This summer, head to the Kanchenjunga Biodiversity Festival to experience the rich flora and fauna in the Eastern Himalayas
A few years ago, when wildlife biologist Anand Pendharkar visited the Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve in Yuksam, West Sikkim, the sight of mounds of trash lying around was not just shocking, but also a poor reflection of what was slowly becoming of India’s only mixed heritage site — a protected cultural and wildlife reserve.
Trekkers and visitors had sullied the place. Naturally, the villagers were upset. When Pendharkar and team undertook a clean-up drive soon after, they collected over 500 kg of garbage. "The Sikkimese are connected with nature," says Pendharkar.
"Kanchenjunga [India’s tallest and world’s third tallest mountain] is like a deity for them," he added. The urgent need to preserve and protect the natural environment of this place saw Pendharkar come up with a first-of-its-kind biodiversity festival, scheduled for May this year.
The four-day Kanchenjunga Biodiversity Festival will provide a holistic perspective of what the Eastern Himalayas has to offer. "And the reserve has that kind of diversity," Pendharkar explains. Apart from the unique wild flowers and trees (Primulas, Rhododendrons, Orchids), the reserve also boasts of a plethora of invertebrates, especially butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. The nature festival will also give participants an opportunity to speak to the locals and experience the culture.
WHEN: May 7 to 10
WHERE: Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve
COST: Rs 15,000 for adults; Rs 12,500 for students
TO REGISTER: firstname.lastname@example.org (registration closes in February)