Calling all birdwatchers and photographers! You have to visit Gajoldoba in North Bengal for the innumerable migratory birds that make this place their home during winters. It is a small village on the south Himalayan foothills known for the dam constructed on Teesta River to control the high water currents. This dam has created a huge waterbody that attracts different types of migratory birds during winters.
Hire a car to reach Gajoldoba. It’s just a 45-minute drive from New Jalpaiguri Station. The path to Gajoldoba is stunning with dense jungles on both sides and snow-clad mountains visible at a distance. It’s located close to the Baikunthapur forests that serves as the perfect atmosphere for thriving avian fauna. You’ll find birds from Kashmir, Ladakh and Central Asia migrating long distances and making Gajoldoba their home from November to March – best time to visit the place.
You can actually catch a glimpse of the Common Shellduck if you visit at the start of the season. These birds stay at Gajoldoba for just about 2-4 days and then migrate to a different location. Get a glimpse of birds like Mallard, Bar-Headed Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Goozander, Northern Lapwing, Black Yard Kite, Greylag Goose (named so because they are the last ones to come to Gajoldoba), and Citrin Wagtail (they’re yellow everywhere, hence, easy to identify!) along with different kinds of storks, herons, cormorants, plovers, ducks and cranes.
Then, there are birds that travel all the way from Siberia, Russia, Korea, Japan and even Pakistan and Balochistan - Siberian Stone Chat, Sand Lark, Tricolour Shrike, Olive Backed Pipit, Long-Legged Bazard, Lesser Whistling Til and Great Crested Grebe. If you’re lucky, you might just spot the extremely rare Palas and Brown-Headed gulls that migrate to Bengal from Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ladakh and South Russia and Tundra Bin Goose that usually travels with the Ruddy Shelduck.
Be prepared to walk long distances for photographs. Enjoy a boat ride on the Teesta with local fishermen with Baikunthapur forests in the backdrop. The water level recedes to reveal the river beds during winters so you can just step into the water to catch a glimpse of the birds and take pictures. Head to the Irrigation Bungalow near the barrage for rare bird sightings.
You’ll find accommodation at Bhorer Alo resort. You can also go for hiking, angling, hot air balloon rides and forest safaris.