Chilapata – Ideal destination for a jungle weekend

Chilapata Jungle Interiors

Chilapata Jungle Interiors

Imagine sitting inside a Forest Bungalow in the dead of the night and feeling wild animals moving around its compound. The sounds comes so often through the silent night that you even start imagining shapes. All of a sudden a shape darts through the fence inside the compound and speeds away. It can be as a wild pig or even a leopard.

Welcome to Chilapata, a dense jungle near Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary at Jalpaiguri District. Chilapata is the home of elephants, one-horned rhinoceros, leopards and wild pigs.  Chilapata was once infamous for dacoits, but now it is safe and a popular destination for tourists. The forest is  28 km from Alipurduar town and is hardly an hour’s drive. The West Bengal Forest Development Corporation (WBFDC) has set up an eco-tourism resort named Mendabari Jungle Camp at Kodalbasti which is 2 km inside Chilapata Jungle.

Wooden bridge at Kodalbasti

Wooden bridge at Kodalbasti

As we approached inside Chilapata from New Alipurduar Station on a cold December morning, we could sense the jungle getting dense. From the main road, our car took a sharp turn into a jungle lane and soon we passed by a watch tower. Another few minute’s drive brought us to a wooden bridge. The Forest Bungalow complex is just after the bridge.

WBFDC Mendabari Jungle Camp, Kodalbasti

WBFDC Mendabari Jungle Camp, Kodalbasti

Spacious Room at Jungle Camp

Spacious Room at Jungle Camp

The tourist lodge is perched sufficiently above ground with wooden support. A staircase takes you up. Entering through a small grilled gate you first encounter a balcony and then get to the rooms. There are two rooms – one double bedded and the other four bedded. There is another balcony in the back. We had booked both the rooms. After an early dinner, you need to lock this gate and not venture inside the camping ground for your own safety.

The stream where leopards comes for a drink

The stream where leopards comes for a drink

After checking in our rooms we strolled down to the bridge. There was a small stream flowing below it and we ventured down. The locals said that at night no one dares to come here on foot as leopards often come here for a drink. After lunch in the dining cottage, we decided to our ride in the jungle.

Inside the deep jungle

Inside the deep jungle

Soon our car was diverted into a mud-paved track thick with vegetation on the road itself, not to mention the dense jungle around. There was almost little sunlight getting in that area and despite it being 3:00 in the afternoon, we felt it was evening.  Amidst typical sounds of jungle suddenly an animal rushed within the forest creating a bit a panic among the group. The light was low and we could not identify the creature.

Nalraja Garh

Nalraja Garh

We stopped at the Nalraja Garh – one of the largest secular monuments of Gupta Period so far surviving in West Bengal. Forgetting our fear of wild animals we stood in awe in front of the remains of a 2000-year-old fortress inside the dense jungle. We were told by our guide that this was the front gate of the fort and was built to drive away the intruders. There was an entrance and we took a venture inside as there was supposed to be many brick aqueducts there. However, with the passage of time the jungle has become extremely dense inside and unapproachable. We spotted some snake inside and decided not to venture inside anymore and returned back. The fortification of Nalraja Garh covers around half a mile of area, but at present it is almost impossible to venture the interiors.

Watchtower at Chilapata

Watchtower at Chilapata

"Kunki" Elephant at Chilapata

“Kunki” Elephant at Chilapata

The other interesting stop over was a watch tower beside the Torsha river.  There are several trained elephants near the watch tower called “Kunki” by the locals. We spotted; rather the guide helped us to spot a rhino quite far in the river near a jungle of tall grass. I was having an adventurous idea to go through the tall grass jungle near the rhino to get a prized photograph. However, the guide warned me that such tall grass jungle is the favourite hiding places for the leopard. We were disappointed but the colourful sunset over the Torsha made us happy.

Sunset over Torsha

Sunset over Torsha

How to reach Chilapata

The two nearest Stations to Chilapata are New Alipurduar Junction (26 km) and Hasimara Junction (16 km). There are several trains from Kolkata to New Alipurduar Junction. Your best option could be Teesta -Torsa Express ( Reaches at 7:15 a.m.) from Sealdah or Kamrup Express (Reaches at 9:15 a.m.) from Howrah.  As for Hasimara, there are only two trains from Kolkata. Out of these two Kanchankanya Express (Reaches at 10:46 a.m.) from Sealdah is a better option.

From the station, a car ride will take you to the jungle camp. Chilapata is open to tourists from October to May.

Staying at Chilapata

There are several private lodges like Chilapata Green Resort and Bamboo Village Resort on the outskirts of the forest.  However, only Mendabari Jungle Camp at Kodalbasti (2 km inside The jungle) is located in the core area of the jungle

At Mendabari Jungle Camp double bedded room costs Rs 2000 each and dormitory charge is Rs 250 per bed. Presently food arrangement for breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided in the camp at an extra price.

