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Great Himalayan National Park

Discussion in 'Destination Guides' started by Debapriya Deb, May 23, 2016.

  1. Debapriya Deb

    Debapriya Deb Active Member

    The Great Himalayan National Park, or simply GHNP, is one of the most revered protected wildlife reserves in India. Located amidst the beautiful Himalayan landscapes, GHNP is unique in the sense that it houses several rare and endangered species of tropical animals which live in high-altitude terrains. GHNP has been set up at an altitude range of 1500 to 6000 meters above the sea level. It covers a total surface area of over 1171 square kilometers.

    The Great Himalayan National Park, established in 1984, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the criteria of 'outstanding significance for biodiversity conservation'. Besides being the home to rare Himalayan species of animals and birds, the park serves as one of the most popular trekking destination in the entire country.

    GHNP Location

    Great Himalayan National Park is located in the Banjar subdivision of Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh.

    Located at the interface of Oriental and Palaearctic faunal regions, the high altitude ecosystem of GHNP is as diversified as it can get. With such a wide altitude range, the park represents as many as four different topographical zones - alpine, glacial, temperate and sub tropical. Each zone has its typical characteristics and own set of flora and fauna - which are quite different from the other zones.

    The park is divided into four valleys - Tirthan Valley, Sainj Valley, Jiwanal Valley and Parvati Valley. Tirthan Valley is the most accessed terrain in GHNP followed by Sainj Valley. Only the seasoned trekkers are granted access to Jiwanal Valley and Parvati Valley.

    How To Reach GHNP?

    GHNP administrative headquarters is located at Shamshi in Kullu Valley. Tourist can gain access to the Great Himalayan National Park via Tirthan Valley or Sainj Valley. The park can be best accessed by road. NH-21 which connects Chandigarh to Manali via Swarghat goes through Aut in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. From Aut, Tirthan Valley is just around 30 KM. There are regular bus and taxi services to reach Tirthan or Sainj Valley from Aut and Kullu.

    Railways is not the preferred mode of transport to GHNP as the nearest mainline railway station, Rupnagar (RPAR), is situated at a distance of 215 KM from Tirthan Valley. You may, however, take the narrow-gauge toy train ride from Pathankot to Joginder Nagar in Mandi district. From Joginder Nagar, there are bus and taxi services to take you to Kullu.

    Traveling by air can be another option to arrive at Great Himalayan National Park. The entrance of GHNP at Tirthan Valley is around 49 KM away from the Bhuntar Airport in Kullu. Bhuntar Airport has daily scheduled flights to New Delhi operated by Air India.

    Rare and Endangered Species of Wildlife Found at GHNP

    Over 375 species of animals, birds and insects are found at the GHNP. The endangered Blue Sheep is an endemic animal species in this region which you won't anywhere else in the world. The musk deer is another rare animal species found in this wildlife reserve. GHNP is also famous for housing the endangered Red Panda, Himalayan Tahr, Himalayan Brown Bear and Clouded Leopard. Snow Leopards are also found in the higher reaches of Great Himalayan National Park.

    Among the birds, the most famous resident of GHNP is the endangered Western Tragopan. Blue-fronted Redstarts can also be spotted in good numbers. Lammergeiers, Himalayan Griffon Vultures, and Golden Eagles are also seen regularly. Long-tailed Minivets, White-collared Blackbirds, Grey-winged Blackbirds,Yellow-bellied Fantails, Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Spectacled Finch and Golden Bush Robin are a few of the widely revered bird species available at the Great Himalayan National Park.

    Trekking at the Great Himalayan National Park

    Trekking is the main tourist attraction here at GHNP. The permission to trek in the core areas are provided only to the serious and physically fit individuals with prior trekking experience. For the seasoned trekkers, the remote location and rugged terrains make it a wonderful place to explore. For the casual ones, there are multiple short-distance, one-day trails in the buffer zone of the forest.

