This is continuation as well as the concluding part of my travel story on an old family trip to Jaldapara and Gorumara. We were just done with the elephant ride inside Jaldapara sanctuary. Sun was getting overhead to squash out our morning pulp. Inquiring about the Jeep safari was the second thought in my mind, first being lookout for a decent place for our late breakfast. Later on when I went to the Jeep booking counter I found the office closed till that time and no forest personnel nearby could tell me the exact time of its opening. Although the Jeep safari was arranged by the Hollong Range Officer it couldn’t be done that very day as my mother was not feeling well in the afternoon and in a family trip I did not prefer to enjoy any piece of nature on my own. After our breakfast we went to South Khayerbari Park (Animal rescue and rehabilitation center), about 10-15 kilometers away from Madarihat. There I couldn’t dare to miss out the Leopard Safari on a battery operated vehicle!
|One of the leopards kept giving pose like an ace model!|
Seeing the same leopard from inside and outside of the cage are so different. There were two leopards in that compound. One of them chose to remain inside its concrete shelter whereas the other kept giving pose like an ace model for my rather amateurish point and shoot photography... definitely, my hundred kisses and prayers for her wellbeing!
|Seeing the same leopard from inside and outside of the cage are so different!|
Next we saw a roaring (or was it just conversing with his mate?) tiger from quite a close proximity. Being oblivious of hats and sunscreen was really punishing us. Having sipped coconut water and after few more clicks we came out of the park by mid afternoon. Putting the cooling meter to maximum we drove for Dhupjhora (a place situated at the bank of Murti River, some 10 kilometers away from Lataguri).
|A tiger at South Khayerbari Park.|
An awesome scenic drive from Moynaguri to Dhupjhora took us to our resort at South Park by evening 6:00 and watching the dusk engulfing Murti River was a big bonus to blissfully end our day. The enchanting view of the orange sun drowning into the pebbly river bed was not just the asset we could procure from this drive but the yard close encounter with a giant tusker that crossed our road while we stopped in the middle of Lataguri and South Park was the best award we could get as wildlife travelers! We had actually stopped our vehicle in that charming road to take few snaps and little did we know that a massive tusker elephant would appear from nowhere with his ivory load at few yards away from us and give us his mysterious look to scare the shit out of us!
|A massive tusker elephant appeared from nowhere with his ivory load and crossed our road!|
I had every chance of capturing that priceless frame in my memory card but the imminent fear of that jungle king attacking our Scorpio drove us running into the vehicle forgetting every other reasons. But then the elephant steadily crossed the highway and entered into the forest in the opposite side. I repented later for missing such a wonderful chance of clicking. What I could do at most was- click the crossing elephant from inside the windscreen in the falling daylight simply to get a couple of blurred and noisy photographs. After reaching our destination we found our booked cottage to be neat and clean and about 10 kilometers far from the entrance of Gorumara National Park at Lataguri. We finished the homely dinner by 9:30PM as an amazing Jeep safari into the Gorumara National Park was waiting for us in the following morning.
|Our resort accommodation at South Park.|
The jeep driver knocked us awake before the crack of dawn but we couldn’t get ready before 5:20AM. Standing on an open Maruti Gypsy always gives you the extra rough and tough edge and just imagine, how much delightful it had been at the very daybreak on a wax smooth road in the middle of a forest, surrounded by innumerable wild inhabitants! I got the necessary permits from the ticket counter outside the Gorumara National Park and began our Jeep safari for Chukchuki tower (some 10-12 kilometers inside the Park) with our allotted guide. Honestly speaking I found this jeep safari much less “a journey close to the nature” than the elephant ride at Jaldapara. After all, who would be the bloody pervert among those wild creatures to come close to the sound of a roaring 1.3L petrol engine and disagreeable whiff of its exhaust in that infinite green zone! But off course if you think it as a drive then it was very scenic with lots of leafy aroma and oxygen to rejuvenate your city tampered lungs and brain.
|Standing on an open Maruti Gypsy always gives you the extra rough and tough edge!|
May be jungle is the only place where you fall in love with a bouncy drive. While going in we couldn’t spot any animal. Luckily we saw a Gaur (Indian Bison) from the top of the watch tower who came to take his ration from the salt pit. A spotted deer appeared near the bison from behind the curtain of shrubs and disappeared equally fast to deprive us from taking her shot. We spent some time there, walking around the observatory tower and then returned to our Jeep. The guide showed us a peacock behind a bush while cruising out of the jungle but it was too veiled by the leaves to appear in my camera sensor. Goddess of luck had more to endow us with- just then a full size peacock crossed our road and we felt "being in the wild" once again!
|Our Jeep safari inside the Gorumara National Park, towards Chukchuki tower.|
After lunch we made our way back for Aambari once again as there was no better alternative than resting in the second half of the day to stay prepared for the long return trip to home in the following day. While returning I spent some time (or should I say quality time?) hopping on the shallow and crystal clear water of River Murti. It was pure fun watching the local kids swimming on that knee high water. Eventually I had to put a full stop to my water bliss as the sun above was least sympathetic to this poor tourist. The rest of the day was sheer uneventful apart from the scrumptious supper at Aambari forest guest house.
|We spotted this Indian Bison from the top of the watch tower at Chukchuki.|
As decided earlier, we commenced our journey back to Bardhaman sharp at 4:45 AM morning. To our delight we were munching more kilometers with respect to the clock and could reach Malda city by late noon. So I thought of being a good guide for others and take them to a short hour long trip to the historical region of Gour which I had visited few weeks earlier on two wheels. Everybody appreciated the result of my pro-activeness and enjoyed the ruins of Gour albeit, from the comfort of the cool interior of our Scorpio. Our plan of a night halt at Nalhati to pay a visit to the famous temple of Nalhateswari was messed by an uninvited mis-occurrence. A white young goat came in front of our vehicle before the driver could act. One of its hind limb got fractured and we were surrounded by a huge group of villagers, 99% of whom were damn inclined to watch the drama of futile arguments and unjustified claims. In such situations mostly you are compelled to accept the unjustified demand of the mobs and so did we.
|We spent some time walking around the observatory tower and then returned to our Jeep.|
But then we had lost our mood of lengthening the trip and hence, decided to return to Bardhaman. By 7:00 PM evening we were safely inside our home, straightening our vertebrae on the bed, fairly dipped in the lingering smell of the majestic jungle and partly trying to dissociate the fatigue of being a co-driver cum tourist for a yummy distance of 1,483 kilometers.
|I spent some time hopping on the shallow and crystal clear water of River Murti.|
This trip to Jaldapara and Gorumara had been so compromised and superficial due to lack of a proper planning, yet I was content as a traveler at the end of the trip! Wondering why? Because, despite minor glitches and sense of unfulfilled travel goals we were happier than before... we became more information rich for a future trip to Dooars, and also, as Englishmen say, "Tomorrow is another day". It’ll be really hard to refrain from the seduction of the Chapramari wildlife sanctuary, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Chilapata Forest, Totopara and so on… but I’ve to wait patiently till Time grants me the necessary freedom to explore Dooars once again. Respond to the songs of birds and call of wild animals, make a trip to the exhilarating land of Dooars, be the proud owner of some priceless memoirs and relish them throughout your life. That's all for the time being. Keep traveling and keep clicking photos on the go!