Hiking in Great Himalayan National Park
The best and most beautiful things in life are for free…..if we could just open our eyes and reach out to them..and the things that we run after…the petty human emotions of jealousy, anger, prejudice and most of all ego are so small and insignificant that its never worth our time ………….the Great Himalayan National Park experience made me comprehend this basic truth of life … it was one of my life defining journeys…I saw a most amazing place of nature…met people who are so happy without having half of the things that I have…and most of all gained a new perspective on life.
Great Himalayan National Park is located in Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. It is India’s newest national park, covering 750 km2; it protects the unique biodiversity of the North West Himalayan Region. Bounded to the East by the Himalayan Mountains, the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) forms part of the boundary between four ecological zones .Because of its complex geography and its great variations in altitude, the limited area of the Park encompasses an enormous range of species. Few ecological sanctuaries present such a variety of wildlife habitat and biological diversity in such a small area. From its inception, eco-tourism has been one of the major features of this Park. The Park is not accessible for commercial tourists as permits are required to enter the park; also there are no hotels or lodges available. There is a single Base Camp at Sai Ropa run by the Forest Department and managed by Sahara, an NGO working for biodiversity conservation and economic protection of hill people. Visitors coming to GHNP have the rare opportunity to experience the Park’s pristine beauty and at the same time help villagers to improve their livelihood options.
I visited this park as part of a field trip organized by WWF-India in April. I stayed in GHNP for 6 beautiful amazing days….interacted with the hill people, went on treks. We were 10 people in all and we had the most awesome time!!!! We put up in Sai Ropa, a government tourist lodge run by Sahara. Sai Ropa is located in the buffer zone of GHNP, in the Tirthan Valley and is the entry point into the Park. Tirthan river flows by the Base Camp and snow capped mountains can be seen at a distance. The constant gushing sound of the river is one of the lasting memories of the trip….cuddled up inside your bed in the dormitory of the Lodge, one can hear the sound and feel silent and noisy at the same time, it’s a feeling very different and takes time to get accustomed to, the first night I just couldn’t sleep, sat up most of the night listening to the sound of the river flowing…..and in the evenings all of us used to sit by the riverside and do our own thing, some used to collect pebbles, some throw pebbles, some take a dip …the water used to be ice cold, the chill of the water bored in to the bones till u feel numb after some time!!!!! One of my most defining moments has been sitting by the river in the night, looking at the starlight sky above, a bonfire burning by my side and smoking pot!!!! At that moment all my troubles, all my thoughts went numb…and I only felt one thing…THIS IS LIFE!!!!!
Each day of the trip we visited a different place and trekked almost 10 to 20 kilometers..the first day of trekking I thought my heart is gonna come out of my mouth!!!! Man it was something..i have never before felt my heart beating so fast and so wild……my senses went wild seeing the vast beauty around me..the blue sky above….so blue that my eyes hurt and the lush green forest all around me and the sweet fragrance of wild cannabis growing all around…i felt as I am in heaven!!!!! During one of our treks, we trekked up to a village situated at 2500 mts, it was so remarkable to see the people living in such a remote corner..surounded by hills all around they were one of the happiest people I have come across, even when they told us that life in the hills is hard, they say it with contentment, as a matter of fact and not as a complaint. To see them work so hard and have so little materialistic possessions but still so giving in every other way, I felt that we city people for all our wealth are quite a poor lot… I did not see a surly face in all the people I came across there….they have a natural smile and are always welcoming to outsiders….and very free..their society has a higher degree of openness than ours ..and hill women have more freedom than urban women. On another trek, we went inside the park, trekking until Rola, which is the base point of GHNP trek. Inside the park, it’s a beautiful profusion of colors and sounds….the sounds birds chirping wildly and streams flowing at every turn..but inspite of all the sounds, u feel a silence,…it’s a sweet dichotomy…..at one point I remember I had an overwhelming experience, when suddenly all your senses are hypnotized and you cannot just react ..even the feeling of excitement and happiness go numb…..it so happened that inside the park there are a number of wooden bridges ..there were 4 of us crossing the bridge and on the end we could see lush green vegetation…..as soon as we came to the end of the bridge…..our eyes went berserk with the green all aound..it was the greenest green I have ever seen….and it was all around…and the air around us was a sweet smell …the smell of wild cannais…with the first breath that we took at the end of the bridge and with each consecutive breath…pure and wild smell of cannabis flooded our senses…..and all 4 of us dint even react…..we stood there for a moment…a moment in which we all were hypnotized….by the simultaneous beauty of sight and smell..before we could react and express our delight in words!!!!! The 4 of us may never meet again..but we are bound by the thrill of that one moment when we experienced beauty together and were overwhelmed by it.
At the end of 6 days, I felt as if I hadn’t had enough, and wanted to come back and explore…there is so much of GHNP left for me to explore and experience…I shall go back again…..in the meanwhile I felt that I should share this experience with people around me so even they can experience this magical place…..i would recommend it to all people who are happy and who are unhappy…..go there…it may not change you as a person….but it surely would make you think deeply about the life you lead and the life you can lead if you let go of your negative self……for all those really interested …u can visit the site: www.greathimalayannationalpark.com