The Places All the Solo Travelers would love to Explore in North Bengal.

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west bengal for solo travelers

The Places All the Solo Travelers would love to Explore in North Bengal.

Nearly a year back, I remember a young russian couple contacted me to know about some places, where foreign travelers would have hardly reached. I had no idea of such places so I named only few of them. Those were the ones that I loved to travel, more than any of the renowned destinations shown in the Tourism Map of West Bengal. As a host and a travel expert I’ve had many experiences giving assistance to the solo travelers from abroad. Candidly, in my opinion,there is truly no need of any assistance for such travelers because they always have more information than even the local people. You can truly know each street, shop and sometimes even the names of the people you would find there.

The job of exploring becomes quite like a job of identifying. You do not feel special as nothing seems so special for you. Again, there are obviously certain travel warnings you shouldn’t avoid while getting off-road. So, this post will help you to just know the basics of such off-road destinations of North Bengal.

When Alex & Ann – The russian Couple, landed in Dalgaon…

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Alex $ Ann – The lovely Russian Couple

Now getting back to that Russian couple, the places they visited were more unplanned and unveiled for them. They couldn’t even get it in their route map. That part was more fun, both for them and even for me. It was fun for me because I could see the curiosity in their eyes about everything they’d never heard of North Bengal. But the most interesting part was yet to come for them.

After they departed as usual exchanging numbers I got a call the very next morning. In a nearly shocking tone they said “Oh God! We’re in the newspapers, I don’t know what it reads but both of our’s picture is there. I ran to find the news paper and read it. It was a just a warm welcome for the  lovely couple for their visit to the rural place because they were the first foreigners to visit the village. The local people had collectively requested the newspaper agency to print it as a promotional news for their village.

Ain’t you too be feeling great if this would have happened with you? Certainly it would be a real experience to get local exposure in a totally foreign country for all the solo travelers.

What solo travelers always skip about North Bengal?

If traveling means following the recited stories for you than this may not excite you. In contrary you are the one who want to build stories by traveling, then certainly you have landed in the right place. So if you talk about North Bengal, your stories will never end. Here are the reason why it will not end:

  1. Check out the map of Northern part of West Bengal in India. Do you find any difference? Yes, of course, to be more definitive, this part of India is often named as “Chicken Neck”.  Now, you can imagine the diverse cultural influence of not one, but 4 countries. So, if you love exploring the culture, drown deeper seeking the unexplored destinations of  North Bengal. Besides, you can always visit the renowned destinations anytime while you are in North Bengal.
  2. Whether you Love cold and high hills or always a bright sun ? Almost everything a Solo traveler would look out for from Jungle & Wildlife adventure to River Adventure, you can get all just within the distance of not more than 100 kms.
  3. As most of the areas of North Bengal fall under rural areas or plantations, the people still are far from the lifestyle of a modernised urban life. The word safety is something that you can blindly mark as checked because most of the accommodations are rural home-stay. So no question of commercial environment, but you will be staying with a family following their daily life , culture and tradition. Now, that was the travel warning.

 

The Destinations some of you have never landed..

As already mentioned earlier, there’ll be no fun if all the curtains are opened. So, here let’s only discuss the circuits of North Bengal that has seldom been explored by solo travelers. The rest is all left for all the curious travelers to seek the destinations that comes within the circuits. Let’s not talk about Darjeeling, Kalimpong or even Mirik. You all may even win over me for the travel guide information. So, I am giving the names you would certainly not like to miss once you step on the doorway to North-East – Siliguri. Siliguri can be called as a transit destination of North Bengal, because your milestone of Zero will start from here. You can just enter to any part of North Bengal and that too of your choice from Siliguri.

1.  Defining  “Dooars” – A complete circuit of destination for solo travelers

Dooars for solo travelers

This circuit has all that North Bengal beholds apart from the legacy of Darjeeling. It stretches from the foothills of District Darjeeling to the national and international boundaries of Assam, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The region has many rich bio-diversities, tea plantations and even the one and only Cinchona Plantation, that are renowned for some of the most extinct wildlife animals like One-horned Rhinoceros, Chinese Pangolin, Royal Bengal Tiger. The historical influence of culture and tradition of several international borders has made this circuit a rainbow of culture.

The most strange part of this region is that within a distance of mere 5-10 kms the travelers can enter into a totally different world of culture and tradition. Some of the unique tribes of this circuit are Tamangs, Totos, Sautals, Urao, Rabha, Koch, Mechiya, Dukhpas, Lepchas etc. Few destinations for examples that come under this circuit are Samsing-Suntalekhola, Rajabhatkhawa, Lepchakha, Sisamara etc.

