Characterised by dazzling high ridges, glaciers, deep gorges, alpine meadows and valleys with closed virgin forests, the Great Himalayan National Park with an altitudinal 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.
Spread over an area of 765-sq-km and contiguous with the
Ropi Bhaba Sanctuary (269-sq-km) in the southeast and the
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
The park comprises of the upper catchment 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, to 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 herbacious species, many of which have medicinal and aromatic properties of great commercial value.
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. The elusive and highly endangered Snow Leopard has also been reported by herdsmen.
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 November 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.
Air: The airport at Bhuntar is 10-km from
Kullu , where taxis and buses are
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 upto 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.
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.
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. Guides are provided by the authorities and a token fee is charged as entry fee. The undulating terrain serves the purpose o vantage points for observing and photographing wildlife.