Gorkhatimes

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Trek on escape route to peace park – New Rendezvous for tourists

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 2, 2009

Tourists get ready for the trek from a village in the park

Tourists get ready for the trek from a village in the park

Siliguri, July 1:Forests and hamlets, hilltops and plains — all in one circuit ready to be relished.

For the first time a trekking trail will start from the Dooars and extend up to Kalimpong. The forest stretch from Oodlabari to Neora Valley is dotted with several idyllic hamlets, belonging to different communities.

Called Noam-Chel-Teesta Tourism Peace Park, the project promoted jointly by the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation and Help Tourism, will arrange for the treks and the stays at the hamlets.

A signboard fixed to the tree to guide trekkers.

A signboard fixed to the tree to guide trekkers.

“The idea is to provide an opportunity to tourists to enjoy nature, trek through the foothills, relish local cuisine, stay with the villagers and have bath in the rivers, rivulets or even in the waterfalls,” said Raj Basu, the driving force behind the concept and an official of Help Tourism.

He said the project involving the local community was the first-of-its-kind in north Bengal.

Those who want to escape from the hustle and bustle of cities can hide in this “peace park”, surrounded by greenery, the tranquillity vitiated only by chirping birds and gurgling rivulets or waterfalls.

Residents of 10 tiny hamlets located on hilltops and in the plains are involved in the project that covers the Baikunthapur forest on the north-eastern side of the Teesta.

“The area is a classic example of unity in diversity, if we consider the population pattern. Gorkhas, Tibetans and Adivasis live in the villages, with each having its own culture,” said Basu. “Our intention is to involve them in promoting tourism and in preserving this vast area of the eastern Himalayas. Tourism, unlike some circuits in the Dooars and in the hills, did not flourish in this area. The project gives local people the avenues to earn revenue.”

At present, boarding arrangements for the tourists have been made in three villages — Manabari, Chuikhim and Yelbong.

A dried-up river in the park.

A dried-up river in the park.

“At least 30 houses have bath-attached bed rooms. The attractions on offer include a three-day trek in forests where wildlife and rich flora can be sighted. We have already fixed routes for the trek, erected signboards and selected youths to work as guides,” said Basu. He added that there were options to drive through the villages also.

For trek enthusiasts, the route passes through places like Manabari, Turibari and Patharjhora. Those who take the road can start the journey from Oodlabari and reach Bodaganj through Gajaldoba and Mechbusty.

The expenses would be in the range of Rs 500-800 per day with different tailor-made packages on offer.

“It will be a wonderful experience to trudge through the picturesque villages like Chuikhim and Yelbong. The forest is unspoiled here,” says Klause Schaette, a German, working on waste management methods on the trek routes of the Himalayas.

Source : The Telegraph

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