One of the most prominent National Parks in the North East Indian state of Sikkim is that of the Khangchendzonga National Park that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Park cum Biosphere Reserve. The Khangchendzonga National Par comprises an area of 850 sq. km. and the Park is named after the third tallest mountain peak in the World viz. the Mount Kanchenjunga (8,576m). Various rare species of fauna and avifauna are to be found inside the forests of the Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim at the and these are the likes of Musk Deer, Snow Leopard, Dhole, Sloth Bear, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Tibetan Wild Ass, Himalayan Blue Sheep, Himalayan Serow, Goral, Takin, etc. The Khangchendzonga National Park is home to around 550 species of birds and few of these species are Blood Pheasant, Ospreys, Himalayan Griffon, Western Tragopan, Snow Pigeon, Sunbird, Eagles, Asian Emerald Cuckoos, etc. The Khangchendzonga National Park has a Lepcha tribe settlement inside the forest reserves and this National Park also contains the Tholung Monastery inside the park’s buffer zone and this is considered to be one of the most sacred monasteries in Sikkim. The Tholung Monastery inside the Khangchendzonga National Park is a Gompa that is located in the buffer zone of the Khangchendzonga National Park in remote Upper Dzongu and this was built in the early part of the 18th century and this Gompa stores unique and prized manuscripts that were placed here for safe keeping during the invasion of the Nepalese.
The Tholung Monastery is a World Heritage property and it follows the Nyingmapo sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim is a vast combination of various landscapes like plains, lakes, valleys, glaciers and the snow-capped mountains of the third tallest mountain range in the World of Mount Kanchenjunga. The mountains along with the caves, lakes and rivers inside the Khangchendzonga National Park have been associated with various mythological stories of the people of Sikkim and there are Buddhist beliefs that contribute the identity of the people of Sikkim. The Khangchendzonga National Park is located in the North and West districts of Sikkim and the park has an elevation range extending from 1829m to 8550m and it covers a total area of around 850 sq. km. The Khangchendzonga National Park is one of the few high altitude National Parks in the country and Khangchendzonga National Park has been included in the mixed-criteria UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Khangchendzonga National Park has the Qomolangma National Nature reserve in Tibet to its North and the Kanchenjunga Conservation area of Nepal to its West. Khangchendzonga National Park receives heavy snowfall in the winter season and heavy rains in the monsoon months from mid-May to October.
The Khangchendzonga National Park is not only a wildlife and bird lover’s paradise for tourists coming to visit Sikkim but the park also falls on an important trek route as well and you can have the opportunity to trek alongside the Khangchendzonga National Park when you embark on your trekking itinerary across Sikkim. The region across the Khangchendzonga National Park is where the Himalayas is the narrowest and this had resulted in a very steep terrain across the place. Across the area of the Khangchendzonga National Park, one can find around 18 glaciers including the Zemu glacier of Sikkim that is around 26km in length. The Khangchendzonga National Park also has around 17 high altitude lakes and 19 mountain peaks. The Khangchendzonga National Park and Biosphere reserve occupies almost around 40% of the state of Sikkim and the Rathing-Rangit valley towards the south of the Khangchendzonga National Park is a paradise for trekkers who come to visit the state of Sikkim. The Khangchendzonga National Park is the highest altitude protected wildlife area in the country and it has some of the most beautiful snow and scenery to be found in the World and has snowy peaks towering across the vast forest reserve that is unspoilt from modernization. The Khangchendzonga National Park is one of the most important protected areas in the Eastern Himalayas and this is home to some of the rare and endemic species of plants, animals and birds.
The Khangchendzonga National Park has one of the highest numbers of plants and mammals that are recorded in the central and high Asian mountains and along with these there are high numbers of bird species to be spotted here as well. The beauty of the landscapes of the Khangchendzonga National Park is accredited by the high and rugged mountains of the park that are covered by lush green forests. The Buddhist people consider the landscapes around the Khangchendzonga National Park to be sacred and numerous folklores are attached with the place and these are noted down in sacred texts of their faith in the form of myths, stories and notable events as well. The Mount Kanchenjunga that surrounds the Khangchendzonga National Park holds deep sacred significance to the Buddhist as well as the Lepcha people of Sikkim and the place is a good example that has allowed co-existence between the different religious traditions and ethnicity of the people of Sikkim. Certain of the plants that are found in the Khangchendzonga National Park are known to have various medicinal properties and have sacred healing powers. A visit to the Khangchendzonga National Park is a must for any traveller coming to Sikkim who is interested in wildlife and birding. Apart from the various spots of tourist interest across the place, guest to Sikkim should surely plan a visit to the Khangchendzonga National Park to admire its grand natural beauty and the rare species of flora, fauna and avifauna.
The Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim that covers almost 40% of the area of the Himalayan State is known to display a wide range of natural and cultural values that are required for the preservation of the culture as well as the natural heritage of the place. There are adequate steps necessary that need to be an appropriate balance between the natural, cultural and spiritual aspects of the Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim. Like just another National Park, that struggles to conserve the species of flora, fauna and avifauna, even the Khangchendzonga National Park faces several threats when it comes to protecting the above. These forest pockets have been inhabited by the local people who have been dependant on the forest around the place for their livelihood and this has made the place to be their hunting grounds for their food and this comes as a threat to the endangered wildlife of the region and the people might not be aware that the species of fauna and avifauna that they are hunting down might be endangered and this had led to decline in the number of animals and after being declared as a National Park although adequate measures have been adopted to relocate the people away from the core area of the Khangchendzonga National Park, yet the threat to the animals and birds remain.
More concrete steps are needed to be adopted by the management so that better conservation of the place is present. These should also be efforts taken to expand the knowledge of the Khangchendzonga National Park’s biological and ecological values to consolidate more data. The Khangchendzonga National Park is managed by the forest department of the state of Sikkim and the authorities have worked towards the conservation of the ecosystem and landscapes attached to the park and at the same time provided cultural and educational opportunities to visitors who come to explore the grand fauna and avifauna of the place that is surrounded by the beauty of the snow-capped mountains of the Eastern Himalayas. Efforts should also be taken for the upliftment of the local community and generate means of livelihood needs to be worked out for them as they were dependant on the forest and hunting for their livelihood that they have now lost upon. After being declared as a National Park, the protective status of the Khangchendzonga National Park had ensured legal protection of all the flora and fauna of Khangchendzonga National Park including the mountains, glaciers, landscapes and water bodies that contribute towards the habitat of the wildlife here.
Khangchendzonga National Park is one of the very popular tourist attractions in the state of Sikkim that is blessed with the beauty of Mother Nature and is one of the most visited tourist states in North East India by both domestic and International tourists alike. To reach Khangchendzonga National Park by air, guests can plan to arrive at the Bagdogra airport in Sikkim or even the Pakyong airport near Gangtok in Sikkim and from here one can hire the services of a taxi to the Khangchendzonga National Park or if visitors prefer to travel by train they can come to the Jalpaiguri Railway Station and from here they can travel to the Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim. There are not many stay options near the Khangchendzonga National Park because it can be easily accessed via other popular tourist spots in Sikkim but however if you choose to stay here there are Forest Rest Houses available that you can book for your comfortable stay. These are basic stays and so do not expect too much luxury on your visit here. Also there are options of homestays and decent hotels as well and the popular ones are hotel Yak, Trekker’s hut, Hotel Tenzing, Hotel Tashniayag that offer accommodation to guests to Khangchendzonga National Park and also the trekkers who are exploring across these parts of Sikkim. Khangchendzonga National Park is opened to visitors across the year but it is advised to visit the place during the winter season to witness the snowfall and not during the monsoon season.
When you are visiting Sikkim then it is recommended that you have at least a weeks’ time in hand because there is simply so much to explore in this beautiful Himalayan state. The state relies on tourism as its primary revenue generation just like the neighbouring kingdom of Bhutan and after your visit at the Khangchendzonga National Park you can set out to explore the places like Gangtok, Lachen, Lachung and continue to Kalimpong and Darjeeling in West Bengal. Apart from exploring the varied wildlife and birds of the Khangchendzonga National Park visitors can embark on certain treks across the Khangchendzonga National Park and admire the grand landscapes of the place that are covered by the thick growth of the Rhododendron trees and the waters of the Samiti Lake and much more to be seen and enjoyed. You should have the opportunity of exploring the Goechela Pass that is considered to be the highest mountain pass in the Himalayas at an altitude of 4947m. The base of this trek is at Yukom from where the trek route starts and this is a very popular tourist spot of Sikkim especially for the adventure lovers who would surely take the opportunity to go and explore the highest mountain pass on the tallest mountain range in the World viz. the Himalayas. From here one gets to see the grand views of the Mount Kanchenjunga and the waters of the Samiti Lake as well.
