Location of Jaldapara
The Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is situated
at the foothill of Eastern Himalayas on the bank of river
Torsa in West Bengal. The vast grassland with patches of riverine
forests, was declared a sanctuary in 1943 for protection of
the great variety of flora and fauna. Principle among them
is the Asiatic one horned Rhino. The sanctuary
is a mixture of a mosaic of woods, grassland, swamps and streams.
The Sanctuary covers an area of 216.51 sq km.
Drained by rivers Torsa, Malangi, Hollong,
Chirakhawa, Kalijhora, Sissamara, Bhaluka and Buri Torsa,
the Sanctuary provides extensive grassland which is refuge
to a wide variety of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.
Madarihat town is the main town near the forest.
An adventurous elephant ride in the morning
will take you deep inside the grassland for the real excitement.
The sights of rhino in a muddy pond, the herd of elephant
or the running deer are the thrilling experiences in Jaldapara.
Please note the elephant rides are booked on the spot and
cannot be reserved in advance. For most part of the year,
the few elephants available are unable to serve the large
number tourists who flock the Sanctuary. Jeep safari inside
the forest is the other option of visiting inside the forest.
Rhino from Watch tower
Chilapata - River Torsa
divides the continuous stretch of forest with Jaldapara on
the western side and Chilapata being on the eastern side of
the river. Chilapata has become a favourite Tourist destination
for many in the recent past. You can go for a forest visit
with permission of the forest department and accompanied by
approved guide. Chilapata can easily be visited from Jaldapara
as part of day sightseeing tour as the distance is barely
15 kms. Hidden deep inside the forest the ruins of a thousand
years old fort of Nal King that has tremendous historical
and archaeological importance. Built in the 5th century during
the Gupta Empire the ruins still recall the memories of the
Golden Age. Because the site is not maintained properly, it
has now become the play ground for leopards, snakes and other
Khairbari - This is a small
stretch of forest on the west side of Jaldapara forest. There
is a leopard rescue center at Khairbari named "South
Khairbari Leopard Rescue Center". In 2005 when performing
with Wild life were banned in Indian circuses, 19 rescued
tigers were brought here at Khairbari. It was renamed as "Khairbari
Royal Bengal Tiger Rehabilitation and Research Centre".
The number of tigers is steadily decreasing here as most of
the circus tigers died of age in the past. The number of Leopards
at Khairbari is still substantial. The rescue center is about
10 kms from Jaldapara.
The Grassland of Dooars
Boarder - The boarder town of Phuentsholing
is just 25 kms from Jaldapara via Hasimara. There is no entry
formalities for visiting the boarder town. Many tourists visit
Phuentsholing as part of a half day tour from here. You can
also make Jaldapara your overnight halt on your way to a Bhutan
Totopara, adjacent to the
Jaldapara sanctuary is a major attraction for those interested
in ethnic tourism. Toto Para is the only settlement for the
Totos, one of the most endangered ethnic communities in the
world. Their numbers are now reduced to mere a thousand. Lot
of initiatives has been taken by the governmental and non-governmental
agencies for uplifting their living condition. However, to
live with them and to observe their traditional cultures can
still be a precious experience. Even if you are stretched
for time, you may visit Totopara as part of your local sightseeing.
of Dooars can also be visited from Jaldapara on a day
Wildlife in Jaldapara
The main attraction in Jaldapara for the
tourists apart form its exquisite natural beauty, is the Asiatic
one horned rhino which can be seen from the Elephant back,
while driving on roads or froma a watchtower. The sanctuary
holds the largest rhino population in India after Kajiranga
National Park in Assam.
One can come accross Elephants wandering
in the woodland and frequenting the open grasslands, rivers
and glades. Massive Tuskers and Makhnas, Gaur, Hog Deer, Spotted
Deer, magnificent pied Hornbill, colourful Green Pigeon, Peafowl
and other feathered beauties will greet your eyes at the windowsill
of the hollong lodge.
