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Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

Vershey is a small rhododendron sanctuary on the Singalila ridge with exotic views of snow peaks of Khangchendzonga range. Situated at an altitude of 3,300 meters, this is an ideal place for short to medium distance Treks. The area is surrounded by rhododendron forests, hanging mosses and a wide verity of rare flora and fauna. The rhododendron bloom in the months of March and April. During this time the hills are aflame with riot of colours varying from pure red to yellow, blue and white.

The Varsey sanctuary is a popular offbeat trekking destination in Sikkim. It can be reached after an hours trek from the nearest motorable point at Hilley (distance about 4 km). The trek passes through beautiful rhododendron forests and is relatively easy and can be enjoyed by anyone with basic fitness. From Varsey one can take an adventurous trek route Phalut in Darjeeling via Gorkhey. Treks can be organized from Versey to Uttaray or Dentam.

Attractions and landscape

Situated at the elevation between 6300 ft and 12000 ft the sanctuary is home to several species of Rhododendron, Primula, Magnolia, oak and pine. The entire region is covered with dense primitive forest and much of the forest is still unexplored. The sanctuary is also famous for rare Himalayan species like Red Panda and Black Bear.

Weather

Varsey sanctuary having an altitude of over 10,000 ft witnesses a prevailing wet and cold climate during most of the year. This climate favors the growth of alpine forest predominantly oak, magnolia and rhododendron. The wettest month is July. The sanctuary receives an annual precipitation of about 250 cm. The upper ridges in the sanctuary receive regular snowfall during winter months between December and February. The best time to visit the sanctuary is between October and May when the skies remains clear with best mountains view can be seen. April and May sees the sanctuary blooming with rhododendron flowers.

Getting There

The nearest railhead is NJP and airport is Bagdogra. Major towns of the Sikkim – Darjeeling region can be reached within 2 to 3 hours drive. The distance from Hilley where the road ends, along with approximate travel time is given below.

New Jalpaiguri Rail station (NJP) – 140 kms (4.5 hours)
Bagdogra Airport – 140 kms (4.5 hours)
Darjeeling – 115 kms (4 hours). However there is a shortcut road that, if open, would take 3 hours
Gangtok – 130 kms (4.5 hours)
Kalimpong – 95 kms (3.5 hours)
Pelling – 95 kms (3.5 hours)
Jorethang – 48 kms (1.5 hours)
Namchi – 70 kms (3 hours)

Map of Varsey

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