Nature Reserves

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Pin Valley National Park

We are proud to support EcoTourism, a program introduced by the State Government of Himachal Pradesh, that works to protect the area’s vegetation and wildlife while helping to improve the lives of the villagers who call these parks home.

A remote desert region in the mountainous Spiti Valley, Pin Valley National Park covers an area of 675 sq. km. with an altitude that varies from 3000 to a mighty 6000 meters. Located in the far east of the state of Himachal Pradesh, Spiti means “middle land” since it falls between India and Tibet and is one of the least populated regions of India. Spiti has a distinct Tibetan flavour since it was historically part of Western Tibet. The population are mostly followers of Tibetan Buddhism and imposing some of the oldest Tibetan monasteries in the world hang precariously on cliff faces. The most famous of these are Kyi and Tabo monasteries, the latter being a favourite of the Dalai Lama.

Wildlife: Siberian ibex, snow leopard, wild sheep (bharal), wooly hare, yak, Tibetan wolf, red fox, and snow cock.

Best time to visit: June through September. Optimum time: mid-August through mid-September.

Getting there: The most commonly used access point to the park is via Shimla, through Kinnaur. Another point of access is Manali, taking you up the famous Rohtang pass that separates the Lahaul-Spiti region from the Kullu Valley.

The Great Himalayan National Park

The Great Himalayan National Park is located 60 km from Kullu with an altitude range varying from 1700 to a breathtaking 5800 meters. A vast area of 1,171 sq. km. this park contains the watersheds of three rivers: Jiwa, Sanj, and Tirthan and offers a great diversity of ecological zones, including alpine, glacial, temperate, and sub tropical forests. Its natural wonders offer both the casual hiker and serious trekker a wide range of experience from gentle days walks to challenging week-long treks through spectacular terrain.

Wildlife: Musk deer, leopard, Himalayan black bear, wild sheep (bharal) and brown bear

Best time to visit: April through May/September through mid November.

Getting there: The starting point for any trekking or visit to GHNP is the Kullu Valley region in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The closest airport is Bunthar (Kullu) and the nearest major railhead is Chandigarh.

Manali Sanctuary

A walkable 2 km from Manali town on the Beas river in Kullu district is the small but beautiful Manali Sanctuary that encompasses 32 sq. km. Beginning at a height of 2050 metres, a bridle path from Manali log huts takes you past Dhungri temple and through a serene forest of Deodar, Kail, horse chestnut, Walnut, and Maple.

Wildlife: Musk deer, Monal, and Brown Bear in the lower regions with snow leopards and Ibex in the higher altitude regions of the sanctuary.

Best time to visit: July through September

Getting there: Access from Manali town reached by road. Nearest airport is Bunthar (Kullu) approx. 2 hours drive away.

Chail Sanctuary

Located around the small hill town of Chail, the Chail Sanctuary covers an area of 110 sq. km. and is located in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. Along with its rich animal and birdlife, Chail Sanctuary is known for its Chir Pheasant breeding and rehabilitation program. Originally the game reserve of the Royals of Patiala, large areas of grassland extend to slopes of Rhodendendron with dense scented forests of pine and deodar at higher altitudes.

Wildlife: Leopard, Indian Muntjac, Goral Chested porcupine. Himalayan Black Bear, Wild Boar, Sambhar, and Black-Naped Hare.

Best time to visit: May through October.

Getting there: Chail town is 45 km from Shimla. The Jubbarhatti airport is 23-km from Shimla and is an active hub of major domestic airlines. Kalka is the nearest major railhead which is connected with Shimla on the narrow gauge. Shimla is also highly accessible by road via National Highway 22.

Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary

With an area of just 10.25 sq. km., the Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary in Shimla District stretches through altitudes of 1900 to 2620 meters. Despite its rather domestic name, it is one of the few reserves in Himachal Pradesh entirely free from human habitation and is a model for water conservation. The area is an important water source for the town of Shimla and was formerly owned by the Rana of Koti. It is connected to Chail Sanctuary in the south with steep and precipitous terrain criss-crossed by streams and gulleys. The forest is a mix of Himalayan Subtropical Pine Forest; Lower Western Himalayan Temperate forest, Ban Oak Forest and the more prevalent moist Deodar Forest. The Sanctuary offers a number of walking trails easily accessed from Chharabra village.

