Located in the Jalpaiguri district, 25 kilometers away from Siliguri, Gajoldoba is undiscovered heaven for birdwatchers. Surrounded by the Baikunthapur forest, Gajoldoba is a small village on the Teesta barrage. It brings to you the beauty of Western-Southern Himalayan foothills and the freshness of Mahananda and the Teesta river. The place is especially famous for migratory birds, the Baikunthapur forest, and the Teesta barrage. Not only the variety of birds makes the place special but also it has special mythical and religious connotations. Gajoldoba has various temples nearby which are still carrying the signs of the history embedded in mystery. Baikunthapur Palace & Gate is another attraction of the place.
MYTHS ABOUT GAJOLDOBA:
There is a myth associated with the place which claims that lord Krishna and his chief queen Rukmani once took shelter in Baikunthpur forest during their hiding due to which ISKON decided to build their institution near the place and the site became one of the biggest Krishna centres in the North East. Other than that, it was also believed that the Raikot family who were the semi-independent rulers of coach dynasty used to reign in the place and they have a palace nearby.
WILDLIFE AT GAJOLDOBA:
Being close to Teesta and Mahananda, the wetland helps in the growth of a natural forest. The forest has become a home to elephants. Gajoldoba is a store framed by the first Teesta Barrage and hence, the water store attracts many young birds. Spending a few hours will provide the tourists immense opportunity to get glimpses of rare birds like Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Bar-headed Goose, Greylag Goose, Lesser Whistling Duck, Ruddy Shelduck, Common Shelduck, Cotton Teal, Tufted Duck, Common Teal, Eurasian Wigeon, Spot-billed Duck, Mallard, Great Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Indian Pond Heron, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Northern Lapwing, River Lapwing, Grey-headed Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, etc.
WHAT TO DO AT GAJOLDOBA?
There are a number of activities which will allow the travellers to enjoy all the essences of the place.
THE BOAT SAFARI :
Bird Watching safaris are the specialty of the place. Narrow country boats are used for safaris. The safari usually starts at 7 am and continues till 3 pm. In winter, the daylight tends to get low from 4 pm. A country boat has space for two passengers in addition to the boatman. It gives travelers an immense chance to encounter numerous rare species of birds.
TEESTA BARRAGE AND GAJOLDOBA RESERVOIR:
The reservoir framed by the Teesta barrage was built for irrigational usage; However, the water body offers perfect habitation for birds, and hence, it’s a perfect place to visit. The alluring sound of the Teesta river coupled with the sound of the birds will offer you a sense of serenity. The view of the Kanchenjunga Range surrounded by the Baikunthapur Forest from Teesta Barrage is a treat for the eyes.
BAIKUNTHAPUR PALACE AND GATE:
The palace is also known as Jalpaiguri rajbari is a little away from the central town location but one can spend some time especially a water body beside the rajbari is a nice place for a perfect outing. Though the palace and the gate are affected by the ravishes of time still bear the glory of old Rajas (king).
There are a number of temple nearby which bears mythical as well as religious significance. There is Devi Chaudhurani’s Temple at Jalpaiguri Town, Bhabani Pathaks’ Temple at Shikarpur Tea Estate ( 30 minutes away) and Bhramoridevis Temple at Bodaganj (21Km. from Jalpaiguri). Jalpesh Temple is 48 km away from Gajoldoba. Lord Jalpeswara is another form of Shiva and it is believed that Shiva used to reside in this great temple in the form of God Jalpeshwar. These temples show old forms of architecture.
TEA ESTATE AND BAIKUNTHAPUR FOREST:
Travellers can have a stroll into the fresh tea gardens of Shikarpur Tea Estate which is only 30 minutes away. The lush green tea gardens offer a picture-perfect scenario. Travellers can also visit the Baikunthapur forest where they might get a glimpse of the Elephants with all their majesty.
RESTAURANTS AND DHABAS:
There are lots of dhabas and restaurants near the Gajoldoba bazaar. One can discover the taste of authentic traditional food there.
PLACES TO STAY:
Bhorer Alo Tourism Property: The Bhorer Alo (the light of dawn) is a place at Gajoldoba near the Teesta Barrage which is developed by the West Bengal Tourism Development. It is just an hour away from Siliguri town. On a cloud-free day, the majestic Mt. Kangchenjunga is visible from here. Room tariff for an A/C Cottage is Rs.2500 for a night (with breakfast).
HOW TO REACH GAJOLDOBA:
The best way to visit the place is by trains like Saraighat express, Teesta Torsa express, and Kanchankanya express.
Nearest Rly Station: The New Jalpaiguri Junction railway station is almost 33 km away from Gajoldoba.
By Road: A car can be hired from Siliguri to Gajoldoba. It is just an hour’s drive from Siliguri town (45km).
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
In the season of Winter from mid-November to March, migratory birds from Central Asia, and Europe migrate here. Hence, that time is better for a visit.
Murti (75 km away):
Lataguri (33 km away):
Lataguri is where you get permission for entering Gorumara and Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary. The deep green forest along with several streams such as Murti, Jaldhaka, and Torsha has enhanced the beauty of the place.
Gorumara National Park (40 KM away):
Gorumara is famous for the Asiatic one-horned-rhino. Apart from the rhino, there are ample numbers of leopards, elephants, Indian bison, deer, python, Malayan giant squirrels, etc.
Damdim (32 Km away):
The journey towards Damdim will offer an unforgettable travel experience with roads surrounded by a variety of vegetation, from paddy fields to tropical forests. One of the greatest attractions of the tea estate of Damdim is the Burrashahib bungalow which has a 150-year-old heritage.