Gorumara National Park—a Biodiversity Hotspot—Pristine Nature at Its Best in the Foothills of the Himalayas, West Bengal
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
How may national parks or wildlife sanctuaries have you visited?
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.
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).
Good to Know
Bagdogra Airport, West Bengal
New Maynaguri and New Mal Junction, West Bengal
Highway (passes by the entrance of the park)
Lataguri and Ramsai
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Numerous villages, including Sarswati, Budhuram, Bichabhanga, and Murti Forest Village, are located inside the park.
From Reserve Forest to National Park
Nature Interpretation Centre (adjacent to the ticket counters) provides more information about the park's flora and fauna.
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.
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:
- March to September (March to June 14 and September 16 to 30)
- 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
March to September
October to February
March to September
October to February
Entry Fees and 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.
The entry fee for foreign nationals, excluding the SAARC countries, is different.
Vehicle entry fee
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
4. Chuk Chuki
Jatra Prasad Watchtower and Rhino Point
Other Watchtowers of the Park
Visitors can get the view of the wild lands and forest trees, shrubs, and grasslands carved by rivers and rivulets.
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.
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.
- Pleasant weather; no heat and humidity (unlike the summer, animals go deep in the park to find shady areas)
- 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
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?
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