North Bengal is endowed with some of the richest natural forests in India. The forests of the region include Tropical Moist Deciduous, Himalayan Moist Temperate, Himalayan Dry Temperate, Tropical Semi-Evergreen, Tropical Dry Deciduous, Subtropical Broadleaved Hill, and Subtropical Pine forests.
With such wide and varied forest cover, the region is also home to a large variety of fauna. The animals in the forest include Rhino, Tiger, Leopard, different varieties of Deer, Gaur, Monkey, Bear, the Himalayan red panda, and countless other species and subspecies of birds, reptiles, and animals.
West Bengal has a forest cover of 1.19 million hectares, much of which is in the Darjeeling and Dooars regions of North Bengal. Long back, the area was a continuous stretch of forest from Assam to Nepal with the entire area of Dooars mostly under forest cover. Over the years the continuous forest cover has become fragmented but still, the region offers some of the best forests anywhere in India.
The easternmost major forest of North Bengal is a tiger reserve known as Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR). With an area of 760 square kilometres, this is also the largest forest of Dooars. Even further east of the area is Raydak forest, however, this forest is relatively less explored and has little tourism infrastructure.
Buxa has developed a strong tourism infrastructure mostly dependent on Homestay accommodations. There are several tourist destinations within the Buxa forest such as Raimatang, Jayanti, Buxa fort, Sikiajhora, Rajabhatkhawa forest safari, etc. The major hub of tourist accommodation and Homestay is in the Rajabhatkhawa area. This area includes Rajabhatkhawa village, Garobusty, and Panijhora village. There is also tourist accommodation in other villages in the area including Raimatang, Jayanti, 28 busty, Santalabari and other villages. The homestays lack standardization of service. There are some Homestay accommodations with excellent service whereas some others may disappoint a visitor. It is highly recommended that you consult our experts before staying at Buxa.
Transport in the Buxa area of North Bengal is not a problem at all. Alipurduar is the nearest rail station and the forest area is well networked with roads. There are vehicles available both on a sharing basis and reserve basis.
Just west of Buxa is the Chilapata forest, another famous forest in the Dooars area. The Chilapata and Buxa forests are divided by the Kaljani river. This is one of the densest natural forests in the area with a good chance of sighting elephants and Rhinos. There are several resorts in the area, additionally, there are also some authentic homestays managed by local hospitable tribals. The road network in Chilapata is also very good but getting a shared vehicle is more difficult here.
As you move further west from Chilapata, you will come across the river Torsha. Across Torsha are the forests of Jaldapara. The Jaldapara forest is famous in North Bengal as it has the highest concentration of Asiatic one-horned rhinos outside of Assam. The main forest of Jaldapara consists of elephant grasses which are ideal homes for the Rhinos. The forests of Jaldapara are relatively small which also makes it easier for tourists to site wildlife here.
Jaldapara being probably the first popular tourist destination in Dooars, had tourist accommodation for a long time. West Bengal Tourism has its tourist lodge at Madarihat. The surrounding area has several private lodges and hotels. Nearby on the Madarihat – Falakata road several resorts and semi-resort accommodations have come up in recent years. The southern end of Jaldapara towards Salkumarhat is relatively less developed from a tourism perspective, though the area has great tourism potential.
West of Jaldapara there is a stretch of about 50 km without any major forest, except minor forests of the Khutimari / Gairkata area known as the Moraghat forests. This forest is not very popular among tourists.
Gorumara - Chapramari
Further west is the Gorumara – Chapramari forests. Arguably the most popular forests for tourists are in the Dooars area of North Bengal. The Gorumara Chapramari forest is a continuous forest which is divided by the Murti river. Chapramari is North East of Gorumara and is less popular among tourists. The largest tourist resorts and hotels of Dooars are mostly concentrated around Gorumara forests. Lataguri is a small town besides Gorumara forest which has now become a popular tourist place due to several tourist lodges located here. The area around the Murti river such as Dhupjhora, Batabari, Chalsa, etc also has a large number of tourist accommodations.
Further west of Gorumara is the Appalachand forest, also known as the Kathambari forest. This forest is not very popular among tourists.
Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary
West of Appalchand forest is the Teesta river, the most important and largest river in North Bengal. Across Teesta are Mahananda wildlife sanctuary and its forests. The forests of Mahananda are not known for wildlife sightings but have some other attractions. The forest is located close to Siliguri town, the largest and most important town in North Bengal. So the forest is easily accessible from the comforts of City life. The Bengal Safari park and Gajaldoba Bhorer Alo mega tourism initiative, two unique initiatives of the governments in the region, are both located near Mahananda WLS. The forests of Mahananda stretch to the hills as well and some of the areas such as Latpanchar have become quite popular as birding destinations.
Neora Valley National Park
This is a large forest in the Kalimpong district of North Bengal. The forest is arguably the best natural forest in the area and still has some virgin area that human has not entered even now. The forests are a continuation of East Sikkim Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary and also the forests of Bhutan. There is a point in Neora Valley National Park known as Rachela, where Bengal, Sikkim, and Bhutan meet.
Tourism in Neora Valley National Park is divided. Towards the south of the forest is places in the plains such as Samsing, Jhalong, and Bindu; On the west, there is Lava and Kolakham. Each of these places has developed its own brand of tourism. But Neora Valley National Park is not the main attraction why people visit any of these places. The forest is quite inaccessible and getting inside the forest is both difficult and requires permission from the forest department.
Singalila National Park
The last important forest in North Bengal, from a tourist perspective, is the Singalila National park. The is the westernmost forest of the hills bordering Nepal. The forest is famous as home to several species of unique birds as well as the elusive red panda. The popular and famous trek of Sandakphu also passes through the Singalila National Park.
North Bengal forest tour
The Dooars area is quite popular among tourists interested in forest visits. It is a popular short-duration tourist destination. You should have 5 to 7 nights if you are visiting Dooars for the first time. If you are planning to visit the popular hill stations of the Darjeeling – Sikkim region, you can add a couple of nights to your itinerary and combine Dooars in your tour.
Those visiting Bhutan by road have to stay one or two nights on the Indo-Bhutan border. These tourists may also enjoy the beauty of Dooars by staying at Jaldapara, Chilapata or Buxa from where the Bhutan border is just an hour's drive.
Once you have formed a broad idea about your tour, get in touch with our travel experts by either calling us or by sending us an inquiry with the below form. Our travel experts will suggest you an ideal program to suit your interest, time and budget.