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Anupriya Bedi Jul 17 2014

Can you tell me about the Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh?

3 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) has recently been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in an isolated part of the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, this national park has large swathes of undisturbed primary forest. This together with the sheer difficulty of the terrain give wildlife spotting and trekking in this national park a thrill and rawness that few other parks in India can offer.

The Great Himalayan National Park (from the official Facebook page of GHNP)

The park is home to the elusive snow leopards, the Himalayan tahrs, large populations of the Himalayan black bear and the Asiatic brown bear. The most famous of GHNP’s birds, the monal, koklass and the western tragopan, all pheasants, are found in the upper forest zone. The national park is also home to some exquisite varieties of butterflies.

Paris Peacock (from the official Facebook page of GHNP)

Western Tragopan (from the official Facebook page of GHNP)

Best Time to Visit

The park is open throughout the year. April-May is the best time to visit, as the weather in Kullu would be perfect for tourist. By this time, the snow melts, and the ground is clear of the grass that makes climbing difficult. Fall (September to mid-November) is also a good time to visit the park. The monsoon rain and the winter snow make trekking fairly difficult. But it’s only in the winter that animals like the snow leopard and tahr descend from higher altitudes.

Great Himalayan National Park (from the official Facebook page of GHNP)

How to Reach

Bhuntar (50 km/ 1.5 hours) is the nearest airport. However, the best option is to take a train to Chandigarh and then hire a four-wheel drive for the rest of your trip.

Things to See and Do

GHNP has huge tracts of virgin and unexplored forests that make for some excellent wildlife spotting. The only way to move through the park is by trekking (a lot of which can be fairly difficult) and using the Forest Department’s huts for night halts.

Great Himalayan National Park (from the official website of GHNP)

1. Sainj Valley Trek (66 km)

This relatively easy trek takes you through some of the dense forests of the Sainj Valley. You can also move further up to the high-altitude meadow of Dhel (3,737 m).

Meadow in the Sainj Valley (from the official Facebook page of GHNP)

2. Sainj-Tirthan Valley Trek (85 km)

This trek is probably the best for spotting wildlife—it takes you through the valleys of the Tirthan and the Sainj rivers, through a varying range of altitudes and forests, right from dense oak and chestnut forests to high-altitude birch and rhododendron forest. The stretch from Gushaini to Shilt is excellent for birdwatching. Shilt onwards you enter bear territory—they’re extremely elusive so you will probably only see pugmarks, but you are quite likely to see ghoral, and possibly tahr. You will also probably see monal, koklass and, if you’re up early enough, you might just see the tragopan or the jujurana, as it is locally known.

Himalayan tahr seen in the Sainj Valley (by Kieran Palmer)

3. Jiwa Nala to Parvati River Valley (110 km)

This 7-day trek involves crossing the mountain passes of Kandi Galu (3,627 m) and Phangchi Galu (4,636 m). It takes you through everything from birch forests along the Jiwanal River to high-altitude glacial ponds. It’s your best chance to spot the bear and the elusive snow leopard.

Jiwanal River (from the official Facebook page of GHNP)

4. Tirath/ Tirthan Valley Trek (92 km)

This 8-day trek takes you along the Tirthan Valley to the source of the river. Nada Thach is a good place for birdwatching, while at higher altitudes, there are good chances of seeing the snow leopard, serow and tahr.

Snow leopard near Nada Thach (from the official Facebook page of GHNP)

5. Raktisar (92 km)

This trek to the headwaters of the Sainj River offers a good chance to see the endangered western tragopan. It’s not as popular as the Tirath trek, but every bit as interesting.

Western tragopan seen near Raktisar (from the official website of GHNP)

The treks mentioned here are some of the more popular ones—on trails that have been established by the park authorities. The park, however, has many other trails (of varying degrees of difficulty). While most of the trails pass through a wide range of forests, there are certain forest patches in the GHNP that are known to support particular birds and animals, like a patch of deodar forest near Guntrao, which is said to have a large population of musk deer.

Pristine forest in the Great Himalayan National Park (from the official Facebook page of GHNP)

If you’re interested in searching for a particular animal or bird, it’s best to consult the Great Himalayan National Park authorities, or to take the advice of your guide. Some of the treks can be fairly difficult, so it’s best to be realistic. Remember that wildlife is not easy to come across in the dense forests of the park, so give yourself enough time.

So if you are planning a wildlife holiday and are a trekking enthusiast, then you must head out to the the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site--the Great Himalayan National Park.

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