Great Himalayan National Park – The World’s Heritage Site

Great Himalayan National Park – Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), located in the state of Himachal Pradesh lies within the Parvati valley of Kullu division. Its boundaries are also contiguous with the Pin Valley National Park. Spread over an area of 754 sq. km, the Great Himalayan National Park is the newest addition to the list of India’s most amazing national parks. Built in the year 1984, the park lies at an altitude of 1500 to 6000 meters. The exquisite location and scenic surroundings of this park are highlighted with Deodar and Oak trees.

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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.

In June 2014, the Great Himalayan National Park was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Committee granted the status to the park under the criteria of “outstanding significance for biodiversity conservation”.

Five rare species in Great Himalayan National Park-

  1. The Western tragopan
  2. Snow leopard
  3. Himalayan Tahr
  4. Himalayan musk deer
  5. Himalayan blue poppy
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History

The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) is located in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. The Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary (61 sq.km.) and the Sainj Wildife Sanctuary (90 sq.km.) have also been brought under the National Park administration. Following a survey in 1980, the Himachal Wildlife Project-II, in 1983 , recommended the creation of GHNP and notification of intent was gazetted in March 1984. In 1994 the notification of intent to constitute the Sainj Wildlife Sanctuary was filed which was followed by a notification to include the upper Parvati catchment. In May 1999 the Government of Himachal Pradesh issued the final notification of the Great Himalayan National Park.

The best time of the year to visit the Great Himalayan National Park is between the months of April to June and September to November.

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Spiti- The Middle Land

The Spiti Valley is a cold desert mountain valley located high in the Himalaya Mountains in the north-eastern part of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name “Spiti” means “The Middle Land”, i.e. the land between Tibet and India. Popularly known as Little Tibet, Spiti is nestled in the Himalayan Mountain range in Himachal Pradesh.

The tough and remote region acts as the gateway to the further heights of the northern frontiers of Himalayas. The culture, lifestyle, heritage of Spiti is similar to Ladakh and Tibet Autonomous Region. Buddhism and the simpler nuances of the people are practiced here. The unique culture and beauty are the major enchantments.

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Accessible only during summer, Spiti is as remote as it gets. Surrounded by mountains and glaciers, villages perched on mountain crests, quaint old monasteries, crystal clear rivers and streams, prayer flags fluttering in the wind and monks in their robes evoke strong comparisons with Tibet and leaves tourists to this remote region spellbound.

History

Spiti, originally pronounced ‘Piti’ (the middle land), was historically part of Western Tibet (Nariss Korssum). In the 11th century AD Nimagon, the king of Nariss Korssum divided his kingdom amongst his 3 sons of which Spiti and Zanskar together formed a separate kingdom. Later, Ladakh took over the suzerainty of Spiti and Zanskar, and the area was governed by the Nono (younger brother of the King of Ladakh).

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It was only after the invasion of Ladakh by Zorawar Singh that Spiti became part of Kullu. It remained an independent principality for many years, under the judicial and administrative rule of the Nonos (adopted as the title for the king of Spiti) during the British Raj.

Places to Visit in Spiti

A visit to Spiti would remain incomplete without visiting the monasteries here. The Ki/Key Monastery, Tabo Monastery and the Dhankar Monastery are must-visits. For adventure enthusiasts, there are a few trekking trails and mountain biking routes that they must go for. The Chandratal lake and Surajtal lakes are some of the most beautiful lakes in the world and are among the highest lakes in the world. This region plays host to a number of festivals which are all celebrated with a lot of fervour, which includes burning of the devil.

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Best Time to Travel on Road to Spiti Valley

Mid – May to Mid – July, is the actual main season in Spiti Valley when loads of tourist make their journey over here and season eventually takes rapid move as the road to Manali over Kunzum Pass also open by second week of June. Mostly all the link roads to various sightseeing places or remote villages in Spiti Valley are open in this period and you can plan your visit. Hotels are all open with full facilities, there is quite a lot of hustle bustle of tourists all around in Spiti Valley. Even Chandratal Lake becomes accessible in the month of June soon after the Kunzum Pass opens. Well, it is one of the good time to be in Spiti Valley and a desperate retreat from the HEAT of northern cities of India.

 

Padam Palace – Residence of Shri Virbhadra Singh

Rampur BushahrRampur Bushahr is the last capital of the Bushahr or Bashahr dynasty that ruled Shimla & Kinnaur regions for a long time. If you go by legends, they trace their ancestry to Pradyumna – the Son of Lord Krishna. You do see a lot of Vishnu temples in the Bushahr region. So the belief may have some basis. However, in the recorded history Bushahr dynasty ruled from Kamru fort near Sangla. Then moved to Sarahan and finally about 100 years back to Rampur on the banks of Sutlej river.

Padam Palace

Padam Palace is one of the most attractions at Rampur Bushahr in Shimla. It once served as the Winter Capital of the former princely state of Bushair. Raja Padam Singh laid the foundation the palace on the left bank of River Satluj in the year 1919. The construction of Padam Palace took six years and it was completed in 1925. Chief engineer who supervised its construction was known as Bir Chand Shukla.

Padam Palace

History of Palace
Padam palace is a private property of the Royal family of Bushahr. Whose current king would have been the current chief minister of Himachal Pradesh – Virbhadra Singh. In fact, he is still referred as Raja Sahib in this area. Padam Singh who built this palace was his father and was the 122nd king in the lineage of this dynasty.

The construction of this palace uses wood heavily. It is designed to make way for interesting spaces such as porticos and galleries. It has a typically colonial design with conical roof, which looks stunning and meant for snow to fall off. It also sports white painted eaves, which add to the colonial-look of the place.

The interiors of this palace are even more beautiful with great glasswork designed using different colours and incredible woodwork. However, this is the private residence of Shri Virbhadra Singh and one requires permission to visit it. There is also a rich library inside. Portraits of royal family members adorn the walls of this palace.

Stones for the building were quarried at Khaneri and the wood was brought down from the jungles of Munish. Black gram paste was used for cementing the stone blocks. The stone arches of the lower floor and woodwork of the upper storey mark a striking contrast. The tipper storey wooden screen has floral and figurine designs so as to partially admit light without exposing those inside.

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Macchkandi, the seating area for the royalty during celebrations, is situated at one end of the lawn and is definitely a masterpiece in woodwork. Woodwork has been done so cleverly that sunlight is let in, but people inside are not visible to the outsiders. Gurjit Singh Fishta was the designer of the Macchkandi.

The father-son duo that transformed his designs into reality is that of Gurmail Singh and Gurdev Singh. Even the halls of the Padam Palace are used to host royal functions. Apartments and residences of the royal family members are located inside as well as outside this building.