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Pin Valley National Park
About Pin Valley National Park

Pin Valley National Park is a national park which is located in Spiti region of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The park is located in the cold desert area of the Spiti valley, in the Lahul and Spiti district within the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It was declared a park in 1987. Pin Valley National Park is home for more than 20 species of animals and birds, including the endangered Snow leopard. The park’s core zone is stretched over 675 sq km and the buffer zone extends over 1150 sq km. Foreign nationals are not allowed inside the park. Indians have to take permit to enter the park.

As many as 17 villages with a population of 1600 are located at the periphery of the park. Locals of Pin Valley, like the rest of Spiti, follow Tibetan Buddhism. The religious and cultural beliefs of the locals have helped in protecting the wildlife of Pin Valley. Pin Valley is also well-known for its Chhumurti horses, an indigenous breed. Horse racing and archery competitions are popular amusements of the locals.

Location of Pin Valley National Park

Declared a National Park in 1987, Pin Valley is located in the cold desert region of the Spiti valley. With its snow laden unexplored higher reaches and slopes, the Park forms a natural habitat for a number of endangered animals including the Siberian Ibex and Snow Leopard. The elevation of the park ranges from about 3,500 metres (11,500 ft) near Ka Dogri to more than 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) at its highest point. The park marks the border between the formerly separate districts of Lahaul and Spiti spreading south of Dhankar Gompa near the Tibetan border,.

Steeped in history, the influence of Tibetan culture is widespread in the area surrounding the park, visible in the shrines, monasteries, Buddhist lamas and culture of its residents. One has to stay in Kaza and visit this amazing Himalayan park.

Best time to visit

The month of July-August is the 'best time' to visit Pin Valley, when the temperatures are most hospitable, at least during the day. The climate is dry with freezing, high-velocity winds and minimal rainfall. Winter sets in early and temperatures can drop to as low as -35°C. Heavy snowfall makes it risky to visit the park from late December to March. The summer season lasts from late May to September when temperatures reach a maximum of 25°C, though the nights may still be freezing. During the months of July to October the park is accessible.

Flora and fauna

Pin Valley is also known for its floral wealth. The park possesss over 400 plant species including medicinal herbs. It is well-known for two rare species of plants called Birch and Juniper. The park’s alpine pasture lands are another highlight. The park is also popular among trekkers who come to see the natural beauty and the wildlife of the park.

Because of the park's high altitude and extreme temperatures, the vegetation in the area is scarce, mainly consisting of alpine trees and patches of Himalayan cedar. In summer, rare birds like the Himalayan chukar, snowcock, snow finch and snow partridge prosper in the area.

Snow leopard is the most important resident of the park. There are about 12 of the big cat in the park. Besides snow leopard, Siberian ibex, weasel, bharal, marten and red fox are other animals that are the highlight of the park. It is home to birds like pika, golden eagle, chukor, snow cock, bearded vulture, griffon, raven and Himalayan chough.

Winter is the best time to see the animals when they migrate to the lower regions because of the cold weather.

Medicinal Plants

Though the vegetation is sparse, it possesses high quality of medicinal properties. Twenty-two rare and endangered medicinal plant species, have been discovered in and around this national park by Prof. C.P. Kala, which are distributed over 10 different habitat types. Aconitum rotundifolium, Ferula jaeschkeana, Hyoscymus niger Ephedra gerardiana, Arnebia euchroma, are the threatened but important medeicinal plants which occurs in this national park.

Pin Valley National Park spreads over an area of approx 9700 sq km. It is located in the cold desert region of the Spiti valley. With its snow laden unexplored higher reaches and slopes, the Park forms a natural habitat for a number of endangered animals including the Tibetan Gazelle, Woolly Hare, Snow Leopard and Siberian Ibex.

How To Reach Pin Valley

Pin Valley is reachable only by road, and the last leg of the journey can only be undertaken on foot. The valley can be reached from Manali via Kaza or from Shimla via Reckong Peo and Sumdo in Kinnaur.

By Road
The nearest town is Gulling which is 3,700 m. above sea level. It has the largest population in the region with about 200 people. One route to Pin Valley is via Manali, Rohtang Pass (3,978 m.) and Kumzum La (4,551 m.). This route can be used from mid July to late September or October, depending upon the weather conditions. Another route that is generally used is via Shimla, Tapri and Kaza (3,640 m.) that is open between March and December. Kaza is the administrative headquarters of the Spiti sub-division. A bus leaves Kaza at 9 a.m. everyday and transports visitors to Mikkim, from where one can only proceed on foot. A road is currently being constructed from Mikkim right onto Mud. The bus also stops at the Attargo village near the junction of the Spiti and Pin rivers. Attargo is two hours away from Kaza.

On foot
Two main trekking routes are available between mid-July and late September. One option is the route from Kulu in the West, via the Pin Parvati Pass (5,100 m.). An alternative route is from Kinnaur in the South via the Bhaba valley and Tari Khango Pass (4,866 m.). Trekking at these heights is an amazing experience. Spiti is full of jhullas, like the rope bridge across the Parahio river, a tributary of the Spiti where one crosses a steel wire rope of 12 mm. which is suspended from abutments on both sides. Using a rope made of yak hair (that is tied around one's legs with special knots) one can move across. There is a relatively new bridge from Attargo village to Pin Valley. Local guides, porters and the well-known Chhumurti horses are available for hire. Pack mules and donkeys are also available.



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