The 40th World Heritage Committee at Istanbul, Turkey on the 17th of July, 2016 has inscribed Khangchendzonga National Park of Sikkim, India as a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site on ‘Mixed’ criteria recognising the outstanding universal values for its both natural and cultural significance. » See Details
Khangchendzonga National Park was initially commissioned in August 1977 ,Initially the area of the National Park declared was 850 Sq km, when first notified in August 1977, but was subsequently extended to 1784 Sq km in May 1997 by including more potential areas vide Notification No 1/KNP/WL/F27 dated 19.05.1997.
The Khangchendzonga (High Altitude) National Park extends from the cold deserts of Lhonak Valley and the ridges of Lachen in the North District to the historical place at Yuksom.The Western boundary of the Park runs along the international boundary with Nepal and China. The Park covers an area of 1784 sq.kms. and occupies as much as 25.14% of the total geographical area of Sikkim.
The Park has spectacular wilderness with one of the world’s highest peaks towering above virtually undisturbed mountain range. In fact, Mt. Khangchendzonga is the finest example of an independent mountain having its own glacial system radiating from its several summits. The Park has about 18 glaciers-including the huge, fearsome, awesome and turbulent Zemu Glacier that is 300 mts. wide and 26 kms. long. Besides, there are over 17 high altitude lakes and 19 mountains and peaks. The most magnificent attraction amongst all is the Mt. Khangchendzonga (8,586mts) itself. The name literally means the “abode of the Gods” consisting of five treasure houses indication the five peaks and the guardian deity of Sikkim. Mt Khangchendzonga is flanked by Mt. Narsing (5,825mts) Mt. Padim(6,691 mts) and Kabru of the southern side, the Twins (7,350mts),Nepal Peak(17,150mts) and Tent Peak (7,365mts) on the Northern side, and Mt.Simvo (6,811mts) and Siniolchu (6,886mts) on the Eastern side. All these mountains and peaks lie wholly or partly within the National Park.
Khangchendzonga National Park contains floral and faunal elements akin to Palaearctic and Oriental regions and in addition, it has a good representation of species endemic to Himalaya. Some of these comprise of Cordyceps sinensis, a peculiar sparingly branched fungus plant of highly medicinal value growing in the head of cater pillar which grow underground in alpine meadows; Schizandra grandiflora, a primitive climber, Helwingia himalaica, Smilax rigida, Euonymons spp., Paphiopedilum faireanum, and Aconitum ferox, etc. Among the animals the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens, State Animal), Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia), Great Tibetan Sheep (Ovis ammon hodgsoni), Bharal (Pseudois nayuar), Musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster), are Himalayan endemic representation in KNP. Black-necked crane (migratory) Grus nigricollis, Grey Peacock Pheasant (Polyplectron bicalcaratum), Himalayan Monal Pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus), Blood Pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus), Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan Satyra), Tibetan Snow Cock (Tetraogallus tibetanus), and Himalayan Snow Cock (Tetraogallus himalayensis) are also among the birds unique to this Park.
Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (KBR) with an area of 2,931.12 Km2 represents a land area which upholds the Trans-Himalayan biota in the eastern part of Hindukush Himalayas.The chain of the Great Himalayan Mountain begins from Afghanistan and as it proceeds eastwards to include the Highest Peak of the World, the Mount Everest, the Khangchendzonga Mountain Range, the third highest peak of the World commences immediately after the Everest Range and forms the major portion of the Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (KBR).
KBR is the only an important major conservation area with more of ecological, faunal, floral, geo-morphological, natural and zoological significance in this part of the Himalayan belt declared by the Government of India during 2000 through a Notification No. J – 22016/76/91-BR dated 07-02-2000. After the inclusion of a transition zone, the KBR was recently re-notified vide notification No. 204/KNP-KBR/WL/Forests/2009, dated 24/ 05 /2010.
KBR is endowed with one of the highest eco-systems in the world and it covers varying eco-clines from sub-tropical to arctic, vast land of natural forests in different biomes from 1220 m to over 8586 m above sea level. The vegetation mainly comprises of East Himalayan Sub-tropical Broad-leaf Hill Forest, East Himalayan Moist Temperate Forest, East Himalayan Mixed Coniferous Forest, East Himalayan Sub-Alpine Birch/Fir/Rhododendron Forest, Moist Alpine Scrub Forest and Alpine Pastures.
KBR includes areas of high religious significance that some of the Mountains/ Peaks, Lakes, Caves, Rocks, Stupas (Shrines) and Hot-Springs are sacred and pilgrimage sites. The State Government of Sikkim has banned scaling of sacred peaks and also defilement of sacred caves, sacred rocks, sacred lakes, stupas and sacred hot-springs.