North Bengal is my home. Literally. My ancestral home is in Siliguri and I have frequented North Bengal and its surrounding regions during my school days. No wonder I am interested in wildlife and my favourite holiday destination is Forest.
To me, summer vacation has always meant the silence in the forest, the chirp of crickets, the whistling winds and the rattling of the grass, the burble of the passing river or some unknown jhora, the musical cacophony of birds and long drives.
But for the last 4-5 years, with my board exams and college entrance exams, I was unable to visit Dooars. I have been to many other forests in the meantime but nothing compares to the ambiance of good ol’ dooars. So this vacation, when Kolkata faced the wrath of 42°C I headed to Dooars. I knew torrential rains have affected the forest and the hills in a massive way, and I knew it will be closed, but I needed the familiar environment.
So one day, I suddenly planned to visit Siliguri with Ma. There my aunt has arrived from USA with my sister after 4 years and I couldn’t wait to meet them and go on a day trip.
It was a good opportunity for me to meet the clouds and my old home at the same time. Ah, those old memories.
Dooars has changed a lot, but it still feels the same.
This time I visited Malbazaar, a town on the edge of Gorumara National Park and Chapramari. It is a town now bustling with people and pollution. We first went to this newly built Hanuman Temple. It is a massive structure with 8-10 air conditioners to keep the Gods chilled. We arrived at New Mal Junction on a local passenger train we boarded from Siliguri Junction Station. From New Mal Jn. we hired a car for the five of us- Ma, Aunt(Pishi), Uncle(Boro Pisho), Mahi (sister) and I. The car took us to the temple and then we headed straight towards my beloved Murti.
Bonanti, a tourist lodge was once the only Lodge on the banks of River Murti which runs through Gorumara National Park and thus, if you are lucky, you can sight an elephant or a full herd on the banks of the river, or maybe a Rhino or two, or Spotted Deer chilling off on the gravel-filled river side. But now Murti hosts a bunch of Tourist lodge that popped up here and there like wild mushrooms, clearing small patches of forest leading to rampant deforestation. Still a percentage of the greenery is intact.
The clouds covered the blue sky and they looked like cotton candy on a blue backdrop. The sky never looked so amazing with the lush green beneath it and the water flowing, leaping over and splashing against the rocks, looked like melted crystal. Such serenity is rare.
On our way through the forest outskirts and round the Khunia tower, Mahi spotted two Peacocks and was super excited to get a glimpse of the magnificent National Bird. She even saw a young tusker while the train made its way through Sukna Forest. She’s a lucky girl.
Clouds accompanied us all the way back and rained a little when we were returning. Overall I tasted a part of my childhood memories. I lived it for a day.