The Riverwood Forest Retreats Dooars
Overview Culture and Zones
Dooars also spelled Dwars or Duars, region of northeastern India, at the foot of the east-central Himalayas. It is divided by the Sankosh River into the Western and Eastern Dooars. Both were ceded by Bhutan to the British at the end of the Bhutan War (1864–65). The Eastern Dooars, in western Assam state, comprises a level plain intersected by numerous rivers and only slightly populated. The Western Dooars lies in northern West Bengal state and is a portion of the Tarai, a lowland belt linking the Himalayas and the plains region in the district ofJalpaiguri and Cooch Behar. The altitude of Western Dooarsranges from 90 m to 1750 m and moist climate is favourable for tea gardens.
The name Dooars ("Doors") is derived from the several passes that lead from the region into the Lesser Himalayas. In West Bengal Dooars is the gateway of Bhutan, Sikkim,North Bengal North-Eastern states.
To its north stands the east Himalayas as a natural backdrop. A vast texture of dense forests teeming with wildlife, unending tea gardens, criss crossed by Teesta, Raidak, Torhsa, Jaldhaka and Kaljani Rivers, interspersed with sleepy or busy settlements ofTribals, Gorkhas, Sikkimis and Bhotias makes it an interesting destination to visit.
Gorumara National Park
Gorumara park entrance is located at a distance of 12 km from The Riverwood Forest Retreat Dooars on the banks of river Murti. The icon to watch out for is the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. The park has a spot called Rhino Point, where rhinos and bison's huddle together to lick salt. Nature lovers can also catch a glimpse of elephants, leopards and barking sambar deer's. Valuable trees like Teak, Simul, Siris, Khair and Sal abound in the forests and give shelter to numerous migratory birds. Reptiles and amphibians like the Indian python and the King cobra give company to the birds.
The best way to watch the wildlife is from atop one of the watchtowers at the park.
Chapramari Wildlife Park
Situated in the foothills of the Himalayas at a distance of 12 km from The Riverwood Forest Retreat Dooars, Chapramari is home to all sorts of fauna. It is famous for its elephant and gaur (Indian bison) population. You can spend your time wandering in the habitats of the spotted cheetah and the majestic sambar. One of the most important areas the barking deer and wild boar, Chapramari is also one of the few places where the pangolin proliferates successfully.
The trees hide some of the most sought-after birds and a chance encounter with the green magpie, scarlet minivet, hill mayna, Indian treepie and white-breasted kingfisher is always a possibility.
Neora Valley National Park
Spread over an expanse of 88 sq. km, Neora National Park is located Himalayas at a distance of 84 km from The Riverwood Forest Retreat Dooars, in a woody forest area near Lava. Dense bamboo groves and abundant species of orchids crowd the park. The rain and cloud cover lend to Neora Valley's mixed forest and giant towering trees to an more exotic character. Wild animals like red panda, Himalayan black bear and wild dog call the Neora National Park their home. The park is also a popular picnic spot because of its the serene, secluded and pollution-free environment. Adventure seekers can trek to Rechela Danda, the highest peak in the park, which is located at an altitude of 10,600 feet. However, the monsoon makes trekking in these parts difficult by populating the walk with bloodsucking leeches. Tiffin Dara provides a matchless view of the rising sun.
Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary
This wildlife abode was constituted in 1943 for conserving the endangered one-horned Indian rhinoceros. This 216 sq. km of deciduous forest is a montage of woods, swamps and grasslands and is chequered by the rivers Torsa, Hollong, Malangi, Bhaluka and Chirakhawa. The park is located at a distance of 72 km from The Riverwood Forest Retreat Dooars. Jaldapara has the largest concentration of the one-horned rhinoceros in India after Kaziranga and on a lucky day you can spot this treasured animal basking in the sun. The other celebrity to watch out for is the Royal Bengal tiger hiding behind the tall elephant grass.
Head to the watchtowers from which you can view the wildlife. A number of elephant safaris are also available. If you don't trust elephants, go on a Jeep safari, which can be booked at one of the tourist lodges in Madirhat.
The park is also the breeding ground for reptiles like the Indian python, fresh-water turtles, geckos, monitor lizards and kraits.
Pay a visit to the Chilapata Forest, which is 20 km away from Alipurduar and at a distance of 95 km from The Riverwood Forest Retreat Dooars,. One of the lesser-known wildlife abodes in the region, the forest forms an elephant corridor between Jaldapara and Buxa Tiger Reserve. The rain-fed Bania river meanders its way through the forest. The main attraction here is the Nalraja Garh or the fort of the Nal kings. The fort was built in the 5th century during the Gupta period. A stone temple is situated nearby.
