Raimatang to Cooch Behar Palace: Where time stands still

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It was our last day in Dooars, and today we had two places to visit Raimatang & Cooch Behar Rajbari. Waking up on a bright sunny morning in winter is always a blessing. I sat on my porch, watching the lush tea garden while sipping a hot cup. It was soulful. But then I had to prepare for another expedition that awaited the day.

Raimatang to Cooch Behar Palace: Where time stands still
Tea garden

We started with Raimatang, a small forest village on the River Raimatang, nestled amidst the lush green forest of Buxa Reserve. But more than the place, the drive to the site is scenic. We drove past lush tea gardens with lofty hills in the backdrop. Raimatang cannot be defined as a tourist point, but it can be called a destination if one is looking for a vacation amidst nature away from the crowd. There is only real scenery to enjoy the abundant natural beauty and urban life. 

Raimatang to Cooch Behar Palace: Where time stands still

We even lost our way while reaching Raimatang, a not-so-famous offbeat location. However, lately has gained popularity because of its inexplicable beauty. We were the only four women who reached the riverbed of Raimatang, and there was no other human presence. However, the pristine form of nature can be observed. All I could see was a vast white river bed with a few streams of River flowing along, the panoramic View of Bhutan hills and the lush forested area of Buxa Reserve. It was a mystical sight. 

Raimatang to Cooch Behar Palace: Where time stands still
Riverbed of Raimatang

We further drove towards the forest rest house, where the River Raimatang flows alongside the veranda during monsoon, and the overwhelming blue hills are charming. On the other side, there is a watchtower in Raimatang to watch wildlife during the morning.

Raimatang is also famous for butterflies. If you are lucky, thousands of butterflies can be seen flocking in the river bed at certain places. However, I was not fortunate to witness it. But the unimaginable vast river bed is also an attractive place to spend some time in daylight. 

Raimatang to Cooch Behar Palace: Where time stands still
Bhutan Mountains

Raimatang is cut off during the monsoons because there are no communication bridges. And mostly the river water flows much above the suitable level. Hence monsoon is not an appropriate time to visit Raimatang. But other times are convenient, & one can trek treks to different parts of the Buxa forest area, including villages such as Chunabhati, Lalbungalo and Lepchakha. I spent some time clicking photographs before heading to Cooch Behar.

Raimatang to Cooch Behar Palace: Where time stands still
Lush Greenery of Raimatang

The drive from Raimatang to Cooch Behar is 2hr(64.5km), the only planned town in North Bengal. This town has a historical significance; as the name suggests, this town was the capital of the Cooch dynasty 400yrs ago. And this Palace boasts magnificent architecture similar to Buckingham Palace in London. 

Raimatang to Cooch Behar Palace: Where time stands still
Cooch Behar Palace

Upon reaching Cooch Behar, we headed toward the Palace & purchased our entry tickets. As I walked towards the Palace, the monument reminded me it was leftovers of royal heritage. But they give a glimpse of life that existed some 400 years or more years ago. The graceful outermost and innermost of the Palace exhibits antique pieces such as chandeliers, paintings and photographs that reflect the ancient era.

Raimatang to Cooch Behar Palace: Where time stands still
Interior of the Palace

I walked past the manicured garden of the brick-built Palace, which is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Otherwise is like a pun on a princely and significant state in British India, i.e., Cooch Behar. However, my primary reason for visiting this Palace was to observe the limits and goals of Indian royals. They would go to lengths to ape Europeans during the British Raj.

Outer wing of the Palace

 Standing in front of the ribbed dome and tall Corinthian pillar, the majestic Palace is beaming with history and beauty. Still, it is not a tourist favourite. Talking about history, Maharani Gayatri Devi was born here in 1919. It is believed that she was the most beautiful woman of her time. She was married to the prince of the princely state of Jaipur and was also a member of the Swarajya Party.

Maharani gayatri devi

The Cooch Behar Palace is spread over a vast expanse of 51309 sq. ft, with a grand double-storeyed structure. Koch King Maharaja Nripendra Narayan originally designed this Palace. As I walked inside the alluring masterpiece, I came across numerous halls, rooms, ad curved verandas extending to the Durbar Hall. The Durbar hall has a metal dome covered with a cylindrical louvre, primarily an Italian Renaissance construction style. 

Raimatang to Cooch Behar Palace: Where time stands still
Dome of Durbar Mahal

Further ahead, a section of the Palace has been converted into a museum. The museum has objects reflective of noble times, from Oil paintings to chandeliers & antique figurines. A tribal gallery has also been added that showcases items exceptionally inspired by the lives of local people.

Rear View of the Palace

I roamed around the Palace, spending some time in the delightful garden, which added charm to the Palace. Later we walked up to Madam Mohan’s temple, built-in 1889. The temple is dedicated to Lord Madan Mohan- the Kul Devta of the Cooch Kings. Painted in white, the temple is a treat to the eyes, clicking a few photographs. 

Madan Mohan Temple

We then went to McDonald’s to buy some snacks as we were hungry. Post that, we drove towards Sagardighi. It is 4km from the Palace, as per the name, it signifies an ocean like a pond. I discovered this site in the city’s heart, the best place for self-introspection. One can sit alone watching the migratory bird & greenery around. 

Raimatang to Cooch Behar Palace: Where time stands still

Before heading to our resort, we visited our last site, the Baneshwar Shiva temple. Many legends revolve around this temple; some state that a prominent Ken dynasty king named Raja Nilamber constructed this temple. In other states, King Jalpesh built this temple. In contrast, others believe that Maharaja Nara Narayan of the Koch dynasty started this establishment but was completed by Maharaj Pran Narayan.

Shiva Linga

As my car stopped, I could see a white squarish-shaped temple with a dome. The atmosphere was calm and filled with the smell of incense sticks. I walked on the cold stone platform to the Shivalinga. Since I adorn Lord Shiva, I sat there closing my eyes, feeling the surrounding. There is a pond near the temple full of tortoises. The spiritual cosmic of the place is serene.

Raimatang to Cooch Behar Palace: Where time stands still
Baneshwar Shiva Temple

After spending some time, we drove back to our resort. We had to pack our bags as it was our last day in Dooars. A bag of memories & adventures I had to bid farewell to in the hope of returning- to let nature nurture my soul. 

How to Reach.

By Air: 

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

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. New Cooch Behar is the railhead located approximately 5 km from the central city. However, regular trains from Cooch Behar connect Northeast India’s important rail routes.

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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