A National Park is an area established under section 35(4) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Once constituted, the boundaries of the National Park can be altered only on a resolution of the State Legislature. Grazing is prohibited in these areas and the general public is legally restrained from destroying, exploiting, or removing any wildlife from the National Park, destroying or damaging the habitat of any wild animal, or depriving any wild animal of its habitat in the Park.
National Parks have clearly defined core and buffer zones. The core zone is free from any local rights and acts as a sanctum sanctorum to allow wildlife to enjoy the protected natural habitats. The buffer zone absorbs most of the impact of human activities. The process to settle rights in the two National Parks in the State is in progress.
1. GREAT HIMALAYAN NATIONAL PARK
- It is located in the Banjaar sub-division of the Kullu district at an altitude of 2,500 m above mean sea level. It is spread across 905.4 sq km.
- It was originally constituted in 1984 and formally given recognition as a national park in 1999. It is the largest National Park in Himachal Pradesh.
- It was awarded UNESCO World Heritage site on 23rd June 2014 due to its significance for biodiversity conservation.
- The park is home to a number of fauna which consists of 31 mammal species, 181 bird species, 9 amphibians, 3 reptiles, several annelids, 17 mollusks, and 127 insects.
- High altitude habitat animals such as blue sheep, snow leopard, Himalayan brown bear, Himalayan tahr, and musk deer are found here.
- It has the prominent areas of Temperate and Alpine forests of Himachal Pradesh.
Some Famous Valleys:-
- The Sainj Valley has been designated a wildlife sanctuary encompassing.
- The Jiwa Nal Valley nestles along the Jiwa Nal River and flows westward to the village Siund to join River Beas.
- Tirthan Valley derives its name from the river Tirthan river, which originates from the sacred glacial spring “Tirth” of Hanskund peak.
- Parvati Valley is located at Bhuntar in Kullu District and has some magnificent waterfalls.
2. PIN VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
- The Pin Valley National Park is situated in the Pin valley of Spiti, in the district of Lahaul & Spiti with an area of 675 sq km.
- Established on 9th January 1987, the Park is located within the Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve in the Himalayan region.
- It is located at an altitude of 3,500 m near Ka Dogri to above 6,632 m at its highest point.
- The National Park spreads from south of Dhanka Gompa, near the Tibetan border.
- The Pin Valley National Park forms a natural habitat for various endangered species because of the unexplored higher reaches and slopes covered in thick snow.
- Due to extreme temperatures and high altitude, the vegetation around the area is sparse and consists primarily of dry alpine scrub and dry sub-alpine vegetation.
- Pin Valley National Park has discovered 22 rare and endangered medicinal plants and herbs.
- Park’s main attractions consist of Snow Leopard, Siberian Ibex, blue sheep, Tibetan wolf, wooly hare, Himalayan snowcock, Chukar Partridge, Snow Partridge, bearded vulture, etc.
3. INDERKILLA NATIONAL PARK
- Inderkilla National Park was established in 2010.
- It is located in Kullu and covers an area of about 94 sq km.
- The park is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna.
4. KHIRGANGA NATIONAL PARK
- Khirganga National Park is located in the Kullu district and has an area of about 705 sq km.
- It was established in 2010.
- It shares its boundary in the north with the Great Himalayan National Park, thus, was initially going to be merged along with it. Though due to some maintenance issues, it was kept separate.
- It is considered a hallowed ground with a hot water spring and is mythologically significant.
- Wild bears are very common in this region.
5. SIMBALBARA NATIONAL PARK
- It was established in 1958, declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1974, and the National Park in 2010.
- It lies in the Shivalik hills, near Kaelsar National Park (Haryana).
- Located in Paonta Valley of district Sirmour, it covers an area of 27.88 sq km.
- The Park is popular for its unique and diverse wildlife and bird species.
- The vegetation consists of various species of herb, medicinal plants, and shrubs.
- Clustered with Sal forests and grassy glades are found here.
- The park is also home to Goral, Sambhar, Spotted deer, Chittal, Himalayan black beer, Hanuman langurs, and Indian muntjacs.
National Park Map of Himachal Pradesh