HOLLONG – a paradise for the Nature Lovers

The beautiful river Hollong
The beautiful river Hollong
Hollong Tourist Lodge
Hollong Tourist Lodge

Hollong : Introduction

Hollong is the name of a river in the North Bengal, which flows through the Jaldapara National Park, West Bengal, India. But the name “Hollong” instantly flashes in the mind of any Nature lover worthy of his/her name the picture of a beautiful tourist Lodge situated deep inside the green forest of the Jaldapara National Park, famous for its One Horned Rhinos & other flora & fauna. Staying at the Hollong Tourist Lodge is, to say the least, an out-of-the-world experience, especially to anyone who loves Nature in Its full glory.

Hollong : Geography

Hollong is deep inside the Jaldapara National Park, situated in the Alipurduar district of West Bengal. It is at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas & south to Bhutan. Actually, Hasimara, the main railhead to Hollong is a gateway to the Himalayan country of Bhutan. Jaldapara National Park is spread across 216.5 square km area, full of vast Savannah grassland with patches of riverine forests. A number of small streams & rivers crisscross the area, with Torsa being the largest river near the National Park. Some of the water channels near Hollong is the Hollong river & its tributeries like Chira Khayoa river & many nameless streams. Madarihat is the entry point to the Jaldapara National Park, hence to Hollong as well. Hollong is quite close to Hasimara Airforce station, & the occasional IAF fighter jets streaking along the sky provides a thrilling sight.

Hollong River
Hollong River
Beautiful Hollong at sunrise
Beautiful Hollong at sunrise
The Salt Pit in front of the Hollong Tourist Lodge
The Salt Pit in front of the Hollong Tourist Lodge
The majestic flight of an IAF fighter jet over Hollong
The majestic flight of an IAF fighter jet over Hollong

Hollong : The flora

Apart from the tall Elephant grass, the important trees include Saal, Sishu, Khair, Simul, Siris etc. A variety of epiphytes can be seen in the large tree branches. The trees are the nesting & resting places for a wide variety of birds. The majestic sight of the Oriental Pied Hornbill or a Crested Serpent Eagle sitting at the branches of the trees is unforgettable. The silhouette of trees during sunrise or sunset is simply surreal.

Near the tourist lodge, an area is cleared of the trees & a salt pit is created where salt is placed in two/three hips each afternoon by the forest officials to attract the wild animals to come & lick the salt.

Orchids on the branch of a tree
Orchids on the branch of a tree
Wild flower; Hollong 1
Wild flower; Hollong 1
Wild flower; Hollong 2
Wild flower; Hollong 2
Evening in Hollong
Evening in Hollong
An Oriental Pied Hornbill on a tree at Hollong
An Oriental Pied Hornbill on a tree at Hollong

Hollong : the fauna

Jaldapara National Park is the home of about 240 species of birds, 20 species of mammals, a wide variety of reptiles & fishes, & a myriad of insects & arachnids.

Fauna of Hollong

An Indian Bison (Gaur) at Hollong
An Indian Bison (Gaur) at Hollong
A colorful insect at Hollong
A colorful insect at Hollong
A Crested Serpent Eagle at Hollong
A Crested Serpent Eagle at Hollong

Hollong : Mammals

The most important animal which can be seen at Hollong is the One Horned Rhino, an endangered species. The huge animals are actually very docile despite the fierce looks, & can be seen sitting or standing half merged in water-bodies or gently grazing in the grassland. They often come to lick salt at the salt pit.

The other big animals which can be spotted at Hollong are the elephant & the Indian Bison (Gaur). The elephants are so fearless that they often come to the tourist lodge. The bisons are, though very short tempered, afraid of humans & they flee inside the forest at the slightest disturbance.

Sambar deer & wild boar are two other wild animals which can be easily spotted at Hollong. Monkeys are, however, not very common at Hollong.

Mammals of Hollong

A herd of Indian Bison (Gaur) at the salt Pit; Hollong
A herd of Indian Bison (Gaur) at the salt Pit; Hollong
A wild elephant emerging from the forest; Hollong
A wild elephant emerging from the forest; Hollong
A wild elephant seen by spotlight at night; Hollong
A wild elephant seen by spotlight at night; Hollong
A monkey; Hollong
A monkey; Hollong
An One Horned Rhino at Hollong
An One Horned Rhino at Hollong
The One Horned Rhino; Hollong
The One Horned Rhino; Hollong

Hollong : Birds

Hollong, as part of the Jaldapara National Park, is a paradise for the bird watchers. The birds commonly seen near the tourist lodge include the following : Crested Serpent Eagle, Pallas’s Fishing Eagle, Shikra, Peafoul, Jungle Foul, Oriental Pied Hornbill, different types of Drongo, Indian Roller, Pompadour Pigeon, Yellow Footed Green Pigeon, Green Imperial Pigeon, Red Collared Dove, Spotted Dove, Asian Open Bill Storks, Lesser Adjutant Stork, White breasted Kingfisher, Common Blue Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, different types of parakeets, orioles, Jungle Babblers, Woodpeckers, Barbets etc.

Jaldapara is said to be the only habitat of the endangered bird Bengal Florican, & a sighting of this rare bird is a dream for every bird-watcher.

