Singalila National Park located at the Singalila Ridge is a popular tourist destination in Darjeeling District West Bengal. Sitting at an altitude between 7,900 feet and 12,000 feet, it is a unique national park situated at the highest point in West Bengal. The Singalila National Park covers an area of 78.6 square kilometers and is popular for its wide range of flora, fauna and also because of the trekking route to Sandakphu and Phalut, two of the highest peaks in Singalila Range. Originally it was a wildlife sanctuary which has now been transformed into a national park where tourists are allowed to undertake jeep safari on the gravel road winding through the park starting from Manebhanjan.
How to reach Singalila National Park
Singalila National Park can be reached by road, railway and air. However, the easiest route is by road for which you have to travel from Siliguri to Manebhanjan where you will find the first sign of entrance to the park. The actual entry point is at Tumling which is a few kilometers from Manebhanjan. Another entry point of the park is through Rimbik which is another small settlement at the Singalila Ridge. The best time to visit the Singalila National Park is from March through May and again from October through early December. During the former months you will be able to see thick blossoms of orchids and rhododendrons covering the park. In the later months the snow capped peaks will dazzle you with their pristine beauty and color play during day and night in clear skies.
Accommodation in Singalila National Park
There are plenty of accommodation facilities available in and around the park. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration lodges and trekkers’ hut are available at various points like Gairibas, Tonglu, Sandakphu and Phalut. Online booking service is available. For non trekkers private lodges and huts galore at Tumling, Jhaubari, Meghma, Gairibas and Kalpokhri. One of the cheapest, well facilitated and best positioned accommodation units is the Shikhar Lodge near Singalila National Park.
Attractions in Singalila National Park
The Singalila National Park offers loads of attractions to the tourists which include its diverse and beautiful flora and fauna and the mesmerizing and enchanting view of Kanchenjunga and Everest. The forest is full of oak, ferns, silver firs, bamboo, primula, Bistort, Geranium, orchids, rhododendrons and magnolias. The rich fragrance and color of the trees and their blossoms fill the air during spring time. There are over 600 varieties of wild orchids in the Singalila National Park. This feature makes the park a unique destination in the world.
Amidst this beautiful environment live a large number of animals and birds which can be spotted during the jeep safari or trekking tour through the forest. The Red Panda, barking deers, pangolins, Pika, Takin, Clouded Leopard and birds like Satyr Tragopan, Old World Babblers and Golden-breasted Fulvetta can be spotted throughout the forest. A large number of reptiles and amphibians can be found near the Jore Pokhri and Sukhiapokhri Lakes.
The view from Sandakphu, the highest point of Singalila is enthralling. All the major peaks of Eastern Himalaya can be seen enveloped in a vast stretch of snow where time stands still.
Entry fee to the park is 100 INR and foreigners need to show their ID proof to enter the forest. Permission to enter the core area can be obtained from the forest department at Manebhanjan or Tumling.