Singhalila National Park located at a very high altitude of more than 7000ft from sea level (between 2400 m to 3650m ) is the highest National Park in West Bengal. It is situated in the extreme north western boundary of Darjeeling District and extends on an area of 78.60sq.km. The vegetation of these virgin forests mainly alpine, changes with the range in altitude. The main tree species found are the Rhododendron, Magnolia, Oak, Hemlock, Silver Fir, Juniper, Mailing Bamboo, Buk, Kawla, Bhujpatra etc. Other flora include primulas, aconitums, gentians, arisaemas and orchids adorning the forest clearings. The fauna found in the park are leopard, serow, pangolin, elephant, chinkara takin, red panda, barking deer etc. The park has a variety of birds such as pigeons, doves, sibia, minivet, magpie, cuckoo, hornbills, Kaleej pheasants and a large number of migratory birds. Treks: The park is famous for its treks with spectacular views of Himalayan peaks through a mist of pristine forests and mountain flowers. Maneybhanjang ( 2134m) at a distance of one and a half hours by road from Darjeeling is the starting point to one of the popular trekking routes in the eastern Himalayas, via Tumling (2900m) or Tonglu (3050m) - Gairibans(1900m) - Sandakphu ( 3636m)(35Km) - Phalut (3605m) - Rimbik (2286m) and back to Manebhanjyang. The park area is enclosed within this trek route beyond Tonglu or Tumling. The trekkers can halt at Meghma/ Tonglu, Gairibans, Sandakphu and Phalut for the nights. Maneybhanjyang to Mekhma (2600m) takes 4 hours, then to Tonglu or Tumling and from there to Gairibans through dense forests and wild flowers. This trek is a paradise for wild flower lovers particularly in March-April when rhododentrons bloom in white, scarlet, pink and yellow and large white and pink flowers of the magnolias, orchids along with beautiful birds adorn the way. But be wary of the leeches which infest the wet ravines. From Gairibans it is a steep four hour climb to Sandakphu. Halfway is the settlement of Kala- Pokhri at 2750m. The arduous trek through treacherous routes is worth the breathtaking view of the majestic Kanchenjunga the third highest peak in the world, from Sandakphu. Sandakphu is known as the mountain of poisonous plants cause of the cobra lillies seen here. The one day trek from Sandakphu- Phalut about 23km is the best of all the treks. Phalut lies on the borders of West Bengal, Sikkim and the eastern border of Nepal. The best for this trek along the Singalila ridge which passes through desolate hills covered with patches of forest is October and November. At Phalut, one can have real close look at the Kanchedzonga and experience the spectacle of circular rainbows. From Phalut the way down to Sirikhola on the banks of river Sirikhola, one can see meadows clustered with blue iris, orchids and a further 6km leads to Rimbik, a small village which connects Maneybhanjang and Darjeeling (51km)by road. From Sandakphu one can skip the trek to Phalut and come straight down to Sirikhola through a steep descend via Gurdum (2300m). There is also a motorable road up to Sandakphu. Accommodation : There are two roomed rest houses available at Rambi, Tonglu, Gairibus, Sandakphu and Phalut available for stay. . Maneybhanjang has plenty of hotels and houses available for stay. How to get there: Air: Nearest Airport is Bagdogra ( 80km) from Darjeeling. There are regular flights to Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati. Rail : Nearest railhead is Darjeeling( 20km). New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri railway Junctions connect Darjeeling with Kolkata (665 km) and New Delhi. From Siliguri/ Jalpaiguri one can also take the heritage toy train which takes about 7hours and get down at Ghum. Jeeps are available from Ghum to Maneybhanjang. Road: There are buses and taxis available from Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling or Maneybhanjang. Siliguri is 15km from Bagdogra and New Jalpaiguri 4km respectively. Place: Darjeeling district, West Bengal Best time to visit: March to June & September to November Nearest town: Darjeeling Main Attraction: Red panda, birds, and Treks along stretches of flowering Rhododendron and Magnolia forests.
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