For booking the Bungalow

Online Booking

For online booking, you can book through the website of West Bengal State Forest Development Agency
The website link for booking is this

Offline Booking

DFO Wildlife Division III
Post- CoochBehar, Pin- 736101
Phone- 03582-227185, Fax- 03582-227513

OR

Tourism Centre, Govt. of West Bengal
M-4 Building, Hill Cart Road, Siliguri
Tel : 91 353 2511974, 91 353 2516306, 91 353 2511979, 91 353 2432561

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62 thoughts on “Chilapata – Ideal destination for a jungle weekend

  1. Abhishek says:

    Hi Amitabha,

    Thanks for the wonderful post. It’s been a wonderful read throughout. If you don’t mind sharing some more info, I would want to know how the weather was in July? Did it rain a lot. I am asking this because I am planning for my honeymoon next July and wish to explore North Bengal. But I am not sure if the forests would be open in July and if I would get any accommodation. It would be great if you could share some more info and suggest couple of places that we can cover in a week’s time.

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      Sorry for replying late.

      You cannot visit Chilapata in July as the sanctuary is open from October to May. I visited Chilapata on December 2011. If you want some sort of guarantee to spot Rhino and other Animals, best time to visit Chilapata is March and April.

      • abhishekblr says:

        Happy New Year, Amitabha! Thanks for your reply. I guess I have to drop North Bengal as a possible destination in July look for other options.

        Abhishek

      • abhishekblr says:

        Another wonderful piece of travelogue! My fiancee is from Pune and she’s been to Amboli too and I too have been there while we took a road trip to Goa in monsoon. Since she hasn’t seen our part of the country at all, I want to take her somewhere in Bengal or Sikkim or some place in the east.

        Abhishek

      • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

        In July , it is better to try Sea Coasts as Mountains and Jungle will be strictly No No. You can opt for heritage destinations like Bishnupur, Murshidabad but rain can play a spoilsport. You may try a combo tour of Bakkhali, Frazerganj and Henry’s Island or a tour to Gopalpur on Sea at Orissa.

  2. Dooarsecoviillege says:

    Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely helpful information specifically the last part. I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this particular info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  3. Sayan says:

    Hiii Amitabha….

    Actually I am planning to go there in 1st or 2nd week of October.Where from booking can be done in kolkata. when is the right time for booking the resort..

  4. Sayan says:

    Okk thanks Amitabha…Can you give me the idea about the resort booking and fooding expenses..It’ll be help for me…I want to make 4D 3N trip….

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      We took our own car…no idea if car ride is available there….try this number and ask 03582-227185. This was given to me in 2011 as local number of Mendabari jungle camp…. I do not know if this still functions. Or else ring at the Tourism centre numbers which I have given in the blog.

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      Since the camp is deep within the jungle..it is better you carry your own rations and get it cooked over there by their staff… or else you will have to eat what you will be provided… and the options will be limited.

  5. dibyendu mukherjee says:

    Hi, Amitava, it’s dibyendu here. I am plannig for Chilapata at the end of this May.Is it possible to go chilapata from chapramari? If not then pls. suggest
    me another destination for one night stay near chapramari.I don’t want to stay
    at Gorumara.

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      Hi Debyendu, Chilapata is around 107 km from Chapramari by road.

      Alternatively if you are not interested in such a long drive, you can catch the Kanchankanya Express at 09:15 from New Mal Junction (40 minutes drive from Chapramari) and reach Alipurduar Junction at 12:10. From Alipurduar Junction Chilapata is around 35 km by car.

  6. SUBRATA MUKHERJEE says:

    GREAT Presentation ! a feeling…. as if at Chilapata, ud love to have such presentation…..

    rgds
    SUBRATA

  7. paramvir singh says:

    This is truly beautiful. However I wish you wouldn’t use a word like “infested” with animals. It has very negative connotations. The forests are the home of these poor animals, already being pushed to the brink of extinction…

    But I am glad I cam across your blog. Nice stuff. When I come to Bengal next, will use your articles as a guide…

  8. Dulal Chandra Gandhi says:

    Nice we visited Chilapata Jungle camp 30/12/14 to 1/1/15. It was crowded then. Rooms not maintained properly. Private car-safari is available there now.

  9. Sabyasachi Ganguly says:

    Hi Amitabha,
    Could you please give me a rough idea about the time it takes to reach Mendabari from NJP. I am planning to visit Chilapata but could not manage a reservation in Kanchankanya and opted for Darjeeling mail instead!!!…Thank you in advance :)…

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      Hi Sabyasachi,|
      I have never driven from NJP to Alipurduar, so I have no first hand experience. I have heard from fellow travelers that it takes around 4 to 5 hours to reach Alipurduar from NJP (Around 136 km). As I have mentioned in my blog that Chilapata is 20 km from Alipurduar town and is hardly an hour’s drive.

  10. Asoke Das Gupta says:

    I visited mendabari on 28th , Feb 2015. I have nice experience in mendabari safari. I was inside the jungle for 5 hours with kind support from bit officer. I faced the thunder attack by a giant wild elephant. Thank god some how we are escaped by the help of the jeep friver. Nice memories.

  11. P.SENGUPTA says:

    I HAVE A PLAN TO GO TO CHILAPATA BY 9-12 MAY 2015 WITHOUT LODGING ARRANGEMENT. IS IT SAFE? PLEASE ADVISE WHAT TO DO?