2. The Teesta Circuit

solo travelers for north bengal

This circuit follows the trail of Teesta River right from the Border of Sikkim till Bangladesh. The landscape of this region is mostly covered with beautiful Tea gardens, Orange orchards, and even Cinchona Plantation areas. The adventure lovers and solo travelers mostly lover this place because of all the activities this region offers. Some of such activities are Paragliding in Delo, Mahseer-fishing ( Angling) in River Teesta, and Trekking. There are many small rural destination under this circuit that has some of the best views of North Bengal . The region also offers volunteering options of many categories to different kinds of travelers. Apart from such opportunity the region is also best for many scholars who like to research many activities like agriculture, medicinal plants, teaching etc. Some of the example of such destinations are Doon Valley, Bara Mangwa, Soreng, Chuikhim, Yelbong, Takdah Cantonment etc.

3. The Neora Valley Circuit

Solo travelers neora valley national park

Have you ever heard about Neora Valley National Park?. If you have ever been to North Bengal and have missed this part then you may not have got the real taste of Foohills of Himalayas. Neora Valley National Park is one of the renowned heritage forests of India. The forest is so dense that unlike other national park this region is hardly explored. It covers the patch between Sikkim, West Bengal and Bhutan and also hold the forgotten trails of legendary Silk-route of Asia. The settlement of villages that are adjacent to this National park have their own history that often leads to the story of silk route trading. The forest is still unexplored because of its rough and inaccessible terrains. It is also abode to some of the most rare species of wild orchids and it’s often believed that species have even not been discovered.

Similarly, the forest is abode to many unique and extinct species of wild animals like Chinese Pangolin, Red Panda, Clouded Leopard, Snow Leopard, Yellow-throated Martin, birds and butterflies. The solo travelers, Botanists, Wildlife lovers, Medicine plant researchers can consider this circuit  as a paradise. The trekking options through the forest is the most adventurous part for all the travelers. Some of the of rural destinations that fall under this circuit are Lava, Kolakham, Samsing -Suntalekhola, Kumai, Gorubathan, Saakham etc.

Now it’s a test of your traveling soul to find your own destination among all the above mentioned circuits. Whether you are a solo traveler, or a group of travelers exploring Eastern- India, these circuits will certainly give you the real taste of adventure that you have seldom read in any of the travel Guides. Above all finding your own path is the real motto of any traveler.

Besides if any help is needed, we are always happy to assist you to choose your own meaningful Journeys through North Bengal . So go ahead and feel free to ask us at << Contact us >>


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Yoga Destinations of India

Changing Tribal Lives through ” Art of Living” at Santalabarie

Everyone in this world hunts for achievements, possessions, stature and status are no matter, how equipped and deserving you are, you sometimes fail to acknowledge your achievements in comparison to how the world defines the word ” Achievement”. The world introduced the method of chemical farming in the agricultural sector and named it as one of the greatest achievements of Mankind. The world is again onto its best endeavour to ban the method and revive the traditional method of natural farming. Surprisingly, people call this too as an achievement. So, in the first place why did they even introduce it.

Therefore, it all matters on how people define their invasion to the laws of nature just to meet their materialistic demands.  Just look around you, do you find peace in all those we name as achievements? Perhaps, instead of understanding the inner happiness in the true art of living, people have more inclination towards the external happiness.

Art of Living Destination –  A practice for spiritual healing

Volunteer for yoga in India

This hunt for happiness has today become one of the primary reasons for most of the travellers from west. India in this context has more potential because of its cultural richness and the abundance of spiritual knowledge. Yoga and other forms of practices that not only helps the body but also the mind is one such knowledge that attracts many travellers from all around the world. If you are looking for any of the meaningful journeys through the rural India, you can add this  learning as a part of meaningful experiences. One such rural Destination where you too can participate is Santalabarie in Northern part of West Bengal. The name of this practice is famously known as art of living in India whose spiritual leader is Shri Shri Ravi Shankar.

Mr Ramkumar Lama ( A teacher of ” Art of living” and a social worker) drives this effort. Living in a small village which is surrounded by various indigenous tribes, he is in his mission to change the lives of tribal children through the discipline and spiritual enlightenment of the practices of ” Art of Living”. Santalabarie is a beautiful village located in the district of Alipurduar of West Bengal. This small village is a forest village under the famous Buxa Tiger Reserve Forest of West Bengal. There are many other small villages in the area inhabited by indigenous tribes like Rabha, Kochey, Mechiya, Tamangs and Dukhpas.

As a forest village, though nature has blessed it with miraculous natural beauty, the area highly lacks the basic facilities that makes it a remote village. So , for all those who seek for meaningful journeys through the rural and unexplored beauty of India, this village will certainly be a resourceful and meaningful destination.

