Visiting Neora Valley National Park - where sunlight hardly reaches the ground

Along with Singalila National Park, Neora Valley National Park is another National Park of West Bengal located at very high altitude. The author here discusses the exotic flora and fauna of the Park and travel tips.

We have earlier discussed Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and Singalila National Park. Now we will discuss another beautiful National Park located at the Eastern Himalayan ranges of West Bengal. Neora Valley National Park is relatively less explored, but those who have visited this small National Park, feel that it is one of the most beautiful forests of India.

The National Park is located at Kalimpong district of West Bengal. It is on the banks of the Neora river. The area of the small National Park is only 88 square kilometres. The altitude of the forest is l200 metres to 3600 meters. The National Park is linked with Pangolakha Wild Life Sanctuary in Sikkim and Torsa Reserve Forest of Bhutan.

Trees and Plants found in the National Park

The flora of the forest can be categorized as Himalayan Broadleaf forest, Sub-tropical Broadleaf forest, Sub-tropical Pine forest, Sub-temperate and temperate forests. In some places, the density of plants and trees are so much that the sunlight doesn't reach the ground level. In the National Park, the tourists can see oak, ferns, sal, rhododendron and bamboo. Neora Valley National Park presents different and exquisite types of orchid, which many tourists collect.

Animals and birds found in Neora Valley Park

Neora Valley Park is famous for rare Red Pandas. In addition to Red Panda, clouded leopard (another endangered species), Indian leopard, different types of civet, flying squirrel, barking deer, sambar, wild boar, leopard cat, seraw (wild goat), black bear and sloth bear can be seen. In 2016 and in 2017, sightings of the tiger were also reported at the National Park.

Among the reptiles, king cobra, krait and green pit viper can be seen. There are more than hundreds of varieties of birds can be seen in this forest. It is indeed a bird-watchers' paradise. Some of the birds found in Neora Valley are woodpeckers of various species, hawks of various species, pigeons, warblers, robin, cicadas, finch, pheasants, cuckoos, parrots, babblers, bulbuls and eagles. During winter, migratory birds come to this Park from colder regions. Different types of butterflies, insects and bees are also seen in the Neora Valley National Park.

How to reach the National Park

The nearest airport is at Bagdogra. The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP). From NJP, the distance of Lava (from where the entry permission is taken) via Kalimpong is 110 kilometres. The distance of the entrance of the National Park from Lava is another 10 kilometres. From NJP, the tourists can also reach the National Park by crossing Sevoke Road via Odlabari-Damdim-Gorubathan-Lava. The third route is Malbazaar-Chalsa-Metli-Samsing. The trekkers who trek to Sikkim or Bhutan usually take this route. The distance of Lava from Kalimpong is 34 kilometres. Many tourists visit the National Park after spending some days at Kalimpong.

Where to stay

Many tourists visiting Neora Valley National Park stay at Lava, which is itself a beautiful tourist spot and good hotel accommodation is available. This is also convenient because the entry permission to the National Park is given at Lava and tourists can also visit the Nature Interpretation Centre to have a basic idea before entering the forest. Many tourists now stay at Kolakham (a beautiful village at the entry point of the National Park). Many tourists also enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Changey Waterfall very near to Kolakham. The hotels and tents at Lava and Kolakham provide all modern amenities to the tourists.

Some points to remember

  • The best time to visit the Park is from October to March. The Park must be avoided during the monsoon.
  • The 10 kilometer stretch from Lava to the entry point of the National Park is not good.
  • The tourists must use SUV/Jeep for going to the Neora Valley, but the SUV cannot go beyond the Zero-point inside the forest.
  • Trekking inside the forest is the most convenient way to enjoy the serene beauty and wildlife.
  • For trekking and bird-watching, guides are available at the entry gate of the forest.
  • The tourists must carry light woollen/heavy woollen clothes, torch, mosquito-repellant and umbrella.
  • The entry permission to enter the National Park is necessary and must be obtained from Lava or Samsing.

Summing up

Singalila National Park and Neora Valley National Park are two National Parks of West Bengal which are located at the Eastern Himalayan ranges. These two relatively less unexplored forests present an unforgettable charm to the tourists. Enjoy the pristine beauty of nature at Neora Valley National Park during your next holiday and rejuvenate yourself.

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