Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is located in between the Teesta and Mahananda rivers. This Sanctuary is situated in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary can reached from NJP in 30 minutes. Sukna, the gateway to the sanctuary, is only 14 km from Siliguri , 8kms from Siliguri and 28 km from Bagdogra airport.
This sanctuary covers over 159 squer kms. In 1959, it got the status of a sanctuary to protect the bison and Royal Bengal Tiger. It is considered as the most important sanctuary of North Bengal.
Altitude of mahananda wildlife sanctuary varies from 500 ft to 4,500 ft. and average altitude of 4200 ft. Latkothi beat office is situated at the highest peak of this wildlife sanctuary, which is 4,500 ft.
Just in case you are thinking about overnight stay in the sanctuary, there is a Forest Lodge of West Bfngal Forest Development Corporation (WBFDC) in the Sukna area few yards inside the jungle but before the main entry gate (in the southern lower region).
There is another forest resthouse of WBFDC and several other private lodges & homestays in Latpanchar which is in the northern area of the sanctuary at a higher elevation.
For booking a WBFDC Forest Lodge, contact West Bengal Forest Development Corporation (KB19 Sector-III, Salt Lake, Ground – Floor, Kolkata-700106. Phone No. – 033 23350064, 23358320). You will need to make your own food arrangement. If you bring all ingredients, the caretaker can help
and cook the food for you. Sukna forest lodge is located conveniently and you can walk down to the township for provisions. However the Latpanchar lodge is completely isolated and inside the jungle.
Latpanchar is a great little hamlet at 4,200ft altitude offering wonderful natural surroundings including marvelous views of the Kanchenjunga snow peaks and an ideal place for bird watching. Latpanchar is about 44kms from Silliguri and is part of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. However there is a separate route from Sevoke Road of Siliguri to access Latpanchar. Visit Latpanchar to know about the village itself, accommodations and what to expect when you access that part of the sanctuary.
Best Time to visit
October to April is the best time to visit Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary.
Note that the Sanctuary remains closed from June 16th to September 15th every year as this is the monsoon time and the breeding season for animals.
Admission Time & Entry Fees
Open hours: 8am to 4pm daily. There are entry and guide fees to take the safari as follows:
Per person: Rs. 50
Guide: Rs. 150
Vehicle: Rs 100
Camera: Rs. 100 per camera
How to reach
The entrance to Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary (for the Jeep safari) is at Sukna which is 8kms north of Siliguri, 14kms from NJP on Hill Cart Road and 28 km from Bagdogra airport. The gate is near the heritage toy train station at Sukna. From Darjeeling, it’s about 2.5 hours downhill drive
along Hill Cart Road. Via Simulbarie, it will take about 3 hours from Darjeeling.
For a day trip from Darjeeling, hire a cab for the day from the club side taxi stand near Gandhi Road police chowk. Private car may take approx Rs. 2700 – 3000 for a round trip. If you are heading for Latpanchar, you will get vehicles from NJP/Siliguri (Rs. 1500 approx for a drop).
Contacts for further information
Divisional Forest Officer, Wildlife Division – I
Bengal Natural History Museum (Darjeeling).
Phone: (0354) 2257314
Range Officer, Sukna Range, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Sukna, Darjeeling
Phone: (0353) 2573323
Some exotic species of mammals are reported from this area like Himalayan serow, Himalayan porcupine, Himalayan Black Bear and even more rarer like Binturong and Clouded Leopard. Other important mammalian species include Indian elephants, Indian bison, chital (spotted deer),
barking deer, sambar, rhesus monkey, many species of lesser cat like fishing cat and jungle cat, leopard etc. There are 243 different species of birds having been spotted in this sanctuary . There are 330 different types of plantations that have been recorded in the sanctuary.
The lower plains of the forest is the zone for elephant migration. Elephants migrate between Nepal, West Bengal and Assam areas. During winter and monsoon there are more than 150 elephants usually present in the forest.
Museum at Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary
There is a large and well stocked museum located upstairs in the main building just before the entry to the forest. The ticket counter is below the building. Ground floor has a large lounge area for tourists with facilities like bathrooms for men & women.
At the entrance, you will find a preserved leopard in a glass cabinet. It was killed in the sanctuary, and in its belly small cubs were found which have been preserved right next to it. There are large many exhibits and artifacts here that reflect the flora and fauna of the jungle including preserved skins of tigers, heads of deers & bysons, birds etc. But one of the most striking exhibits is the preserved cub of an elephant at one end of the room. It was found in the jungle in 1998. Next to it is a huge Royal Bengal Tiger.
Content Courtesy: Wikipedia, darjeeling-tourism.com