    RGDS,
    P.SENGUPTA

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      No Way ! Please book in advance. There is high chance that you may find no accommodation.

      And if you want to make it a day trip, you may… But to sight any wildlife you have to be extremely lucky. Wildlife is sighted at Chilapta at very early morning trip or in the afternoon. It is advisable that you spend at least one night at Chilapata

      • P.SENGUPTA says:

        Thanks for your information. As I could not arrange lodging went straightway to Jaldapara Jungle Camp. stayed there. enjoyed. but not like you. Next time will stay amidst forest as you guided.

        Food is tasty over there, but not at all healthy. Did a trip to Khayerbari by local TOTO against Rs.600/- only.

        Did Elephant safari from Hollong Bungalow etc.. got to see deers, rhinos, birds & enjoyed the dense forest safari. Any other suggestions are always welcome.

  12. Pabitra Chattopadhyay says:

    We seven families want to visit Chilapota in the last week of December this year. Is their any accommodation (preferably govt. accomodation) where we can get seven rooms there.

  13. AMITABHA GUPTA says:

    Seven Rooms ? At Mendbari Jungle Camp , the main resort building has only two rooms. There may be two double bedded cottages developed in recent time which I am not sure.

    At the end of my blogpost the number of DFO Coochbihar is provided. Please ring that number to get the updated information.

    • Pabitra Chattopadhyay says:

      Thanks Amitabha da for your very quick response. I called DFO Coochbihar phone no. provided by you. According to them it is not possible to accommodate twenty people at Mendabari Jungle camp. But in the net there are some private resorts available like Chilapata Green, Chilapata Jungle camp etc. Are they comfortable to stay? Reviews are confusing, some are in favour, some are against it. Please reply. Good night.

      • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

        The bare Facts

        1. Mendabari Jungle resort is inside the core jungle Area. To get the “real jungle feel” at night you need to stay here. You can reach the “spots” inside the forest very fast from the jungle camp. But The Lodge can accommodate only a few.

        2. Other than Mendabari all other resorts are outside the core area of the jungle. Near the entrance gate to the forest is the Help Tourism’s Chilapata Jungle camp which I have heard has good amenities (no personal experiences) . I don’t know whether they can accommodate 20 people, try contacting them.

        I have no idea about the other private resorts.

  14. ronnie says:

    Hi.. vry useful blog indeed… I’m planning to visit there in january next year. Is it safe to go there with family as far as the night stay there is concerned? And anything to worry about dacoits activity ?? Plz rply

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      Dacoits ??? Oh… You must have been reading “52 weekends from Kolkata”….fortunately the info given there is very very very (to the power of n) backdated.

      I stayed there with my friend’s relatives … we had as many as four woman and five kids in the team.

      Chilapata is not Manas…. it has no dacoits or Maoists there…. but plenty of wild animals…

  15. Debanjan Ganguly says:

    I am planning to go to Chilaphata on March’2016. I am not getting Mendabari Jungle resort. I am planning to stay in the private hotel just adjacent to it. Is it ok.

    Secondly can I get car from new Alipur duar station. Can you provide contact no of any car driver.

  16. soumik sarkar says:

    Can someone provide me an idea about the cost of jeep safari in Chilapata jungle( inclusive of guide cost)? I will be staying at mendabari jungle camp.

  17. Debayan Chaudhuri says:

    Amitabha da i,m planning to visit Chilapata forest in the mid of september, 2016 and stay at Mendabari jungle resort. What are the chances of viewing wild life at that time? And another thing is that can wild animals be seen from the resort itself as it is situated in the core area of the forest.. Plzz reply.

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      September is a post monsoon month. So chances of viewing wild life is pretty less unless you have that uncanny jungle luck. Fore lesser mortals January to March is better choice. If you can tolerate the heat, April to May is best.

  18. Arnab Chakraborty says:

    Lovely post Amitava. Me with my 3 other friends, have visited Chilapata in November, 2014. I would like to add one point here with your permission, although one can reach Chilapata from New Aliporeduar/Aliporeduar Junction but it will be easier and nearer from Hashimara Station. Chilapata is just 6/7 Kms from there.

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      Agree on the part that Hasimara junction is closer than New Alipurduar Junction to Mendabari Jungle Camp at Chilapata.

      Disagree on the part that Mendabari Jungle Camp at Chilapata is only 6 km to 7km from Hasimara Junction. It is actually located at a distance of 16 km from Hasimara Junction. Other resorts in Chilapata are located at a further distance from Hasimara.

      From New Alipurduar Junction, Mendabari Jungle Camp at Chilapata is about 26 kms.

      I did not mention Hasimara as an entry point as there are only two trains from Kolkata to Hasimara (One from Sealdah which runs all days of the week and another from Howrah which runs only once a week), whereas there are at least five trains from Kolkata which reaches New Alipurduar in the morning (of which 4 runs all days a week).

      However, Hasimara is indeed an option and I will definitely mention it in my blogpost. Thanks for taking the trouble for informing me of the fact.

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