Khangchendzonga National Park is located in the state of Sikkim, India, and is part of the larger Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve. It takes its name from the mountain Kangchenjunga (also spelled Khangchendzonga). The park covers an area of 1,784 square kilometers and is known for its stunning mountain ranges, glaciers, and alpine meadows. It is also home to numerous streams, waterfalls, and hot springs, making it a popular destination for trekkers and nature lovers alike.
Khangchendzonga National Park is a breathtaking destination located in the heart of the Himalayas. It offers visitors the opportunity to experience nature at its finest, with breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and diverse vegetation. The park is also a UNESCO world heritage site and is considered one of the best national parks in the region and is a must-visit for anyone looking for a true adventure.
Khangchendzonga, which means “abode of the Gods,” holds a sacred place in the hearts of Buddhists. Legends say that religious leaders have hidden holy texts and teachings throughout the park, waiting to be discovered by treasure seekers from the sacred spots. The Sikkimese people worship Khangchendzonga as their protective deity, believing that its divine presence brings peace and prosperity to the land. Offerings are made and ceremonies and dances are dedicated in its honor. The annual festival of Pang Lhabsol is a time for Sikkim to give thanks to the presiding deity, Khangchendzonga.
Khangchendzonga National Park is renowned for its rich biodiversity and abundant wildlife. The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including rare and endangered species. The park’s vegetation is composed of temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, featuring oaks, firs, birches, maples, and willows. It also boasts Alpine grasses, shrubs, and numerous medicinal plants and herbs at higher altitudes. The park is home to a wide variety of mammal species such as musk deer, Indian leopard, snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, dhole, sloth bear, viverrids, Himalayan black bear, red panda, Tibetan wild ass, Himalayan blue sheep, mainland serow, goral, and takin. It also houses reptiles like rat snakes and Russell’s viper.
Trekking in Khangchendzonga National Park
Most trekking routes in the park begin at Yuksom, which is located 145 km (90 mi) from Gangtok in West Sikkim. Permits can be obtained at the Wildlife Education and Interpretation center in Yuksom or at a check post. The State Tourism Department and other travel agents offer organized treks to Dzongri (4,050 metres (13,290 ft)) and other destinations. Some of the popular trek routes are:
- Yuksom – Tshoka – Dzongri
- Bakim – Dzongri – Thangshing – Samuteng – Goechala
- Dzongri Base Camp – Rathong – Khangerteng
- Thangshing – Lam Pokhari – Kasturi Orar – Labdang – Tashiding
Another popular trekking destination is Green Lake, with Lachen village in North Sikkim serving as the starting point. Foreign nationals need a restricted area permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Delhi to enter the park and the surrounding region. Indian nationals must obtain an Inner Line Permit from the State Home Department and have the permission of the State Chief Wildlife Warden. The important and popular routes are:
- Lucanes Jakchen-Yabuk-Rest Camp (Marco Polo Camp) – Green Lake
- Lachen-Thasngu- Muguthang – Thay La – Khyoksa La- Rest Camp – Green Lake.
Best Time To Visit Khangchendzonga National Park
The best time to visit the Khangchendzonga National Park is from April to May. Winter months bring heavy snowfall, while showers occur from May to mid-October. Another good time to visit is from September to mid-December.
How to get to Khangchendzonga National Park
By Air: The closest airport to Khangchendzonga National Park is Bagdogra Airport in Darjeeling, West Bengal, about 122 km from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. The distance from Gangtok to the park is 45.9 km. You can take a taxi from the airport to the park, which costs around INR 3500-4000.
By Rail: The nearest railway station to the park is New Jalpaiguri’s Siliguri Junction, approximately 120 km from Gangtok and well connected to other major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, and Guwahati. The distance from New Jalpaiguri to Yoksam is about 170 km, and a bus journey from Siliguri to Yuksom takes about 5 hours.
By Road: The nearest highway to the park is the 92 km National Highway 31A, connecting Sevok in Darjeeling to Gangtok. The park is only 45.9 km from Gangtok. The nearest towns to the park are Yuksom in the West and Chungthang in the North, and the closest city is Gangtok. Regular bus services are available from Gangtok to Bagdogra, which takes 4 hours.