Duars (Dooars) ~ Doorway to Paradise
The Bengal Duars (or Dooars) is the gateway to the North Eastern parts of India and stretches from Siliguri in the west to Buxa in the east. This 150 km stretch of dense evergreen moist deciduous Himalayan foothills plays host to some of the most sought after birds in the world.
The Duars are breathtakingly beautiful. The mostly flat terrain is lush green with large patches of towering forests. The land is crisscrossed by some great rivers like the Teesta and Torsa and by innumerable seasonal rivers whose broad pebble dry beds add to the overall beauty of this unforgettable wilderness. Chapramari, Gorumara, Jaldapara, Buxa Duars are all protected forests in this area and aside from preserving nature, is home to Floricans, Cuckoo Doves, Bazas, Hornbills, Sultan Tits, Falconets and many others. Large mammals include the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros, Asian Elephant, Tiger, Leopard and Gaur. While the forests in the west resemble high rainfall type terai vegetation, the Buxa area is very similar in bio-diversity to the Manas area and is close to Manas National Park.
The area holds some spectacular birds. From Green Cochoas to Sultan Tits, the stretch from Mahanada to Buxa features amazing avian diversity. Listed birds include Manipur Bush-Quail, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Pale-headed Woodpecker, Great and Wreathed Hornbills, Blue-eared Barbet, Blyth's and Ruddy Kingfishers, Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Hodgson's Frogmouth, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Bengal Florican, Black-tailed Crake, Ibisbill, Black and Jerdon's Baza, Oriental Hobby, Collared Falconet, White-bellied Heron, Malayan Night Heron, Lesser Adjutant, Blue-naped & Hooded Pittas, Silver-breasted & Long-tailed Broadbills, Collared Treepie, Slender-billed Oriole, Rusty-bellied Shortwing, Vivid Niltava, White-crowned Forktail, Jerdon's Bushchat, Beautiful Nuthatch, Rufescent Prinia, Bright-headed Cisticola, Rufous-rumped Grassbird, Rufous-faced Warbler, both Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Red-faced Liocichla, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Long-billed Wren Babbler, Wedge-billed Wren Babbler, Slender-billed Babbler, Cutia, Grey-headed & Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbills and Scarlet Finch.
Malayan Night Heron
How to reach
Coronation Bridge - Gateway to the area
Siliguri is the best start point. Siliguri is connected by air (Bagdogra) from N Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata and by rail (New Jalpaiguri) from Delhi, Guwahati, Kolkata. Siliguri is about 10 hours by road from Kolkata.
From Siliguri, Chapramari and Gourmara are an hour and half away. Jaldapara is a 3 hour drive and Buxa will take upwards of 4 hours to reach. Road and rail transport are available choices. The National Highway is in very good condition and driving is comfortable.
Duars Road Route
Siliguri > Sevok > Coronation > Mangpang > Bagrakote > Oodlabari > Dam Dim > Malbazar > Chalsa > Gorumara/Chapramari (70 km)
> Nagrakote > Bannarhat > Binnaguri > Dalagaon > Madarihat > Jaldapara (135 km)
> Hasimara > Buxa Duars (215 km)
Where to stay
Various resorts/lodges at lataguri near Gorumara. The Forest department has rooms at Chapramari and Gourmara. The Sinclairs Group has a star property at Chalsa (www.sinclairs.com), which is near Gorumara/ Chapramari.
Jaldapara has Forest Dept. accommodation both inside (Holong) and outside (Maderihat). Holong is recommended. Buxa has very basic Forest Department bungalows.
Best time to visit: October to April
Places to visit: Lava is a short drive from Gorumara/Chapramari. The protected forests of Chapramari / Gorumara are birding hotspots and provide the best opportunity to see many lifers. The Buxa area presents the greatest challenge due to the weak logistics, but some very rare birds are only to be spotted in the tall and thick evergreen canopy which characterizes the area.