Next weekend you can be at PARMADAN

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By SANKAR SRIDHAR
  • Published 30.01.05
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The drama for dominance and propagation has begun playing itself out. War cries ring out as the monarch measures unsheathed antlers with the challenger. The harem looks on, the ladies vying to be their best for the winner.

It?s winter and rutting season for deer, the best time to soak the sun and get a ringside view of the action at Parmadan. Or to grab a glass of fresh date palm juice while lounging on a boat moored to the banks of the Ichhamati that hems in the 92-hectare park in North 24-Parganas to the north and west.

There is a lot to see and do on this trip. It?s all about experimenting with the options, just like the authorities did sometime in 1964, when 14 Chitals were released in the wilderness.

Without predators, the herbivores did very well for themselves and the success prompted the authorities to declare the jungle a wildlife sanctuary in 1980 and christen it Parmadan. Later, in 1995, it was re-christened Bibhuti Bhushan Wildlife Sanctuary, after author Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay, but the local populace still prefers Parmadan.

There are more than 200 deer in the park at present and, considering that the rut has begun in earnest, still more are on their way. And the best time to sight them is during feeding hours, at 9 am and 4 pm.

Coming back to the options, the choice is between a walk in the woods (which apart from the deer also houses myriad birds and a large number of langurs), a visit to the nearby villages, a boat ride down Ichhamati or making the 45-minute journey to Chuyatiya (the international border between India and Bangladesh). Just about enough to keep you busy over the weekend.

A recce of the hamlets around the park can be a truly enriching experience, especially in the early mornings when the men are busy bringing down earthen pots full of date palm juice which they are not averse to allowing thirsty visitors a sip or two from. Most of the rest is used for making jaggery while some of it is fermented to make toddy, the official drink during their evening adda sessions.

When it comes to food, however, there is only one mashi?s hotel in the vicinity of the forest bungalow, which has a caretaker, but no cook. As long as there is nothing elaborate or fancy about the order placed, chances are mashi will rustle it up before lunch or dinnertime.

Apart from people carrying hampers from home, it is advisable to place the orders well in advance as mashi?s shopping for the fare precedes the actual cooking process.

How to get there

Take a train to Bongaon, then a bus to Naldugri and from there an auto or van-rickshaw to Parmadan. There are direct buses plying between Esplanade and Naldugri

Where to stay

Forest bungalow. Bookings can be made from the divisional forest office in Barasat. Telephone: 25520968. Rates: double bed 200 per day; four-bed: Rs 300 per day; dormitory: Rs 400 per day