Elephant ride by a tourists family
Herds of Gaur (Indian Bison) are easily
sighted during early morning and late evening. Deer are well
represented here with four species, the Chital, the Hog deer,
the Sambar and the Barking deer. Sambar, the largest of Asiatic
deer, is usually seen in a small family group in the woodland
and along streams. Unlike Chital, Hog deer are basically solitary
in nature and Barking deer is a small deer notable for its
loud alarm call like the bark of a dog. Wild pigs can be seen
in small parties around river banks and open grounds engaged
in digging out tubers and bulbs. Tigers and leopards are the
main predators in this reserve, though seen rarely by the
tourist. Lesser cats of the reserve are jungle cat, leopard
cat and fishing cat. Other important animals in the sanctuary
are the common otter, the small and large civet, Giant squirrel,
pangolin, Hispid hare, porcupine and Rock Python.
For the Botanist
Different vegetation types are met in the Sanctuary. The major
area comprises northern dry deciduous forest, moist mixed
forest, Sal-Khair Sissoo association (Riverine) and alluvial
Savannah. More than 30% of the total area is under grassland.
Dense stand of grasses are comprised of Saccharum spp.; Themeda
arundinacea, T. villosa, Setaria Palmifolia, Cymbopogon spp.,
Thysanolaena maxima, Phragmites Karka, Arundo donax and Imperata
Interspersed in the grassland are trees
such as Sissoo, Khair, simul, Siris etc. Flood plain grassland
interspersed with marshy and swampy land and the adjoining
riverine forests are the ideal habitat of the Rhinoceros and
Birds in the area
Jaldapara is a paradise for bird watchers. It is
one of the very few places in India, where the Bengal Florican
can be sighted. The area is exceptionally rich in avifauna
because of varied terrain, mosaic of vegetation and rich insect
life. More than 240 species of birds are found in variety
of habitat – grassland, water bodies and woodland.
The varied tree forests and rich shrub growth
on the forest floor provide ideal setting for many woodland
birds, such as Green Pigeons, Hornbills, Barbets, Parakeets,
Woodpeckers, Cuckoos, Orioles, Drongos, Babblers, Thrushes
etc. Brahminy ducks, Whistling Teals and Merganser are winter
visitors. The most common birds are the large and little Cormorant,
Shag, Darter, Egret, Pied Wagtail, River Lapwing, Moorhen,
White Breasted Waterhen etc.
The hunters in Jaldapara are the Owls and
Nightjars. Crested serpent Eagle is common raptorial bird.
The other main birds of prey are Pallas’s Fishing Eagle,
Pied Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk etc. A
variety of birds, typical of grassland and open country, can
be seen from watchtowers viz. Doves, Bee-eaters, Rollers,
Hoopoe, Shrikes, Larks, Hill Mynas, Bulbuls, Finches. Call
of the Red jungle fowl is as common as the musical sound of
crickets. Bengal Florican, Black partridge, Shaheen Falcon,
Great Pied Hornbills, Forest Eagle Owl, Large Green billed
Malkoha and White Rumped Vulture, Lesser Adjutant Stork are
the endangered bird species found in the Sanctuary. Some fortunate
visitors can see the Peacock displaying his full array of
feathers during the breeding season.
Where to Stay
The Holong Bungalow
Accomodation for the tourists visiting Jaldapara
is arranged in the Madarihat tourist lodge and Holong tourist
Bungalow. The Holong Bungalow is inside the forest and is
preferred over Madarihat Bungalow which is on the forest fringe.
Since the number of rooms in Holong is very limited, it mostly
remains booked months in advance. A number of private hotels
have also come up in the area around Jaldapara. naturebeyond
provides booking in this lodges for its guests on a regular
Please Note :
1. During the rainy season the sanctuary remains
closed to tourists. The duration is normally between June
15 to September 15
2. Outsiders can visit the forest only during visiting hours
from 9 AM till 4 PM.