The village Jayanti, located in the edge of Buxa Tiger Reserve was named after the river Jayanti, which forms a natural border between the hills of Bhutan and West Bengal, is also known as “Queen of Dooars” because of the astounding view and tranquil ambiance it offers. Jayanti is generally dry throughout the year, however during monsoons it flourishes up creating a tranquil environment to relax right within the lap of mother nature with the alluring sound of the flowing river, chirping of birds, sweet fragrance of nature and refreshingly cool breeze.
This article is the continuation of the series Enchanting Dooars – Gorumara – Chapramari
Just for your reference again, we are following the below itinerary
29th April – Day 1 : NMZ – Murti
30th April – Day 2 : Murti – Kalipur Eco Village
1st May – Day 3 : Kalipur Eco Village – Jayanti
2nd May – Day 4 : Jayanti
3rd May – Day 5 : Jayanti – Chilapata
4th May – Day 6 : Chilapata – Hollong
5th May – Day 7 : Hollong
6th May – Day 8 : Hollong – Hasimara
1st May – Day 3 : Kalipur Eco Village – Jayanti :
We started from Kalipur at around 9:15 AM as we knew we had a long route to travel today, as we were moving to Western-most to Eastern-most parts of Dooars. We took the highway from Nagarkata and traversed through the tea gardens of Banarhat, Binnaguri, Hasimara and Hamiltonganj. Today being a bright sunny day, we could easily feel the scorching heat of Sun, being in dooars during the summers. It was around 12:30 PM when we reached Rajabhatkhawa. Rajabhatkhawa is the entry point of Buxa Tiger Reserve and before proceeding further, one needs to get the Entry Permit and Vehicle Permit respectively.
The permit is valid for 3 days, so for tourists staying at Jayanti, it’s not an issue at all. The drive through the narrow lane through the Buxa Tiger Reserve is really thrilling. You need to keep your eyes wide open, as spotting of wildlife is very common here. Although we couldn’t spot any, but we enjoyed the drive. At around 1:00 PM we reached our shelter for next 2 days, Mohanchura. We just loved the place. The view from our rooms and balcony was simply breathtaking. As it was lean season, we were the only person staying in at first floor and thus enjoyed the whole balcony.
We were really hungry by then. Mohanchura belongs to the same owner as of Banate Resort, a well known hotel in Jayanti. There’s no kitchen in Mohanchura, thus one needs to go to Banante Resort for fooding. However you can always ask the staffs to bring in the foods for you and that’s not an issue at all. The food at Banante Resort was simply fingerlicking. They serve simple, home made, Bengali dishes, however each and every dish was quite tasty.
Later after taking rest for sometime, at around 3 PM, we started for Chunia Watch Tower. We had to hire a Guide for the same as it’s mandatory. There’s a guild nearby, from there you can hire the Guides accordingly. The drive through the pebbles at river jayanti was something to really enjoy. We could spot in a lot of birds throughout the route. Infact if anyone is interested in Birding, this is a great place to walk down during the wee hours of morning. We spotted few peacocks and sambar deers as well.
However when we reached Chunia Watch Tower, we felt like, mistakenly we have came to some busti. We couldn’t match the quite tranquil environment of Jayanti with the chaotic scenario at Chunia Watch Tower. There were few gangs who were like, they might have came for a picnic. The guides tried their level best, but it didn’t helped much. Later after some time, their guide manupulated them to leave for the next point.
We went up to the Watch Tower, however we were sure that we won’t be able to spot anything there. After spending some time there, we left and proceeded towards Bhuta Busti Watch Tower (commonly referred as BB Watch Tower). Again, we came across that chaotic group there. Also the palce didn’t look much promising, thus after spending few minutes we left for our hotel.
Rest of the evening we enjoyed our drinks amongst the cool breeze of Jayanti. Later after having our dinner we called off the day.
2nd May – Day 4 : Jayanti :
We woke up at around 5:30 AM and quickly got ready. Today we had plans to visit Bhutan Ghat followed by Choto Mahakal Temple, Pokhari Lake (Pukhri Lake) and Buxa Fort. We were very excited about Bhutan Ghat. However it’s a restricted place due to various insurgencies and disturbances in that region. And unless you have known contacts it’s not possible to visit Bhutan Ghat. The journey through the cool green hills and evergreen forests are something really tempering for your eyes. It took us around 2 hours to reach Bhutan Ghat along with completing all the (in)formalities at Rydak Range Office and Maynabari – Rydak Beat Office. Situated amidst evergreen dense forest cover and the rushing sound of the river Raidak, Bhutan Ghat offers a breathtaking view.
