North Bengal has, like, a bajillion places to visit. Try telling that to the Chief Minister of the state. Any suggestions you might have would only go unnoticed on purpose – or you might end up arrested. Or even dead.
This is one of the many reasons why I often seem to have a meltdown I can’t get rid of. This and troubled relationships. Of whatever kind. When even makeup won’t seem to take my mind off of things, I like to grab my mother and just go somewhere. This time I had my cousin visiting us – one of the cousins that I do love – after two years, and so we just drove over to Jaldapara.
North Bengal has wildlife so diverse; it’s crazy. And there’s zero maintenance because there’s minimal investment – the authorities just neglect this part of Bengal and no steps are being taken to improve the tourism industry. Okay, rant over. Let me get to the point.
What is this place?
Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is kind of pretty. Nothing too massive, but it’s quiet and peaceful and it is perfect for a getaway. There’s no cell phone reception in the rooms for the most part, but you do get to reconnect with nature and think about a lot of stuff. Maybe focus on yourself. It is a wildlife reserve and you’d get to see a lot of peacocks and rhinos and a ton of elephants. Also, leopards and wild deer.
How to get there?
You take a flight to Bagdogra. Or you can take a flight to Kolkata and another to Bagdogra which typically takes less than an hour, and you then get a cab to cover the 135 km distance to Jaldapara.
Where do I stay?
If you can get a room in the middle of the sanctuary itself, it’s the best place to stay in. The bathrooms are spotless, the sheets clean, the windows large and the tea, AMAZING. The rooms would set you back INR 3000 a night, but it’s worth it. There’s also hot water and electricity and the staff is amazing.
Plus, you get to see a million peacocks and parrots and hornbills too. Right out of your window.
Things to do at Jaldapara:
1. The safari ride, which typically happens post lunch break, is a great idea. They take you through the whole reserve and to watch towers where you get to see rhinoceros come to eat salt.
Apparently, this is what they use as the animal version of after mints. At least that’s what our guy told us. They also take you to see the tribal dance performance by Boro (a local tribe) girls. They do five acts, and each act tells a story. They also sing their songs because there’s no boombox or laptop.
2. The early morning elephant ride. They name all their elephants, guys, and there are baby elephants too. We had a female elephant called Champakali and she was forty seven years old (!!!) – and super hungry all the time. These elephants take you through the deeper parts of the forest – you can see leopards and several strange looking trees, and a species of a deer called sambar.
What’s the best time of the year to visit?
I’d say February to March, when it’s not too cold nor too warm. If you go over during the winters, you’d encounter a lot of fog, cancelled flights and grumpy elephants.
If any of you ever decide to show: please drop me a message on instagram. My handle is @soochxo.