The Great Himalayan National Park is in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh and covers a total administrative area of over 1170 square kilometres in area (although the park itself is 754.4 square kilometres). Established in 1984, this is the newest national park in the subcontinent. Due to its positioning within the imposing mountains of the Himalayas, its elevation above sea level varies from 1500 metres to 6000 metres. This means that the combination of fauna and flora varies greatly as the climate changes according to elevation. Visitors to the Great Himalayan National Park are, therefore, guaranteed of a spectacular diversity of fascinating plant and animal species.

The official area of the park includes Jiwa River, Sainj River and Tirthan River. The north, east and south borders of the park are formed by hills or mountains, some of them laden with brilliant white snow. The Wildlife Protection Act has been operational over this area since 1972, which means that absolutely no hunting is permitted and no one is allowed to live within the official park borders. This has worked well to conserve and protect its array of animal species and to maintain its wonderful biodiversity. A certain area has been classified as the Sainj Wildlife Sanctuary to accommodate the communities that had made this their home long before commercial development or the independence of India from European rule. This area is considered to be out of the national park and is, therefore, exempt from the rules of the Protection Act.

Today, the park is home to over 375 different animal species. These faunal wonders live in vegetation that varies from lush green meadows to sparse, snow-capped mountain peaks; from deep, fertile valleys to dense forests. Some of the beautiful and fascinating creatures to be spotted include the Goral, Serow, Asiatic Brown Bear, Blue Sheep, Red Fox,
Image of a Goral
The gorals are the four species in the genus of Nemorhaedus
Langur, Musk Deer, Himalayan Black Bear, Snow Leopard, Indian Leopard, Small Goat-antelope, Himalayan Tahr and Wild Mountain Goat. Birdlife includes the Western Tragopan, Himalayan Monal, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle and Lammergeier.

The lower-lying areas experience the most temperate climate, while high-lying areas can have very severe winters. Summer is between June and August and is very wet as this is the monsoon season. Therefore, travellers are advised to visit the park in spring (April and May) or autumn (September and October). Because the high-lying regions are unpredictable in terms of snowfall and blizzards, potential hikers need to be well prepared, fit and experienced.

The forests are used for timber as well as for their rich supply of honey, nuts, bark, fuel wood and flowers. This area is famed for its abundance of medicinal plants, which are used by the local tribes as well as sold as part of a major global industry.

Because the park is relatively inaccessible and tourism has not been its major focus, it remains somewhat wild and untouched. This ensures its pristine landscape and magical views of natural India. This is also the reason for its popularity as an eco-tourism destination. Those who venture to this jewel of Himachal Pradesh are encouraged to visit the Great Himalayan National Park and learn about their initiatives concerning the local tribes and their safe integration into and relationship with the fauna and flora around them. Ecotourist programmes also teach the locals how to live off and thrive on the land in a way that is mutually beneficial. Such projects are vital in ensuring that the Great Himalayan National Park is kept as unspoilt and exquisite as it is today.

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