Location: Kullu region in the state of Himachal Pradesh
Area: 1,171 km2
Nearest airport: Kullu
Nearest town: Gushaini
Entry Fee: INR 50 (per day) for Indian Nationals and INR 200 (per day) for Foreign Nationals (Extra fee for cameras and guides)
Best time to visit: May to June
Number of fauna species: 375 species of animals
Number of avifauna species: 209 bird species
Located in the Kullu district of north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, the Great Himalayan National Park is the latest national park established originally in 1984. Spread in an area 1,171 km2, it stands high at an above sea level ranging between 1500 to 6000m. The park also covers 160 villages with about 2300 houses, which is its Ecozone.
The climate is a mix of alpine type and Western Himalayan temperate with the seasons being divided into 4 categories: Spring (April-June), Rainy/Summer (July-September), Autumn (October-November) and Winter (December-March). During the winter season, the park receives snow even at the lower levels and around 2 m deep snow at higher elevations. The temperature ranges between -10 to 40 degrees Celsius, with January being the coldest and June being the hottest months of the year.
The national park is home to over 375 fauna species including 31 mammals, 209 birds, 127 insects 3 reptiles, 3 slugs, 11 annelids, 9 amphibians and 17 mollusks.
The park houses around 31 species of herbivores, which are its main attractions. The list of mammals includes the Himalayan Goral, the Himalayan Tahr- a wild goat and the Bharal or the Blue Sheep. These mammals are prey for Common Leopards and Snow Leopards. Himalayan Black Bears and Asiatic Brown Bears are also found here.
The birds at Great Himalayan National Park play an important role in the biological diversity and are also a prime attraction amidst those who love bird watching. The Park is well- known for birds like the endangered Western Tragopan, four species of Pheasant, Monal, Raptors, Himalayan Griffon Vultures, Golden Eagles and with Lammergeiers.
Popular as providers of ‘ecosystem services’, the invertebrates have a prime role in the maintenance of a number of life processes and the food chains of the park. The park houses mollusks, earthworms and leeches, other than the flying insects.
The National Park is known for having various kinds of vertebrate fauna that includes various Threatened and regionally endemic species. Himalayan Toad (Bufo Himalayanus Gunther) and Marbled Toad (Bufo Stomaticus) are two of them.
Kashmir Rock ( Laudakia tuberculata Agama), Himalayan Ground (Scincella himalayanus Skink ), Eastern Keelback (Tropidonotus platyceps Blyth), Himalayan Pit Viper(Halys himalayanus Gunther) are some of the reptile species that can be found in the Great Himalayan National Park.
Flora in Great Himalayan National Park
The national park houses an amazing diversity of plant life, mainly because of its vast altitude range and undisturbed habitats. The lower valleys have pines, spruces, and horse chestnuts, along with alpine herbs and junipers as well as a vast variety of vegetation. Some plants of the park are famed for their medicinal properties. Around 17 percent of the area of the park is forest with dominance of alpine area, rocky peaks, meadows and rocky-peaks. Over 125 families and 425 genera of higher plants have been found in the park area.
Wildlife safari inside the park
Because of its natural wonders, the Great Himalayan National Park is the perfect place for hikers and trekkers with a vast variety of amazing experiences. The trail in the forest begins from around a day’s walk in the Ecozone going up to difficult treks for a week or even longer than that. You can explore lush oak, conifer and bamboo forests, alpine meadows; free-flowing rivers and snow glaciers at high altitudes. The park has a diverse terrain and geology.
There are some very famous GHNP trek routes that have been embarked upon by the staff of the Park along with foreign visitors. However there are other routes too. The minimum but the best trek is about 5 days. Following are the popular trekking routes:
Entry Inside The Great Himalayan National Park
Entry in the protected area of the park is possible only by permits, that can be gained from either the range officers stationed at Sairopa, Banjar and Sainj or from the Director's Headquarter at Shamshi. You can also ask for guides from the authorities for which you will have to pay a token fee along with the entry fee. The rolling terrains of the national park have several vantage points, perfect for clicking as well as spotting wildlife.
The entry fee for Indian Nationals is INR 50 (Per Day) and INR 200 (Per Day) for Foreign Nationals. You have to pay extra for cameras and guides.
Around the park
The area adjoining the park is the Ecozone area that comprises of 106 villages that are economically dependent on the resources of the park. The state government of Himachal Pradesh and a number of NGO’s have assisted the villagers in creating alternative economic resources.
The Ecozone is the perfect place to indulge in a number of activities like wildlife spotting, bird watching, pilgrimages, craft creation, cultural tours and interacting with the local craftsmen. You can choices to go for such as fishing, rafting, climbing, enjoying a village festival, admiring local architecture and several pious groves. Enjoy a walk in these beautiful villages.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit the park is from the month of May to June. The park receives a lot of rain between the months of Jul and Sep and trekking can become quite difficult in some parts. The higher altitude area of the Great Himalayan National Park is closed from October to April.
How to reach
The nearest airport to the park is in Kullu, around 50 kms away that is connected with prime cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Dharamsala, Shimla and Pathankot. You can hire taxis to reach GHNP.
The nearest international airport is in Delhi, about 550 kms in distance. The airport is well-connected to chief domestic and international destinations by air. From Delhi airport, you can hire taxis to reach the park.
The nearest railway station to GHNP is in Mandi, about 100 km away but from here you only get trains for Chandigarh. Thus a better option Chandigarh which is connected to all the main cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Allahabad, Kolkata, Kalka, Lucknow and even more. From Mandi, you can take a taxi to go the park.
Kullu is located at a distance of 50 kms from the park GHNP. HPTDC runs buses that connect Delhi, Ambala, Chandigarh, Pathankot, Shimla, and other regions to Kullu. Both public and private buses are available from Kullu to Aut from where you can hire taxis till Neuli or Ghushaini. The national park is at a walking distance from here.