique way. Bungkulung will present you with a tranquil nature in both the ways of jungle and hills. Here one will find the mighty Himalayan ranges embraced by an abundance of green jungle.

Bungkulung has been wholeheartedly bestowed by nature with its unique and flawless beauty. In Bunkulung one can enjoy the serenity of nature by experiencing their foot on the nearby tea gardens, by taking a dip in the cold water of the Balasun river or just by spending their time watching the sun play hide and seek over the tall trees of the jungle and the mighty Himalayas at the background. Bungkulung is also a paradise for bird watchers as an abundant species of birds are found in this Himalayan hamlet.

Bungkulung Balason River

A stay at the Bungkulung Jungle Camp will help you to get the real feeling of nature and ecotourism. Here you can savour the locally grown foods. Even the tea you drink here is organically produced. In addition to the experience of ecotourism here, you can also indulge with the natives of Bungkulung village and can have an idea about their daily lives. For a wanderlust, Bungkulung would be the perfect place to pacify your tired soul.

Itinerary

Day 1 – 24th Dec 2020: CCU – IXB. IXB – Lungchu
Day 2 – 25th Dec 2020: Lungchu
Day 3 – 26th Dec 2020: Lungchu – Tabakoshi
Day 4 – 27th Dec 2020: Tabakoshi – Bungkulung
Day 5 – 28th Dec 2020: Bungkulung – Baasbari (Bijanbari)
Day 6 – 29th Dec 2020: Baasbari (Bijanbari)
Day 7 – 30th Dec 2020: Baasbari (Bijanbari) – Lamagaon
Day 8 – 31st Dec 2020: Lamagaon – Darjeeling
Day 9 – 1st Jan 2021: Darjeeling
Day 10 – 2nd Jan 2021: Darjeeling
Day 11 – 3rd Jan 2021: Darjeeling – IXB. IXB – CCU

NOTE: Lungchu is in Kalimpong district while remaining destinations of our tour are in Darjeeling district. Generally, this should not be a route plan of yours, however, as we wanted to explore Lungchu we planned it anyway.

How To Reach

Bungkulung is located around 15 KMs from Mirik. One needs to take left after crossing Soureni SSB Camp while coming from Mirik and drive around 7 KM further to reach Bungkulung. For tourists coming from NJP / IXB, Bungkulung is also connected to Dudhia through an unconstructed road or else you may choose to drive up to Soureni and then take the same route as mentioned above.

If you are coming from NJP / IXB, you may either choose to hire a private vehicle through your homestay which would set you back by around Rs. 2200/- for a 4 seater vehicle and around Rs. 3200/- – Rs. 3500/- if you are opting for a Sumo / Bolero. Else, if you are a budget traveller, you can take a shared vehicle to Bungkulung from Siliguri Darjeeling More which will set you back by around Rs. 100/- – Rs. 150/- per head. However, keep in mind that there are 2-3 shared cabs that ply to Bungkulung and are only available after 1 PM. Another option is to hop into a vehicle going to Nagari Tea Estate / Dhajea Tea Estate (a destination on its own) and get down at Bungkulung. However, all vehicle going to Nagari Tea Estate / Dhajea Tea Estate may not pass through Bungkulung, thus confirm the same beforehand before hopping into one.

If you are coming from Darjeeling, you may choose to move to Mirik and from Mirik you’d easily find a shared vehicle to Bungkulung after 1 PM or can even choose to hire a private vehicle for your convenience. You may choose to take this route while coming via NJP / IXB too, however, it doesn’t make much sense as it’d be more expensive and will take more time.

What To See / What To Do

Bungkulung is a destination in itself. Here, your best bet is to enjoy the silence of nature. You may also take a walk around the village and discover eco-tourism of Bungkulung. If you are interested in Tea Tourism, you may visit the tea factory to learn about tea processing. Bungkulung is a paradise for Bird Watchers and Bird Photographers with scope to encounter a huge number of Himalayan species. One may even choose to go for a short hike to Balason River nearby. You can also hire a cab and take a short tour to Gyaman Bridge or Mirik or even Dudhia. Bungkulung Jungle Camp being situated right amidst the forest, you can also go for a short hike and explore the surrounding forest.

Day 4 – 27th Dec 2020 – Tabakoshi – Bukungkulung :

We started from Tabakoshi at around 9:30 AM and drove through the beautiful tea gardens of Gopaldhara Tea Estate. It was around 11:30 AM when we reached Bungkulung Jungle Camp. Mr Kalyan Rai welcomed us warmly and guided us to our camps. Bungkulung Jungle Camp is situated right amidst the nature within the forest leading it to be a heaven for nature lovers and bird watchers. It was love at first sight for us.