Buxa Tiger Reserve
The crown gem of the Dooars region, the Buxa Tiger Reserve, is a sanctuary set up to preserve the Royal Bengal tiger. The famous Jayanti River flows through the forest which was declared a National Park in January 1992. The two main entry points of the reserve are Buxa and Jayanti. One has to take permission from the Deputy Field Officer at Alipurduar, to enter the reserve.
Located inside the reserve at an altitude of 800 metres is the historic Buxa fort. During British rule, this fort was used as a prison. Freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was also confined inside the fort. A sacred temple called Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, also lies inside the reserve.Buxa is located at a distance of 131 km from The Riverwood Forest Retreat Dooars,
At Jayanti, you can stand on the riverbank and stare at the endless acres of scenic beauty. The green hills of Bhutanghat and the dense forest make for a pastoral setting. Take a train to Alipurduar Junction and hire a car to reach Rajabhatkawa or drive 131 km from The Riverwood Forest Retreat Dooars, to reach the destination for a day visit.
The view from the train will leave you mesmerized. Rajabhatkawa is a beautiful town near the Buxa Tiger Reserve and one of the main centres of eco-tourism. Places of tourist interest at Rajabhatkawa include an orchidarium, an animal rescue centre and a nature interpretation centre.
South Khairbari Tiger Rescue Centre and Leopard Rehabilitation Centre
A construction known as the South Khairbari Tiger Rescue Centre, a unique endeavor that is unmatched in the entire north-east, has recently come up in Alipurduar. It now acts as a permanent shelter for tigers, and the place has been aptly named Bagh Ban, meaning "tiger forest" in Bengali. A maximum of 15 tigers can be accommodated in the forest. A leopard rehabilitation centre is located at Khairbari that offers safaris to visitors. It is located at a distance of 70 km from The Riverwood Forest Retreat Dooars.
The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary constitutes the forests of the lower catchment area of the Mahananda River, and covers an area of 158.04 sq.km. Situated at the western end of the elephant migration route, more than 150 elephants shelter here during the monsoon and winter seasons. Migratory water a birds are a common in winter. The other animals found are the rare Mountain Goat (Serow), Tigers, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Gaur (Indian bison), Leopards, Goral, Wild Boar, Golden Cat and Monkeys, Jungle Cats, Porcupines, Himalayan Civets, Monitor Lizards and Snakes, not to mention the beautiful birds found here. The Sanctuary offers some beautiful trekking routes from Sukna. Golaghat, Deorali and the Latpancher-Mana track are the favourites for trekking and bird watching. Mahananda is at a distance of 131 km from The Riverwood Forest Retreat Dooars,
The original habitants of this region are considered as ancient as the Mongolians, the habitat started with rise of the 'Himalayas' and descent of rivers like, Brahmaputra,Teesta, Torsa, Jaldhaka, Murty, Dyna, among others. The rivers have blessedthe area with fertility, essential for vegetation and life. The beds gradually were covered with dense and deadly forests of prehistoric age in the hemisphere. The Mongoloid features are still visible on the natives composed of numerous tribes, including the Bodo in Assam, and theRabha, the Mech, the Toto, the Koch Rajbongshi, the Tamang/Murmi, the Limbu, the Lepcha in Bengal.
The tea gardens in the region were planted by the British. For working in the gardens, they imported labour from Nepal and the ChotaNagpur and SanthalParganas. The Oraons, Mundas, Kharia, Mahali, Lohara and ChikBaraik are the tribals from these areas. The tribal of Chotanagpur origin are employed in tea gardens, which started production during 1870s. Before the settlement of other communities, these people converted the forests into villages and busties (agriculture village). The remnants of these tribal people form a majority of the population in Western Dooars.
Apart from the tribal population, a large Bengali population (mostly displaced from the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) by the Partition of Bengal) also populate the Dooars.
During one of your visits try and visit Totoparasituated amid a lush green countryside that meets the invigorating waters of the river Torsa, Totopara is a tiny hamlet where the Totos, an aboriginal tribe of Indo-Bhutanese origin, live. The Totos have broad and square cheeks, flat noses, small eyes and thick lips. They are usually endogamous and marry within their own tribe. Their staple food consists of rice, milk, yogurt and different forms of meat. They drink a form of liquor called Eu, which is served warm in Poipa (wooden glasses). Most of the Totos live in elevated bamboo huts. Most of the huts are surrounded by a kitchen garden where the tribal people grow their own vegetables. Totopara is located at a distance of 77 kms from The Riverwood Forest Retreat Dooars.