GORUMARA NATIONAL PARK
Gorumara National Park is a National Park in northern West Bengal, India. Located in the Dooars region of the Himalayan foothills, it is a medium-sized park with grasslands and forests. It is primarily known for its population of Indian rhinoceros. The park has been declared as the best among the protected areas in India by the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the year 2009.
Gorumara was a reserve forest since 1895. The park was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1949, on account of its breeding population of Indian rhinoceros. It was declared an Indian National Park on 31 January 1994. Originally as small as 7 km2, Gorumara has grown by incorporating neighbouring lands to about 80 km2.
Gorumara is located in the Eastern Himalayas\’ submontane Terai belt. This region has rolling forests and riverine grasslands, and is known as the Dooars in West Bengal. The park is located on the flood plains of the Murti River and Raidak River. The major river of the park is the Jaldhaka river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra river system. In this regard, Gorumara is a significant watershed area between the Ganges and Brahmaputra river systems. The park is very close to Jaldapara National Park and Chapramari Wildlife Reserve. The park is 79.99 km (49.70 mi) in area.
The best way to watch wildlife at the park is to use powerful binoculars, with night vision facilities at night, from the numerous well-located watchtowers at the park. The watchtowers are:
1. Jatraprasad Watch Tower: Named after a legendary elephant
2. Rhino Observation Point: Watch tower in front of the Gorumara forest bungalow
3. Chandrachur Watch Tower (Old Khunia Watch Tower): Near the Murti forest bungalow
4. Chukchuki Bird-watching Point: Good for birding
There are no ranger-led or otherwise four-wheel drive vehicle or elephant-back forays into the jungle. Hiking is permitted on metalled roads, but is slightly unsafe considering the population of elephants, gaur and rhinoceros present in the park. The park is closed in the Monsoon season from 16 June to 15 September. The best time to visit Gorumara is from November to March.
One can also visit the adjoining forest villages to get acquainted with the lifestyle and culture of the villagers. A live show of the ethnic tribal dance can be seen every evening in Budhuram Forest Village. One can visit the Lataguri Nature Interpretation Centre for an interpretive exhibit of the local natural history.