We spent around an hour there and let our souls being soaked in to the lap of mother nature. However, before you ask me, I’m apoligising upfront, as I won’t be able to reveal the details of how I managed to reached Bhutan Ghat. However anyone who’s following this series of Enchanting Dooars, will have enough clue to where to start from!! As they say “Samajhdharon ke liye ishara hi kafi hai” 😛
However, let me also warn you that, although the place is safe but there are various reasons why the place is restricted one and out of bound for general tourists. So do consider those circumstances if you are planning to visit there. Also it depends a lot on your luck and there are various touts going on regarding Bhutan Ghat. So you need to get hold of a gem of a person, who can really help you out. As there are no official permits issued to visit this place, so you need someone who can help you managing the officials at Rydak Range Office, Maynabari – Rydak Beat Office and Sahastra Seema Bal (Commonly referred as SSB). So you need to verify all the details on your own, as in most cases, tourists are fooled by the locals.
Post Bhutan Ghat, we went to a pond nearby which is considered as one of the main source of water for the wilds in Buxa Tiger Reserve. Although we really couldn’t spot any, but the chances are considered to be very high here.
Post that we returned to our hotel by around 11 AM. We were really hungry by the time, so we quickly had our breakfast and got freshen up. And then we started proceeding towards Choto Mahakal. The Mahakal Temple is actually situated in the hills of Bhutan, however you’d need no permits to visit there. The hills of India and Bhutan is seperated by a river which you have to cross to reach the Mahakal Temple. Post that you have to hike a bit to reach the actual temple. However it’s best to not to approach Mahakal Temple with aged persons whom you don’t consider to be fit.
Next we had plans to visit Pukhri Lake (also referred as Pokhari Lake), which is considered to be a sacred lake by the locals as they performs various rituals and refrain from putting their feet in the water. The lake have huge population of cat fishes (Magur) and turtles, and is very popular amongst the tourists as they love feeding them with puffed rice.
However, unfortunately, my mom fell down while coming back from Mahakal Temple and fractured her legs. So we had to dismiss all of our plans and rush to the nearby hospital at Alipurduar. However after reaching there, we found out that, there were no Orthopaedic Surgeon available on Wednesdays and Sundays. And today being Wednesday, we realized that we had no options available. I really felt pity towards the locals, as I really couldn’t even imagine what they does in case of emergencies on these specific days. However after referring the locals and having several calls with my uncle, who happens to be from medical background (who also keeps going to Alipurduar and have good connection there), we came to know about a Pharmacy, where we would be able to find an orthopaedic surgeon. However upon checking with the pharmacy, we came to know that the doctor will see only 10 patients, and it was already full. However we noticed there were lots of patients waiting outside the pharmacy just with a hope in their hearts.
Babai Da, being a local, helped us a lot with his connections to make a room for my mom. Finally after rushing here and there, things seemed to be sorted out. XRay Report confirmed that she really got a minor fracture on her ankle. However the doctor confirmed that, there’s nothing to worry as it was really a minor fracture and she’d get fit within 1 month provided we follow his instructions. Next we had to rush here and there a bit to find a pair of crutch, however throughout Alipurduar we couldn’t find any in the first place. As we were about to take a decission whether to move to Cooch Behar and take a look, we thought of checking out all the medical shops in the Alipurduar Town. Finally, we were glad to find one at one such shop.
Whoa! We breathe a sigh of relief! However we were more happy that everything got sorted out. We had 3 more days remaining and we hardly have any sightseeings planned, so we decided to continue with the trip, as anyways we won’t be able to find any tickets within such short notice. We consulted the doctor too, and he confirmed that, there’s no need to cancel the remaining days abruptly, but we should ensure that she’s not putting any pressure on her legs and using the crutch whenever required.