Your art of living days at Santalabarie:

Art of living school

Your prolong search for the perfect ambience will certainly match the beauty and solidarity of Santalabarie.  The journey will right away start after you get at any of the nearest railway stations named Rajabhatkhawa, Kalchini, Hamilton and Alipurduar. The place may not totally fit into your category of luxurious destination, but its undisturbed beauty will make you oblivion of everything. A beautiful road through the dense green beauty of Buxa Tiger Reserve forest will take you to this village. For adventure lovers the only option available in this village is to explore the Jungle watching butterflies, birds and if lucky enough , some wild elephants. The problem of Human-Elephant conflict does exist in this village and there are many organisations who are working hard to minimise this problem.

There are no hotels or commercial resorts in this place, instead there are beautiful homestays with basic facilities for the guests like attach bath and western toilets. The villagers own the homestays, so you can learn a lot about the culture of different tribes in different homestays.

You can then meet Mr Ramkumar Lama who runs an open art of living school for nearly 100 different children from different tribes. All the children are from the surrounding villages and you can truly feel the change in them that probably is stimulated by the undisturbed nature of Santalabarie. Mr Ramkumar Lama also runs different courses for different age group people. Many travellers and volunteers who seek for a peaceful destination to relax and cleanse their mind can come to this destination. Far away from the disturbing urban life, work stress if you are really seeking happiness then you can find it here in every small things that comes directly from nature. This true realisation of happiness and peace amongst the wise tribal people, amidst the undisturbed abode of nature and the true smiles of children will leave you as totally different person altogether.


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Meaningful Journeys through Lepchakha

Meaningful Journey through Lepchakha

Territories divide nations, cultural influence, constitutions and nationalism, but when it comes to live with nature, do you really care for such things? Today, as revealing the inside story of a developing nation, where you always hear the proclaiming public demands of Infrastructural development like energy, drinking water and advanced communication, it is quite unusual and strange to hear the people say ” We want no Roads  and we are happy without electricity.” This meaningful journey through lepchakha is where all the so called spiritual meaning of true nature begins with the end of all the materialistic lust. Not so far from the sonorous and hustling crowd of Kalchini town in North Bengal, India, lies a small or the smallest village of Dukhpa community who still have their incontrovertible relation with the forest named Buxa Tiger Reserve and the name of the village is Lepchakha. The feeling of nature’s own home starts right from the beautiful and small railway station of Rajabhatkhawa, perhaps the smallest area you have ever seen being inhabited by so many diverse ethnic tribes. To be more clear, don’t just think about a different town or village, but you can feel a different world of culture, language and tradition just after every lane in the village. Some of the tribal communities for your information are Rabha, Koch, Mech, Tamangs, Totos and last but not the least Dukhpas.  The last point where you can get dropped by a vehicle is Santalabarie, and then the real journey towards the so called” heaven of doors “- Lepchakha begins.

Meaningful Journey through the  Historical Glimpses of the ruins of Buxa Fort20150307_183029[1]

The steep road carpeted with the dry leaves of Buxa forest may initially seem tiring, but as you approach nearer towards the ruins of Buxa fort and the Buxa village, the same tiredness will turn into curiosity. The haunted stories recited by the villagers about the abandoned fort will certainly create a picture in your mind once you visit the abandoned congested walls of once the prison guarded by three mountains. The fort is said to be a prison once during the British rule in India. The three hills that surround the fort still have the hidden watch towers that were once made for the guards to watch over the activities of the prisoners inside the fort. The claustrophobic ghostly stone walls and the chambers gives make you feel more of a prisoner rather than that of a guard. After having enough of different experiences and swinging moods, you can then start you last trek towards the Dukhpa village -Lepchakha.

The ruins of Buxa fort

The ruins of Buxa Fort

When you finally reach the Heaven of Doors…

Once you start seeing the traditional dukhpa houses with windows almost as big as doors without any glasses to shield, you can feel those interrogating stares of little children perhaps scared of strangers. Their innocent eyes peeping through the wedge cracks of the big wooden windows will suddenly give you a feeling of an intruder in their reign of playfulness. The sloping landscapes providing you the greenish view of vast Buxa Tiger reserve forest will be a true experience of being isolated from the modern world.

