Every monsoon, Jaldapara and Gorumara national parks in West Bengal as well as their adjoining sanctuaries are closed for all tourist activities, including safaris. Located in the Dooars region of West Bengal, Jaldapara is one of the best places to see the Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Usually, these national parks remain shut between June 16 and September 15. According to media reports, eco-tourism centres and forest bungalows will remain closed during this period this year.
However, if you are visiting Dooars during the monsoon, you may visit the Bengal Safari Park and the South Khayerbari (Khairbari) Eco Park, which usually remain open throughout the year.
The North Bengal Wild Animals Park, better known as the Bengal Safari Park, is about eight km from Siliguri town, 12 km from New Jalpaiguri railway station and 30 km from Bagdogra airport.
A little over 290 hectares, the park has a variety of attractions. For an orientation of the flora and fauna of the Dooars region, drop in at the Nature Interpretation Centre. There are several short duration (15-20 minutes) safaris available, which include mixed herbivore safari, tiger safari, leopard safari, and Asiatic black bear safari. On foot, you may check out the aviary trails and lesser cat enclosures. Besides, there are gharial and crocodile ponds, and a medicinal plant garden.
Tickets for entry, rides, etc. can be bought online. However, do remember, the availability of safaris and elephant rides are subject to weather conditions. Cafeteria and toilet facilities available inside the park. In April this year, they have also added adventure sports activities such as zipline and Burma Bridge.
Established as a rehabilitation and treatment centre for animals, especially tigers and leopards, the South Khayerbari Eco Park and Mini Zoo, has grown into a popular attraction.
It is about 112 km from Siliguri and 160km from Bagdogra. You can take your vehicle up to the car parking area near the forest entrance. The final stretch to the parking area lies through a dense forest and it can be a rough ride during the monsoon. Vehicle parking charges and per head entry fee apply. From the carpark, you may walk to the main entrance or take an auto-rickshaw ride.
The sprawling park land inside the forest can be explored on foot or you may hire a battery-operated vehicle. The Torsa River runs through the park and has to be crossed across a wooden bridge, which often serves as the selfie point. A forest guard who also doubles up as a guide can tell you about the local flora and fauna. The animal rescue centre lies at one end of the eco-park. It takes around 15 to 20 minutes to reach from the entrance. However, animal sighting is dependent on the weather.
A visit to these two attractions can be spiced up with a ride on the Vistadome train (155777/15778) connecting New Jalpiguri and Alipurduar, which runs through the forests of Dooars
Information: The Dooars circuit is accessible from Siliguri town which is the transport hub for West Bengal and Sikkim. It is directly connected by overnight buses with Kolkata. The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri (10km away) and the nearest airport is Bagdogra (about 12km away). Note, unusually heavy downpour in the region may throw life out of gear; so check with the local state tourism office before setting out.