TOURISM: Only rustle & trills for company – Gossanimari’s cottage & history add more to Cooch Behar tourist map

TOURISM: Only rustle & trills for company – Gossanimari’s cottage & history add more to Cooch Behar tourist map – a peace lover’s paradise, away from the beaten track ?!!

(Clockwise from top left) One of the two cottages at Gossanimari; entrance to the Gossanimari Kamteswari temple; the main temple; and a ferry ride on the Singimari river – where not many have gone before ?!! (Main Uddin Chisti)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY MAIN UDDIN CHISTI

Cooch Behar, Sept. 8: Two new cottages nestled amid sal trees that line up the banks of the Singimari in Gossanimari is all set to welcome its first set of visitors during the pujas.

The natural settings, foresters hope, will give a boost to tourism prospects in Cooch Behar, already known for its historical monuments dating back to the time of the Khen and Koch kings.

“The cottages were completed about a month ago and we welcome families to spend a few days in this peaceful and quiet surrounding where the only sound is that of the rustling leaves and the trilling of birds,” said divisional forest officer Pinaki Mitra.

How to get to Cooch Behar - airports working, maybe ?!!

He said bookings for the accommodations can be made from the forest office in Cooch Behar and at the range office at Gossanimari, 700km from Calcutta. “We are hopeful that the first group of visitors will return with a grand experience and spread the word around and we will get a steady stream of bookings this pujas and in the coming winter months,” Mitra added.

Forest minister Ananta Roy, who hails from the district, said the two cottages were built with Rs 25.5 lakh given by the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation.

“The amount was spent in constructing the two cottages and developing and beautifying the area. We are planning to build a children’s park in the 22-hectare sal forest at Gossanimari,” Roy said. Gossanimari is 15km from Dinhata, the nearest subdivisional town.

“There are several thousand sal trees here that are under our protection. The place is an ideal spot for birdwatchers also as several hundred avian species visit the woods throughout the year,” Mitra said.

Gossanimari is also historically important.

“Very close to the sal forests lie the ancient city of Kamteswar. The Archaeological Survey of India has begun excavations at the site. There is also the Gossanimari Kamteswari temple which is several centuries old,” said Sudhansu Roy, the deputy sabhapati of Dinhata I panchayat samiti. He said the Khen rulers who ruled out of Kamteswar were defeated by Sultan Hussain Shah in the 15th Century.

“Tourists only visit Cooch Behar to see the palace (of the Koch kings), the heritage buildings and the temples. The other popular destination is Rasikbeel where there are two cottages, one owned by the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation and another by the panchayat department. The cottage in Gossanimari is the first facility that has been developed by the forest department,” said the forest minister.

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