Posted at: Mar 3, 2017, 1:01 AM; last updated: Mar 3, 2017, 2:38 AM (IST)

Shriniwas Joshi

Entrance to GHNP , Rolla

Entrance to GHNP , Rolla

 

The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) Conservation Area in Kullu comprises 1,171 square kilometres of which the GHNP is 754.4 square kilometres. The rest of the square kilometres are spread on the Eco-Zone (265.6), the Sainj Wild Life Sanctuary (90) and Tirthan WLS (61). Quite a few of us from Shimla, Dehradun and the other parts of Himachal Pradesh, besides the luminaries from the world over, were staying at the Forest Rest House, Shai Ropa, a small village by the side of the Tirthan river and in other nearby hotels to celebrate the natural heritage, in literature, art and culture. Shai means mustard and Ropa means flat piece of land.One morning, Sonali Ghosh, a forester belonging to the Assam Cadre of Forest Officers and at present working with the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, motivated me to trek a bumpy-choppy pathway, about 12 kilometres to the gate of the GHNP. I agreed. We, a party of about a dozen, and Roshan Lal, Deputy Ranger in the Forest Department, as our navigator, started from Shai Ropa at 8.30 am. Five kilometers up to Gushaini were covered in a vehicle and the trek started from Gushaini temple, painted in gaudy colours a perfect eyesore.The temple at Ropa, a few kilometers away on our trek, was, however, reconstructed in the pure Pahari style and looked elegant. One of the trekkers with us was Kadambari from Tamil Nadu, a young girl who had won the first prize in a writing competition on natural heritage. This trip to Shai Ropa was an item of the prizes for the top three winners.I am mentioning her because she had undergone a lung operation for cancer only six months back and was here matching step to step with us. This young girl is an inspiration and an epitome of courage shooing away the past, saying, “What has happened has happened; forget it.”To reach the head of the GHNP, we were trekking on the eco-zone area where inhabit 160 villages having a population of 14,000 only. The entire area is enormously primitive and walking up a trail that comprises glossy rock, smooth mud, slick leaves and thick roots of the trees coming out of the soil gives a sense of deep adventure. I would say that no-road connectivity is the GHNP’s asset and I was told that not more than 1,000 visitors come to the GHNP in a year.It was a calm and cold morning and while traversing, I thought of Coleridge who had said, “’Tis calm indeed! So calm, that it disturbs/ And vexes meditation with its strange/ And extreme silentness.” We did not see any wildlife on the way except a few monkeys jumping by the side of the Tirthan but we heard quite a few chirpings from the trees all around. Kadambari, of course, photographed the local avifauna.One must have heard about the Hippo- Point of Kenya where hordes of hippos are visible and is a known tourist resort. But here just before the gate of the GHNP, there is a Hippo-Point. This point has a hippo-like rock formation dipping itself in the water of the Tirthan. The place is called Chuli-Chaw in Pahari. Chuli is hollowed handful made by joining the two hands and Chaw is waterfall. The white water here falls as if flowing through Chuli made of two rocks. A few steps ahead is the gate of the GHNP (see photo) where we reached in the noon. Here is a hut for the stay of forest guards and permits for Indians at Rs100 per day per person and Rs 400 per foreigner per day are issued. The water, air and the atmosphere is so pure here that one exclaims that a beautiful place simply delights the eye but a pure one, the soul.Here, Roshan Lal, had arranged tasty meals for us. Well cooked rajmah and chutney of Bichhu Booti (Prickly Plant) plus pure Pahari ghee. A few from the party went to Rola, two kilometers ahead, and a few went to see Chatri Devi (83-year-old) living all alone within the GHNP, the only human being in the park. Sonali, Roshan Lal and I returned.

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