Bungkulung Jungle Camp has two constructed camps with attached bath, where 3-4 people can be easily accommodated in each of the camps. Amongst the two, Mr Kalyan Rai tried to build one of the camps with modern essence by placing a glass window allowing you to wake up by the view of nature. Other than the constructed camps, Mr Kalyan Rai can also arrange for makeshift tents if you are a large group. Well, for Babai Da too, he pitched a tent however we decided to stay together in one of the camps and leave the other one for Babai Da.

Bungkulung Jungle Camp

Bungkulung Jungle Camp

The camps are located completely on a different side right amidst the forest than the dining place.

We loved the place at first sight. Located amidst the dense jungle in the lap of mother nature Bungkulung Jungle Camp is the perfect place to rest your pacified heart. We placed our luggage in the tent and moved out to relish our soul. We slowly walked through the surrounding jungle feeling the silence of it. What we could only hear are the sound of various chirping birds and the sweet gusting breeze. Believe me, words aren’t enough to describe this feeling. We also enjoyed some of our time in the tent that was pitched up for Babai da.

Bungkulung Jungle Camp

In the meanwhile, Mr Kalyan Rai arranged a cup of tea for each of us. Later, we took our own sweet time to explore the property and the surrounding forest. After getting freshen up after a while, we went ahead for lunch. The lunch was delicious and homely.

My first interaction with Mr Kalyan Rai over the phone was on a different pitch. I was looking out for Bungkulung Eco Huts going by the pictures on the internet. However, I couldn’t reach out to them on the given phone number. Thus I decided to reach out to Mr Kalyan Rai and asked for his help. And surprisingly he agreed to provide me with the contact details for Bungkulung Eco Huts even though him being running a homestay himself. This behaviour of him touched me and it felt to be ethically wrong. Thus, blindly I decided to give Bungkulung Jungle Camp a try. And believe me, it turned out that we loved Bungkulung Jungle Camp the most amongst all the 3 homestays in Bungkulung.

Bungkulung Jungle Camp

Bungkulung Jungle Camp

Later after having our lunch, we decided to go for a tribal village walk and followed by a hike to the nearby Balason River. It’s just a 10-15 mins hike from Bungkulung Jungle Camp. However, Mr Kalyan Rai approached us if we’d like to go through the other homestays in Bungkulung and thus we grabbed the offer and decided to continue with our plan next morning.

Our first stop was Bungkulung Eco Huts. I was lured towards Bungkulung Eco Huts by the pictures on the internet. We came to know that, the owner Mr Bhanu Rai is a police officer and is presently posted in Baharampur. As of now his daughter and family members take care of the bookings and looks after the guests. His daughter further informed us that, Mr Bhanu Rai would shift back here soon with a new posting in the next few months. I could now guess why I couldn’t reach him over the phone. Bungkulung Eco Huts have 3 cottages of which one is double bedded and remaining two can accommodate 3-4 people.

Bungkulung Eco Huts

Bungkulung Eco Huts

Bungkulung Eco Huts

Bungkulung Eco Huts

Bungkulung Eco Huts

Next, we halted for a while at Royal Menla Homestay ran by Mr Deepak Subba. Royal Menla Homestay has two cottages one of which is double bedded and another is 4 bedded. Mr Deepak Subba can also arrange makeshift tents for larger groups.

Bungkulung Royal Menla

Bungkulung Royal Menla Homestay

Mr Kalyan Rai explained to us that it’s a small village and thus the villagers are more like family members anyway. They do not compete between themselves. This behaviour of him touched us. And believe me, after scanning through all the homestays, if I were to compare location-wise, we found Bungkulung Jungle Camp to be the best. Both Bungkulung Eco Huts and Royal Menla are located off the main road and we found them to be more of a resort whereas Bungkulung Jungle Camp located right within the lap of mother nature boasts of being natural. We were really happy that our wild guess turned out to be fruitful.

Later, Mr Kalyan Rai guided us further to the banks of the beautiful Balason River below Gyaman Bridge. The view from here is more lucrative than if we would have chosen to hike to Balason River. We spent quite some time by the banks of Balason River taking turns to click a lot of pictures amongst ourselves. Mr Kalyan Rai informed us that there’s a road being built, which once done, would connect Bungkulung to Kurseong and Darjeeling. Next, we further drove to Gyaman Bridge and spend quite some time enjoying the beautiful aerial view of the place around.

Bungkulung Balason River

Bungkulung Balason River

Bungkulung Balason River

Later as the evening was settling in, we returned back to Bungkulung Jungle Camp. Instead of heading over to the rooms, we pulled a few chairs and settled ourselves in the dining. Mr Kalyan Rai and his partner – Mr Ashwini Tamang joined us over a cup of tea and evening snacks. We discussed a lot of things ranging from the local’s way of life to the natural beauty of this place. We requested Mr Kalyan Rai to keep the place as it is. Even if he chooses to construct a few more camps to cater more tourists considering the business, do it such a way that it doesn’t destroy the nature around. As a lot of tourists nowadays looks for such a natural place for a getaway it’d be a boon to him in turn in terms of business.

