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Gorumara National Park—a Biodiversity Hotspot—Pristine Nature at Its Best in the Foothills of the Himalayas, West Bengal

Updated on October 30, 2019
Prantika Samanta profile image

Educated as a microbiologist, trained as an editor, a quintessential nomad soul grounded to the earth. Loves anything that touches her soul

The national bird of India. Two of them showing off skills to impress a peahen. (The peahen is not in the frame.)
The national bird of India. Two of them showing off skills to impress a peahen. (The peahen is not in the frame.) | Source

Whereabouts of Gorumara National Park

It is probably the most common sight in Gorumara National Park, a reserved area maintained by the government to protect and conserve the natural environment and biodiversity. It is an IUCN Category II protected area.

Sprawling an area of around 80 square km, Gorumara is situated at the foothills of Eastern Himalaya in the Terai region on the flood plains of the Murti River and Raidak River. A tributary of Brahmaputra river, Jaldhaka flows beside the national park.

Moments Captured During the Open Gypsy Safari in Gorumara National Park, West Bengal, India

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Vacationing in Enchanting Dooars—an Exciting Trip

During the last week of December 2016, we (cousins) planned for a fun-filled and adventurous trip to Dooars in January (2017). With barely few days left for the trip, arranging for train and hotel reservations within the stipulated time was an uphill task. Even though the whole process was stressful, we were excited to visit Dooars.

Gorumara—Western Dooars

Dooars meaning “doors”in the local languages is a gateway that connects Bhutan with India with 18 passages.

The Sankosh River separates Dooars into Eastern Dooars (also called Assam Dooars) and Western Dooars (also called Bengal Dooars).

The dashing beauty of Dooars
The dashing beauty of Dooars | Source

Good to Know

Nearest
Name
Airport
Bagdogra Airport, West Bengal
Railway Stations
New Maynaguri and New Mal Junction, West Bengal
Highway (passes by the entrance of the park)
NH 717
Towns
Lataguri and Ramsai
Note: Transport from New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Station, Siliguri, Bagdogra Airport: Buses, taxis, and hired cabs
The road that passes by the entrance gate
The road that passes by the entrance gate | Source

Reasons for Preferring New Mal Junction and Lataguri

It is an overnight journey from Kolkata to New Mal Junction in train.

1. New Mal Junction—Destination Station

With Gorumara National Park was our first stop, our train reservation was up to New Mal Junction, as it is close to Lataguri. This junction is connected with major railway stations, such as New Jalpaiguri Railway Station and Alipurduar Junction. Trains for almost all parts of India are available from these two stations.

Both government and private lodges and guest houses available for accommodation. We stayed in a hotel in Lataguri for a day.

2. Lataguri

It was almost a 45-minute drive from New Mal Junction to where we stayed in Lataguri, a small town. Entry permits for safaris and watchtower visits are provided from Lataguri. So, we stayed in a hotel close to the ticket counter.

Itinerary for Dooars—4 Days and 3 Nights

Days
Plan
Stay
Day 1
Arrival at New Mal Junction, drive to Lataguri, checking in the hote at Lataguri, freshen up, Lunch, Gorumara National Park visit
Overnight stay at Lataguri
Day 2
Drive to Jaldapara, on the way sightseeing include Rocky Island, Samsing, Suntalekhola, Bindu or Jaldhaka Dam, Jhalong; Lunch before visiting Jaldhaka Dam
Overnight stay at Jaldapara
Day 3
Jaldapara National Park visit (early morning), return to hotel, breakfast, drive to Alipurduar via Buxa Tiger Reserve, Jayanti river, Chota Mahakal; Lunch near Jayanti river and spending some quality time by the riverside
Overnight stay at Alipurduar
Day 4
Leaving Alipurduwar for Kolkata
 

Interesting Facts About the Park —Rich in Biodiversity

1. Animals, Fishes, and Turtles

Located in the Malbazar subdivision of the Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal, this national park is primarily known for being the home to a considerably greater one-horned rhinoceros population.

