Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP)
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Great Himalayan National Park(GHNP) is a relatively new National Park created in 1999. It is known as GHNP. It protects a himalayan ecosystem with rare plants and animals. Himalayan black bear, brown bear, leopard, snow leopard and Himalayan tahr are found here but they are all very elusive. The colourful Himalayan Monal Pheasant and the Western Tragopan represent the birdlife.

GHNP has well developed trekking infrastructure. There are camping grounds located at strategic places and the forest department can arrange guides. Porters can be hired locally. There are no facilities on the way and all provisions and blankets etc have to be carried.

A shorter week long trek starts at Sainj/Shangarh and then to Shakti, Maraur and then ends at Raktisar. This can be accomplished by a lightweight expedition of 1-2 people with a guide and 2-3 porters.

A longer high altitude trek starts from Sainj/Shangarh and on to Parkachi and then joins the Pin Parvati trek to Pin Parvati National Park via the Pin Parvati pass. It ends at Kaza where you can see the various monasteries including the famous Tabo monastery and then take a bus back to Kullu-Manali via Kunzum pass and Rohtang Pass. The trek starts from temperate forests, goes through alpine meadows and then over high altitude passes and ends in a high altitude cold desert. This requires careful planning and preferably the services of an trekking company.

There are villages in the park and 'gujjars' bring their sheep to graze in the park. Bears come to the villages during the harvesting season to feast on ripe maize. This leads to man-animal conflict which has been the subject of a scientific study in the park.

 

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Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) and the adjoining Pin Valley National Park is known as the Land of the Ibex and the Snow Leopard

Watercolour by Kokay Szabolcs

Sainj river

Map of Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP)

Link to google maps map of GHNP

Travelling to Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP)

It is easy to get to GHNP. The office of the Director of the park is at Shamshi and is on the busy highway from Mandi to Kullu. There is a lot of tourist traffic in summer months along this highway.  So transport should not be problem.
From Shamshi, there are regular buses to Aut. From Aut, take the bus to Neoli which is the road-head and has a few shops selling very basic provisions and a few places to eat. Porters can be hired here. Your guide can arrange porters for you.

Travelling inside Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP)

There are 2 options to travelling inside the park.

First option is to contact the office of the field director of the park at Shamshi and ask them to arrange guides for you.  These guides are usually people working in the park on daily wages. They see tourism as a supplement to their daily income. They earn more money from guiding people on treks than on their daily work and they also get a break from their daily duties and get to meet people from far-away places. So they are keen to guide any trekking party but they are not professional guides. They are front-line workers in maintaining and protecting the park. So please treat them with utmost respect and be sensitive to their culture and mindset. Do not try and impose your views on them and dont try to 'educate' them.  Try and be a good listener and treat them as equals.  They most certainly are not your 'servants' and dont expect them to wash your dishes.  They will gather firewood and light a fire and cook food because they know we would not be able to do it.  Dont expect them to carry your backpack full of useless trinkets for you.

Sometimes, your guide may be stationed at Sainj or Shangarh and so you will have to go there to meet him or he can meet you at Neuli. Ask the office of the Director of the park to radio the guide. Many of the people working in the park have walkie talkies.  Your interactions with your guide can make a big difference to your trip.  The guide will usually be allocated by the office of the field director of the park at Shamshi.

The second option is to hire the services of any trekking company in Manali.  Then sit back and relax while they arrange everything for you.  They will even carry your backpack for you and will wash your dishes for you.

The terrain is too steep for any pack animals. Gujjars and their sheep do graze in the park but I havent seen sheep being used as pack animals in India although it does happen in Nepal. The altitude is too low for yaks to be used. Hiring porters is the only option or carry all you need in your rucksack.

If you are driving, you can park your car at Neuli. The roads are average Indian mountain roads – potholed, narrow and full of traffic.

The treks are reasonably well maintained but can be dangerous at places with steep drops on the sides. The trek is steep and trekker has to be fit. The treks are of moderate difficulty. Some streams dont have bridges and have to be crossed using log bridges where one slip can lead to a serious injury. See picture below:

Crossing a log bridge in GHNP

Trekking inside GHNP

Trekking inside GHNP

Best time to go to Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP)

May to June is the best time to go. It rains a lot from Jul to Sep because of the monsoon but it is still possible to trek through the park. Higher reaches of the park are closed from Oct to Apr.

