The Rohtang Pass, in the northern parts of India, is a site where one can view the most drastic of landscape variances – the lush green head of the Kullu Valley; awesome vista of bare, brown mountains; hanging glaciers, and snowfields that dazzle in the crisp light. Placed in the district of Lahaul and Spiti (Himachal Pradesh) this region has been untouched by the onslaughts of time. Tour to Pin Valley National Park Pin Valley National Park is part of this beautiful land and showcases the best of floral and faunal species that these high hills of Himalayas can offer.

Pin Valley National Park is located in Lahaul & Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. The region is a cold desert, which is adjoined to the Great Himalayan National Park in the southwest and Rupi Bhabha sanctuary in the south. The park extends from the latitudes 31°45′-32°11’N and longitudes 77°45′-78°06’E. 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.

Dry alpine and dwarf junifer scrub are the major forest types found in this region. Major floral varieties available in the park are bhojpatra (Betula utilis), bhutal (Juniperus mecropoda), Populus Spp and Salix Spp. Being a high altitude national park, Pin Valley is home to a variety of rare animals like woolly hare, Tibetan gazzle, and snow leopard. Other faunal species present here are: fox (Vulpes vulpes), wolf (Canis lupus), ibex (Capra ibex), bharal (Pseudois nayaur), and Himalayan marmot (Marmota bobak), Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica), blue sheep (Pseudois Nayaur) red billed chough (Pijrrhocrax grackles), patridge (Aleetoris choker), snow patridge (Lerwa lerwa), blue rock pigeon (Columba livia), snow pigeon, Himalayan snowcock (Tetraogallushim alayensis), Tibetan wild ass (Equus hemionus kiang), wooly flying squirrel (Eupetaurus cinereus), Himalayan black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus), Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos), mouse hare, Indian wolf (Canis lupus) … the list seems unending.

Dhankar Gompa (monastery) was built nearly 1000 years ago and has seen many upheavals in its history, from being the capital of Spiti to that of a jail. It is situated at an altitude of 3870 m, and is 23 km from Tabo. A number of herbs growing in this area are known for curing lung and heart diseases.

Tabo Gompa – Situated at an attitude of 3050 m, about 48 km from Pin Valley National Park – Tabo Gompa (monastery) is the largest monastery complex of Buddhist religion. Built in ad 996 by Ringchen Zangpo, it has been declared as the place where the current Dalai Lama will retire. There are nine temples in the complex all dating from 10th to the 16th century. Its sculptures, stucco images and wall paintings are similar to the Ajanta-Ellora paintings. It has a main assembly hall, which is surrounded by 33 raised Bodhisattva statues along with a four-sided statue of Sarvarid Vairocana, one of the five Dhyani Buddhas. Kyil Khor or Mystic Mandala temple is placed on the backside of the main complex. It is home to some beautiful faded mandalas (frescos). Dromton Lhakhang and Maitreya Chapel are the two famous chapels to the north of the temple complex.

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. 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. Shimla at a distance of around 443 km is the nearest railhead. Bunkers have been constructed by the wildlife authorities in the Pin Valley National Park region which is a suitable way to stay there. Camping is the best way to spend night in the park. One can also avail accommodation at Kaza, the nearest town, which is also the administrative centre of Spiti.

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