Surrounded on three sides by towering Himalayan Mountains, the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) hosts some of the densest population of Himalayan wildlife species. Located 50 km from Kullu in Himachal Pradesh, GHNP was built in 1984 and is spread over 755 sq km. In 1999, it was accorded the status of a national park.
It boasts of over 375 fauna species, including 31 species of mammals and 181 species of birds. The fauna of the park includes some of the most exotic species of animals like snow leopard, blue sheep, Himalayan brown bear, Himalayan tahr, musk deer, goral and many others.
Variety of birds found in GHNP includes golden eagles, Himalayan griffon vultures, lammergeyers, raptors, etc. It is also home to the endangered species of western tragopan and over 50 species of migratory birds
The flora of the national park includes trees, shrubs, herbs and medicinal plants. Rare species of spurge, buckthorn, yew, valerians, leycesteria, balsams, etc. are found here.
A major source of water for the neighbouring regions, the park has Beas, Sainj, Jiwa and Tirthan rivers flowing through it.
The park is also famous destination with trekkers. Neuli- Sarangarh loop, Neuli- Sainj valley, Sainj- Tirthan valley, Gushaini-Tinder village, Gushaini- Shilt Hut, Neuli-Manu temple, Siund- Pashi villages, Jiwa Nala- Parvati River valley, Gushaini- Tirthan valley and Shamshi- Kaza are some of the famous trails.
Its remote location has ensured villages situated inside the park have developed a culture of their own. Almost every village or community within the park has their own distinct deity. Many communities worship sacred groves.
Various fairs are held during April, May, August and September.
In and Around
The star animal attractions of the park includes the Snow Leopard, Blue Sheep, Himalayan Brown Bear, Himalayan Tahr and Musk Deer. Other animals of the park are Serow, Rhesus Macaque, Barking Deer, Goral, Red Fox, Langur, Gray Shrew, Giant Indian Flying Squirrel, Porcupine, Himalayan Palm Civet, Himalayan Weasel and Yellow-throated Marten.
Birds are a prime attraction in the Great Himalayan National Park. There are around 180 species of birds in the park out of which the most prominent ones are Western Tragopan, Monal Pheasant, Koklas, White-crested Kaleej and Cheer Pheasant. Other birds spotted in the park include Raptors, Shorebirds, Pigeons, Parakeets, Cuckoos, Owls, Gray Nightjar, Himalayan Swiftlets, Fork-tailed Swifts, White-throated Needletail, Eurasian Hoopoe, Brown-fronted Woodpecker, Great Barbet, Scaly-bellied Woodpecker, Himalayan Woodpecker and Speckled Piculet.
The significance of the park as far as its bird population goes can be guaged from the fact that the park constitutes a part of the globally important Endemic Bird Areas identified by the ICDP Biodiversity.
This is the only way to explore the wilderness of the park since vehicles are not allowed inside. So, if you want to enjoy the beauty of the park and sight some animals and birds in this park, you need to be perfectly fit physically. A guide will accompany you inside the park to guide you through the terrains which are quiet unknown to you. The difficulty of the trek routes vary from moderate to strenuous. Some of the popular trek inside the park include Sainj Valley Trek ( 66 km and moderate), Sainj Tirthan Valley Trek ( 85 km and moderate to strenuous), Jiva Nala to Parvati River Valley ( 110 km and difficult), Tirthan Valley trek ( 92 km and moderate to strenuous) and lastly Raktisar (92 km and moderate to strenuous).
From April to June and between October-November.
How to Reach
The nearest airport at Bhuntar, at a distance of 50km. from the park and 10km from Kulu is well connected to the rest of the country. Taxis and buses are available from the airport.
The nearest railhead is Joginder Nagar nearly 100km from the park and Chandigarh. This station is well-connected to other parts of the country.
Kulu is well connected to Shimla, Chandigarh, Delhi and Ambala. There are luxury buses available from Kulu to Shimla (240km)and Delhi via Mandi (530 km)and back. From Kulu buses ply through NH # 21via Aut (30km).From Aut the road access to the park is only up to Gushaini or Neuli. One has to take the eastern divergence at Aut on the Kullu-Manali highway. From the small town of Aut, a roadlink crosses the Beas river into the Banjar valley, where the GHNP islocated. From Larji, 4km from Aut, two routes – one along the Sainj Nala till Neuli (26km) and the other is along Tirthan Nala, upto Gushaini (28km). The park is only accessible by foot.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
GHNP offers limited accommodation options. There are 14 guesthouses inside the park. Apart from that, forest guest houses are also available at Aut, Sainj, Sairopa, Banjar and Shangarh.
However, most tourists who visit the park prefer staying at Kullu, 50 km away. There are a lot of accommodation options available in Kullu ranging from budget to mid-range to luxury hotels. Apart from hotels there are also resorts, guest houses and home-stays in Kullu.