In the vicinity of Nanda Devi (7817 m), the second highest peak in India, is situated the Nanda Devi National Park, which has some of the most unique high altitude flora and fauna in the world. The spectacular views, sylvan environment, and richness of biosphere make it quite different from the other wildlife sanctuaries of India. The park has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and In its vicinity are the Valley of Flowers, Badrinath Temple, and Hemkund Sahib.
Though the park was notified only in 1982, it has a long history. W.W. Garden was the first person to reach this region in 1883, but his expedition to the Nanda Devi Peak failed to create any impact. In 1936, Tilman and N.E. Odell scaled the Nanda Devi and opened its vista for others to follow. This led to the region becoming a game sanctuary in 1939. The area of the park remained undisturbed until 1950’s when organized expeditions for Nanda Devi started. To save the park from these disturbances, the Government of India declared the region a National Park in 1982 and later it was given the special status of a Biosphere Reserve.
Best Time to Visit
Being in the high altitudes, Nanda Devi National Park has a distinct climate. For six months of the year, the region remains under a snow cover. For the rest of the year, the region has a dry climate with heavy rainfall from June to August. April to June are the months when the temperature increases a bit and they are the months when one can visit this place.
The forest cover in this park is mainly restricted to the Rishi Gorge and the main vegetation is of fir, birch, rhododendron, and juniper. In the inner sanctuary, conditions are drier and near the Nanda Devi Glacier, there is almost no vegetation. From Ramani, the vegetation changes to alpine and only juniper scrubs are the dominating vegetation. The Juniper scrubs gradually give way to grasses, prone mosses, and lichens. In total, 312 floral species have been found here of which around 17 are considered rare.
Animal population of species like bharal, Himalayan tahr, serow, goral, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, brown bear, leopard, common langur, Himalayan musk deer, and brown beer dominate the park area.
Warblers, gresbreaks, rose finches, and ruby throat represent avifauna here. Approximately 80 species have been spotted in this park.
How to Reach
By Air – The nearest airport is at Jolly Grant at Dehradun at a distance of around 295 km from the Nanda Devi National Park. There are regular flights to Delhi from this airport.
By Rail – The nearest railhead is Rishikesh at a distance of 276 km. Rishikesh is approachable by a metalled road from Joshimath.
By Road – Metalled roads are there till Joshimath from where one has to trek to reach this place. The place is inaccessible for six months of the year and it is only in summers that treks to this region can be organised