Visit Singalila National Park Near Sandakphu, West Bengal (2021)
About Singalila National Park:
Among all the national parks and forest reserves in India, Singalila is undoubtedly one of the most alluring ones. Apart from being the habitat of a wide variety of endangered creatures, this wildlife sanctuary is blessed with the magnificent mountains’ breathtakingly beautiful views. Located quite close to Sandakphu, Singalila National Park has an altitude of approximately 7000 feet. The popularity of this site lies not only in its wildlife but also in its mesmerizing natural beauty. The name Singalila is derived from the mountain range it is situated on. Singalila is one of the most famous mountain ridges of the Eastern Himalayas and the park’s location; it offers tourists some of the most beautiful views in the world.
Quite close to the park, the Sandakphu and Phalur peaks are located. These two peaks are also a branch of the Eastern Himalayas. You might know that Sandakphu is the highest point of West Bengal. That is why the main trekking route from Manebhanjan to Sandakphu goes through Singalila National Park. Tourists who are adventure-enthusiasts often trek to the top-most point of this park at 12000 feet. The panoramic view surrounding this sanctuary makes it quite different from the rest of the state’s forest reserves. No matter where ever you look, the views of Singalila will dumbfound you.
Before Singalila got the status of a national park, it was a wildlife sanctuary. In 1992, it finally became a national park due to the presence of some exotic and endangered species of animals. Among all the species of fauna living in this site, Red Pandas have been its main attraction. This site is also a paradise for bird-watchers as it is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and rare birds. If you are a lover of nature, adrenaline, adventure, and wildlife, Singalila National Park is an excellent option for you. By visiting this park, you will genuinely be able to find yourself. You might have to go through some hardships to explore this park, but in the end, you will get a sense of accomplishment like never before.
Moreover, for those of you who are photographers or dream of becoming a nature photographer, visiting Singalila National Park will help you a lot. Apart from the picturesque views of the enthralling landscapes, the wildlife population on the site will also be fantastic subjects for your photography. In this blog, we will provide you with all the crucial information regarding Singalila National Park. Stick with us, if you want to have a thorough idea about the trip, as it is a bit tricky.
Must-See Places Near Singalila National Park
Singalila National Park is located in such a geographical location that some of the most beautiful places on earth are situated near it. Some of the best places to see in and around Singalila National Park are given below:
Tonglu : We have mentioned earlier that Tonglu is the entry point of Singalila, but did you know it is a fantastic tourist spot? This tiny hamlet is widely famous for its panoramic view of Mount Kanchenjungha. As this village is located at an altitude of 10.130 feet, its climate is pretty cold. As this site is located only 11 km from Manebhanjan, many people trek there. As it offers tourists a place to stay, most people choose Tonglu as their first pit stop before continuing their trekking to Sandakphu.
Due to the lack of population and pollution, the air in Tonglu is always pretty clean. That is one of the main reasons why the view of Mount Kanchenjungha from there is so vivid unlike other hill stations in West Bengal. Image Source
Distance between Singalila National Park to Tonglu is- 100 m.
Phalut: One of the main reasons why people decide visiting Singalila National Park is to visit Phalut and Sandakphu. At the height of 11,811 feet, Phalut is the second highest point of West Bengal. Reaching its top might be difficult for many tourists, but the view that they see at the end makes every struggle worth it. The thrill of reaching Phalut is unparalleled and cannot be replicated with any other events in anyone’s life.
When you reach Phalut, you will be too taken aback to see some of the world’s highest mountain range peaks. The peaks that you will get to witness in Phalut include Mount Kanchenjungha, Mount Everest, Three Sisters, Pandim, Chamolhari, and others. Due to the proximity of these ranges from Phalut, you will feel you could reach them pretty quickly. You could not see these mountain peaks so vividly from any part in West Bengal and even India.
Srikhola: Located at the height of 6,900 feet, Srikhola is one of the most beautiful villages in West Bengal. Most people make their first night halt while trekking from Manebhanjan to Sandakphu due to guest houses’ presence over there. There is a river named Srikhola in this hamlet from which it got its name. Most people spend a day in leisure by taking a stroll through the village and relaxing by the river.
As most trekkers visit thereafter covering a distance of 15 km by foot from Manebhanjan, spending a day quietly in Srikhola seems like an excellent option for them. The natural beauty of this village is breathtaking. Surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks, Rhododendron bushes, babbling river, and the calm ambience, Srikhola is a great place to visit near Singalila National Park.