Other inhabitants of the park include Asian elephant, sloth bear, wild boar, mongooses, giant squirrels, different kinds of deer, barking deer, and various species of turtles and fishes. King Cobra, and Indian Python. Bengal tigers, Indian wild dogs, or Indian wolves are not the park's resident population, but tigers are reported to be spotted sometimes in the park.

2. Birds

The park is ideal for birders, as different types of birds can be seen here, such as scarlet minivet, sunbird, Asian paradise flycatchers, Indian hornbill, woodpeckers, pheasants, and peafowls.

3. Vegetation

Gorumara is predominantly dominated by a mixed vegetation of forests and grasslands. Sal forests with common teak, Shimul trees, rain trees like Shirish, bamboo groves, terai grassland vegetation, tropical riverine reeds, and tropical Orchids form the park's flora.

4. Villages

Numerous villages, including Sarswati, Budhuram, Bichabhanga, and Murti Forest Village, are located inside the park.

The entrance gate of Gorumara National Park (Lataguri)
The entrance gate of Gorumara National Park (Lataguri) | Source

From Reserve Forest to National Park

 
 
Year
Status
1895
Reserve Forest
1949
Wildlife Sanctuary
1994
National Park

Nature Interpretation Centre (adjacent to the ticket counters) provides more information about the park's flora and fauna.

The panoramic vies of the greenery and rivulet
The panoramic vies of the greenery and rivulet | Source

Best Protected Area of 2009

The Ministry of Environment and Forest selected Gorumara as the best protected area of India for 2009.

Open Gypsy Safari and Related Information

The safari in open Gypsy (vehicles) are organized everyday in 4 shifts for a duration of around 1.5 hours. Each jeep accommodates 6 visitors (apart from the driver and the guide) for each safari and only 40 people for each shift are allowed to visit the park.

Our group comprised 5 members, we paid the entry fees for 6 members (an additional fee for 1 person) and the Gypsy was allocated to us only.

Note: If a family or a group with less than 6 members wants to book the entire Gypsy, they can pay for the remaining number of individuals and book the entire Gypsy (private) or they can hire it in a sharing basis.

Open Gypsy vehicles along with tourists waiting in front of the entrance gate for safari
Open Gypsy vehicles along with tourists waiting in front of the entrance gate for safari | Source

4 Shifts to Visit the Park

The entry timings for 4 shifts depend on the season, and the timings for opening and closing of ticket counters vary based on the entry timings. Visitors are allowed to enter the park in the following months:

  1. March to September (March to June 14 and September 16 to 30)
  2. October to February.

To get the entry tickets for the last shift of the day, two of our group members freshened up quickly and stood in the queue at the earliest. Our hotel being close to the ticket counters, our members were among the first few in the queue. Visitors should carry both photocopies and original ID proofs of any of these documents: Voter's ID Card, Passport, or Driving License. At the counter, visitors need to fill up a form and pay the charges to get the permits.

Remains closed from June 15 to September 15 every year due to the monsoon.

No safaris or watchtower visits on Thursdays.

Ticket Counter Timings

Month
Shift 1
Shift 2
Shift 3
Shift 4
March to September
5.30–6.30 am
6.30–7.30 am
1–2 pm
2–3 pm
October to February
6–7 am
7–8 am
12–1 pm
1–2 pm
Opening and closing time of ticket counters for each season and shift varies. This timing was as of January 2017.

Entry Timings

Month
Shift 1
Shift 2
Shift 3
Shift 4
March to September
6–7.30 am
8.30–10 am
2–3.30 pm
4.30–6 pm
October to February
6.30–8 am
9–10.30 am
1–2.30 pm
3.30–5 pm
Timings for both issuing tickets and visiting the park depend on the season of the visit and the shift chosen for visiting the park. This timing was as of January 2017.

Entry Fees and Additional Charges

Entry Fees
Additional Charges
The charge of the entry fees of visitors (including children above 8 years) depend on: Shift and Tower selected
Vehicle charge for the tower selected
The park has 4 watchtowers for its visitors to get the best view of the animals and birds. An authorized guide accompanies the visitors (in Gypsy) while visiting the watchtowers.
Guide fee
The entry fee for foreign nationals, excluding the SAARC countries, is different.
Vehicle entry fee
 
Camera fee
Note: All these information are as of January 2017.