Wildlife: Barking Deer, Indian Sambar, Goral, Langur, Kashmir Flying Squirrel and Himalayan Yellow-Throated Porcupine. The sanctuary is home to the highest density of Koklas pheasants in India.

Best time to visit: May through October.

Getting there: The sanctuary is adjacent to National Highway 22, immediately north of Kufri and just 8 kms east of Shimla. Shimla can be accessed by road or rail. Kalka is the nearest major railhead which is connected with Shimla on the narrow gauge.

Majathal Sanctuary

Another ideal place for wildlife lovers is Majathal Sanctuary in Shimla and Solan Districts. At an altitude of 900 to 1,966 metres, the parks rugged Himalayan terrain attracts every kind of tourist from the experienced trekker to leisure-seeking backpackers. The total area of this sanctuary covers 39.4 sq km, and although it is a smaller reserve than many others, it offers astounding beauty and variety of fauna and flora.

Wildlife: Cheer Pheasants, Gorals (mountain goats), Leopard, Black Bear, Barking Deer, Jungle cat, and Himalayan Palm Civet. Birders can keep their eyes open for species like White Beaked Vulture, Black Francolin and Kaleej pheasants.

Best time to visit: January through June/October through December.

Getting there: The closest airport is Jubbarhatti at a distance of 23 km. You can walk to the park from the town of Kashlog on the Shimla Bilaspur Highway. Kalka is the nearest major railhead (96 kms away) which is connected with Shimla on the narrow gauge. The distance from Shimla is 76 Km, accessed by road via the Shimla Bilaspur Highway.

The environs of the Pong Lake Sanctuary, close to the hill station of Dharamsala, supports an astounding variety of bird life. About 220 bird species have been identified so far. This man made dam and reservoir spreads out in an area of 42 km in length and 2 km in width on the Beas river. A large number of rarely sighted birds migrate to the sanctuary every Winter from Siberia, Tibet and Central Asia. The first sighting of red necked Grebe in India was reported from the Pong Lake wetlands. The lake is also a great location for water sport lovers, providing opportunities for swimming, rowing, canoeing, sailing, and water skiing.

Wildlife: Bird life includes Gulls, Brahminy ducks, Bar headed geese, Plovers, Grebes, Cormorants, Daters, Herons, Moorhens, Egrets and Storks among others. Also, Nilgai, Samber, Barking Deer; Wild Boar, Clawless Otter and Leopard can be sighted in the area.

Best time to visit: October through March.

Getting there: The closest main town is Kangra in the Kangra district which is best accessed by road. The nearest main railhead is Pathankot on the Delhi-Jammu line 94 kms away.

The Daranghati Sanctuary in the Shimla District was the former game reserve of the Raja of Bushahr. It covers an area of 167 sq. km of undisturbed alpine forest rich with animal life. Varying altitudes of 2,100 to 3,315 are accessed via a network of trails. The best way to explore the sanctuary is by reaching the nearest forest chowki in the village of Kashapaat where a forest rest house is available.

Wildlife: Himalayan Black Bear, Brown Bear, Himalayan Palm Civet, Barking Deer, Musk Deer, Flying Fox, Goral, Indian Hare, Stripped Hyena, Himalayan Ibex, Leopard, Himalayan yellow-throated Marten, Serow, Blue Sheep, Common giant flying Squirrel and Himalayan Weasel.

Best time to visit: April through June/October through November. For the more adventurous and snow lovers, visit in December–February.

Getting there: The sanctuary is located near Rampur Bushahr in the Shimla District. You can access the sanctuary via Shimla which is 23 km from the Jubbarhatti airport. The nearest railway station is at Shimla reached by toy train from Kalka. You can then drive to Sarahan (177 kilometers). Daranghati is just 35 kilometers trek (2-3 hours drive) from Sarahan.

