Featured Image: The entry to the animal safari park at Shorea near Siliguri.
By A Newsman
Siliguri, 21 January: TOURISM infrastructure in north Bengal today took a big leap with the inauguration of an animal safari park at Shorea near Siliguri. The park is located about eight km from Siliguri town on Sevoke Road.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee threw open the park being built by the state government at an estimated cost of Rs 250 crore. As of now, only the first phase work has been completed at a cost of about Rs 80 crore.
The park spread over 700 acres area inside the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary presently has 15 sambar deer, 15 barking deer, 120 spotted deer, one male rhino, a few wild boars, jungle fowl, jungle cats, and golden and silver pheasants.
The animals have kept in the open forest, and the tourists would be taken inside on guided trips in covered vehicles. Today a group of journalists were taken on familiarisation trip in such a vehicle.
By the end of the year, the authorities have plans to add more animals to the park, taking the total number to 250. There are plans to facilitate elephant rides as well.
Banerjee, who is fond of assigning new names to almost everything, has named it Bengal Safari.
Inaugurating the park this afternoon, she said that it would give a major boost to tourism in north Bengal. The government is also developing the Teesta Tourism Hub at Gazoldoba in Jalpaiguri, and is in the process of creating new infrastructure at Sukna on the Kurseong foothills near Siliguri.
“We are trying our build a solid tourism infrastructure in north Bengal. This will create jobs in the region,” she said urging the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (without naming it directly) not to destroy tourism facilities in the Darjeeling Hills and the Dooars.
“You have burned down so many tourist bungalows. Even the one at Jayanti was burned down by you, and the state government has now rebuilt it. Please do not carry out such destruction again that affects tourism,” the Chief Minister said.
Banerjee, who reached Siliguri today morning, went to the Hills later in the afternoon. She will participate in Netaji’s Birth Anniversary celebrations at Darjeeling Mall on 23 January and is scheduled to return to Kolkata on 24 January.
The park is open six days a week from 9 am to 4 pm. On Monday it remains close for maintenance. Entry fee to the park is Rs 20 per head, and the cost of availing a safari ride is Rs 50 per head. One round of safari ride takes about 45 minutes.
There is facility to park vehicles, and the charges are as follows:
- Bicycle: Rs 5/- for first 2 hours and 50 per cent for next 2 hours.
- Two-wheelers: Rs 10/- for first 2 hours and 50 per cent for next 2 hours.
- Car: Rs 20/- for first 2 Hours and 50 per cent for next 2 hours.
- Bus: Rs 100/- for first 2 hours and 50 per cent for next 2 hours.