What is so special about Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling ?
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Darjeeling, a beautiful hill station in West Bengal India is always the most preferred hill destination of many Travellers visiting India. There are countless reasons why most of travellers never avoid to visit this destination when they reach Kolkata, one of the most populated and historical cities of India. The most popular reason is because it was once, one of the summer capitals of British empire. This resembles many historical memories that still can be enliven while visiting Darjeeling. Apart from the enchanting beauty blessed by nature, Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling stands in the top most priorities of every traveller.
Where is Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling?
Quite strange, but the administrative part of this rich green lusciousness of District Darjeeling is tackled by District Jalpaiguri, naming it as Jalpaiguri wildlife division-II. The earlier recorded area of Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling was 88 sq.km, but currently the demarcation of Neora Valley National National Park in Darjeeling has extended to cover the adjacent Reserves forests of District Darjeeling and the figure is approximately 140 sq.km. There are two legal entry gates to the forest for the Travellers, though the forest is accessible from all the sides through many villages. By legal entry it means permissible entry, after one obtains permit to enter the national park. One is from Samsing Range which is often named as Samsing-Suntalekhola in the tourism map of West Bengal and the other is at Lava and that too is one of the most popular tourist destinations of West Bengal. Extending towards north the park shares the territory of Bhutan ( Torsa strict reserve of Bhutan) and Sikkim ( Panglakha Wildlife Sanctuary) without any artificial barriers and towards south and east the forest reaches other reserve and protected forests of West Bengal like Chapramari wildlife sanctuary near Chalsa Junction.
Special attractions of Neora Valley National Park for the Travellers:
The attractions described here may not seem more common that usually become the hub point for tourists, but it is more ethical and resourceful for only a portion of Meaningful Travellers. In real words if you’re on a holiday just to enjoy drinking, get in the crowd, click selfies near popular landmarks, see wild animals by paying money for booking watch towers, enjoy the so-called royal ride of captive elephants, then Neora Valley National is not your choice for the best tourist destinations of North Bengal.
- Out of all the protected areas Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling is most undisturbed patch of virgin forests of West Bengal. The inaccessible terrains have formed because of it’s unique topography that starts from the plains of Jalpaiguri District and rise towards north forming diverse landforms resulting into complex geomorphic processes with varying altitudes. The altitudes vary from 180 m to 3200 meters which is towards North near the Sikkim Border where there is a point named Rachela, the highest point of Neora Valley National Park.
- Due to it’s varying altitude the forest covers two biomes – Biome -7 , Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest (1800m-3600m) and Biome-8, Sino- Himalayan Sub-Tropical Forest (1000m-2000m). Falling under Bio-Geographic Region -2, Neora Valley National park, though being in oriental region, strangely has floral and faunal similarities with the Palaearctic Region. Due to this characteristic it consists of all the three sub-regions- Himalayan Montane System, Indian Peninsular Sub-region and the Malayan sub-region. So for all the nature professionals Neora Valley National park can be the best research and study ground in all over the region.
- Neora Valley National Park is counted among the most spectacular and species rich temperate forests in the World. The temperate forests of Neora Valley National Park has such unique elevation where even during the warm moisture rowing time the moisture tends to condense and remain in the air due to which its richness is unique in nature.
- Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling is one of the only forests of India that has four habitats turning into one of the best bio-diversity regions of the world. Four habitat types are (i) Subtropical Mixed Broadleaf Forest, (ii) Lower Temperate Evergreen Forest, (iii) Upper Temperate Mixed Broadleaf Forest and (iv) Rhododendron Forest. The vegetation includes Dry Mixed Forest, Wet Mixed Forest, Lauraceous Forest, Bak-Oak Forest, High level oak Forest, Coniferous Forest, Himalayas Moist Temperate Forest and Rhododendron forest.
- Kanchenjunga range, being the backdrop of Neora Valley National Park, blesses the forest with some of the spectacular views that you can never see from any other place in Darjeeling. Apart from enchanting beauty the forest is an abode to some of the rarest species of the world. 20% of species found in Neora Valley National Park are extremely rare and some are facing the threat of Extinction. Some of the few names are Balanophora neorensis (a unique species of parasitic angiosperm), Balanophora polyandra, Betula utilis, Swertia chirata, Swertia bimaculata, Rananculus tricuspes, Digitalis purpuria, Geranium nepalense, Taxus baccata, and Ilex hookeri.
- Neora Valley National Park is the only forest of West Bengal that provides shelter to more than more than 31 species of mammals, 258 species of birds (Islam and Rahmani 2004), 276 species of insects, 38 species of other invertebrates including 6 species of leeches, namely Dinobdella forox, Hirudinaria manillensis, Haemadipsa zeylanica, Haemadipsa Montana, Haemadipsa sylvestris and Haemadipsa ornate that are listed in the RedData Book of IUCN and the appendices of CITES.
- For Ornithologists and amateur Bird Watchers, Neora Valley National Park can be considered as a paradise because the forest falls under the restricted species site. The forest is also abode to two globally threatened species of Birds in cluding rare endemic species like Black-lored Tit Parus, Indian Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus horsfieldii, Rufous Throated Wren xanthogenys Babbler Spelaeornis caudatus, Rusty Throated Wren Babbler S. badeigularis and Rufous Sibia Heterophasia capistrata.
- Above all the attractions the last but not the least is that it is the last remaining suitable habitat for the poular mammal Red Panda which is the most endangered species of the forest. Including Red Panda there are many other rare species found in the forest that have its name in list of Red Data Book Of IUCN, for example Chinese pangolin and Clouded Leopard.
How does accommodations near Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling make your trip so special?
Apart from rich Bio-Diversity and the beauty of Kanchanjenga Range, the forest is also adjacent to many villages flourishing the lives of different culture and tribes. Today, all the rural areas that are adjacent to Neora Valley National Park have become the most preferred Rural destinations of North Bengal for most of the offbeat travellers. Some the renowned Destinations to explore the beauty of Neora Valley National Park are Samsing Suntalekhola, Lava, Kolakham and Lingsey. All the destinations provide home-stay accommodations to the travellers and also warmly welcome the research scholars, volunteer Travellers , gap year students, travel writers and many more who choose the place as their research ground.
Some of the Homestays of the places :
Kolakham : Samsuhang Homestay
Samsing – Suntalekhola : Mayjhor Homestay
Trekking in Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling , India:
Among all the trekking routes of India, Neora Valley National Park is the most unexplored trekking route of India. Because of its rough terrains and inaccessible denseness spotting wildlife is s tough job unless it is for the researchers who can stay for longer period. However, for Botanists this trek route will be an important accomplishment for their research work and similarly for Volunteers who want to explore the culture of tribes who live adjacent to rich Bio-diversities of India, the destinations mentioned above can be a resourceful destination.
The two important trekking routes in the map of Neora Valley National Park are :
Rachela Trek at Neora Valley National Park = ( Trekking the highest ppoint of Neora Valley National Park covering all the types of vegetation – 4 nights 5 Days
Mulkharka Lake Trek at Neora Valley National Park = Trekking for a lake that is called ” Mirror of Kanchenjenga”