It can be said that the Khangchendzonga National Park is a very sacred place for the Buddhist people and the name Khangchendzonga literally translates to the ‘Abode of the Gods’. As per the legend that prevails across the area it is believed that the Buddhist masters had hidden many texts and scriptures across the park and treasure revealers are destined to discover these treasures from the several spots inside the forests of Khangchendzonga National Park. Khangchendzonga is considered as the guardian deity by the local people of Sikkim whose divine grace and being on the land protects the people and also offers them prosperity as well. Various ceremonies are held in the name of the guardian deity and offerings are made and various songs and dances are dedicated to the guardian deity. The Khangchendzonga National Park is beautifully nestled in the heart of the Eastern Himalayas overlooking the third tallest mountain peak in the World viz. the mount Khangchendzonga and the park boasts of a wide and varied biodiversity that has 19 mountain peaks. Khangchendzonga National Park forms a part of the Kanchenjunga Biosphere reserve and this National Park in the North Eastern mountain state of Sikkim that derives its name from Mount Kanchenjunga has a deep religious sentiment attached with the local people who consider the place to be very sacred.
Another place of attraction near the Khangchendzonga National Park apart from the Goechala Pass is that of the Khecheolpalri Lake that is located in the West Sikkim that is at a distance of 150km from Gangtok and this lake is revered by the Buddhist and Hindus alike and this lake is a beautiful place to witness in Sikkim near the Khangchendzonga National Park. Two prominent festivals are held every year at the Khecheolpalri Lake that draws thousands of pilgrims to the place and once is celebrated in the month of March called as “Purne” and the other in the month of October called as “Chho-Tsho”. There is a beautiful Buddhist Pagoda near this lake and this is a must visit for any traveller to Sikkim. Another place near Khangchendzonga National Park that is a must visit is the Yuksom Valley that is a very beautiful and serene village located on top of the Khangchendzonga National Park. The Dubdi Monastery that is one of the oldest Buddhist Monasteries in Sikkim is located about an hour’s trek from the Yuksom Valley and this place is popularly visited by tourists and pilgrims alike. The best time to visit the Yuksom Valley near Khangchendzonga National Park is across the months from February to November. The Khangchendzonga National Park Biosphere Reserve has the highest altitude in the World and the Khangchendzonga National Park is located 1,200m above MSL.
One thing to be noted is that the entry to the Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim is restricted and regulated. Indian Nationals need to have Inner Line Permit (ILP) and Foreign Nationals need a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to enter Sikkim. The permission needs to be obtained from the office of the chief wildlife warden of the Govt. of Sikkim and this permission allows visitors to travel into Khangchendzonga National Park to go for activities related to tourism, photography, research and study as well. You can have the option of trekking inside the Khangchendzonga National Park as mentioned earlier and there are a number of popular trekking options at the Khangchendzonga National Park. These treks are organized by the govt. operators as well as the private operators and the popular treks are Yuksom-Tshoka-Dzongri, Bakim-Dzongri-Samuteng-Goechela, Orar-Labdong-Tashiding, etc. Certain things to be noted on your visit to the Khangchendzonga National Park is that you should obtain the requisite permission and permits to trek across the region, avoid the use of firewood, smoking and drinking inside the Khangchendzonga National Park, do not play loud music or use loudspeakers inside the forests of Khangchendzonga National Park and do not swim and fish in the protected lakes and rivers inside the National Park. It is important to state that the Khangchendzonga National Park was declared as a National Park in 1977 and initially the area of the park was 850 sq. km. and now it is extended to 1784 sq. km.
Other places of tourist interest near the Yuksom valley where the Khangchendzonga National Park is located is that of the Coronation throne of Norbugang Yuksom and this is the place where the first Chogyul King was coroneted in the year 1642. It is believed that after the coronation ceremony was over a wall was erected across the throne and the place was named as Norbugang Chortem and it is also believed that the people who had attended the coronation ceremony of the King has offered vast amount of treasures that remain buried underneath the Norbugang Chortem. This site has the sects of 3 Lamas and a King and a shrine that has a long prayer wheel and the scenic Kathole Lake whose waters were used in the coronation ceremony. At the site visitors can get to see the footprints of the 3 Lamas embedded in a rock structure. There is a beautiful garden across the place as well where visitors get to see rare species of plants and herbs. There are various Monasteries near the place like the Dubali Monastery, Kartok Monastery and the Tashiding Monastery that are very beautiful places to explore near the Khangchendzonga National Park in West Sikkim.