Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

Mahananda wildlife sanctuary is a very small and less well known sanctuary. It is located close to the ‘chickens neck’ – the narrow 50km wide land connecting North East India with the rest of India.

Mahananda wildlife sanctuary is about 159 sq km. The terrain is hilly and it is relatively inaccessible. It was protected as a game reserve and then subsequently upgraded to a wildlife sanctuary in 1959.

It is very easy to get to Mahananda sanctuary as it is located close to the busy town of Siliguri – the gateway to the East. However, it’s steep terrain and limited facilities has kept it off the tourist map and preserved its charm.


The Neora Valley National Park, a compact patch of virgin forest, is a unique area of rich bio-diversity. The National Park enjoys the distinction of being situated over one of the oldest Reserve Forest in India. The Northern boundary of this National Park is ontiguous with the forest of Sikkim and Bhutan and harbors of endemic species of flora and fauna.

The National park comprises tropical & temperate vegitations like oak, bamboo, rhododendron, tree ferns, codal and different orchids. A number of animals like Red Panda, Himalayan Thar, Tiger, Goral, Himalayan Black Bear, Wild Boar, Wild Dog and Clouded Leopard and birds like Redstart, Whistling Thrush, Golden Headed Black Finch, Niltava, Yuhina are found in this National Park. Apart from this a large number of Avian Species are resident to this area.

Due to wide range of altitude variation, the climate condition of N.P. varies from tropical to temperate or even Sub-alpine in Rachilla Danda area. Situated in the Kalimpong sub-division under Darjeeling district is one of the richest biological zones in the entire Northeast. The land of elegant Red Panda in the pristine undisturbed natural habitat with rugged inaccessible hilly terrain and rich diverse flora and fauna together make the park an important wilderness zone.

The forest in Neora Valley has such a luxurious growth that even sunlight finds it difficult to touch the ground. Much of the park is still inaccessible making it an adventurous place for the nature lovers / trekkers who can take the challenge to explore the still-unknown terrain in the Kalimpong hills. Virgin natural forests, dense bamboo groves, colourful canopy of Rhododendron trees, lush green valley, meandering rivers and streams with snow-capped mountains in the backdrop form a picturesque landscape. The park reaches up to an elevation of 10600 ft at Rechela Danda, the highest point of Neora Valley National park, which borders Sikkim and Bhutan. The Neora River, the majore water source of Kalimpong town, originating from an inaccessible snout of the park and can be visible from Rechila Danda. Jaributi, one of the most beautiful spots in Neora Valley, is an ideal place for viewing wildlife movements. The place has tremendous importance for medicinal plants that grow here in abundance. Neora Valley National Park is also the home of Red Panda. A cute little animal with reddish brown body and a bushy ringed tail is one of the most endangered species in the world. The recent discovery of Royal Bengal Tiger in Neora Valley has prompted the administration to include the park in the list of sensitive wildlife zones in the country.

According to the 2002 tiger census the park holds 19 majestic big cats. Among the other important mammals Indian Gaur, Himalayan Black Bear, Clouded Leopard Common Leopard, Lesser Cats, Himalayan Thar, Serrow, Gural, Deer and Squirrels are worth mentioning. Neora Valley is extraordinarily rich in avi-fauna or the feathered animals. Due to its altitudinal variation ranging from 600ft to 10600 ft, various species of birds make the park a paradise for the bird watchers. Pheasants, Cuckoos, Minivets, Flycatchers, Maynas, Orioles, Owls, Parakeets, Partridges, Sunbirds, Swallows, Swifts and Woodpeckers would captivate one with their chirpy calls and enchanting colourful plumage display.

Nature has bestowed Neora Valley with a broad medley of butterflies, which provide a grand feast to the eyes with their ingrained splendour. Kaiser-I-Hind and Krishna Peacock are amongst the most attractive butterflies found here.

Travelling to Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

By Rail: the nearest railhead is at New Jalpaiguri station, adjacent to Siliguri town. Most trains between New Delhi and Guwahati and Kolkatta and Guwahati stop at New Jalpaiguri.

By Air: the nearest airport is Bagdogra(IXB), 16km from Siliguri.
From NJP station or Bagdogra airport, rent a taxi to take you to Latpanchar bungalow. Do not travel in a small car. A sumo or similar car should be taken since the road, especially the last stretch, is bad.

Travelling inside Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

There are no motorable roads. The vehicles can come up to the bungalow but no further. You have to walk along the forest trail. DO NOT walk along the trail without a guide since there are elephants, especially during winter time. The forest guards act as guides.

Best time to go to Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

Best time to go is from start of November to end of April. Bungalow and forest remain closed from 15th June to 15th September.

Accommodation at Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

There is only one single bungalow inside the core area of the park. There are two rooms with double beds in each room.
Things to see and do at Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

Enjoy walking on the forest trails with the forest guards.

Practical tips

• It takes about two and a half hours to reach Latpanchar FRH from Siliguri
• Do not use a small vehicle for reaching the bungalow.