Accomodation in Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP)

The only accommodation available in the park is at Sainj and Shangarh Forest Rest house. These are near the start of the trek. If trekking beyond Shangarh, there is no real accomodation. You can carry a lightweight tent but I just sleep in the open when I go. A good sleeping bag is enough in May-June.  'Thatch' is local name for a hut. Thatches are located at strategic places and provide very basic shelter from rain. There are thatches at Shakti, Maraur and Parkachi. You can get by with just sleeping in the thatch without a tent if it doesnt rain.

It is one of the few national parks where you can sleep safely at night in the open in an area populated with himalayan black bears and leopards.

Shangarh Forest Rest House

Things to see and do in Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP)

Watercolours of plants by Kokay Szabolcs

Practical tips

Budget

Pictures of Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP)

Bridge over Sainj river

Village of Shangarh



Thanks for reading. Your comments and feedback will be appreciated.


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9 Comments

  1. Ankit Sood
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 06:13:25

    Great write up on the GHNP. The Biodiversity Tourism and Community Advancment (NGO) now operates in the GHNP and is an association of local tour operators , guides homestay owners etc. You may visit http://www.greathimalayannationalpark.com for more details and http://www.tirthanvalley.com for ecozone . You can also visit http://www.sunshineadventure.com which are exclusive providers of treks to the GHNP. Also now the rates of porters are Rs 300 ( along with food , permits etc), a all inclusive trek package costs between Rs 1500- 2500 depending on group size.

    Reply

  2. Sue Johns
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 00:15:33

    Would you be able to recommend a reputable trekking company I could contact – I am wanting to do the Up Tirath in Tirthan Valley trek in mid May

    Reply

    • admin
      Feb 11, 2012 @ 16:44:18

      Hello Sue,

      As mentioned in the article, I asked the director of the park to arrange guides for me. So I didnt hire the services of any trekking company.

      The standards in trekking company change frequently as the reputable companies of yesterday might not be that good today.

      I am sorry but I cant suggest any reliable and fair company. The one thing I can suggest is to look for companies which are approved by the govt. They display their govt license and registration number on their website.

      As mentioned in the article above, ‘That there is a drug mafia operating in the region is a fact acknowledged by residents and the police’. So what I suggest is:

      Travel in a group of at least 4 people
      Pass on details of the trekking company you go with to your family and friends and tell the trekking company that people know you are hiring their services and the trekking company will be responsible for your safety.
      Check up with the Govt tourism office in central Manali
      Go with a ‘bricks and mortar’ company so in case of any trouble, they can be easily tracked. Prefer this to ‘internet only fly by night ‘phone only’ independent companies.
      Dont under any circumstances accept anything from strangers and dont try to buy/try any narcotics.

      Enjoy! I am sure you will. No one ever came back from GHNP without a smile on their face!

      Reply

  3. sandip das
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 16:56:17

    Sir
    i want to know that minimum how many people requred for treaking of GHNP? nd our journy date is 12/03/13. In this time where we can treak in a park? Please give me answer sir….

    Reply

    • sandip das
      Feb 04, 2013 @ 10:18:18

      Please reply sir….. your adviced great helping my group..

      Reply

    • Panki
      Feb 17, 2013 @ 08:02:46

      Dear Sandip das
      You can contact the local ngo which is working for long time in the valley .
      you can contact Gopal ji the director of BTCA .
      btcaghnp@gmail.com
      You can only do low altitude 5 day trek during this time of the year .

      Keep Ghnp clean
      Regards

      Reply

  4. jai
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 08:12:57

    hello,im a novice trekker planning to trek down gushaini to rolla route,any help and suggestions would be highly appreciated,noted that im travelling alone..

    Reply

  5. Mini
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 16:49:37

    Dear Ankit,
    The price you quoted “1500-2000/-” is it per person per day? even if the group has 4 persons camping together?
    Will appreciate your reply :)

    Reply

  6. Deepak bhalla
    Jun 12, 2013 @ 05:30:22

    i was there in the area last apr i started my tracking from bathard crossing the bashleo pass(10,000 ft) and have a halt at sarahan.it was really a great 16 km track but i missed the great himalayan nation park.

    Reply

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