Also known as the Duars this is the ‘doorway’ to the Indo-Bhutan border area. The word ‘Duar’ literally means ‘door’ in local languages here, mainly Assamese, Bengali, and Nepali. The Dooars area with its mesmerizing natural beauty and wildlife is located in the eastern Himalayas foothills in the northern part of West Bengal. These are the rich Terai floodplains of the Sankosh river that flows mid-way between Eastern Dooars in Assam and the Western Dooars in Bengal.

The Dooars is a land of silvery rivers flowing down hilly slopes, gorgeous green tea gardens, dense tropical forest covers, the charm of ethnic music in quaint Indo-Bhutanese villages, fresh-from-the garden food, stretches of meadows and blue sky with the great Himalayas looming in the backdrop, a variety of animals, birds and fishes, and endless adventures in the mountain streams and caves, low hilly trekking trails and what not!

History of Dooars

Originally, the Dooars formed a part of the Kamata Kingdom under the Koch dynasty in India. Then it came under Bhutan and later the British in 1865. The British left India in 1947 and in 1949, the Dooars once again became as a part of the Union of India.

Geography and climate of Dooars

Dooars has an altitude ranging from 90 meters to around 1800 meters, which makes it a rich storehouse of hilly and plainland eco-systems. Major rivers like the Brahmaputra and Manas in Assam and the Teesta, Murti, Jaldhaka, Raidak, Kaljani, Torsha, Sankosh, Dyna, Karatoya and Dima in Bengal add to its natural affluence.

The Duars area receives an average rainfall of more than 3300 mm from mid- May to September and is mostly closed for tourists at that time. Summers are pleasant and winters are chilly and cloudy in higher altitude areas. However, summers are warmer and humid and winters very mild in the lower floodplains.

People and culture of Dooars

The people here are an Indo-Mongoloid mix of Bengali, Nepali and tribal people. The tribal are the Bodo of Assam, the Rabha, the Mech, the Toto, the Koch Rajbongshi, the Tamang/Murmi, the Limbu, the Lepchas of Bengal, Oraons, Mahali, Mundas, Kharia, Lohara and Chik Baraik and migrant Santhals who come to work in the tea gardens.

Key cities in the Dooars area

Siliguri is the largest business centre and connecting hub to various places in Duars, with private cars and buses easily available from here. Other main cities are Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Goalpara and Dhubri in Assam; Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Malbazar, Mainaguri, Dhupguri, Birpara in West Bengal; Kishanganj in Bihar; some even consider the business nerve-centre of Bhutan, Phuentsholing as a key part of Duars.

Forest and animals of Dooars

The bio-diverse wildlife and woodlands form the Manas National Park in Assam, Jaldapara National Park, Gorumara National Park, Chapramari Wildlife Reserve, Buxa Tiger Reserve and the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal. The main endangered species here are the Royal Bengal tiger and the Indian one horned rhinoceros. Elephants and Indian bison (Gaur) are still in good numbers. Other animals found are – deer, birds, butterflies, and reptiles.

Activities at Dooars

Activities here include jungle safaris for wildlife and bird watching, trekking, fishing, rafting, picnics, cave walking, watchtowers, visit to local tea gardens and cultural centers, local sightseeing, etc.
If you are here for the first time, it is best to visit the famous forests: Gorumara, Jaldapara and Buxa. For people looking for remote destinations: Samsing, Chilapata, or Raimatang are ideal.

Livelihood at Dooars

The economy here thrives on the three “T”s – Tea, Timber and Tourism. Other forms of cultivation are: bettlenuts, oranges, and crops for local use. Global tourism thrives around the national parks. As it is the Indo-Bhutan border area, export-import is also an industry.

Who should visit Dooars?

Duars is ideal for all kinds of travelers who:

  1. Love nature and quietude.
  2. Can’t do without some great flora and fauna. This is the home of the rare one-horned Indian rhinoceros and the Royal Bengal Tiger.
  3. Enjoy thrilling activities like trekking, fishing, wildlife safaris.
  4. For people who love the fusion of local culture. There are 18 doorways (Duars) through which the Bhutanese interact with the people in Bengal, leading to an interesting confluence of culture, tradition and lifestyle.
  5. Prefer natural, organic cuisine. The soil here is rich in nitrate and harvests an abundance of fresh food and world famous flavors of tea.