Watchtowers of Gorumara—Jatra Prasad and Rhino Point

The tower is named Jatra Prasad n the fond memory of the park's favorite pet elephant, Jatra Prasad, who worked for the forest department. This tower is the oldest and the most popular among all the towers.

Both the watchtowers have salt reservoirs close to them, which increases the probability of spotting animals when they come to the reservoirs to lick salts.

Visitors can also witness an enchanting view of the landscape and a rivulet.

1. Jatra Prasad and Rhino Point

2. Chandrachur

3. Medla

4. Chuk Chuki

Jatra Prasad Watchtower and Rhino Point

Jatra Prasad Watchtower
Jatra Prasad Watchtower | Source
View from Jatra Prasad Watchtower
View from Jatra Prasad Watchtower | Source
A salt reservoir close to Jatra Prasad Watchtower
A salt reservoir close to Jatra Prasad Watchtower | Source
Rhino Point
Rhino Point | Source
Salt reservoirs close to Rhino Point
Salt reservoirs close to Rhino Point | Source

Other Watchtowers of the Park

Tower
Salient Features
Chandrachur
Visitors can get the view of the wild lands and forest trees, shrubs, and grasslands carved by rivers and rivulets.
Medla
It is located at Kalipur eco village near Ramsai on the eastern fringe of the park. A bullock cart safari is also organized. Around 6-10 visitors along with 1-2 guides per cart are allowed.
Chuk Chuki
It is an ideal point for birders to watch various species of birds. Most of the birds are native to the park, while many migratory birds visit the park seasonally.

Why Did We Visit in January?

Preferred time to visit the park:

The best time to visit the park is during the winter, between November to March.

Reasons:

  1. Pleasant weather; no heat and humidity (unlike the summer, animals go deep in the park to find shady areas)
  2. Easy to spot animals, as trees shed leaves

Open Gypsy Safari, Watchtower Views, and Tribal Dance—Still Etched in the Memory

Our watchtower was Jatra Prasad Watchtower and Rhino Point and it was the last shift of the day in January. The intention was to get the glimpses of animals and birds and watch the tribal dance, which was part of the Gypsy safari session. Our session comprises these 3 parts:

1. On the way to watchtower

During the safari, we spotted peacocks, peahens, a herd of deer, and different birds. Our guide was trying to locate the probable places where we could find animals. We were talking as less as possible or whispering to maintain the silence of the park and not disturb the animals, as we were visiting their home.

2. Jatra Prasad Watchtower and Rhino Point

Jatra Prasad Watchtower did not disappoint us as we could manage to see a herd of bisons and a couple of rhinoceros, all thanks to our guide who located the animals from a distant. He also showed us the salt reservoirs that are a little away from the watchtower. The scenic view from the tower was also mesmerizing—it was lush green all around, a rivulet flowing by, and a quiet environment. We next visited Rhino Point, close to Jatra Prasad, and from there we got a clear view of salt reservoirs.

It was quite cold and the temperature dipped further as we entered the park. We covered ourselves with adequate warm clothes.

3. Tribal dance—separated by language but united by music

After spending a while in the wild, we were then drove to the ground to watch the tribal dance program. We were greeted with tea and biscuits. The program won our heart and we joined the tribal women and matched steps with them.

With that our safari came to an end and we were dropped in the same point from we were picked before the safari.

Glimpses of the Open Gypsy Safari Session

Open Gypsy Safari
Open Gypsy Safari | Source
Spotted the national bird of India
Spotted the national bird of India | Source
Spotted a deer
Spotted a deer | Source
Tribal dance
Tribal dance | Source

End of the Day

An exciting day filled with unforgettable memories got over and it was time to visit another mind-blowing destination shortly.

What is in store for us there?