It was around 7 PM by then, and we were really hungry by the time. So we had some snacks at a local shop there and started proceeding back towards Jayanti. Throughout the route, we praised and thanked Babai Da, who really helped us a lot, throughout this situation of ours. Without him, all these won’t have been possible. He even skipped his lunch because of this rushing with us. This can’t be measured in terms money, and neither we tried to. We had been with Babai Da before, on a Trip To Iccheygaon and Charkhole, and we knew he’s such a gem of a person. We had developed a friendship and personal relations during that time. That time we promised him that if we ever come to Dooars anytime, it’d definitely be with him only.
The drive through Buxa Tiger Reserve at such odd hours felt really thrilling. We all kept our eyes wide open, just in case if we can spot something crossing the road. On a spark of a moment I just said, “How does it matter if you can spot anything? Just imagine, your car goes off your luck and you are stuck here admist the forest“. Right at the next moment, Babai Da replied “Okay” and stopped his car and turned off the lights for next 2 minutes. The experience of wild silence with the thrill and scaredness in your heart, and the emulating fireflies of those 2 minutes, can’t be expressed in words. One needs to be there to feel it.
Finally after those one of the best 2 minutes of our life, when he started driving again, we kept quite for sometime trying to feel what actually happened. Finally we reached our hotel by around 9 PM. I can’t thank Babai Da enough, as he left his room at downstairs and shifted to the room on 1st floor beside ours. Shortly after that, we were served dinner, which we had already ordered beforehand. Next, we chit-chatted for a while before hitting the bed.
3rd May – Day 5 : Jayanti – Chilapata :
We woke up at around 8 AM and got freshen up. Soon we were served breakfast. After having our breakfast, we payed all the bills and asked the staffs to initate the checkout. Well, I’m really thankful to them, as noticing the condition of my mom, they really helped us in various small things which can’t be explained in words.
Babai Da, being such generous person, he drove his car as far as possible over the pile. Finally we started for Chilapata at around 9:30 AM. However we took a detour to Raimatang.
It took us around 4 Hours to drive to our shelter for the the day, Mendabari Jungle Camp, which is situated within the Chilapata Forest. Today being a bright sunny day it was one of the warmest day we spent in Dooars. Previously we being 6 persons, I booked one Double Bedded AC Room and the whole Dormitory, which have 4 beds. However there’s a lot of issue with the voltage there, and the fans at the dorm was hardly rotating. So after discussing with the in-charge there, we booked another Double Bedded AC Room too. However that too didn’t helped much, as due to the Voltage issues, the AC’s were not working at all. And ironically, the dorm felt more cooler due to the cool breeze through the windows from that side of the forest. Well technically, now the whole property belonged to us.
Soon we were served lunch, and it was really tasty. After having a stumptous lunch, we went for a afternoon nap. Later at around 4 PM, the Gypsy arrived, as we had opted for a Safari to Shikari Line Watch Tower. Well, Chilapata is actually a part of Jaldapara National Park, however divided by the Torsha river. However Chilapata is considered to be one of the most dense forest in Dooars, as this part of the jungle has a huge density of teaks and sal trees making archways across the routes.
Although the safari at Central Chord Line (popularly known as CC Line) is considered to be the best one, however due to some unknown reasons, the officials have decided to put a restriction in place. First we drove to Kodal Basti Check Post, to get the necessary permits and then proceeded towards the watch tower. The drive through the ruins of fort built by the Nal King during the reign of Gupta Empire (5th Century) was amazing. But there is nothing much to be seen as far as the fort is concerned. It’s all in ruins now and except few exposed walls of bricks there is hardly anything remaining of the fort.
Although we couldn’t spot any wildlife except few birds and peacocks, however the journey through such dense forest, where even sunlight seemed to struggled to reach, felt thrillng and amazing. At the Watchtower, we found a trained elephant, who seemed to be on her own mood. It was really fun watching her activities!!
After spending quite some time there, finally we were back to our hotel by 5:30 PM. Later Me, Akash and Suparna went out for a village walk and clicked few photos here and there. Later we were served Tea and Pakodas in the evening. Rest of the evening we spent enjoying our drinks, chit-chatting amongst ourselves.
Later in the evening, it started raining heavily, and we were served dinner at around 9 PM. After having our dinner we called off the day. As already informed by the in-charge there, as the night decended, the voltage came back to normal and AC’s started working!!
Mohanchura : Undoubtedly one of the best available accommodation at Jayanti which offers the unobstructed view of the whole river bed and the mountains!! It belongs to the same owner as of the well known accommodation – Banante Resort. Unlike most other hotels at Jayanti incuding Banante itself which is situated at ground level and lacks any upper floors, Mohanchura have 2 floors and thus tourists opting to stay at 1st floor can enjoy the breathtaking view from their rooms itself.
