A hamlet. This mountainous village is just few kilometers from Kalimpong. If you are like most tourists of nowadays, trying to cover as many spots as you possibly can in your limited time and budget then avoid Echey Gaon. Just a one night stay here offers you nothing. You have to stay here for at least 3 days to experience the slow and rhythmic life of a mountainous village. Now comes the difficulties : You have to ask for hot water every time because geyser is not offered by any homestays here till date. Food is simple. Organic vegetables are no longer served in contrary to whatever you may have read on other websites. The reason being recent increase in HOMESTAY constructions, increase in tourist footfall and depletion of land for agriculture. Echey Gaon WAS a beautiful spot but at present its quite jam packed with homestays robbing its beauty. You won’t get much serenity in the evenings since rooms have paper thin walls and all conversations can be heard from adjacent room. Hindi and dance music played with campfire and booze served to entertain tourists, spoils the very purpose for which serious tourists go. Sticking to mineral water is advisable which is overpriced here. So buy and carry from NJP or Silliguri. Room heaters are given if asked @ 200 or 300 per night. Avoid Lakshman Bhujel’s Marigold Homestay since Mr Bhujel is too shifty and offers room tariffs or car pickup or drop rates after sizing up tourists. The entire village is in slopes, so if your HOMESTAY is far up from the road then luggage has to be carried up. Coolies are provided by homestays but charged, particularly if you arrive in a group. So travel light.And carry medicines since its quite remote. After all things said, Echey Gaon still has a lot to offer.
Watch this video I made to realize what Echey Gaon will offer you :
Echey Gaon Video
Neora Jungle Camp, Dooars :
Location : Near border of Garumara Forest, lying between Neora river and Sursuti jungle, Neora is an elephant corridor. The camp like many other forest camps in Dooars, is an initiative of West Bengal Forest Development Agency. Room booking is done online from WBFDA website or directly from Lataguri office. Food is available in package system only, Check In Lunch to Check out Breakfast, payment in cash. Food details should be mentioned in the website itself for tourist convenience. During peak season, too many jeeps are given permit for jungle safari , to the extent of 100 to 120 cars per day which leads to scaring wild animals to take shelter in much deeper parts of the forest. Result is almost zero sighting of bison, deers etc. All tourists want to see ferocious beasts like tigers and leopards or elephants but the logic is : if tiger or leopard is sighted in any part of forest, no tourist will be allowed in that part for safety reasons. That’s the safari truth, though a fear psychosis is developed by locals including hotel staff, guide, driver et all by putting quite a few restrictions on tourists about strolling or taking a walk as if the jungle is teeming with wild animals ! Though its important to mention that the fear of leopard is a constant in Dooars. Tourists must roam around carefully. Neora jungle camp rooms must have heaters because December, January in core jungle area is unbearably cold, more so because all rooms have marble flooring. The entire camp is cordoned with electric fencing to keep off wild animals but threat of stray leopard remains. Each division’s ranger phone number is given in the website itself but rangers in general are not very informative. I will advice tourists to take mosquito net and hand sanitizers because forest area has many unexplained infections, insects and snakes.
*Finally, DO NOT TAKE SERVICE OF APP BASED ‘ON TRAIN FOOD DELIVERY’ SERVICE “TRAVEL KHANA” because they give sub standard quality food, wrong food ( I ordered butter chicken, got chicken curry instead and an indigestion soon after I had it ! Same problem with my wife also.) Registered complain and shared my experience in Google Playstore Travel Khana app install page.
* No traffic order is visible ..
* Entire traffic situation is chaotic.
* Markets are very crowded.
* Some Auto drivers and rickshaw drivers are dishonest when it comes to showing all points to tourists.
* If your arrival or departure route is via U.P , BIHAR, then reserve AC coach Train tickets, because in reserved 2nd class sleepers, unreserved passengers board and make your journey very inconvenient !
* Enquire before journey, if all tourist spots are open for visitors during your stay there. In Lucknow , some tourists spots may be closed due to maintainance.
* Keep in mind Muslim calendar holidays and festivals. Roads may be diverted or closed during some days.
* There are some total Hindu areas in Lucknow where all restaurants serve only veg foods.
* Some lady tourists may find some locals staring at them, as if they are seeing women for the first time. Take it in your stride.
* Famous Bhoolbhoolaia is to be seen in bare feets which can be difficult for some since floor is uneven and made of stone.
* If you want to try delicacies of Lucknow like Gilauti kabaabs, Biryani, Gulabi Reuri and Sandila Laddu then don’t depend on local guides or car driver to take you there. They may take you to substandard restaurants for a commission. Use Google Search and Navigation to go to famous restaurants selling these for ages. Gulabi Reuri and other sweetmeats you can buy at a reasonable price within 2 km radius of Charbagh Rail Station.
* If you have a strong religious bend of mind, if you are a devotee then Dev bhoomi Haridwar is where you will be happy. If you are not, this place will seem boring.
* Temples are in abundance here. Visiting all is humanly impossible !
* Here even roadside eating joints prepare foods with pure ghee. Clarified butter is not always easy to digest.
* You can book seats in luxury bus for sight seeing from Haridwar to Rishikesh, Laxman Jhoola , Dehradun, Missouri, etc. Fare is quite cheap.
* Ram Jhoola, Laxman Jhoola are now concrete structures which has robbed them off the charm. Two wheelers ply on them, making it difficult to stand on the bridge and appreciate the scenery.
* There is no natural beauty left in Haridwar or journey from Haridwar to Rishikesh. Just hotels, temples, restaurants.
* Make sure you are visiting the place in winter, because summer is just unbearable.
* Har-ki-paudi ghat is not visually pleasing, but Ganga Aarti is.
* Without inclination of hurting any religious sentiments or believer’s feelings, I will just add that as per media report, it has been scientifically revealed : the holy water of Ganges flowing by Har Ki Paudi ghat contains various germs and Super Bug , so one should be cautious while taking a holy deep.
* Haridwar is a strictly vegetarian city. Rice served here is of very good quality.
* You should not wear dresses here that are revealing in nature, keeping in mind the conservative sentiment that prevails here.
* From Kolkata by train, you get off at Ramnagar. From their Tajpur is reached by Car. Make sure you call up your hotel and book a car. Otherwise all you have is local public transport not promising a very pleasant ride.
* There is an old forest through which you can walk straight ahead until you reach the sea beach. Make sure not to change directions or you may get lost in the forest. There are foxes in the forest and soft sand covered holes with water underneath.
* The entire area plan is quite simple. Four factors lie side by side. Hotels, road, forest, sea beach.
* Cooking in hotel can be too spicy for your health.
* The forest is a great spot for picnic but don’t be there after sunset.