Located in the Chamba District, the Kalatop-Khajjiar Sanctuary has officially been proclaimed the mini-Switzerland of India. This wildlife reserve is well laid out for trekking trails and covers an area 30 sq. km. with an altitude ranging from 1185 to 2768 meters. The sanctuary extends along the Ravi river and is surrounded by 20 sq kms of thick coniferous and Oak forest, with Blue Pine and eye-catching Rhododendron trees.

Wildlife: Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan Black Marten, Leopard, Deer, Barking Goral, Squirrel, Serow, Jackal, and Langur.

Best time to visit: March through May/September through November

Getting there: Located 6 km from Dalhousie in the Chamba District. Dalhouisie is 320 km by road from Chandigarh. The nearest railhead is Pathankot, 80 km away, on the Delhi-Jammu line.

The second largest reserve in Himachal Pradesh, Kugti Sanctuary in the Chamba District spreads out over an area of 379 sq. km. with an altitude range from 2250 to 6044 meters. The area is rich in high-altitude Himalayan wildlife, and is one of the last homes of Himalayan Tahr in Himachal Pradesh (see left). It is also well known as a source of medicinal plants. Abundant pure water resources, many originating from glaciers, and a diverse topography add to the attraction of the area. To the west, it is connected with Tundah sanctuary by a forest corridor. There is an annual pilgrimage by thousands of devotees to the Mani Mahesh Temple inside the sanctuary.

Wildlife: Snow Leopard, Ibex, Musk Deer, Himalayan Yellow Throated Fox, Indian Red Serow, Ghoral, Himalayan Thar

Best time to visit: May through June/September through October.

Getting there: Located 87 km from Chamba and 30 km from Bharmaur with a 14 soft trek to Kugti village. Nearest railhead is Pathankot on the Delhi-Jammu line, 122 km from Chamba where buses and taxis are available.

Churdhar Sanctuary in the Solan Valley of the Sumaur District got its name from the Churdhar peak, the highest peak in the outer Himalayas that rises to 3647 meters. One of the newest sanctuaries in Himachal Pradesh, it spreads out to an area of 56.15 sq. km. This is an excellent area for trekking during summers and early winters. Trekking from Nohra, Sarain, and Pulbahal are challenging but well worth the effort. Legend has it that it is on these mountains that Hanuman found the Sanjeevani Buti with which he brought Laxman back to life.

Wildlife: Monals and other Pheasants, Himalayan Black Bear, Barking Deer, Musk Deer and Leopard.

Best time to visit: April through June/October through November.

Getting there: 53 kmsfrom Solan on the Solan Rajgarh road. The nearest railhead and airport is Chandigarh 90 km distance.

The northwestern boundary of the Gamgul Siahbehi Sanctuary in the Chamba District adjoins the state of Jammu & Kashmir in the Bhandal Valley. Said to be one of the only reserves in Himachal Pradesh where one can find the elusive Kashmir Stag, the area covers 109 sq. km. with an elevation variation of 1800 meters to 3919 meters. There are three villages with a population of around 400 located within the boundaries of the sanctuary.

Wildlife: Common Langur, Himalayan Black Bear, Brown Bear, Fox, Himalayan Weasel, Leopard, Jackal, Goral, Yellow-Throated Marten, Himalayan Palm Civit, Indian Muntjac, Musk Deer, Serow, Himalayan Tahr, Giant Flying Squirrel.

Best time to visit: May through June/September through October.

Getting there: The nearest town is Chamba at 75 km distance. The sanctuary can be reached by road from Chamba via Saluni to Dhandal (inside the sanctuary). The nearest railhead is Pathankot on the New Delhi-Jammu line.

Kanawar / Kanwar Sanctuary

Kanawar/Kanwar Sanctuary with its lush green pastures and hilly terrain is located in the Parbati Valley in the Kullu District. Elevation varies from 1800 to 4833 metres. The sanctuary covers 61 sq kms and shares its southern boundary with the Great Himalayan National Park. Enjoy the uphilll walk along Grahan Nala from Kasol through dense deodar and fir forests and afterwards visit the nearby town of Manikaran to relax in its famous hot springs. This sanctuary has a large population of the endangered Himalayan Tahr and spying this big goat on high mountain cliffs is thrill for any wildlife lover. The sanctuary also provides a trekking expedition to the Kahauli pass at 3750 meters.