Popular Trekking Trails From Singalila National Park
Apart from witnessing flora and fauna of Singalila National Park, most people visit there to take part in the various trekking trails available there. Especially in March and April, trekkers visit there to hike to different points from Singalila. Some breathtakingly beautiful trekking trails make Singalila National Park so memorable. These trekking trails lead you to Sandakphu and Phalut, two of the most beautiful places of West Bengal. Check out this part of the blog, to know about these trekking routes.
Manebhanjan To Meghma Trekking Trail: In the different trekking stages to Sandakphu and Phalut, the trail from Manebhanjan to Meghma is the primary one. This trek will not take you more than four hours, and it will allow you to explore the lower part of the Singalila forest.
Meghma to Gairibans Trekking Trail: The route from Meghma to Gairibans might be filled with unprecedented hurdles, but the view that you will witness while trekking through it will stay in your mind forever. The panoramic view from Meghma village to Tonglu and Tumbling is exquisitely beautiful. Remember, if you take the trail via Tumbling, you will have to hike some parts of Nepal. It is always better to take the trail through Tonglu. Tonglu and Tumbling are the two sites that tourists have to cross while trekking from Meghma.
Gairibans to Sandakphu Trekking Trail: Trekking from Gairibans to Sandakphu is the hardest part of the entire journey. For approximately four hours, you will have to climb the steep path. Even though the hike might exhaust you, the surrounding alluring natural beauty and the pit stop at Kala Pokhri village will make this journey worthwhile.
Sandakphu to Phalut Trekking Trail: This trekking trail amid the vast wilderness of Singalila National Park is the most beautiful trekking trail among all. While hiking through this route, you will get the breathtakingly beautiful view of Mount Kanchenjunga along with Mount Everest. You will feel the hardships that you will feel while covering this journey will be forgotten while enjoying the awe-inspiring surrounding view.
Top Things To Do In Singalila National Park
Singalila National Park is a magical place where you could genuinely find a new meaning for your life. Some of the interesting things to do at Singalila National Park Include:
Camping: Two significant points in Singalila named Tonglu and Tumling are perfect for camping. At the altitude of 10,130 feet, camping at Tonglu will offer you one of the rarest experiences of your life. At higher altitude, many people face breathing issues, that is why this activity is only limited to those who are physically fit and have no breathing problems. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can camp at Gairibas that is located even 7 km further away from Tonglu. These two points are perfect for camping if you are travelling towards Sandakphu. In case you are trekking towards Phalut, you can camp at Srikhola or Rammam.
Trekking: Trekking is the reason why many tourists visit Singalila National Park. If you have never trekked before, we suggest you do not opt for this activity while exploring the forest. As we have mentioned earlier, some terrain of the trekking trails in the forest can get pretty tricky. For a novice trekker, completing the journey might get troublesome. But if you an experienced trekker, the trails in Singalila will offer you the best hike of your life. You will appreciate our nature much more after finishing this trek.
Bird-Watching: With more than 120 species of birds, it is quite apparent that bird-watching is one of the most popular activity while exploring Singalila National Park. If you are a bird lover, you will have the time of your life witnessing breathtakingly beautiful avian species like fulvous parrotbills, blood pheasant, old-world babblers, Himalayan vultures, etc. Even if you are not an avid bird-watcher, Singalila will change your stance. By investing in a good pair of binoculars, you will get to see some of the most uncommon and majestic birds you have ever seen in your life.
Flora and Fauna of Singalila National Park
Among the wildlife sanctuaries located in India, Singalila National Park is quite vital as it provides habitat to some of the rarest wild animals in the world. Most of the fauna species of Singalila are found in the Himalayan region of the world. Among all the animals found in this forest, Red Pandas are the most exotic and endangered ones. These cuddly animals are scarce globally, and right now, there are 32 of them living in Singalila. These herbivore bears live on the fruits and leaves found in the forest. Apart from the Pandas, Himalayan black bear, leopards, and even tigers can be seen in the forest. You might even get to see these animals while trekking from one point of the forest to another. Other beautiful creatures visible in the Singalila forest are long-tailed Pangolins, wild boars, barking deer, and Himalayan Newt. The magnificent animals can be pretty alluring and might pique your interests, but remember to stay in your trekking trails while exploring the forest. If you venture into the core forest without any supervision, you might face severe mishaps in Singalila National Park.
