From my childhood, I have been to Lataguri unaccountable times and still, have the same excitement whenever I visit Lataguri.
Lataguri is a small town of Dooars. Dooars is famous for 3 T’s – Tourism, Tea, and Timber. Lataguri is a testimony of the said aphorism. The village is on the fringes of Gorumara National Park. Lataguri made its mark as a prominent tourist destination of Dooars in the last decade. Remnants of wooden houses of Dooars can be found in Lataguri. The place is known for its wooden handicrafts. There are shops along the NH, with beautiful display of wooden artefacts’. Lush green tea estates like Borodighi, Batabari, Neora Nody, Aibhell, and Chulsa adds to the beauty of the place. Hilly streams like Mal Nody, Neora Nody, and Murti Nody menders through the outskirts of Lataguri.
In case you don’t know:
Gorumara National Park is a prime national park of Dooars. Jaldhaka a tributary of Brahmaputra flows adjacent to the National Park. Ministry of Environment and Forest has declared Gorumara as the best among the protected areas in India for the year 2009. Gorumara was declared a reserve forest in 1895. In 1949 it was given a status of a wildlife sanctuary. Later on, Gorumara was declared as National Park in 1994. Gorumara National Park is spread over an area of approx 80 sq km. Gorumara has mixed vegetation of forest and grassland. It is one of the last refuges of One Horned Indian Rhino.
Wildlife at Gorumara National Park:
Jungle of Gorumara is the home of Leopards, Elephants, Gaurs(Indian Bison), Deers, Wild Boars. Indian One Horned Rhinoceros has found solace in the grasslands of Gorumara. In the recently conducted rhino census in the month of February 2019, total rhino count for Gorumara comes to 52 – which is an all-time high figure.
Things to Do/ Attractions:
- Jungle Safari at Gorumara National Park.
- Watchtower Safari to – Jatraprasad(Jatraprasad Watchtower – Gorumara National Park : Complete Travel Guide Post COVID), Medla(Medla Watchtower of Gorumara : Detailed Safari Guide), Chapramari, Chandrachur, and Chukchuki.
- Day visit to Murti – a place to get lost into wild and wilderness.
- Day visit to Chapramari.
- Mahakal Mandir.
- Enjoy sweets of Lataguri.
Jungle Safari Experience:
On 19th April 2019, I along with family headed for Lataguri, to take a break from mundane lifestyle. We opted for evening safari and queued up at the ticket booking counter at 2.30 pm. The counter opens at 3.00 pm. In each shift, 15 safari vehicles are issued permit to drive into the park. Jungle safari costs Rs 1650/- for a group of six.
The ticket was issued at 3.00 pm but we decided to start at 4.00 pm. We deliberately started late for a couple of reasons – a) Entry of vehicles in a queue reduces animal sighting chances and also minimizes photographic opportunities in-case you are not in the first vehicle. b) Animals are active during the dusk time, as we in the month of April, with long daylight; we waited for the ideal time.
After checking of permits by the forest guard, we entered the park. Early showers in Dooars this year has rendered the forest absolutely green. It seems that the entire forest has shed the old dress and put on a new one. The safari trail goes through two forest villages – “Kalamati” and “Budhuram”. Just before entering Kalamati Beat, was a Barking Deer busy grazing, disturbed by our unwanted presence got vanished within seconds into the deep forest.
We were scanning the forest as the safari vehicle traversed along the narrow roads through the dense canopy. Nothing much was happening except silence of the forest was interrupted by the cacophony of peacock calls.
We took the road that goes to “Neora Jungle Camp” – a Govt. lodge located deep inside the forest. On the vicinity of Neora Jungle Camp, there is a small patch of grassland and on the back side of the lodge is Neora River. The area is frequented by Peafowls. We saw a Hornbill perched at a tree top, took few photographs, and drove towards the “Kalakhawa Watchtower”. There is water-body in front of the watchtower, where animals come to drink water as forest bound streams dry up during summer.
As we were returning from Kalakhawa Watchtower, our vehicle stopped with a sudden jerk. A male Gaur(Indian Bison) was standing tall inside the forest. We decided to stop there for a while. Our guide informed other vehicles and they rushed to the spot. Our patience proved to be fruitful; there was actually an entire herd, which gradually came out, once they got accustomed to our presence.
With our soul fully satisfied our safari ended on a beautiful note.
Best accommodation option available at Lataguri is – Neora Jungle Camp. It’s a Govt. property located deep inside the jungle. There are four double bed non-ac cottages. Rooms can be booked online from the website – www.wbsfda.org There are ample resorts at Lataguri starting from budget to super deluxe category. But only a few are there which are in the vicinity of the jungle and has a view of the jungle from the room or balcony. Accommodation options are also available at Murti.
Murti, Chapramari, Jhalong, Paren, Bindu, Gajoldoba(Birds of Gajoldoba Wetlands), Malbazar, Samsing, Suntalekhola, Rocky Island(Suntalekhola Rocky Island Travel Guide), Laligarous and Chisang(Chisang : A Sleepy Village – Complete Tour Guide).
Railhead – Nearest railhead New Mal. From New Mal it’s about ½ hr drive. Alternatively, from Bagdogra Airport its about 2 hrs drive.
- Jungle Safari.
- Watchtower Safari.
Note : Jungle Safari is closed on Wednesday and all Watchtower safaris are closed on Thursday
Best time to Visit – Nov to May
Things to carry– Govt. ID proof, Binoculars and Essential medicine.