The Great Himalayan National Park, officially known as Jawaharlal National Park, was established in 1984. It encompasses a great number of rare and endangered Indian Wildlife species, and also river valleys, snow clad mountains, steep cliffs, and more. Four major rivers of the area originate from the glaciers in the Park.
The altitude of the park varies from 1,500 m to about 6,000 m, and the majestic Himalayan Mountains environs the park in the east. The areas that adjoin GHNP are Pin Valley National Park in Trans-Himalaya, the Rupi-Bhawa Wildlife Sanctuary in Sutlej watershed, and the Kanawar Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Park consists of the upper catchment areas of the Tirthan, Sainj, Parvati and Jiwa Nala, flowing East to West and flowing into Beas river.
The rugged terrain is rich in biodiversity and houses an incredible range of species of both fauna and flora. Some of the wildlife shows characteristics of those found in the south-east Asian forest, Siberia and the Asian steppes. The park is identified by the World Conservation Monitoring Center as one of the five centres of plant diversity and endemism in India.
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The national shelters around 375 faunal species, including 31 mammals, 3 reptiles, 9 amphibians, 11 annelids, 17 mollusks, 127 insects belonging to six orders. Also, the park hosts a considerable number of avian population, around 181 species of birds have been recorded. The Park is part of a globally important Endemic Bird Areas identified by the ICDP Biodiversity Project.
The wide altitude range and unspoiled habitats support almost an infinite variety of vegetation. Only 17 percent of the area is covered by forest and beyond tree line, the barren area comprises of meadows, rocky and snow bound peaks. In the forest and sub-alpine areas, 425 genera and 125 families of higher plants have been recorded.
Horse chestnuts, evergreen oaks, spruce, and deodhar (cedar), Kharshu Oak, spruce and fir and then into a subalpine zone of birches, stunted firs and rhododendron bushes, grasses, herbs and low shrubs, such as juniper, bamboo, ferns and mosses.
Himalayan black bears, brown bears, langurs, rhesus macaques, and wild sheep such as the Himalayan thar, bharal and the ibex. One can also spot endangered musk deer there have been reports of snow leopard sightings.
Some of the birds spotted in the park are Galliforms, Western Tragopan, Monal Pheasant, Koklas,Cheer Pheasant, White-crested Kaleej, Griffon vulture and Lammergeier, peckled Wood-Pigeon and Snow Pigeon, Collared Owlet and the Tawny Owl, and more.
The park is famous for its uniqueness and abundance of rare species of flora and fauna. The biological richness and the picturesque topography make it a bewitching national park and one that offers an experience to cherish for lifetime.
The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) lies in the Seraj Forest Division (in Kullu District), in the upper catchments of the Jiwa, Sainj and Tirthan rivers.
765 sq. km
Kullu is the nearest town, 60 km away from the Park, and its linked by road to Shimla, Chandigarh, Delhi and Ambala. Buses regularly ply on this route.
Take the National Highway (NH) 21 (Kullu-Manali) route, and then take the eastern divergence at Aut. Aut to Largi, and from Largi there are two routes available. One is along the Sainj Nala till Neuli, and other along Tirthan Nala till Gushaini. These two routes lead till the park.
Visitors have to go on foot inside the park, as no motor transport or horses are allowed. Nearest railhead is in Chandigarh, and nearest airport is at Bhuntar in Kullu district.
Best Time to Visit:
early summer or autumn- April to June and September to November
Places to visit nearby:
Pin Valley National Park:
In 1987, Pin Valley, which is nestled in the cold-desert of trans-Himalayas, was declared a National Park. Its area extends to south of Dhankar Gompa near Tibetan border, and marks the border between Spiti and Lahaul. Here, bird watchers can spot their prized colourful birds without obstruction of thick forest areas. Some of the rarest species of wildlife dwell here.
Things to keep in mind:
Special permit required from the office of the Park Director at Shamsi to visit the park. Also, a qualified guide is mandatory for everyone visiting the park.
Visits to the Great Himalayan National Park are allowed only between sunrise and sunset.
Vehicles do not go inside the park. The viewing is done on foot.
Its difficult and also dangerous to visit the park from December to March.
September to November is the best time for animal sightings as during these months the animals congregate at lower altitudes.
One should be equipped with binoculars, warm clothes, pair of good boots, sleeping bags, medicines and sufficient food materials.
You must be physically fit
Keep in your Trek Bag:
Water, juices, snacks
A good compass
An extra pair of clothes