The Great Himalayan National Park
is carved out of the splendid mountain terrain of Kullu
district, and is the largest protected area in Himachal Pradesh. Great Himalayan National Park in June 2014 was added to the UNESCO
list of (The Unesco World Heritage Site Committee granted the status to the park under the criteria of “exceptional natural beauty and conservation of biological diversity”.) The secluded Sainj valley harbour a variety of wildlife common to this area – wild mountain goats like the Bharal, Goral, and Serow, the Himalayan Brown Bear and predators like the Leopard and the very rare Snow Leopard. Birds like Himalayan Pied Kingfisher, Brown Dipper, Bearded Vulture, and Himalayan Parakeet can be seen in the Park Region.
The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) is located in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, India. Initially constituted in 1984, GHNP was formally declared a National Park in 1999, covering an area of 754.4 sq kms. In 1994, two major changes were made in land use around the Park. A buffer zone of 5 km from the Park’s western boundary, covering 265.6 sq km. and including 2,300 households in 160 villages, was delineated as an Ecozone. Most of the population (about 15,000 to 16,000 people) in the Ecozone are poor and dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods.
The second change was the creation of the Sainj Wildlife Sanctuary (90 sq km) around the three villages of Shagwar, Shakti, and Marore. On the southern edge of the GHNP, another Protected Area (PA) was declared, known as Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary. This covers 65 sq km and is without habitation. More recently, in 2010, both the Sainj and Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuaries were added to GHNP, but will not be formally incorporated until a process known as settlement of rights has occurred. Thus the initiated merger of Sainj and Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuaries with GHNP will be followed by a process of settlement to relocate inhabitants and make the area free of traditional pressures, which may take some time. The total area under Park administration (National Park, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Ecozone) is 1171 sq km, which is together referred to as the Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (GHNPCA).
In 2010, an area of 710 sq km of the Parvati river catchment contiguous to the northern boundary of GHNP was initially notified as the Khirganga National Park, adding significant biological diversity, conservation value, and physical protection to GHNP. The boundaries of GHNP are also contiguous with the Pin Valley National Park (675 sq km) in Trans-Himalaya, the Rupi Bhabha Wildlife Sanctuary (503 sq km) in Sutlej watershed and the Kanawar Wildlife Sanctuary (61 sq km), adding additional protection and conservation value and opening up extended wildlife corridors.