Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature

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I woke up late today, as the morning was to my leisure. Though the wintry sun was bright today, taking centre stage. And the distant river appears still, yet she flows, awaiting the gentle touch of the sun. And the air bears only the coldness. I spent some time soaking in the beauty of winter morning again. Later had a bath, got dressed up & went down for breakfast. Today we were leaving for Jaldapara National Park.

Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature
Murti River

The drive from Murti to Jaldapara National Park is approximately 1hr 15min(61.5 km). It is a spectacular destination on the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, by the banks of the Torsha River. Located in the New Alipurduar district of West Bengal, this wildlife sanctuary was established in 1941. We drove through the dense forest, where the sunlight played hide & seek amongst the tall trees. 

Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature
Way to Jaldapara National park

Jaldapara is a vast grassland with patches of riverine forests drained by rivers Torsa, Malangi, Hollong and Buri Torsa. It was declared a sanctuary to protect the incredible variety of flora and fauna, particularly the one-horned rhinoceros, an animal threatened with extinction. The 216 sq km Sanctuary is covered with a mosaic of woods, extensive belts of tall grass, grasslands, perennial streams, and sandy river banks. There is significant diversity of flora and fauna in mixed deciduous forests, grasslands and river banks. 

Jaldapara National Park

I wanted to feel the vastness of the sanctuary, so I tried booking Hollong Bungalow but could not get a reservation. It is the most preferred accommodation amongst tourists due to its excellent location amidst green and dense forests. Once known as Hunter’s bungalow, this place gives a unique sense of being lost in the wilderness of the woods. 

Hollong Bungalow

I even tried to book the Gachbari resort, situated in Madhya Madirhat. It is surrounded by tea gardens and the dense forest of Jaldapara and beside a clean water flow of the Simsamara river. But due to the peak season did not get a reservation. Hence I booked The Mystic forest resort- a tea garden in Mardirhat, 3km from Jaldapara. Our stay was pleasant here. 

Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature

Since we had an evening Safari at the Jaldapara Sanctuary, we visited the Chillapata forest, an elephant corridor between Jaldapara National Park and Buxa Tiger Reserve. Chilapata forest is blessed with rich biodiversity. It makes the forest a forthcoming eco-tourism spot and offers a fulfilling flavour of wildlife in the wilderness. Unfortunately, we could not enter it as it was closed due to COVID, and we had to return from the entrance.

Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature
Chilapata forest

Hence we drove to South Khayerbadi. It is a unique place with a plethora of scenic beauty situated along River Torsa. The South Khayerbari is a Rescue and Rehabilitation centre for felines. The distance between Jaldapara and South Khayerbari is 15 km, and we had ample time to explore the place. 

Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature

This nature park in Khayerbari is known primarily as a Rescue centre for Royal Bengal Tiger and Leopard. Upon reaching the place, I was mesmerised by the adorning beauty the location possessed. I felt a spring of warmth and thrill in the forest. For the safari tours in this nature park, we took battery-operated cars. We drove along the Buri Torsa River through the South Khayerbari Nature Park. 

Nature park

The Guide updated us initially; 11 tigers were brought to this preservation centre. They were rescued from the Olympic circus in the Hooghly district. He further explained this park had been developed to ensure the treatment and rehabilitation of leopards and tigers. However, it also allows tourists to get a close spot to watch the animals in all their natural glory. And I was lucky to cite a leopard.

Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature
Leopard Rehabilitation

By the time we completed our tour of Khayerbari, we still had time for the Jaldapara Jungle Safari. Hence we decided to visit Totopara to taste the tribal culture. It’s a 1 hr 10min drive( 30.7km), but the roads were pathetic, with no evidence of humans. Still, we took a chance & drove along the way, as it was my idea to visit the old and primitive culture of the endemic Toto people. After seeing the Jarwa tribe in Andamans, I was curious to see the Toto tribe.

Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature
Roads to Totopara

The people here speak the Tibeto-Burman language and are an autochthones tribe living in Totopara. Mountains, rivers & forests bound Totopara. And this tribe migrated from Bhutan post a feud with the ‘Doya’ community of Mongoloid origin. However, post the 1865 Indo-Bhutan war, few Totos migrated to the interiors of Bhutan. But the rest of the population still resides at Totopara.

Toto Tribe

The drive to Totopara was through stretches of forest on both sides of the road, and wildlife often frequents the place. The place’s scenic beauty is indescribable in words as we cross six semi-dry mountain streams before we reach Totopara. The tribe is actually on the verge of extinction as the population of Totos was always a concern. But the concerted efforts from Govt. have helped conserve their unique culture and tradition.

Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature
Foto para

Upon reaching the place, I saw a few tribal people singing & children dancing to Bengali songs. I took a tour of the village, where I saw the traditional Toto house built with bamboo, straw, and clay. Few shops sell essential items, and their traditional drink is called ‘Eu’- made of fermented marua(local millet) and rice powder. Our driver gave us a tour & further explained that they consider themselves Hindu and worship nature Gods. The name of their God is Isha, who is supposed to be in the Badoo Hills of Bhutan. And they believe if he is unhappy, then they may fall sick. Quite!Interesting. 

Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature
Houses at Totopara

I realised looking at the tribe is more than the people; the Toto language is far more endangered. The confluence of Bengali and Nepali-speaking populations adulterated the aboriginal Toto language. I clicked a few pictures before heading to Jaldapara National park, as it was time for our Safari.

Our entry point to the jungle was Madirahat. And as our tickets were already booked for the Safari, I collected the keys from the counter upon reaching the national park. We had to wait for 15min as our jeep was not assigned. After Jeep safaris, elephant safaris are organised across the beautiful grasslands early in the morning. They are the safest and most popular way to experience the national park’s wildlife. But due to COVID, these elephant safaris were temporarily closed.

Barking Deer

Finally, our jeep arrived & we drove through the lush foliage, leading to a paradise for bird watchers. Our forest guide confirmed the number of single-horned rhinos is estimated at 160 and is growing gradually. He further updated us on the history of the forest, which was earlier known as ‘Totapara.’ Initially, the national park was a joint village in the 1800s of a tribe called Toto and Mech (Bodo).

Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature
Way to Watchtower

We drove in silence along the grassland, watching the serene forest. Disturbing animals in their hinterland, maybe for their safety, is always a moral problem. However, the most enchanting experience in the drive was witnessing colourful and vibrant peacocks dancing away around the Brooke.

Jaldapara National Park: Resting In The Laps Of Nature

A few barking deer and sambar peeping from the woods were along with them. 

Sambar Deer

An enchanting and surreal sights all around. Upon reaching the watchtower, I saw a peafowl perched at a treetop. And its call reverberated through the woods. 


I took a comfortable spot where I could see the salt lick area and the dense forest. What disappointed me was the noise of another tourist chatting. I waited patiently and was lucky to see a few Bison. And an elephant herd crossing the forest. But I was not able to see one horn Rhino.

Elephant Herd

I took photographs of what I could see and drove towards Hollong Bungalow. We crossed the Hollong river to reach our first stopover. 

Hollong River

Hollong Bungalow is an old heritage forest bungalow. It has a salt lick; hence, many animals are sighted there. I saw Bison waiting for us with his family upon reaching the place. It was a thrilling experience to see the wildness in such proximity. 


We drove towards Harinjhora Watchtower, which has been closed permanently. But we stood there for a while gazing at the sunset. The sky was on fire, and I looked amazed at the setting sunset. 


As we moved ahead, our forest guide stopped the gipsy suddenly. A rhino mother with his son was busy gazing. Our forest guide requested silence. The baby rhino, all of a sudden, came out running as he witnessed the gipsy. Behind came the mother with an angry look towards us. A few more gipsies lined up behind us & a commotion was created. Due to this, the mother rhino got agitated & ran behind a gipsy. But I was fortunate to make a video of the incident.

The Jaldapada safari was adventurous, and it’s genuinely said you always seek the unexpected in the forest. We drove towards our resort & it was dinner time when we arrived. I was so exhausted that I decided to skip dinner. And rushed to bed instead. There is yet another exciting day to unfold tomorrow.

How to Reach.

By Air: 

The nearest airport is Bagdogra; from the airport, hire taxis to reach Lataguri, Murti or Jaldapada.

By Rail:

The Alipurduar is the nearest railway station to Dooars. You can get off at New Mal Junction, closest to Gorumara National forest. Murti & Lataguri is 17km from the station. Suppose travelling to Jaldapada, better to get off at Hasimara station, as the distance is just 11km or Madarihat, which is only 7 km. And for Buxa Tiger Reserve Alipur Daur, Rajabhakhawa, the entry point to the forest is only 11kms. Another alternative is NJP since it’s well connected with major railway heads. You need to hire private cabs or take a shared taxi from the station to reach these destinations.

By Road:

Dooars is well-connected via road with NJP station & CoochBehar. Buses, private cabs, and shared taxis ply to Lataguri, Murti, Jaldapada, Hasimara, Mal Bazaar & Rajabhakhawa. You can also take a private cab or a shared taxi.


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