Pin Valley National Park is a national park located within the Lahaul and Spiti district, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, in Northern India.
- Steeped in historical and present-day Buddhist Tibetan culture, the area has a lot of influences of that culture which is evident architecturally in the monasteries and stupas, and in the daily living of its residents and lamas.
- Pin Valley National Park was established by India in January 1987.
- The park is located in the desert habitat of the Spiti Valley, within the Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve, in the Himalayan region. Spreading south of Dhankar Gompa near the Tibetan border, the park marks the border between the formerly separate districts of Lahaul and Spiti. The elevation of the park ranges from about 3,500 metres near Ka Dogri to more than 6,000 metres at its highest point.
- With its snow laden unexplored higher reaches and slopes, the park forms a natural habitat for a number of endangered animals including the snow leopard and Siberian Ibex.
- Because of the park’s high altitude and extreme temperatures, the vegetation density is sparse, consisting mostly of alpine trees and groves of Himalayan cedar (Cedrus deodara). In summer, rare birds such as the Himalayan snowcock, chukar partridge, snow partridge and snowfinch flourish in the park.
- Some plants within the park’s alpine habitats have significant medicinal properties. There are around 22 rare endangered medicinal plant species that have been discovered in and around Pin Valley National Park, which are distributed over 10 different habitat types. Aconitum rotundifolium, Arnebia euchroma, Ephedra gerardiana, Ferula jaeschkeana, Hyoscyamus niger are the threatened but medicinally important plants in this national park.
- Conditions are generally cold and dry as the region has always been a cold desert. It receives heavy snowfall in winter, the rainfall being average. Best time to visit the park is from May to October.
- There are two approach routes to Pin Valley National Park. The first one is via Manali – Rohtang Pass – Kunzum La. This route is open from July to October. The second one is via Shimla – Tapri – Kaza. March to December is the best time to approach the park via this route.
By Air: The nearest airport is at Bhuntar in Kullu district. Private operators operate flights to Delhi from here; therefore it would be wise to confirm flight schedules etc. in advance.
By Rail: Shimla at a distance of around 443 km is the nearest railhead.
- This is mainly land for trekking and camping hence traditional accommodation is limited. Bunkers provided by the forest department are another option. The Buddhist monks are very hospitable and could invite travellers to a cup of buttery, salty tea, or perhaps a stay overnight at the Kungri monastery. Villagers in the valley are also generous in providing shelter and food.
- The park’s core zone stretches over 675 sq km and the buffer zone extends over 1150 sq km. No foreign tourist is allowed inside the park and the Indian tourists can enter with a permit of the park. The park is very popular with trekkers, who come to see its natural beauty and exquisite wildlife.
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