Have you ever wondered why the sadhus chose the Himalayas for their meditation? The traveller who has experienced its snow clad peaks knows. The Himalayas is one of the most amazing places on earth – if not the most. Among all Indian tourist spots, one must visit the Khangchendzonga National Park.
Spread on the lap of the mighty Kanchenjunga is the Khangchendzonga National Park. It is one of the highest altitude national parks in India and also quite unexplored.
KNP is also known as the Kanchenjunga National Park or Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve, it is a prime National Park and a Biosphere reserve which has also been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. KNP is in the state of Sikkim and this this 850 sq. km park is one of the best examples of Eco-Tourism in the whole world.
It is a bit of a long journey to get there but it is worth the trip. When we reach Khangchendzonga National Park, one feels subdued and overwhelmed in front of the world’s third highest peak. The local consider Kanchenjunga sacred and even if we do not believe it, the trip does change us.
We can see the Himalayas in its most variety in KNP. There are snowy peaks to see all day and mountains to trek, clearest of lakes and with rivers and waterfalls. Plus there are also glaciers. Then there are so many trees like oak, maple and willow. Blooming trees full of rhododendron and cherry blossom will take your breath away.
In KNP you would be amidst 550 types of birds in gorgeous colour like the Himalayan Monal, pheasants, eagles and sunbirds. Obviously it is a photographer’s paradise.
It is also home to the rare musk deer whose gland gives us the heavenly fragrance of musk. If you are lucky you can also spot the elusive snow leopard and Clouded Leopard.
Khangchendzonga National Park is also the safe land for the Himalayan Tahr, a beautiful wild goat which remain only a few left. Then there is the moon-marked Himalayan bear, Tibetan wild ass, Himalayan blue sheep and the amazing Red Panda.
Another amazing experience is seeing the Lepcha tribals who have been living there for hundreds of years. Like most Himalayan tribes, they are innocent and uncomplicated people.
You can also the serene Tholung Monastery. It has been one of the most sacred Buddhist spots since 1760.
It is also a wonderful place to trek. There are multiple trekking routes and you have to get prior permission for it.
How to go
- The nearest town to Khangchendzonga National Park is Chungthang. The nearest city is Gangtok but there is no airport there. Gangtok has only a helipad. The nearest airport is Bagdogra which is 122 km away. You have to rent a car to reach Gangtok which is easily available. From Gangtok you have to travel to Chungthang.
- Nearest railway station will be New Jalpaiguri. There are ample cars to travel to Gangtok from NJP.
- Ideally April and May are best months to come to Khangchendzonga National Park. Monsoon showers cause risky landslides and winter snowing may make the roads inaccessible.
- There is limited accommodation KNP. There are log huts to stay. All bookings for lodging are done through the Range Office of Sikkim. Tent options are also available.
Things to remember
- Khangchendzonga National Park is maintained under Himal Rakshak. About 60% of Sikkim lies above 3,000 metres due to which it has a unique ecology and environment. This area has 285 glaciers, 316 glacial lakes and 10 mountain peaks above 7000 meters. This unique biosphere of Himalayas in Sikkim is called as Himal. Himal Rakshaks can be called as the honorary mountain guardians – and they appointed from the local population. They have set rules to maintain the purity of that natural place and make sure tourists do so as well.
- Inside KNP, tourists are not allowed to cut or damage any tree or animal or pollute any water body. The tourists have to throw only biodegradable garbage in dustbins and all non-biodegradable ones will have to be carried back to Gangtok for disposal. KNP takes environmental cleanliness very seriously and the tourists have to do their part to keep the place as nature has made it.
- Entry fee to KNP is Rs. 350 which gives permission to stay for 7 days. Each extra day after that would cost Rs. 40. Rates are different for students and for carrying camera. Rates may be subject to change. You can check knpsikkim.in for more information.
Credits: knpsikkim.in, Wikipedia,tourmyindia.com, mustseeplaces.eu, WWF, trekearth.com, magicalnepal.com