Scarlet Minivet At Singalila National Park

Singalila National Park is a national park located on the Singalila Ridge at an altitude of more than 7000 feet above sea level, in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal State of India. It is well known for the trekking route to Sandakphu that runs through it.

Thick bamboo, oak, magnolia and rhododendron forest between 2000 and 3600 m cover the Singalila Ridge. There are two seasons of wildflower bloom – one in spring ( in March) and another in the post-monsoon season (around October) when the lower forests bloom (Primula, Geranium, Saxifraga , Bistort, Senecio, Cotoneaster, and numerous orchids). Sandakphu is known as the “mountain of poisonous plants” due to the large concentration of Himalayan Cobra Lilies (Arisaema) which grow there.

The park has a number of mammals including the Red Panda, Leopard Cat, Barking Deer, Yellow-throated Marten, Wild Boar, Pangolin, Pika, Himalayan Black Bear, Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Serow, and the Takin.

The Singalila National Park is one of the most popular birding spots in the Eastern Himalayas since it attracts a large number of birds due to its seasonal blooms. Blooming seasons are the best times to see birds.

The park has over 120 species recorded including many rare and exotic species like the Scarlet Minivet, Kalij Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Brown, and Fulvous Parrotbills, Rufous-vented Tit, and Old World babblers like the Fire-tailed Myzornis and the Golden-breasted Fulvetta. The park is also on the flyway of many migratory birds.

The endangered Himalayan Newt frequents the region and congregates around the lakes of Jore Pokhri, Sukhia Pokhri, and nearby lakes to reproduce. Jore Pokhri and Sukhia Pokhri are within 20 km of the park boundary and are protected wildlife sanctuaries.

The two seasons to visit the park are in Spring (March-May) and Post Monsoon (mid-September to early December). The park is closed to tourists from June 16 to September 15 every year on account of the monsoons.

The trek along the Singalila Ridge to Sandakphu and Phalut is one of the most popular ones in the Eastern Himalayas, due to the grand vistas of the Kangchenjunga range, and the Everest range which can be seen from the ridge, and also for the seasonal wildflower blooms and birding. Treks begin at Manebhanjan which is 51 km (1.5 hrs by road) from Darjeeling.

Sailung Tea House is a small cozy place to stay while at Meghma. There are two-roomed guest houses and trekkers’ huts at Tonglu, Gairibans, Sandakphu, Phalut, Kala Pokhri, and several other locations in the park, run by the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. Numerous guest houses and lodging are available at Manebhanjan. The preferred way to visit the park is to stay in Darjeeling and camp inside the national park.

The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport, Jalpaiguri district and Gangtok Helipad, East Sikkim district, Sikkim.

The nearest railhead is Ghum in West Bengal, New Jalpaiguri, West Bengal.

The nearest highway is NH 31A (Sivok-Gangtok) which passes through Darjeeling (which is 1.5 hours by car from Manebhanjan).

The nearest town, Manebhanjan, is the access point for Rimbik and Tumling, the gateways to the park.

The nearest city is Darjeeling.