Apart from animals, the flora species found in Singalila are quite captivating as well. Throughout this forest, you will find Rhododendrons in large numbers. These beautiful orchids make the entire region of Singalila extraordinarily colourful and vibrant. You will be surprised to know that twenty different types of Rhododendrons are found in the forest. Other orchids that are quite evident around the forest are Magnolia, Saxifraga, Cotoneaster, Geranium, Primula, Oak, Bamboo, etc. If you want to witness these flowers in their fully-bloomed state, it will be better for you to visit there between March and April. Singalila boasts more than 600 categories of orchids during the said months. The view of the entire forest during the spring months is mesmerizingly beautiful.
Singalila National Park is also famous for being home to more than 120 categories of rare and regular birds. You can see some of the beautiful birds in the forest include Blood Pheasant, Kalij Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Fire-tailed myzornis, cuckoo, etc. Sadly, due to the forest’s lack of watchtowers, you will not get to do bird-watching peacefully. You will have to witness them while trekking on the gravel pathway through Singalila.
Perfect Time To Visit Singalila National Park
This park’s geographical location is so optimum that witnessing major Himalayan peaks from there is pretty straightforward. Peaks like Mount Kanchenjungha, Mount Everest, and others are quite easily visible from this site and even more from Sandakphu. As witnessing these majestic mountain peaks is one of the main reasons for travelling to Singalila, it is quite important to visit there at the correct time.
Now, most tourists visit Singalila during two different seasons, namely Spring and Autumn. If you visit Singalila National Park during Spring season comprising March to May, you will get the alluring views of the surroundings and get to see the blooming rhododendron flowers. The view of fully-bloomed rhododendrons is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
Whereas, if you visit there during the autumn season comprising October to early December, you will get to see the crystal-clear views of the breathtakingly beautiful mountain ranges. During these months, the sky stays immensely clear and devoid of any clouds.
It would be best if you remembered that the park is closed from mid-June to mid-September to avoid the monsoon season. The monsoons are pretty tricky in Singalila, which is why the park remains closed to save people from the weather’s misery. Even in April or October, the area encounters rainfall. If you plan on visiting there during these months, it would be better for you to keep a couple of extra days in your hand to avoid any mishap. Many times, due to extreme rainfall, the roads leading to the areas surrounding Singalila National Park get blocked. By having some extra time in your hand, you will get to plan an alternative trip efficiently.
Ways to Reach Singalila National Park
Reaching Singalila might sound intimidating, but it is not that difficult. There might be some differences while travelling to Singalila than the other national parks in West Bengal, but you will not doubt the journey by reading this blog. The ways through which you can visit this national park is given below.
Technically the nearest railway station from Singalila National Park is located in the sleepy Darjeeling town of Ghoom. Still, it is not a proper railway station and only accommodated toy trains. The actual nearest railway station from Singalila is located in New Jalpaiguri. If you want to avail of the toy train to Ghoom, you will have to travel to Siliguri from New Jalpaiguri to access the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway station. As Ghoom is located only 13 km away from the park’s primary point, Tonglu, you can visit there by the said way. From Tonglu, you will have to trek to enter the premises of the park.
The nearest airport from Singalila National Park is located in Bagdogra. From Bagdogra, you will quickly get cars to take you to Manebhanjan. Now, from Manebhanjan, you will have to rent another car suitable for the unprecedented roads to reach Tumling, the park’s entry point. Or else, you can trek from Manebhanjan to reach the site.
Now visiting Singalila by road is quite impressive. As this park has two primary ranges, there are two starting points. These two points are classified as Northern range and Southern range. By the Northern range of Singalila, we mean the path accessible through Rimbik, and when we talk about the Southern range, we mean the path accessible from Manebhanjan.
If you want to travel from Rimbik, you will have to make a public bus or rent a car to take you to Rimbik. Whereas, if you want to start your journey from Manebhanjan, you will have to take the same steps as above to reach there. Finding public transportation or hired cars from major North Bengal towns will not be a problem.
After reaching Manebhanjan or Rimbik, you can reach Singalila National Parks in two ways. You can start trekking from the said sites to reach the forest or hire an old British Land Rovers available from Manebhanjan or Rimbik to reach Singalila National Park. There are no other modes of transportation available other than these Land Rovers due to the rugged terrains.
