GORUMARA NATIONAL PARK
The Gorumara National Park is situated on the banks of the River Murti in the district of Jalpaiguri. There are other rivers like the Raidakand and the major river in the park is the Jaldak River, which is a tributary of the Brahmaputra. This was a reserve forest in 1895 and made a wild life sanctuary in 1947 and later in 1994 was declared a National Park. The Park is located on the foothills of the Himalayas in the Terai region in northern West Bengal. This Park is known for the Indian rhinocerous. It is a medium sized park which originally had only 7 sq. kms. but was later extended with an additional area of 80 sq. kms. The other neighbouring parks are Jaldapara and the Chapramari Wildlife Reserve.
There are no human inhabitants within the park but there are a few villages in the periphery. These villages are Saraswati, Budhuram, Bichabanga, Chatua, Kailipur and Murti.
The Park has dense rolling forests and riverine grasslands with lush greenery. There are ferns and tall trees covered with creepers and moss. The park is also known as the Dooars of West Bengal. There are tropical and sub tropical grasslands, savannas and shrublands, moist deciduous forests and tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. The trees are mainly Sal, Teak, raintree and Bombax. There are bamboo groves within. The Park is also famous for its tropical variety of orchids.
The Park has fifty species of mammals and some are elephants, gaur, sloth bear, chital, sambar deer, barking deer, hog deer, wild boar, leopard, civets, mongoose, giant squirrels, Hispid Hare, the one horned rhinocerous, bisons and deer. There are 193 species of birds like the scarlet minivet, sunbird, Asian Paradise sun catcher, spangled drongo, Pheasants, peafowls, Indian Hornbill, woodpecker and the rare Brahminy Duck; 22 species of reptiles like the python and the King Cobra, 7 species of turtles and 23 species of fish in the Park.
Gorumara National Park is an exciting place for bird watchers and nature lovers. There are package tours to Gorumara and there are three packages that could be availed.
PLACES TO VISIT:
- Rhino Point: There is a watchtower within the park from where the rhinos can be seen grazing.
- Jatraprasad Watch Tower: This was named after a legendry elephant which had reared a number of orphaned elephants. It is near the Gorumara Forest Bungalow.
- Chandrachur Watch Tower: This is also known as the Old Khunia watch tower. It is near the Murti Forest Bungalow. There was a village in early days but had been shifted out when the Park came in to existence.
- Chuk-Chuki Bird Watching Tower: This is an excellent place for bird watching. This place is between Ramsai and Lataguri
- Budhuram Forest Village: There is an ethnic tribal dance on show at this place in the evenings.
- Lataguri National Interpretation Centre: There are exhibits of local natural history in this centre.
- Methla Watchtower: Located at Kalipur eco village, there are unique bullock cart safaris from this point.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The climate during winter from November to February will be cold as the temperature at that time will range from 100C to 210C; March to April, it will start getting hotter and the temperature will be in the neighbourhood of 240C to 270C, monsoons are quite heavy and the temperature will be between 100 and 180C in mid May till end October. The best time to visit is from November to March.
The Park does not have any guides and it is quite unsafe travelling on the roads within the park because of the rhinos and herds of elephants. The Park is closed from mid June to mid September because of monsoons. The entrance fee is Rs.40/- per head. The Park is closed on Thursdays.
The nearest airport is in Bagdogra and is 80 kms. from the Park. The nearest broad gauge railway station is at Chalsa, which is 18 kms. from the Park. The other railway stations are in New Jalpaiguri and in New Alipurduar. The nearest highway passes by the Park’s gate at Lataguri which connects Siliguri and Guwahati. Jalpaiguri is 52 kms. south of the Park. The road from Bagdogra to the Park is through winding roads, tea gardens and beautiful scenery.
There is a Park Forest Bungalow which dates back to the British rule. The place is quite rustic. There are some collections in the bungalow which makes interesting reading. The watchtower overlooks the salt reservoir. There are some cottages in Kalipur constructed by the State Forest Department.
- Gorumara Jungle Camp:
- River Wood Forest Retreat: this is a 4 star hotel
- Gorumara Elephant Camp: This place is in Dhupjhora
- Bonani Tourist Centre: The tariff is from Rs.800/- onwards and located on the highway near Chalsa and is run by the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation
- Aranya Jungle Resort:
- Lataguri Resort Owners Welfare Association: Details of lodges can be had at the following site: www.lalaguri.org
- The Tusker Dem: Located at Mangalbari village it is 4 kms. from Chalsa. The rates are from Rs.800/- onwards for different types of rooms. For more details log on to: email@example.com
- Panchavati Forest Resort at Lataguri
- Jungle Heritage at Lataguri
- Resort Sonar Bangla: It is near the Park
- Rose Valley Lataguri: The resort has six four bedded and 14 double bedded A/c rooms and restaurant. The Tariff rates are from Rs.3000/-. The Resort arranges safaris in the park.
- Aakarshan Bono Bungalow:This is opposite to the National Park. For details log on to : firstname.lastname@example.org
Visitors to this park are advised to follow the following safety advice.
- Stay away from fire. Visitors are advised not to light any fire
- Littering of the forest is prohibited
- Pets should not be brought along
- Firearms and explosives are prohibited
- Alcohol within the Park is prohibited
- Visitors are advised to keep to the specified paths and not to loiter in to the forest
- Picnics in the forest is not permitted
- Animals in the forest should not be teased
- Visitors should strictly maintain silence
- Permissible speed of vehicles within the forest is 20kms./hr
- Disorderly conduct is not permitted
- Hunting or collecting or removing any forest product is prohibited
- Fishing is prohibited in the Park
Violations of any of these codes of conduct could lead to punishment under the Indian Forest Act.