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Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

Area : 158 Sq. Km
Altitude : 4000 ft above mean sea level
Location : Darjeeling District, West Bengal
Nearest Village : Sukna (Entry Point in the Sanctuary)
Nearest City : Siliguri
Distance: 13 Km from Siliguri
Best Season : October to May

leopard in Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

(Leopard, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary)

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is a very beautiful and crazy forest in North Bengal is located on the foothills of the Himalayas and in between the Teesta and the Mahananda rivers. The Sanctuary name Mahananda comes from the River Mahananda. Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the bank of the river Mahananda in Darjeeling District of West Bengal. It is covered little more than 158 Square Kilometer forest area and in 1958, it was declared as the Sanctuary to protect Royal Bengal Tiger and Gaur (Indian Bison). Both animal are facing the threat of extinction. It is a perfect place for all those who want to enjoy the beauties of Nature far away from the hustle & activity of the city life.

With Mahananda River flowing through it the Sanctuary is bounded by Tista River in the East and Hill Cart Road leading to Darjeeling in the West. The sanctuary reaches up to an high elevation at Latpanchar in Kurseong hill. In the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, mainly three seasons are available, Summer, winter and monsoon. In winter, temperature comes below to 3°C where in summer its goes more than 39°C. But the average temperature ranges from 10°C to 30°C. Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary belongs in heavy rainfall zone. Where May to October known as rainy session. Average annual rainfall is 300 cm.

Flora and Fauna

The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary has a versatile type of forests. It varies mainly from riverine forests to dense mixed-wet forest due to the difference altitude. The variation in altitude and forest types helps the existence of a large number of species of mammals, birds and reptiles. Mainly Sal, Shisu, Teack, Jarul forests are available here.

The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, is situated near by the elephant migration route. In the monsoon and also in winter, a large number of migratory elephant shelters here. So, after dark the sanctuary is not safety for visit. The sanctuary has got a tremendous importance in the forest maps of India because of a considerable number of Royal Bengal Tiger. The sanctuary mainly reserved for Royal Bengal Tiger and Gaur (Indian Bison). Except those animal the sanctuary are also famous for chital (spotted deer), barking deer, boar, pangolin, sambar, Rhesus monkey, Himalayan black bear, many species of lesser cat like fishing cat and jungle cat, Himalayan black bear, leopard including clouded leopard, and many other smaller animals like rare mountain goat (Serow), porcupines, wild pig, civets, monitor lizards, snakes, etc. You can also find out some rhesus monkeys in this sanctuary.

The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is also a home for a large number of colorful feathered species. The list includes endangered species like fairy-bluebird and Himalayan pied hornbill. Among the others babblers, wagtails, bee eaters, swallows, sun birds, rollers, robins, fly catchers, swift, thrush, thrush, drongo, kites, eagles, hornbills, orioles, peacock, fouls, egrets, king fishers and wood pickers are most important

Activities

If you are an eco tourist, check out the Nature Interpretation Centre at Sukna. To help the growth of herbivorous animals several glades have been crated at convenient spots inside the sanctuary. These glades have artificial saltlicks where the animals are seen coming to taste the salt in the early morning and evening. Several hides and watchtowers have been created near saltlicks. An exciting jungle safari in the sanctuary includes the regions of Siliguri- Sukna - Golaghat - Gulma- Laltong and can be a real thrilling experience.

Besides the Sanctuary you can find out a natural green carpet on the earth, Gulmarg Tea Estate. The sanctuary has well laid forest roads, which covers about 50 kms. A drive or trek through the forest roads opens up places of magnificent beauty and gives a glimpse of excellent natural and man made forests. The watchers built beside Gulma River and at Laltong are some ideal places to observe the grazing animals specially elephant, gaur and deer.

Watch towers in the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary -- (1). Laltong Watch Tower: It is located in the bank of Teesta River near Laltong village. This was constructed to monitor the migrated elephant movement. (2). Gulma Watch Tower: An unused railway cabin in the abandoned Gulma Station inside the core area of the sanctuary has been converted into a watchtower. It is ideally located beside the Gulma River and is great for wildlife viewing. (3). Golaghat Watch Tower: It is situated in Golaghat on the bank of Mahananda River, about 5 Km away from Sukna range office. And (4). Laltong Compartment No.9: It is situated near Toribari on right bank of Gulma River constructed to watch wildlife & bird watching.

Transport

By Road : Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is well connected by road with Darjeeling, Siliguri and other towns of North Bengal. Sukna is the gateway to the sanctuary which is located on the Siliguri-Darjeeling highway. It is just 13 Km from the Siliguri and 30 minutes drive distance from Siliguri.

By Rail : New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri Railway Station are nearest railway station in Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. After arrive in Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri you can share a taxi or hire a private vehicle to reach the Sanctuary. If all condition is in your favor, then you may take a tour with heritage Tray-train from New Jalpaiguri or Siliguri to Sukna with a very reasonable fare.

By Air : Nearest airport is Bagdogra. It is a domestic airport under Indian Army. All major air services are available from all over India. Distance between Bagdogra and Siliguri is 13 km. You can find out various vehicles to come in Siliguri, and then follow the above road route

Accommodation

In Sukna, the gateway to the sanctuary, just 14 Km from Siliguri and 20 Km from Bagdogra airport has two suitable rest houses to stay at night with a reasonable prices. It is a 30 minutes drive distance from the Siliguri. The Heritage tray-train is going through the Sukna and there has a beautiful small railway station.

At Latpanchar in the northern part on the Sanctuary has a very beautiful rest house with a distance of 44 Km from Siliguri and can be reached by a 13-km drive from Kalijhora on the Siliguri-Gangtok national highway.

To check the room availability and online booking in the resorts of West Bengal Forest Development Corporation click here.