A
New Mal Junction:
New Mal Junction, 31, Haihai Pathar Tea Garden I P, West Bengal 735221, India

get directions

B
Gorumara National Park:
Gorumara National Park, Jalpaiguri, West Bengal 735101, India

get directions

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Prantika Samanta

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    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thanks Abitha. Glad that you have liked it. Indeed the safari was a memorable one and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

    • Abitha Deepak profile image

      Abitha 

      2 weeks ago from Chennai, Tamilnadu

      Prantika,

      A thrilling safari and a picturesque account! There are tons of details for people planning a visit.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Swapnil. Glad to know that you have liked it. I love to travel and my motto is one should travel as much as possible not only to rediscover or to rejuvenate but also to explore the place.

    • Swapnil Ghosh profile image

      Swapnil Ghosh 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata

      This the 3rd article of you which I've read and the best thing about them is that it not only provides detail about the place but also servies as a guide to plan our own trips. Thanks

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 weeks ago from India

      Very well detailed and useful guide for anyone planning to visit!

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thanks Surya. It was my first visit to a national park. I enjoyed thoroughly and never thought I can see peacocks and other animals so close to me in the open.

    • Surya Sashank Rasinkar profile image

      Surya Sashank Rasinkar 

      2 weeks ago

      This article is really can be used as a virtual guide telling everything he needs to know for not to suffer .

      You tuned it in a nice way ma'am

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much. I am glad that you have liked it.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      3 weeks ago from UK

      This is a very useful and interesting guide for anyone planning a visit to this park. You have showcased it well.

    • Suchismita pradhan profile image

      Suchismita pradhan 

      3 weeks ago from Odisha

      Very helpful information

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      3 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much.

    • profile image

      Sreya 

      3 weeks ago

      A compact brief description... Very helpful

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      4 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Surya. Glad that you have liked my article.

    • Surya Sashank Rasinkar profile image

      Surya Sashank Rasinkar 

      4 weeks ago

      very useful ,nicely presented clearly

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      4 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Muralikrishna, for reading my article. Glad to know that you have liked the article.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      4 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Chitranganda for reading my article. Glad to know that you have liked the article. I don't know much about Sariska National Park and so I am definitely going to read your article.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      4 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you Peggy. I am glad that you have liked the article. Great to know that you too like National Parks. There are some villages inside the park and villagers mainly work for the forest department .

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      4 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you Dr Pran Ragan, glad to know you have liked the article.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      4 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Rajinder, for reading the article. Glad to know you have included this national park in you list. Kids will have a great time.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      4 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Niks, for reading my article. I am glad that you have liked my article.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      4 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you for liking my article.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      4 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Of course. It's a beautiful place and you will like it.

    • profile image

      amit kumar sharma 

      4 weeks ago

      Super soon I will go there

    • profile image

      Arpita 

      4 weeks ago

      Very informative with all required details

    • Niks007 profile image

      Niks 

      4 weeks ago from India

      you have shared a profound and precisely written article. I wish to visit this park, someday. After reading this article, nature lovers will add this place to their wishlist. Thanks a lot, keep writing.

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 

      4 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Honestly speaking, despite being a Himalayan trekker I never heard about "Gorumara" park lying in the foothills of Himalayas.

      Your style of presentation is unique and incredibly majestic. While I was reading through your hub, I literally started imagining that I am there, right there.

      Such a vivid description and engaging photographs that you have added that I have fallen in love with this park.

      I have included this in my travel list. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      4 weeks ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      A nice informative article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for telling us about your safari tour of the Gorumara National Park and sharing your photos with us. One of my favorite places to visit is a national park. They are all very special places. I was interested to learn that several villages are within the national park.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      4 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Interesting and informative travel article about Gorumara, with all the necessary details.

      Your wonderful article is well presented with beautiful and helpful pictures.

      Recently we had been to Sariska National Park and your article reminded me of all the wonderful time, we had spent there. I had published an article about it. Peacocks were all around us and the Safari tour was one of the best experiences, we had.

      Thanks for sharing. Have a good day.

    • hmkrishna profile image

      Halemane Muralikrishna 

      4 weeks ago from South India

      Incredible North Bengal nature park, biodiversity and landscapes, Ms Prantika, you've virtually taken me all over Gorumara and created an instinct to visit there soon. Wonderful reading and is very useful for tourists.

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