While starting your trek from Manebhanjan, you will pass through significant sites like Tonglu, Tumling, Gairibas, Kalipokhari, Bikheybhanjan, and Sandakphu. Although to reach Singalila, you will only have to travel up to Tumling as it is the home to the main entrance to the park.
Remember the gravel laid trekking trail can get a bit difficult for trekking. At specific points, the motorable roads and the trekking pathways intersect and create difficulty for trekkers and hikers.
Crucial Tips To Keep In Mind While Visiting Singalila National Park
A trip to Singalila National Park can be at the same time enjoyable as well as excruciating. By keeping the following tips in your mind, your journey to Singalila will be a lot easier.
- Apart from trekking, you can explore the forest and travel to other destinations from there through a jeep.
- The Jeep Safaris start from Manebhanjan and will cost you approximately INR 3000 for the entire vehicle.
- As Singalila National Park’s path is quite wavy, and the vehicles are quite old, many people get intense car-sickness. If you are prone to car sickness, take necessary precaution before the start of your trip.
- Always hire an experienced guide before starting your Jeep Safari or your trekking trip. The guide will help you navigate the entire way and acquire the necessary permit for the trip.
- Even though tourists are not allowed to deviate from their trekking trails while exploring the park, you can get permits from the forest department’s office in case of entering the core area.
- You can get permits from the forest department offices located at Tumling or Manebhanjan.
- Always bring an umbrella, a raincoat, and enough woolen garments with you. The weather at Singalila is unpredictable, and rainfall is quite common even during seasons other than monsoon. The extra woolen garments will offer you the comfort you will require while trekking through the upper region of the forest. Areas near Sandakphu or Phalut are icy even during summer or spring season.
- Make sure your camera is fully charged as you will regret not clicking a lot of pictures during your journey while visiting Singalila and Sandakphu.
Stay Options In Singalila National Park
Even though places to stay in Singalila National Park are scarce, some government-run lodges over there are pretty cosy. They might not be luxurious, but they offer you warm hospitality and hearty meals for a few days.
Tonglu GTA Lodge or Trekker’s Hut
As Tonglu is located right by Singalila National Park’s entry point, most people tend to spend a day or two over there. The GTA Lodge in this hamlet is the only place to stay there. Surrounded by the majestic mountains’ mesmerizingly beautiful view, Tonglu lodge is the perfect place to get connected to nature. As this lodge’s rooms are pretty big, it will not be a problem if you are travelling with four or five people.
As meals are included in the lodge package, you will not have to worry about it. The rustic setting of the hut will genuinely take you to another world. Moreover, tourists stay in Tonglu for two days at most, which is why the lodge’s shortcomings do not bother them.
Phone Number: +91 90880 30683.
Address: Singalila Forest, West Bengal 734221.
For booking, contact: Gorkha Bhavan, 2nd Cross Rd, DD Block, Sector 1, Salt Lake City, Kolkata, West Bengal 700064, or GTA Tourism Centres in Siliguri and Darjeeling.
Price: INR 100 per bed.
Located on Singalila National Park’s premises, Rimbik homestay is one of the best places to stay over there. The trekking trails from Sandakphu lies pretty close to this homestay and trekkers love this site due to its hospitality and location. Not only is this property immensely well-maintained and beautiful, but it offers a reasonably luxurious stay. At a time, not more than 11 people can stay in this homestay.
The view surrounding this accommodation is quite beautiful. As it is located right in front of a farm, you will get to have a panoramic view of the surroundings. The hosts of this homestay are a closely-knit family and offer warm hospitality to their guests. By staying there, you will get to taste the delicious meals prepared by the hosts. The best part about this property is that it is incredibly affordable despite offering so many useful features.
Address: Home Number 99, Rimbik Road, Darjeeling-734201.
Phone Number: +91 9593700102
Price: per person for a night: INR 1200.
Singalila National Park is one of the few wildlife reserves in the world that is famous for its wildlife and its mesmerizingly beautiful natural beauty. The trip to this forest can seem tricky, but trust us after reading this you will have a lot of your doubts cleared. In this blog, we have included almost every possible detail regarding Singalila National Park. So, what are you waiting for? Start packing for one of the most adventurous trips in your life and venture into the wilderness of Singalila right now!