The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) conservation area is situated within the globally recognized Eco zone in the Western Himalayas. It falls within the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. GNHP was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site putting it on the global sitemap. Spread across an area of 755 sq. kilometers with altitudes ranging from 2000 m – 6000 m, the park supports many diverse ecosystems. The glaciers of the upper Himalayan ranges of GNHP are the source of many river in the western Himalayas like the Sainj, Tirthan, Jiva Nal and Parbati Rivers, all tributaries of the River Beas.
The GHNP conservation area in the Himalayan ranges has a rich bounty of fauna with 200+ species including the Himalayan Black Bear, Musk deer, Leopard, Himalayan Tahr, Blue Sheep, Goral, Serow, Red Fox, Giant Indian flying Squirrel, Porcupine, Himalayan Weasel and Snow Leopard to name a few. During spring and summer the wild animals retire to the upper regions of the Himalayas bust descend down to the valley during winter to escape the snow and in search of food.
The Great Himalayan National park is also home to 180 species of birds (many endangered) like the Western Tragopan, Monal Pheasant, Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, Thrushes, slaty headed Parakeet, Great Himalayan Barbet and Golden Eagles. Butterflies are also found in abundance here. Experienced guides from the forest department can assist tourist with sightings.
Given the variation in altitude and massive area, the park has a huge repository of diverse vegetation and flora with alpine forests, meadows, grasslands and other vegetation including rare medicinal plants. The region is marked by a small human settlement primarily dependant on primitive methods of livelihood, supported by the rich biodiversity. But this human presence in the Ecozone is also posing a threat to its conservation due to wildlife poaching, forest encroachments, receding alpine forests and hydropower project etc. Local communities are now coming together to support the cause of conservation of the heritage site.
Trekking and camping in GNHP
The GHNP, bordered by steep ridges and gorges on three sides, is a trekker’s paradise offering numerous trail options. Of late with the web and media explosion, adventure activities like trekking and camping in GNHP is steadily gaining popularity. The valleys offer relatively easy to strenuous routes. Trails, bridges, camping sites etc are maintained by the park officials.
Trekking routes within the park are closely regulated. Many routes can be explored but prior permits have to be obtained from the park authorities.
Half Day Trek: Trek along a beautiful easy mountain trail lined with orchards and colourful wild blooms to the GHNP entrance (8kms).
Overnight Treks: Go on moderate level treks and camp overnight in the GHNP Eco zone at campsites like Rolla or Rangthal.
Long Cross-Valley Treks: There are many treks ranging upto a 1-8 days and altitudes of 4000+ meters like the Sainj Valley Trek (5 days; 22kms; 2800m) and Sainj – Tirthan Valleys Trek (8 days; 85 kms; 4120m). There are many route options but permit has to be obtained from the authorities.
For camping and trekking itineraries: http://www.greathimalayannationalpark.com.
For 1-3 day treks in GHNP, contact the at the ticket window in Van Vihar, Manali.
GHNP Contact: Park Director, GHNP, Shamshi, Phone: +91-1902-265320, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Climate in the GHNP Ecozone
Summer: 10 °C to 23 10 °C, May to July. Sunny mornings and pleasant evenings. Cottons and light woollen clothing recommended.
Winter: -5 °C to 7 °C, Extreme temperatures from December to March with snowfall above 3000 m making many parts of the park inaccessible. Heavy woollens recommended. The valley also has visitors from the wild during winters. Leopards, Bears and other wildlife descend to the lower regions to avoid the snow and in search of food. Hence trekkers must take extreme caution, be in large groups and not venture into the woods after dark.
Best Time to visit: April-June and September-October.