Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Eastern Himalaya - Red Panda, Tea and Elephants Trail - from Help Tourism

22 days, culture, wildlife and tea gardens

East Himalaya is a part of one of the EIGHT HOTTEST BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOTS of the world. This is a part of the Indo-Burma region. Other then India, the East Himalaya touches the countries of Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and West Bengal occupies more than 100,000 sq. kms of East Himalaya approx. which is about 25% of the Indian Himalaya. This shows a major portion of the Himalaya is existent in the East. Similarly, the whole of Nepal and Bhutan are a part of the East Himalaya. The rich biodiversity and cultural diversity of East Himalaya has further reaching effects and extends the region in a compact zone from Bay of Bengal to the snow capped ranges of Mt.Kanchenjunga and Mt.Everest.

The topography varies from the estuarine landscape, passing through low foothills reaching upto the highest mountains of the world, the Mt. Everest and the Mt. Kanchenjunga. A massive area is covered with snow glaciers feeding a large network of rivers, the major ones being the Brahmaputra, Ganga, Lohit, Dehing, Jiabhareli, Koshi, Rydak, Torsha and Teesta. The areas below the snow are mainly used for forestry, agriculture, grassland habitations and infrastructure such as dams, reservoirs and roads. The forest cover is about 140,000 sq. kms even after losing about two third of the forest in the last few decades. The East Himalaya is the home of more than a hundred indigenous communities, with unique cultures & origin.

The biodiversity explored till date provides mind boggling figures, about 8000 species of angiosperms of which 3200 are endemic, 800 species of birds, 150 species of reptiles, 80 species of amphibians, 200 species of fishes and the list continues.
More than 80 wild relatives of crops belonging to cereals, millet, pulses, oil yielding plants, spices and fruits have been recorded here in scientific studies.

Keeping in view whatever little that has been described, the ecological importance of the region is beyond question. The ethnic diversity is so vast that more than 50% of the population and their cultures are still waiting to be explored.

Mt.Kanchenjunga, towering at 28,156 feet, the third highest mountain in the world is considered as the Guardian Deity of the region and dominates the landscape of the whole area including Darjeeling Hills, Dooars-the foothill forests, Sikkim state and the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Your experience in this tour includes unique opportunities to visit the picturesque and remote Himalayan villages, Tea Plantations, and some of the outstanding ecological sites, and interact with the local community. Enjoy a taste of their lifestyle and be a part of it while staying with them, experience local crafts, cuisine and even be entertained in their local cultural tradition. The people of villages are your hosts. They have proudly retained most of their cultural tradition and self-sustaining lifestyle.

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