Presenting my third project with ICLEI: an illustrated urban biodiversity map of Gangtok, the capital of the Himalayan state of Sikkim. Situated in a once pristine landscape that is now subject to rapid change and degradation, Gangtok still boasts of an incredible range of fauna and flora, specially in its greenest pockets (such as forests around the Himalayan Zoological Park, the Governor's Bungalow, and Hanuman Tok to name a few). Its orchid diversity makes it next to none among Indian capital cities. But although it is surrounded by protected areas and sanctuaries like Fambonglho, Kyongnodsla and the Kanchenjunga National park, Gangtok today struggles to strike an equilibrium between rapid urbanization and nature conservation.
The map pays tribute to Thangka art, an art style that has fascinated me for years, and is almost synonymous with art itself in Sikkim. The Directorate of Handloom and Handicraft at Gangtok has a Thangka art school, where I spent some time learning a few tips and tricks from both art teachers and students before working on this map.
Thanks once again to ICLEI for commissioning me for the project. I also extend my gratitude to the prolific Sikkim forester and my mentor Mrs. Usha Lachungpa (who features in the map!), and my friends Minla and Karmachoden for all their help with my orientation of Sikkim and Gangtok, and without whom this illustration would be impossible to execute.
The illustration can be downloaded in high resolution on the Interactbio ICLEI website here.
Some snippets from the map are below (click on the images for a larger view):