Common birds of Hollong

A flock of parakeets; Hollong
A flock of parakeets; Hollong
Juvenile Changeable Hawk Eagle; Hollong
Juvenile Changeable Hawk Eagle; Hollong
Green Imperial Pigeon; Hollong
Green Imperial Pigeon; Hollong
Indian Roller; Hollong
Indian Roller; Hollong
Common Blue Kingfisher; Hollong
Common Blue Kingfisher; Hollong
Stork-billed Kingfisher ; Hollong
Stork-billed Kingfisher ; Hollong
Asian Openbill Stork; Hollong
Asian Openbill Stork; Hollong
Oriental Pied Hornbill; Hollong
Oriental Pied Hornbill; Hollong
Peacock; Hollong
Peacock; Hollong
Pompadour Green Pigeon (Male & Female); Hollong
Pompadour Green Pigeon (Male & Female); Hollong
Red Collared Dove; Hollong
Red Collared Dove; Hollong
Rose ringed parakeet; Hollong
Rose ringed parakeet; Hollong
Yellow footed Green Pigeon; Hollong
Yellow footed Green Pigeon; Hollong
Red-Breasted Parakeet; Hollong
Red-Breasted Parakeet; Hollong
Lineated Barbet
Lineated Barbet

Hollong : Other Non-mammals

Several varieties of reptiles including snakes, monitor lizards, turtles & geckos can be spotted at Hollong. A surprise sighting is the fierce looking geckos at the tourist lodge itself.

The streams contain several varieties of fish as well. One of the small fishes called Borili locally is famous for its taste.

Other Non-mammals of Hollong

Gecko at Hollong Tourist Lodge
Gecko at Hollong Tourist Lodge
Fish in a small stream near Hollong Tourist Lodge
Fish in a small stream near Hollong Tourist Lodge

Hollong : Insects & arachnids

The jungle is full of these small guys, & the colourful ones are really eye-catching. Many varieties of butterflies are a major attraction of Hollong.

Insects of Hollong

Butterfly 1; Hollong
Butterfly 1; Hollong
Butterfly 2; Hollong
Butterfly 2; Hollong
Bug 1; Hollong
Bug 1; Hollong
Bug 2; Hollong
Bug 2; Hollong

Elephant Safari at Hollong

Elephant safari is organized in the morning from the lodge gate, & is highly popular. It is a must for all visitors, as it is both thrilling & provides chance of seeing the beautiful forest & the wildlife from very close. It is much better than the Jeep safari as only the elephants can take one deep inside the forest where the wild animals actually live. Spotting rhinos, wild boars & the shy Sambar deer is not very uncommon in the elephant safari.

Elephant safari

Elephant safari 1; Hollong
Elephant safari 1; Hollong
Elephant safari 2; Hollong
Elephant safari 2; Hollong
Elephant safari 3; Hollong
Elephant safari 3; Hollong
Elephant safari 4; Hollong
Elephant safari 4; Hollong
A rhino seen during the elephant safari
A rhino seen during the elephant safari
A wild boar (female) with kids; seen during elephant safari
A wild boar (female) with kids; seen during elephant safari

Hollong tourist Lodge

Though a property of the Forest Department, this lodge is run by the tourist department of the Government of West Bengal. The lodge is a beautiful 3-storie building with 8 rooms, of which 3 are not for the general public. The front rooms directly face the salt pit where the wild animals regularly come. For the inhabitants of the backside rooms, there are common drawing rooms facing the salt pit. All the rooms are well furnished & some are provided with A/C. The dining hall is at a little distance.

The booking of the rooms starts 120 days prior to the day of occupancy, but it is extremely difficult to get one. Online booking can be done through the website of WBTDC.

Hollong Tourist Lodge
Hollong Tourist Lodge

Hollong : How to go

The nearest railway station is Madarihat, though express trains do not stop there. Hasimara, about 20 km away, is the main railway station to go to Hollong. The road- head is Madarihat, about 7 km from Hollong. From there one can reach Hollong by authorized motor vehicles .

Remember : Only persons with valid reservation of the rooms at Hollong Tourist Lodge (or with the authorized Jeep/ Elephant safaris) are allowed inside the forest.

Hasimara Railway Station; NFR
Hasimara Railway Station; NFR
Destination Hollong
Destination Hollong

Conclusion

Hollong is really a paradise for the Nature lover. The sombre ambiance, the deep forest all around with myriads of mesmerizing sounds emanating from the jungle, the sighting of the wildlife, the beautiful birds, the majestic flight of the hornbills, all make a stay at Hollong a lifelong happy memory.

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE BY THE AUTHOR, TAKEN DURING TRIP TO HOLLONG (27 TO 29 APR, 2015).

A bird-Silhouette : Memories of Hollong
A bird-Silhouette : Memories of Hollong
A majestic bull bison : Memories of Hollong
A majestic bull bison : Memories of Hollong
A lone tusker : Memories of Hollong
A lone tusker : Memories of Hollong
Evening at Hollong 1 : Memories of Hollong
Evening at Hollong 1 : Memories of Hollong
Evening at Hollong 2 : Memories of Hollong
Evening at Hollong 2 : Memories of Hollong
The majestic flight of a hornbill : Memories of Hollong
The majestic flight of a hornbill : Memories of Hollong

More by this Author


Comments 1 comment

Somnath Goswami profile image

Somnath Goswami 19 months ago

Just joined "Hubpages". Just to congratulate you. Fine writing and superb pictorial coverage . Regards to Mam too

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working