Buxa Tiger Reserve, Alipurduar
About Buxa Tiger Reserve
The historic Buxa Fort (2,600 feet or 790 metres above m.s.l.). People have sentimental attachment with the fort on accounts of its association with the struggle for freedom. A sacred temple, Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga lies in BTR. Around 10,000 devotees of Lord Shiva congregate here on "Shiva Chouturdoshi". Buxa Tiger Reserve was created in 1983 as the 15th tiger reserve in India. In 1986, Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary was constituted over 314.52 km2 of the reserve forests. In 1991, 54.47 km2 was added to Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary. A year later, in 1992, the Government of West Bengal declared its intentions to constitute a national park over 117.10 km2 of the Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary. State government finally declared national park with notification No.3403-For/11B-6/95 dt. 05.12.1997.
Tribal and ethnic groups
Dukpa: the word probably comes from Drukpa, the people from the land of thunderstorm. They are the ancient ethnic group among the other inhabitants of Buxa Tiger Reserve. Dukpas used live in the hamlets of Buxa Hills from east to west. The seasonal migratory Dukpas are divided mainly into 30 different sects. They originally were the followers of (Drukpa Kagyud) Mahayani Buddhism. Some of them are converted into Christianity.
Buxa (2,600 ft) is a one-hour, fifteen-minute (3.9 km) trek through picturesque surroundings from Santalabari, the starting point. The historical Buxa Fort was coming under the British India after the 2nd Dooars War (1865) between the Bhutan and the British, the subsidiary alliance of princely state Cooch Behar. This was used as a detention camp by the British, because of its remoteness during the Indian freedom movement. Many freedom fighters were imprisoned here. After independence, it served as a refugee camp for Tibetans and Bangladeshis. There are a number of trekking routes through the jungle. There is a 4 km further trek to Rovers' Point or Romitey Dara (the land of beautiful birds at 4,500 ft or 1,400 m). From Buxa, one can also take the 13 km trek route for Jayanti via Mahakal Cave through the dense jungle (subjected to get permission from BTR). The Mahakal Cave is a stalactite-stalagmite cave, popularly known as the Mahakal cave near Jainty. The most popular route is Pagsamkha Path Trek route, which starts from Buxa Fort, Buxaduar via Aadma and ends at Raimatung.An expert guide and entry permit are must for trekking in Buxa hills. One may visit the very beautiful village of Dukpas called Lapchakha (1.5 hour trek) from Buxa Fort. A beautiful trekkers' hut named Dukpa's Hut (with attached bath) is located just opposite to the Buxa Fort ground and besides of Rupang Valley Trek route. Though there are eight home stays in total, but mostly are located at Lapchakha with minimum facilities. Only Rovers' Inn at Sadar bazar have maximum capacity of accommodations but far from Buxa Fort. Dukpas Hut is also called 'Birders Nest' by the bird watchers. Trekking in different short route with camping facilities arranged from the Dukpas Hut. It has a separate kitchen for trekkers also. the double storied wooden hut has two family rooms (sleeping 3) on upper floor and a dormitory with attached bath on ground floor (sleeping 6) with dining facility. Bird watching, trekking and dark sky photography tours also arrange from here. The hut became an important centre for the promotion of tourism in this region. Wongyel and Chhogyel Dukpa are the two Dukpa brothers are to run the home stay and assist the trekkers here. The Baksha Duar Post Office is a heritage building and the highest post office in Alipurduar District. The tribe Dukpas (Indo-Bhutanese) lived in eleven hamlets of Buxa Hills which mostly located in hilly jungles of Buxa Tiger Reserve at altitude ranging from 2400–6200 feet. Another entry point Rajabhatkhawa (17 km from Alipurduar) has an orchidarium, and a nature interpretation centre. One can go for a circular trek from Buxaduar via Chunabhati-Adma to Raimatang. This is actually 8 hours tough trek with an expert guide but usually trekkers prefer to make it as a 3-day comfortable trek to understand nature and the ethnic culture of this region. Pukri Mai is a small sacred pond inside the park where fishes like magur and singi and turtles are kept. Festivals are held at certain time of the year by both Buddhist and Hindus and local ethnic groups like Dukpas.