History and Folklore
Buxa Fort is located at an altitude of 867 meters. The Bhutan King used the fort to protect the portion of famous Silk Route connecting Tibet with India, via Bhutan. Still later during unrest in Occupation of Tibet, hundreds of refugees arrived at the place and used the then abandoned fort as a refuge. In colonial times Buxa Fort used to a high-security prison and detention camp in the 1930s; it was the most notorious and unreachable prison in India after the Cellular Jail in Andaman. Nationalist revolutionaries belonging to the Anushilan Samiti and Yugantar group such as Krishnapada Chakraborty were a hostage there in the 1930s. It is believed Netaji Subash Chandra Bose was kept as a hostage at this fort. You can trek to the Buxa Fort. A number of beautiful trekking routes start from Buxa Fort. Rover’s point is the heaven for bird watchers’ which is 3 km ahead of Buxa fort. Hard trekkers can go ahead another 6 km to reach Roopam valley or Rupang valley bordering Bhutan. Another small but beautiful valley called Lepchakha can be reached from Buxa fort by 5 km trekking. Lepchakha offers a splendid view of entire Buxa Tiger Reserve, plains of North Bengal and adjoining Bhutan.
Trek to Buxa Fort
I along with my three mates stared off from Coochbehar on 1st August 2019. By car one can go upto Zero Point, thereafter, on one has to trek nearly 2 km to reach Buxa Fort. If you are tight on the budget best possible option to reach Santalabari/Jayanti is NBSTC Bus from Coochbehar. The bus starts from Coochbehar at 6:00 am. By 8.00 am we were at Santalabari. We rented a cab from Santalabari for Rs 500/- to drop us at Zero Point. From Santalabari onwards mobile connectivity is very erratic. For the night we will be staying at Buxa Duar at Nima Drukpa’s Home-stay. We told the cab to come at Zero Point tomorrow at 4:00 PM because once we reach Buxa Duar there will be no connectivity.
The road to Buxa from Zero Point used to be the main road connecting India and Bhutan during colonial times. The road is quite wide considering the hilly terrain and arduous habitat. The trail goes through lush green montane forest.
We had a stopover in between. The view of the towns of Alipurduar and Coochbehar and the Torsha River cutting across will be printed in my mind forever. After a while, we reached Sadar Bazar the fist habitation on the way. At a couple of places, the road was damaged due to landslide and the stretch was really thin at places.
After 15 more minutes, we reached Buxa Duar and headed towards our home-stay. After a bit of rest and without wasting any more time we ventured out to explore the place.
Post-Office Buxa Duar
Fort and the Village
We walked down to the Buxa Fort. At the entrance of the fort are two letters engraved in a pillar- first one – letter from the prisoners of to the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and the second one – reply of Tagore to the prisoners. August is off-season and we were the only people in the fort – solitude is bliss. The ruins of the Buxa Fort is an epitome of rich history. With Bhutan Hills on the backdrop, dark clouds hovering over us, the view of the Buxa Duar is amazing. In front of the Buxa Fort lies a beautiful ground – football match is organized on 15th August – Independence Day every year, which is attended by dignitaries.
Pre-independence Buxa used to be sub-division and there is a post-office which is still operational. The building of the post office has a colonial hangover.
The folklore is that Buxa used to be trading hot spot of horses in the colonial era. Bhutanese people use to come to Buxa with their horses, and the British people traded horses in lieu of “Baksish” – a monetary grant. Buxa derived its existence from the root of the word “Baksish”.
Wildlife of Buxa
Buxa is the home to reptiles and butterflies. Post lunch we took the trail from Buxa to Lepchakha. Species found along the trail are – Bent-toed Gecko, Green Cat Snake, Pope’s Pit Viper, Orange Oakleaf Butterfly and Torrent Frog. Next day morning we explored the village. Took the trail along the riverside. Soak into the cold waters of a mountain stream. The place along the river has an abundance of butterflies. Took a few photographs and called it a day.
Rains and Buxa
After lunch, we started to descend. The sky was overcast all though the day. It started to rain. The downpour was intense that my companion 50 meters away from me was hardly visible. As we reached 28 Mile, it was still raining. The cab was waiting for us. Fully content and rejuvenating our souls we reached Coochbhear at 6:30 PM.
Things to Do at Buxa
- Explore the ruins of the fort.
- Go for a village trail.
- Exlopre the surroundings – get a glimpse of rare species.
- Trek Lepchakha, Rover’s Point.
There are few home-stays at Buxa Fort. We stayed at Nima Drukpa’s Home-stay. From the room, one has a clear view of the fort. Tariff – four-bedroom – Rs 1000/- per day.
Best time to Visit
Best time to visit is from Oct – April. However, if one wants to document wildlife/ reptiles July to Mid August is the ideal time.