Discover the enchanting Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary in East Sikkim

Author: TourGenie
Date: 2023-12-14

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Sikkim, with its diverse landscapes from rugged mountains to flower valleys, offers a rejuvenating experience. This fully organic state showcases unique biodiversity, dialects, and history. Explore the off-the-beaten-track wonders, including sanctuaries like Pangolakha, where a camera trap recently captured a Royal Bengal Tiger at a record altitude of 3,640 m (11,942 ft) in December 2023. Discover the enchanting Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary in East Sikkim through this guide.

 

A BIODIVERSE LANDSCAPE

Covering about 124 sq. km, the Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary houses charming hamlets such as Aritar, Dakline Lingtam, Phadamchen, and Dzuluk. Situated at the crossroads of the Palearctic and Indomalayan realms, Pangolakha boasts diverse flora and fauna. Nestled in the Pakyong District of Sikkim, approx 28 km east of Rorathang and 40 km from Rangpo, it shares boundaries with the forests of Samtse in Bhutan and West Bengal’s Neora Valley National Park. The sanctuary extends into Neora Valley National Park, recognized as an important bird and biodiversity area.

 

HABITAT FOR INCREDIBLE WILDLIFE

The Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary has some incredible wildlife species such as Asiatic black bear, yellow-throated marten, takin, and red fox. The thick bamboo cover provides an ideal habitat for red pandas, Sikkim's state animal. The chestnut-colored mammal with pointed ears and a bushy tail is featured on the coat of arms of the Sikkim Forest Department. There have also been sightings of the elusive snow leopard and Bengal Tiger, having migrated from the neighbouring Neora Valley National Park of West Bengal.

 

SPOT RARE FLORA & FAUNA

Birders will find some interesting rare species here such as the speckled wood pigeon and bay woodpecker. Other birds spotted here include Oriental honey buzzard, blood pheasant, white-crested laughingthrush, chestnut-crowned laughingthrush, red-tailed minla, white-browed shrike babbler, white-browed fulvetta, rufous sibia, whiskered yuhina, brown dipper, rusty-flanked treecreeper, and dark-rumped rosefinch.

 VISIT HIGH-ALTITUDE LAKES

 Kupup Lake

Recognized as Elephant Lake due to its distinctive shape, this lake is situated in close proximity to Kupup village. The adjacent Yak Golf Course, maintained by the Indian Golf Union, holds the title of the world's highest altitude golf course. Running through this golf course is a section of the renowned Young Husband Track, a historical military expedition route to Tibet in 1903.

Tsomgo Lake

Tsomgo Lake, also referred to as Tsongmo Lake or Changu Lake, is a glacial lake situated in the East Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim, approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the capital, Gangtok. Positioned at an elevation of 3,753 meters (12,313 feet), the lake remains frozen throughout the winter season.

Hangu Lake

Located in Sherathang, East Sikkim, Hangu Lake stands as a prominent tourist attraction. The name "Hangu" in the local language means duck, and this exquisite lake earns its name as migratory golden ducks, specifically Ruddy Shelducks, are drawn to it during the months of November to February each year. Situated at an elevation of 13,000 feet above sea level, Hangu Lake stretches about one kilometer and is positioned between Tsomgo Lake and Old Baba Mandir. Nestled amid barren mountain slopes adorned with rocks and pebbles, and lacking vegetation, Hangu Lake stands out as one of the most stunning lakes in East Sikkim.

EXPLORE ITS HAMLETS

Aritar

Aritar, situated in East Sikkim, offers easy accessibility while remaining secluded from the bustling crowds—a perfect retreat for a brief nature-centric vacation. Revel in the unobstructed sights of the Khangchendzonga range, lush forests, and the serene lake. Explore the ancient gumpa (monastery) affiliated with the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Embark on a trek to Mankhim Dara for a sweeping panoramic view of the countryside, featuring a temple associated with the ethnic Rai community.

Dzuluk

Zuluk, a budding tourist spot in East Sikkim, provides a tranquil escape with stunning views of the eastern Himalayas, including Kanchenjunga. Serving as a base for exploring higher-altitude destinations, it was once part of the historic silk route. Special permits are arranged for guests, and during summer, Zuluk transforms into a colorful haven with blooming rhododendrons.

Phadamchen

Phadamchen is a small village in the East Sikkim district of India, located on the ancient trade route that connected India with Central Asia and China. It is a place of scenic beauty, rich history, and diverse wildlife. If you are looking for a peaceful and offbeat destination in the Himalayas, Phadamchen might be the perfect choice for you.

Accommodation Options

There are a variety of stay options, including homestays like Baichung Homestay or Lamakhang Homestay in Phadamchen village, East Sikkim. Alternatively, consider Pangolakha Wilderness Homestay, an eco-tourism project catering to wildlife and nature enthusiasts. Another option is to stay in Gangtok, which is approximately an hour away.

Reaching Your Destination

The nearest well-connected airport is in Bagdogra, located approximately 120 km from Gangtok. Gangtok is easily accessible from neighboring cities such as Darjeeling and Siliguri via well-maintained roads. The closest railway station to Gangtok is New Jalpaiguri Junction (NJP), situated about 120 km away. The distance from Gangtok to Pangolakha is around 42 km, and you can hire a vehicle to reach your destination.

Permits?

Protected Arear Permits are required for both Tourists and locals in Sikkim.

National park and Wildlife Sanctuary entry permits is issued by Forest Department at Gangtok.

Permits are issued by Tourism Department or registered Travel Agencies. Vehicle pass is issued from Police Check Post or registered Travel Agencies.

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