Keeping a big chunk of North Sikkim to itself, Khangchendzonga National Park is one of the few high altitude national parks in India. Touching the boundaries of Tibet and Nepal on its north and west regions respectively, the park covers a handful of snow-capped mountain ranges which form a spectacular view.
Particularly popular for its rich flora and exotic wildlife, the park is spread over a vast area of 849.5 sq. Km. The park derives its name from one of the highest mountain peaks here, Kanchenjunga and also happens to be a biosphere reserve.
The park is also a hot favourite among tourists because of the beautiful trekking sessions (the one to Green Lake for instance) that pass through the park. The best time to explore the park is from March to mid of June in summers and September to November when the lush greenery is at its peak.
The park is a visual delight for the bird watchers as it becomes a home to over 550 bird species, many of them exotic including Asian emerald Cuckoo, Mrs Gould’s sunbirds, Blood Pheasant, Himalayan Griffon, Satyr Tragopan, Tibetan Snowcock, Lammergeyer, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, and Nutcracker among others.
Among the wildlife, if you’re lucky and willing to spend some quality time, the park will treat you with the sights of the state’s national animal, Red Panda and other rare sights such as Snow Leopard, Tibetan Wild Ass, Goral, Sloth Bear, Takin, Himalayan Blue Sheep and rat snake among others.
Another attraction in the park is the string of magnificent glaciers such as the extremely popular Zemu Glacier. Also, the exotic Sikkim tribe, Lepcha stays in parts of the park, which make for an interesting cultural exploration.
When it comes to getting an entry to the park, the rules and regulations for obtaining a permit are pretty stringent. While the locals can easily apply for a permit to the Tourism and Forest departments beforehand, the foreigners also need an additional permit called Inner Line Permits. Both of these can be easily arranged by your travel agent too. In addition, certain sections of the park nonetheless remain inaccessible for foreigners as well as locals as they are in vicinity of border areas with Nepal and Tibet.
One also needs to travel at least in a pair and hire a recognised guide only.
A couple of rooms are made available to visitors at the Range Office. There are four rest houses with around 20 beds.
How to Reach
By Air: Nearest airport is Bagdogra.
By Rail: Nearest railhead is Jalpaiguri and Siliguri junction.
By Road: Regular bus service connects Gangtok with many cities and towns.