The Telegraph
Friday , May 25 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
CIMA Gallary

Dooars on wheels from October
- Soon, only a train ticket for a view of the wild

Alipurduar, May 24: Tourism on wheels: no hassles of booking hotels or transport, rather a one-time ticket to chug through the pristine forests of north Bengal.

The government is set to introduce a “Dooars on wheels” from October, a train that will wind its way through the lush green and wild of the region with tourists.

The train is expected to link Calcutta to Alipurduar Junction, covering at least two national parks and a tiger reserve in between.

The bookings will be available in tourism and IRTC offices. Both the departments have signed an agreement. The prices of tickets have not been fixed yet.

Sources in the tourism department said the Dooars has been divided into three circuits for this sort of tour. The first will cover Murti, Gorumara National Park, Batabari and Chapramari. The second circuit includes Jaldapara National Park. The Buxa Tiger Reserve includes Jainti and Buxa Dooars.

The package tour will be for seven days. The train will have 12 compartments of which half will have AC sleepers.

“Our chief minister is eager to promote Dooars tourism. On her instructions, we have started working to give a practical shape to the project. To take care of the interest of tourists coming by road, we will ask the government to sanction more petrol pumps in this region. We have planned to talk to different banks to set up more ATMs,” said principal secretary of the tourism department, Raghabendra Singh.

In the first circuit, the train will halt at Chalsa station. Tourists will then be taken on conducted tours. The arrangement will be made in collaboration with local tour operators by the IRTC and the tourism department.

In the second circuit the train will take halt at Madarihat while for the third circuit the train will take a halt at Alipurduar Junction station.

Raj Basu, the president of Eastern Himalayan Tour and Travel Operators’ Association said: “This is a unique concept and once the train starts operating in the Dooars, we will get a new category of tourists. This train will play a major role in promoting the Dooars among the tourists. The rates should not be beyond the capacity of tourists who usually visit this region.”

The concept of introducing a special train for Dooars Dooars tourism was proposed by the Left Front government but the project failed to take off. The central tourism department has already sanctioned Rs 2.40 crore to improve the trek route to the Buxa Fort.