Located around 31 km east of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, Kyongnosla offers a bonanza for nature lovers and adventure seekers. You one can get some breathtaking views of Khangchendzonga peak from Kyongnosla. To the south lies Mount Norsing and Mount Pandim making the picture complete. While the altitudes of the sanctuary may be physically challenging, the sights of the snow-clad mountains can elevate your spirits to a different plane. Trekkers frequent this part of the world for the challenge it offers and nature lovers come here to savour its limitless beauty.
The diversity of flora found in Kyongnosla is unmatched. It is the home of a very rare and endangered varieties of ground orchids, silver firs and rhododendrons. There are also many different species of primulas, wild strawberries, iris, poppies, rhododendrons, gentians, orchids and the rare panax. It also has many useful medicinal plants like ‘Kutki’, ‘Jatamasi’ ,’Nilo bikh’ and many others. Before the arrival of winter, Polygonum is the last flower that blooms anticipating the first snowfall. The place also has dense bushes of bamboos that grow at a lower altitude and these provide a perfect home for the Red Panda. The dense growth of bamboo also helps in soil conservation.
Kyongnosla is home to a variety of wildlife like Musk Deer, serow, goral, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Lesser Cats, Blood Pheasant, Common Langur, leopard, Tibetan Fox, Himalayan Marmot, Yellow Throated Martens, weasel, Satyr Tragopan and Impeyan Pheasant. Many of these animals are not found in the mainland and Kyongnosla presents a wonderful opportunity to watch these majestic animals in their full glory in the mountains. Interestingly, this stretch of mountains seems to have been the abode of tigers in the past as there have been reports of a tiger killing cattle near Lacheng village, not far from the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary. However, at present, tigers seem to have disappeared completely from Sikkim.
Just 31 kms away from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, Kyongnosla is easily accessible via private cabs and tourist buses. Guides can also be hired from Gangtok. The months between April to August and from October to November are the best time to visit. Unfortunately, there is no accommodation available inside the forest. Visitors can stop at few points enroute to Nathula and Tsongmo Lake to enjoy the area or to get a glimpse of wild animals. There is also the sparcely populated Kyongnosla village near the forest, with just 46 people- unfortunately no home-stays are available.
Kyongnosla is the home to the Red Panda, the State Animal of Sikkim, a highly endangered species. It is a unique carnivore that has adapted to the herbivore mode of life. Interestingly, dogs are a great threat to the not so agile pandas. Even though their exact population in Kyongnosla is not known, these pandas continue to be the biggest attraction of this place.
Words: Nabarun Guha