The rooms, washrooms and the whole property is clean and very well decorated and well maintained. However Mohanchura lacks any kitchen, and thus tourists staying there either have to go to Banante Resort for fooding or you can ask the staffs to bring in your orders except Lunch. The food is home style bengali cuisine and really tasty. The staffs are very friendly and always smiling.
Mendabari Jungle Camp : Mendabari Jungle Camp is situated inside the Chilapata Forest. Thus tourists who wants to enjoy a night at Chilapata can stay here. However you can always have day trip from Jaldapara Tourist Lodge which is actually in Madarihat, however staying right within the most dense forest of Dooars have it’s own advantage. They have 2 Double Bedded AC Room and one Dormitory which can accommodate upto 4 pax. The rooms, washrooms and the whole property is very well maintained and clean. Considering the fact that even the dorm is maintained in such a way, that even the families can consider it too. The staffs are very humble, helpful and cordial. The food is simple bengali cuisine however really tasty.
To opt for safari, just inform the in-charge there and they would arrange everything. However one issue with Mendabari Jungle Camp is with the Voltage. The voltage is such low throughout the day, that the fans hardly makes any rotations. Thus on a bright sunny day, it’s too hot out there and due to the Voltage issues AC’s won’t help at all. However tourists visiting during the winters won’t have any issue.
Mendabari Jungle Camp belongs to WBSFDA, whereas another option could be to stay at Malangi Lodge which is in Barodabari and belongs to WBFDC. However Malangi Lodge is beside the highway, so you won’t feel like staying within the forest. However the view of Malangi River is something to cherish for. If you want to have Elephant Safari at Chilapata, you need to stay at either of these lodges, as guests from these two accommodations are given preference same as like in Gorumara and Chapramari. However as Malangi Lodge belongs to WBFDC, thus guests staying there are given first preference for the Elephant Safari at Chilapata. Thus during peak season, if you want to have Elephant Safari at Chilapata, staying at Malangi Lodge seems to be more better choice. Another advantage of staying in at Malangi Lodge is you can easily cover Jaldapara from there, however for Safari’s at Jaldapara, guests staying at Hollong and Jaldapara Tourist Lodge (in exact order) are given preference.
Mohanchura, Jayanti – Rooms : 1500 x 2 (Rooms) x 2 (Nights) = 6000/-
Mohanchura, Jayanti – Meals : 3760/-
Guide (Chuniya Watchtower and Bhutia Busti Watchtower) : 250/-
Un-disclosed Official (Bhutan Ghat) : 2000/-
Guide (Choto Mahakal) : 300/-
Mendabari Jungle Camp – Rooms : 2 x 2240 (AC Double Bed Rooms) = 4480/- + 1000 (4 Bed Dorm) = 5480/-
Mendabari Jungle Camp – Meals : 450/- x 7 = 3150/-
Mendabari Jungle Camp – Service Charge : 300/-
Shikari Line Watch Tower Safari :
Entry Fee : Rs. 60/- x 6 = 360/-
Vehicle Entry Fee : Rs. 250/-
Vehicle : Rs. 1200/-
Guide : Rs. 250/-
Tribal Dance : Rs. 35/-
NOTE : We skipped the Tribal Dance. However as explained at Enchanting Dooars – Gorumara – Chapramari evening safari’s are always equipped with such Tribal Dance to support the local livelihood and the charge is incuded within the safari cost irrespective of whether you go for it.
Vehicle : 2500/- per day
Mohanchura : +91-98320-90500 / +91-75480-19121 / Website
Mendabari Jungle Camp – Booking : WBSFDA [Booking needs to be done online]
Mendabari Jungle Camp – Mr. Sanjay (In-Charge) : +91-97333-30710 / +91-99336-81219
Mendabari Jungle Camp – Mr. Dipak (In-Charge) : +91-96798-67385
Mendabari Jungle Camp – Mr. Ajen (Caretaker) : +91-90028-16280
Malangi Lodge – Booking : WBFDC [Booking needs to be done online]
Babai Da (Driver) : +91-89066-72949
This trip report is continued at Enchanting Dooars – Hollong – Totopara