Wildlife: Tibetan Wolf, Brown Bear, Blue Sheep, Musk Deer and Ibex in the higher elevations. Other animals include Barking Deer, Goral, Serow, Snow Leopard, Common giant flying squirrel, Himalayan Palm Civet, Yellow Throated Marten, Golden Jackal and Himalayan Weasel.

Best time to visit: May through June.

Getting there: Accessible by road from Kullu (42 km). You can reach Kullu by air from Bhuntar airport, 10 km away, and by train from Joginder Nagar, 95 km away. Board a bus or cab to reach Kullu.

Nestled between the Great Himalayan and Pin Valley parks on its western and northern boundaries, the Rupi Bhabha Sanctuary in Kinnaur District is the greenest part of the district. Nestled on the turbulent River Sutlej it extends across 269 sq kms and covers a striking range of altitudes from 909 to 5650 metres. Gushing springs flow from the snow mountains and verdant pastures lie in its gentle slopes with freezing glaciers to the north. Fifteen villages are located within the sanctuary, with a total population of 2,420. Visitors must procure an Inner Line permit to enter the sanctuary. The road network is limited and the sanctuary can only be explored on foot.

Wildlife: Himalayan black bear, Fox, Snow Leopard, Brown Bear, Indian Muntjac, Musk Deer, Goral, Serow, Blue Sheep, Himalayan Tahr, Ibex, and numerous exotic pheasants including the near extinct Western Horned Tragopan.

Best time to visit: April through June/September through October

Getting there: Located about 40 km from Rampur Bushahr. Access is via Chauhra and onward by foot (3km), or by road to Kathgaon which is inside the sanctuary. Nearest rail access is Shimla (narrow gauge) at 200 km distance.

The high-altitude Sechu Tuan Nala Sanctuary in the Chamba District is rich in Himalayan wildlife and is one of the last homes of Himalayan Tahr in Himachal Pradesh. It is connected to the west with Tundah Sanctuary and covers an area of 103 sq km. Altitude ranges from 2550 to a stunning 6072 metres.

Wildlife: Ibex, Musk deer, Blue Sheep, Brown Bear, Goral, Serow, Himalayan Black Bear, Snow Leopards and Pheasants.

Best time to visit: June through September

Getting there: Located 113 km from Chamba. Nearest railhead Pathankot on the Delhi-Jammu line (235 km). From Chamba travel by road to Sach Pass (open from June to October) via Sathraundi to Kilar and then on foot to Sechu (15 km). The second option is Kishtwar to Sarsu and then hiking to Tholi, Ishtiari, Killar, Saj and Sechu. The third route is from Kyelang to Nigari and then walking to Sach Khas located right next to the Sechu Tuan Nala sanctuary.

The Gobind Sagar and Naina Devii Sanctuary, covering an area of 170 sq km, lies in the Bilaspur District. On the banks of Gobind Sagar is a vast artificial lake formed by the Bhakra-Nangal Dam on the River Sutlej that feeds water to several North Indian states. The lake is a protected refuge for water fowl and a popular fishing spot, with a recorded fifty-one-species and sub-species of fish. In the summer months, the reservoir supports a variety of water sports including water-skiing, sailing, kayaking and water-scooter racing. The Mirror Carp hatchery is also accessible from the lake. Connected by a rope-way, the shrine of Naina Devi overlooks the Gobind Sagar

Wildlife: Apart from the large variety of fish in the lake, the adjoining wildlife sanctuary holds Sambhar, Wild Boar, Barking Deer and Red Jungle fowl.

Best time to visit: July through September.

Getting there: Bhakra dam is about 13 Kms from Nangal and 35 km from Una. The nearest airport is Chandigarh (105 km from Nangal). Nangal is on the Delhi-Una line and there is a daily narrow gauge train “Himachal Express” on this route.