It is a cool sunny morning in the Western Tragopan country in the western Himalayas. We were just outside the boundary of Great Himalayan National Park(GHNP) situated in Kullu valley, Himachal pradesh and tirthan, a tributary of Beas river is flowing calmly.
GHNP situated south-east of kullu town with 754 sq kms was declared as a national park in 1999. Tirthan, Sainj, Parvati & Jiwa Nalas are its main valleys. Infact Tirthan and Sainj valleys covering areas of 61 & 90 sq kms respectively enjoyed the status of Sanctuary even prior to this. Besides 266sq kms area on the western periphery of the park has been declared as ecozone covering 120 villages having population of 16-18000people. Thus total area under the park is 1171sq km.
GHNP is connected to Pin valley in Lahaul & Spiti in the north-east, Rupibhaba sanctuary in the East, Kanawar sanctuary in north-west. It is naturally protected on the northern, eastern& southern sides by areas under snow throughout the year. It is the last unexplored ,protected , unspoilt vast expanse of beautiful, ecologically significant forests in the hilly state. The forest variety varies with the height.It is the last remaining strong -hold of Western Tragopan which inhabit Ringal bamboo & dense shrubbery in the higher reaches of the park.
Gushaini is a small remote hamlet from where the track to the park begins from the Tirthan valley along a narrow trail. The boundary of the park is about 7 kms from the Gushaini. There is a forest check post at entry point. We started early in the morning because of the possibility of coming across a vast variety of avian life was immense. We planned to track to Rolla & the journey normally takes 3 hours but considering our tendency of capturing every possible moment, we decided to give ourselves 5 hour to reach Rolla.
The walk was breath- takingly beautiful particularly the snowfed, green Tirthan river that was flowing nearby. We come across a variety of birds & kept on clicking. It was a wonderful feeling to be there, to be the part of this pristine place. The guide pointed out various medicinal herbs on theway & told about the large scale extraction of these from the wild unchecked. Finally we reached our destination, Rolla. The milieu was refreshing. The place was a true wilderness& breathtakingly beautiful. I surveyed the area for wildlife. I was told that there is a possibility of spotting wildlife particularly in the evening. I was full of anticipation though tired & hungary want to survey the area before this.
We decided the place of our night sojourn & pitched our tents. I took a quick nap the feeling to be here was great & in comparison to our city dwelling the milieu was heavenly. We spotted countless variety of birds. Unluckily ,we did not come across any major wildlife precisely because the animals were aware of our presence in their private lives. We try to imbibe the place in our very existence & after taking our meals fell asleep .We got up very early after hearing the constant bird chirping &it was a wonderful night. We decided to walk back as we had another planning in our minds.
We planned to return chandigarh by crossing the beautiful Jalori pass situated at the height of 2900 mts.. It connects Kullu with Shimla &Kinnaur. The main reason was to track SERAULSAR lake which is about 5 KMS. from jalori pass. We left Gushaini for Banjar which is tehsil headquarter & is 10kms.The journey was through a paradise with Tirthan flowing calmly on our right side. We stopped at Banjar, did shopping for next journey& left the crowded, noisy town behind. We suddenly started gaining height as we move out of Banjar. Jalori pass is about 25kms from Banjar. We passed a number of hamlets- reached Shoja-a beautiful place& finally the pass. It is a wonderful place covered from all sides by dense forests.
We can see the endless hills overlapping each other while enjoying the Wisata Budaya and meeting the horizon in the distance. It was 5:30 in the afternoon. Jalori pass has several shops that remain closed in winter due to heavy snowfall. We sometimes relax, drink tea & start opening our tent. It took us half an hour to set up our night stop. I decided to explore the area & go uphill. Suddenly came across an amazing flower snake -lily, as it was my first encounter, I was carried away by its beauty & clicked a few shots.
We collected dry wood & ordered the sole owner of the dhaba to prepare our meal. After dinner while enjoying the bonfire, we decided to sleep in our tent. The environment was very peaceful as I looked up at the sky full of stars & had a mesmerizing impact. Frankly, I have never seen so many stars in the sky before. tired we called after our delicious dinner. The next morning didn’t come with any good omen, our angry weather god remained cooped up in our tent & having run out of time decided to return. it was really an unforgettable trip in our life.
Getting to GNHP:
It is accessible by road & air throughout year. For visiting the park it is advisable to visit park Office in Shamshi about 5 kms from KULLU ON DELHI-KULLU highway.
There are flights from Delhi to Kullu and from kullu,Banjar is 60 kms ,from here park is 15 kms by road via-tirthan valley route, other route is via sainj about 35 kms from Kullu. from delhi -bhuntar.
Kullu is well connected by road on Delhi-Manali route, take a diversion at Aut about 30 kms from Mandi town and main town of Banjar is 30 kms from Aut.