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Left-era tour bus rides back in north

Jan. 5: The North Bengal State Transport Corporation has reintroduced Left-era tourism bus rides that would take visitors in north Bengal on eight to nine-hour day trips across Kalimpong subdivision, Dooars and Cooch Behar.

Called Sabujer Hatchani (Call of the Green), the daylong tour packages would involve rides on NBSTC buses. Two of the day trips were started on January 1.

The rides would begin at 8am and tourists would have to board the NBSTC buses at designated stands.

The tours would cost Rs 1,300 for one person’s trip.

The trips were initiated about five years back during the erstwhile Left government’s rule, were stopped four years ago because lack of constant campaigning did not bring enough tourists.

“Two day trips have been planned initially. In case there is good response, trips on more routes would be introduced,” said Subrata Biswas, the director of operations of NBSTC in Cooch Behar.

During the Left rule, too, the NBSTC tours concentrated on Kalimpong, Dooars and Cooch Behar.

Of the two trips started on January 1, one takes off from Cooch Behar.

The bus goes to Phuentsholing, a town bordering Bhutan, then to South Khayerbari where a leopard rescue centre is located. After that the bus goes to Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary and then to Chilapata forest.

In Chilapata, tourists would take a break for lunch, then they would be taken on a car safari in the forest. From Chilapata, the tourists would return to Cooch Behar by late afternoon.

In the second ride too, the starting point is Cooch Behar, then Phuentsholing, the Chilapata jungle safari and a tribal dance show before returning to Cooch Behar.

Ganesh Sha, a lodge owner in Chilapata, said: “We are happy as NBSTC has resumed its daylong package tour. In total, 12 tourists came in Chilapata yesterday afternoon and had lunch. Later, they went for the car safari and thoroughly enjoyed it. Earlier, when the package tours of NBSTC were on, we used to get a good number of tourists. In the coming days, we expect higher turnout.”

The NBSTC directors are pleased, too.

“The tour packages were initiated but the trips were stopped by the erstwhile Left government. We have resumed the trips since yesterday as the packages are popular both among tourists coming to north Bengal from outside as well as local people,” Mridul Goswami, a director of the NBSTC board, said in Alipurduar on January 1.