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Himachal Pradesh >>

Great Himalayan National Park

The largest protected area in Himachal Pradesh, the Park is carved out of the splendid mountain terrain of the Kullu district. Rich coniferous forests, alpine meadows carpeted with flowers, snow-capped peaks and glaciers provide a breathtaking panorama.

The secluded Sainj and Tirthan valleys harbour a variety of animals common to this area - wild mountain goats like the bharal, goral and sorrow, the brown bear and predators such as the leopard, tigers and the rarely seen snow leopard. Varieties of colourful pheasants - monal, khalij cheer, tragopan and other Himalayan birds are part of its rich avian population.

Location: 60-km From Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
Altitude: 1,300m To 6,100m
Coverage Area: 765-sq-kms
Nearby Attraction: Ropi Bhaba Sanctuary & Pin Valley National Park

Trekking through the Park to Rakte SAR, the origin of the Sainj River, brings in the added pleasure of seeing wildlife in this spectacular natural environment. Visitors can contact Director, National Park at Shamshi or Range Officer wildlife at Sainj or Range Officer Wild Life at Sai Ropa, Banjar for assistance and guidance. The Forests Department provides camping equipment and guides for tourists.

Characterized by dazzling high ridges, glaciers, deep gorges, alpine meadows and valleys with closed virgin forests, the Great Himalayan National Park with an latitudinal variation from 1,300m to 6,100m in Kullu district is one of the best destinations for Himalayan flora and fauna lovers. Supporting a diverse wildlife of over three hundred species of birds and over thirty species of mammals, the region was declared a national park in 1984.

Nearby Attractions:
Spread over an area of 765-sq-km and contiguous with the Ropi Bhaba Sanctuary (269-sq-km) in the southeast and the Pin valley national park (675-sq-km) in the east, this entire region is one of the largest areas of relatively undisturbed Western Himalayan Eco-systems. Enclosed on the northern, eastern and western boundaries by the Greater Himalayan range, the entrancing scenic beauty of the park is a compliment to its biological richness. A Breathtaking Panorama of Natural Wilderness. The park comprises of the upper catchments areas of the Tirthan, Sainj, Parvati and the Jiwa Nalas, which flow from east to west and merge into the Beas. More than half the area is above 4,000m with most of the eastern part perennially under snow. Glacial advances have given the region its unique topography with a number of river terraces, hanging valleys, which have left extensive moraines.

The Alpine Flora:
One third of the park area is under forest, mainly along the Nalas and their tributaries. The forests vary from sub-tropical, too alpine, to dry alpine shrub types. Himalayan forests of 'Chir' Pines, Conifers, Oaks, Firs, Rhododendrons and Junipers can be encountered within the park. The presence of undisturbed Oak forests at low and middle altitudes is worth noticing here, for it is rare outside the park. Alpine meadows above 3,800m hold a high diversity of herbaceous species, many of which have medicinal and aromatic properties of great commercial value.

Fauna:

The excellent habitat shelters a large number of mammals and peasants. One of the few known viable populations of Western Tragopan, a highly endangered species of pheasants, lives in this protected environment. It is possibly the only place in the Himalayas where the 'Bharal' (blue sheep) occurs virtually side-by-side with the Himalayan 'Thar'. The largest population of the Himalayan Thar endemic to India is in this park. The endangered Musk Deer can also be found here. Herdsmen have also reported the elusive and highly endangered Snow Leopard.

Avifauna:
The Park is a delight for Himalayan Avifauna watchers with over three hundred species that can be sighted. Out of the seven pheasants found in the Western Himalayas, six of them, the western Tragopan, Monal, Cheer, Koklass, Kaliz and Himalayan Snowcock can be found in the park. It also has an unexplored treasure of butterflies and a variety of insects. There are even some places of religious importance in this region. The hot springs at Khirganga, the source of the Raktinala at Raktisar, the source of the Tirthan rivulet and Hanskund and the source of the Parvati River at Mantalai are among the sacred spots visited by pilgrims. Scenic spots at Sojah, Jalori pass and the Sareulsar Lake are of tourist interest.

Best Time to Visit:
The best seasons for visiting the park are summer from April to June and autumn from September to November. The relatively high density of wildlife in the area assures the visitors of sighting the Monal, Western Tragopan, Musk Deer, Goral, Bharal, and the Himalayan Thar. The rainy season from July to August and the winter season from December to March are not advisable periods to visit the park, as excessive damage to the road network and other inconveniences to the visitor are unavoidable.

September and October, when the weather is generally good, are the best months for seeing alpine flora and for observing the Bharal and the Musk Deer. Between Novembers to early March, when the higher reaches are under snow, the high altitude species descend towards the valleys for sustenance. Though difficult, wildlife observers could undertake field studies in these months.

Decorated with stunning beauty and conserved with care, the Great Himalayan National Park is a virtual treasure for the researcher, the sensitive nature lover and the adventure seeker.

HOW TO GET THERE:
Air: The airport at Bhuntar is 10-km from Kullu, where taxis and buses are available.
Rail: The closest narrow gauge railhead is at Jogindernagar, 95-km from Kullu.
Road: To get to the Great National Himalayan Park one has to take the eastern divergence at Aut on the Kullu-Manali highway. Aut is 45-km from Mandi and 30-km from Kullu. From Largi, which is 4-km from Aut, two routes, one along the Sainj Nala (motorable till Neuli, 26-km) and the other along Tirthan Nala (motorable unto Gushaini, 28-km) lead to the park. The rest of the park has to be covered on foot as no mule or horse transport is allowed.

WHERE TO STAY:
There are 14 inspection huts within the park, but prior permission is needed for occupying them. Transit accommodation is available at Aut, Larji, Banjar Sainj, Sai-Ropa and Bathad.

Entrance:
Entry to this protected region is by permits, which can be obtained, either from the Director's Headquarter at Shamshi or from the range officers stationed at Sairopa, Banjar and Sainj. The authorities provide guides and a token fee is charged as entry fee. The undulating terrain serves the purpose o vantage points for observing and photographing wildlife.

 
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