    Popular Trekking Trails at GHNP

    1. Gushaini to Shilt Hut - This is an easy to moderate trek which can be completed in 3 days. Total distance covered in this trek is around 32 KM. The trek starts from Gushaini and goes to the ecozone of the park through Rolla on day 1. Rolla to Shilt Hut stretch and Chhordwari waterfalls is covered on day 2. Day 3 marks the return journey from Shilt Hut to Gushaini. Accommodation is offered in forest tent house and trekkers camps at Rolla and Shilt Hut.

    2. Neuli to Sainj Valley - It is a five days trek which can be completed with moderate difficulty. It starts from Neuli and goes through Shakti, Homkhani Forest and Dhel in the Sainj Valley. The total distance covered during this trek is around 66 KM.

    3. Neuli to Tirthan Valley - It is a challenging eight days trekking trail. This trail covers both the Sainj and Tirthan Valleys. Starting from Neuli, the trekkers cover Shakti, Dhel, Guntrao, Shilt and Gushaini in this 85 KM long trekking route. There are ample chances to spot exotic Himalayan wildlife on this trek. Musk deers, Himalayan Tahrs, and Red Foxes can be sighted while trekking through this dense forested terrain.

    4. Neuli to Rakti Sar - Rakti Sar is the place from where Parvati river originates. This trekking trail is known to be a challenging one. It involves strenuous ascent and descent through rocky terrains. The trekkers start from Neuli and reach Rakti Sar via Shakti and Parkachi with overnight halts at both these places. The return trek is via the same route. Total roundtrip distance is around 92 KM.

    5. Shamshi to Pin Parvati Pass - It is the mother of all trekking trails at GHNP. The Pin Parvati Pass is a high-altitude mountain pass perched at an elevation of 5319 meters above the sea level. It connects Parvati Valley to the Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh. The trekking trail goes through -

    Shamshi - Barsheni - Khirganga - Tunda Bhuj - Thakur Kaun - Pandupul - Mantalai - Pin Parvati Pass.

    Trekkers can continue till Kaza via Pin Valley, Tariya and Mud. Mantalai, Pin Parvati Pass and Pin Valley have snow coverage throughout the year. You will come across lovely panoramic alpine landscapes and long stretches of snow fields during this trek. The overall distance is around 95 KM and it usually takes 8 days to complete this treacherous trek.

    GHNP Entry Fees

    Indian tourists are charged INR 100 per day as the entry fee. The fee for foreign tourists is INR 400. Students get 50% discount. Still camera doesn't attract any fees, but you will have to shell out INR 150 (INR 300 for foreigners) to take a video camera inside the park. Guide fees are charged in addition to the above-mentioned fees. There is no fixed guide charge and it varies based on the trekking route and number of days for which the service is required.

    Accommodation Facility inside the Park

    The Great Himalayan National Park has several tourist huts and cottages inside the park to accommodate tourists. Forest Rest House, Tourist Center Dormitory and Trekker's Huts are located close to the trekking routes for the convenience of the trekkers.

    Best Time to Visit GHNP

    Autumn is considered as the best time to visit the Great Himalayan national Park. Mild temperature, pleasant weather, and dry terrain conditions make it the best time to go for treks. So you should ideally plan your GHNP trip during the months of October-November.

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  2. Kritika

    Kritika New Member

    Thanks Deb for this beautiful and insightful information regarding Great Himalayan National Park. Very thanks for sharing it, on the other have I came to know that this Himalayan National Park is in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, is a UNESCO World heritage site, and a very ideal place for nature lover. This will be my next destination, again very thanks Deb for this amazing post.

  3. Alexandoy

    Alexandoy Member

    I am attracted to the phrase - one of the most revered protected wildlife reserves. Most of the parks that I see in our country have no ample protection or maybe there are no rangers that's why anyone can go there and ruin the place. Littering is the biggest problem in wildlife parks so if there are no staff manning the place then you can imagine the mess that visitors create. Anyway, it looks like the Great Himalayan National Park is not only a sight to see but also a place to feel nature. I hope that the park will continue to be protected by the government for the future generations. And who knows if someday I will have the opportunity to set foot in that park.