The meaningful journeys is not always to seek for unexplored beauties of the world but also to 20150307_183222[1]understand the happiness attached to it through the lives of the people residing in such areas. My experience was of a different kind. After a night’s stay and being able to get a bit closer to the people sharing their lovely smiles, I was quite fortunate to finally hear them speak about their daily life. Early in the morning I found my host relaxing on a chair in his balcony. He eyes were upon the trail that reached people to his village. A radio was playing some meaningless sound that lay beside him on a wooden railing. Perhaps because of low frequency the radio was not able to catch the proper signal. As the village has no electricity, the whole village uses solar energy for lights and other energy purposes. Our host seemed like no interest to what the radio was playing but his attention was on something else. When I asked him what was it? I asked my host, ” Wouldn’t you ever want your village to demand for electricity, roads and hospitals to the government?” He replied ” We want no roads, and electricity and talking about hospitals, people in the cities are more sick than us because they are near to the hospitals,” It was a strange answer for me so I again asked ” But Why?”. At this he smiled and pointed his finger towards the trail that came from Santalabarie that was far down. I saw few travellers climbing up the train with wooden sticks in their hand that they used as walking sticks. Their steps seemed like too tired and I was sure their body was fully wet because of sweat. I stared at my host who was so relaxed and his face was bright with some sort of inner happiness. I looked around the village, no electricity, no roads, no shopping malls, no luxurious dreams, though the happiness in his face was far more intense than any richest man in this world. ” He has no targets, no plans , but still the people from far countries, cities and towns travel through such tiresome journey, just to reach him and pay him for his smiles, for the nature he protects every day and for the modern luxuries he has abandoned that any urban person would not live without.


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Travelling the whole world vs. rebuilding a small village.

What is there that drives you insane every time to pack your backpack and get out for your unplanned, unexpected route of journey with a motto of just travelling the whole world ? Is there a reason? Well, perhaps you want a newer day everyday with just not a new day but things that make it a new day. New smiles, new reasons to live, new songs and serenades, new colours, new food, and above all a new ” You” amidst the new world. It is quite unbelievable that even after you’ve travelled far too many numbers of places than you’d listed, your urge remains the same with not even a bit satisfaction of what you’d expected. Then you travel, travel and travel with no time bounds, no particular destinations and your journey itself starts becoming the milestones of your achievements, the achievements of your life that pours in you the natural sedation of happiness seducing you to even go deeper to find its tiniest particles rather than aiming for bigger and proclaimed shapes of happiness.

The above sentences defines a traveller, but what can be the other way round for people who aim for the same without travelling as not all get this privilege of being a traveler? This was an appalling situation few years back. So, then the things just came around in my mind to re-create a place where we as hosts can too meet new people with ideas everyday, heralding their traveler’s soul to reach our place gradually converting the village into a meaningful travel destination. A destination that might not have all those materialistic luxuries that are conventionally defined under the concept of viable tourism, but definitely it will have the simplest and the most chastened perspective of nature in its own make-up. It was more a learning experience than following the scripted points, tutorials and references from various books on creating a rural destination because the tutorials nowhere matched the remoteness of different that have today turned into meaningful Rural Tourism Destinations. Milestones after milestones, the least cared things became the most effective factors because under the concept of Rural Tourism we believe the most important word is ” Rural” which is inevitable. There are many more to come but few things are there that can be brought together both with the perspective of travelling the whole world and rebuilding a small village:

Letting out or letting in :

When you are travelling the whole world you plan your days to let yourself out as far as possible in terms of the kind of a world you are habituated to, leaving the place as far as possible where you belong. Well, the same happens when you aren’t travel ling the whole world but stay in the same place planning your days through the perspective of a traveler to promote such things that drives your conscience from a stranger to get attracted to simple things you know but they don’t. A garden of all those expensive bouquet flowers may seem to be the best way to decorate your rural accommodation, but when you think as a traveler coming to your rural destination, those least cared, unwanted and unnoticed weeds and wild flowers are more attractive for the travelers, and that’s so abundant and natural.

Discovery or Self-Discovery:

As Aristotle said , “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”. As a traveler you can be travelling the whole world discovering many things that may be new to you, but amidst all those it is always ” You” within those discovered things that you truly discover. This self-discovery is so real even when you build a small place without travelling much to the outer world. You would be so surprised to find that a neglected and illiterate old drunk man in the village has more knowledge than any Doctorate in Botanical science when it comes to identify the number of medicinal plants in the forest and its medicinal uses in different types of sicknesses. A traditional hunter will be far better guide to escort the animal census team than any zoologist. So, both as a traveler and a host, it will be a self discovery travelling to places or rebuilding the small village as a rural tourism Destination.

Expenses or contributions:

It’s obvious that you cannot always travel the whole world for free. If as a traveler you use your travel expenses to different service providers, as a host the same travel expenses you pay becomes a contribution and is distributed evenly to develop the livelihood schemes of the rural areas. For example an accommodation owner is buying naturally grown vegetables from the farmer, fish and chicken from the chicken rearer, availing transportation from a local transporter, hiring local youths as guides, selling local handicrafts e.t.c all with the expenses incurred by a traveler.

So, as already stated in the above paragraphs, there is certainly a lot more similarity in between what a traveler looks out for and a what a host does to turn a small and a remote village into a well conceptualised form of rural tourism destination. Now, you know travelling the whole world vs rebuilding a small village has more or less the same concept.


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