As the sun went down by the horizon, Mr Kalyan Rai asked us if we’d like to start with the bonfire and barbeque. Rest of the evening was very entertaining and we spent chit-chatting amongst ourselves over barbeque and drinks!

Later, we called off the day after having our dinner by around 9:30 PM.

Day 4 – 27th Dec 2020 – Bungkulung – Baasbari (Bijanbari) :

We woke up at around 5:30 AM in the morning by the chirping of the birds. Even though I’m not a bird photographer at all nor do I like clicking birds, but I’m not sure what got into me that morning, I went ahead with my camera to frame a few birds. Dilip Da joined me too! This reminded us of Avik! Well, to tell you the truth, I couldn’t get a single good shot being an amateur in bird photography, but however, I must say that we enjoyed the process though. More than that, a walk through the silence of dense forest with the chirping of birds was something to cherish forever. It was wonderful to experience the cool blue morning transforming into warm yellow by the rising sun amidst the dense forest.

Later, we came back to our camps and took our own sweet time to get ready and took turns to take bath. Bungkulung being situated at lower altitude it’s quite warm as long as the sun is up in the sky. At around 9:00 AM we were called for breakfast. We knew it’d be amazing considering our yesterday’s experience with the lunch and dinner here. And as expected, it was quite different and heavenly.

Finally, by around 10:00 AM, we left for our next shelter for the day – Baasbari after bidding goodbye to Mr Kalyan Rai and with promises to stay in touch and be back soon!

Reviews :

Bunkulung Jungle Camp: Located amidst the dense forest in the lap of mother nature Bungkulung Jungle Camp is the perfect place to rest your pacified heart and heaven for bird watchers. It was love at first sight for us. Bungkulung Jungle Camp has two constructed camps with attached bath, where 3-4 people can be easily accommodated in each of the camps. Amongst the two, Mr Kalyan Rai tried to build one of the camps with modern essence by placing a glass window allowing you to wake up by the view of nature. Other than the constructed camps, Mr Kalyan Rai can also arrange for makeshift tents if you are a large group.

One must go for a slow walk through the surrounding forest feeling the silence of it. What we could only hear are the sound of various chirping birds and the sweet gusting breeze. Believe me, words aren’t enough to describe this feeling.

The camps are located completely on a different side right amidst the forest than the dining place. The food is homely yet delicious and finger-licking. Considering it to be a camp, local villagers along with the host – Mr Kalyan Rai and his partner Mr Ashwini Tamang looks after the guests who are always smiling, co-operating and very helpful.

We really enjoyed our stay here and plan to go back soon. Well, I must not write anything about Bunkulung Eco Huts and Royal Menla Homestay as we didn’t stay there and instead paid a visit during our village walk. However, all I can say is both Bunkulung Eco Huts and Royal Menla Homestay are more of a resort whereas Bungkulung Jungle Camp being completely natural amidst nature touched our hearts. Also, being a nature camp, Mr Kalyan Rai only accommodates a single family instead of clubbing with others thus leading you to have exclusive access to the whole camp.

Costing :

Bungkulung Jungle Camp : Rs. 1500/- per head per day (including Fooding & Lodging)

Bunkulung Eco Huts : Rs 2000/- per head per day for 2 Pax | Rs. 1800/- per head per day for 3 pax | Rs. 1600/- per head per day for 4 pax. All the packages are including Fooding & Lodging

Royal Menla Homestay : Rs. 1500/- per head per day (including Fooding & Lodging)

Contacts :

Bungkulung Jungle Camp : Mr Kalyan Rai : +91 97490 59681  | Mr Ashwini Tamang : +91 80016 49210 / +91 99322 24074 

Bungkulung Eco Huts : Mr Bhanu Rai : +91 74279 91491 / +91 74073 34666 | Mrs Bhanu Rai : +91 74079 52192

Royal Menla Homestay : Mr Deepak Subba : +91 89187 86075  / +91 98326 84060

Abhijeet Singha (Babai Da) : +91 89066 72949 / +91 99325 64080. Babai Da is always our trusted partner in Dooars and North Bengal. We just can’t think of a trip to Dooars / North Bengal without Babai Da being with us.

Abhijeet Singha (Babai Da)

About Author

Hi, I'm born and bought up in Kolkata in the midst of what bongs are best known for - Eating, Sleeping and Travelling. A developer by profession and a traveller by passion. As I was facing a lack of budget-friendly information on the internet while planning my travel, I started drafting my travel experiences here to help you all having a pocket-friendly smooth travel experience.

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