If Dooars is known for its forests and wildlife, then Gorumara National park is the jewel in the crown of Dooars. The forests of Gorumara are rich in biodiversity and offer a great opportunity for animal sightings. Over the last two decades Gorumara has gained immense popularity and today the region has the largest concentration of resorts and tourism infrastructure anywhere in North Bengal.
Location and orientation about Gorumara
East - The Gorumara National Park is situated in the Jalpaiguri district. It is bounded by river Murti to its east and river Neora to its west. River murti divides the otherwise continuous forest of Gorumara and Chapramari. The Chapramari is a wildlife reserve and a tour to Gorumara often includes a visit to the forests of Chapramari as well.
To the east of Gorumara forest is the location of Ramsai village, close to the village is the confluence of the Murti, Jaldhaka, and Diana rivers, after the confluence the river is named Jaldhaka. The river enters Bangladesh and is renamed as Singimari and eventually meets the mighty Brahmaputra.
North – Just northeast of Gorumara is where the river murti is located. There is also a spot known as Murti. This is a popular tourist and picnic spot. The area north of Gorumara known as the Dhupjhora – Murti area has a large concentration of resorts and hotels. Chalsa is another well-known junction located North of Gorumara.
The Southwest end of the forest is the village of Lataguri which has now turned into a burgeoning town due to the influence of tourism. The most popular and largest resorts are mostly located here. The forest office, the ticket counter for entering the forest, the nature interpretation centre, and the largest local market all are located at Lataguri.
How to reach Gorumara
Gorumara is well connected with motorable roads from Siliguri and Jalpaiguri. Bagdogra, the nearest airport is less than 2 hours drive and so is NJP, the major railhead. Malbazar rail station about 20 km has a stoppage of a few trains.
If you are travelling through NJP / Bagdogra airport, you will travel via Siliguri to Gorumara. There are several roads connecting the two.
The traditional route was to travel via the hill-bound Sevok road from Siliguri, cross the Sevok bridge and enter into Dooars, drive up to Chalsa through National Highway 17 and then take a right turn to National Highway 717 and continue to drive to Lataguri about 15 km away. Through this route, NJP to Lataguri is about 85 km. If you are travelling to the northern part of Gorumara such as Murti, the distance will be about 73 km.
In recent years the road connectivity through Gajaldoba mega tourism hub has improved substantially. This is now the preferred route for most travellers. From Gajaldoba you may take one of the two diversions. If you are travelling to the Northern part of Gorumara, you may like to drive through the Oodlabari Chalsa route, if you are going towards Lataguri you would do better to take the Gajaldoba Kranti route. Lataguri through Gajaldoba is just about 53 km, thus saving you a 32 km drive and 45 minutes. Murti through Gajaldoba and Oodlabari is 70 km, which is similar in distance to the Sevok route.
A flyover is coming up over a rail line close to Siliguri town, the construction is complete at the time of writing this in 2021. Once the flyover is ready the travel distance through Gajaldoba is expected to reduce further by 3 to 4 km.
There is a third route to travel here through Jalpaiguri Maynaguri road. This route would be useful only for tourists visiting Gorumara from the Jalpaiguri town side.
About the Forest of Gorumara
The grassland of Gorumara is famous for the Asiatic one-horned rhino. The viewpoint beside the Forest Rest House and the Jatraprasad watchtower further inside the forest are known to give a panoramic view of the entire park and the Murti Valley. The tower is the best place to observe wild animals, especially rhinos, elephants, bison, and deer, as they regularly come to the salt reservoir just below the tower.
In the year 1949, Gorumara Forest has declared a wildlife sanctuary. Before this, it used to be a reserve forest. Later, in the year 1994, it was declared a National Park, comprising 80 km of diverse forest.
The forest of Gorumara is a story of the success of conservation and tourism. Before tourism started here, poaching of wildlife was a cause for concern, but after tourism started benefitting all the people around the forest, poaching almost vanished. This, along with a lack of predatory animals like tigers, leads to a huge increase in the population of wildlife, in recent years, there has been a major increase in the number of Elephants, Rhinos, and Gaurs (Indian Bison). The increased number of wildlife along with the relatively small size of the forest and partial grassland is the main reason for the increase in the high frequency of wildlife sightings which has boosted tourism in the area. However, the increase in the number of wildlife has also led to issues such as overgrazing and dominance fights for territory and mates.
Activities and forest safari around Gorumara National Park
Gorumara being the most popular tourist destination of Dooars, there is no dearth of tourist activity here. The most popular tourist activity is the forest safari. These are organized during the early morning and late afternoon on Jeeps which are specifically marked for this purpose. Several safari routes inside the forest will take you to some of the core areas of Gorumara National Park. The park itself remains closed from mid-June to mid-September, but other activities make it worth your while to spend a few laid-back days with family and friends amid nature.
Day activity includes a visit to nearby picturesque tourist destinations including Samsing area, Jhalong, Bindu, Jaldhaka area, etc.
In the evening cultural programs including tribal dances and folk music performances are organized at several places around the forest which can be enjoyed by all.
Together Gorumara has enough activities to keep you engaged for several days.
Lataguri is a tourist town adjacent to Gorumara National park and many hospitable private resorts. The Murti area also has several tourist accommodations. There are a large number of private tourist resorts on the bank of the Murti River with a frontal view of the forest.
You can make your base in Murti to explore the less tourist-trodden wonders of Dooars and lower Kalimpong hills like Chapramari Wild Life Sanctuary, Jaldhaka, Jhalong, Bindu, Paren, Caron, Diana, Jaldapara, and even Bhutan.
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