Nanda Devi National Park
History of exploration The first recorded attempt to explore the Nanda Devi sanctuary was in 1883 by W. W. Graham, who attempted to enter the sanctuary through Rishi gourge. Other attempts by explorers in 1870, (T. G. Longstaff) 1926, 1927 and 1932 (Hugh Ruttledge) did not fetch fruitful results. Eric Shipton and H. W. Tilman entered the inner sanctuary through Bakfiyana Pass via Jhindidhar in 1934. The first ascent of Nanda Devi peak was made by the British American Expedition in 1936 and on the recommendation of the expedition team, the area was declared as a game sanctuary in 1939. The Nanda Devi region remained a favorite till the complete ban on human entry after the notification of inner sanctuary as a National Park in 1982.
Flora and fauna
Nanda Devi (7816 meters), the sacred mountain at the core of the park is the second highest peak in India and is protected by a spectacular ring of more than a dozen peaks over 21,000 ft. The almost vertical landscape of the Nanda Devi complex is home to numerous species of large mammals including musk deer, snow leopards, Himalayan tahrs, and black bears and over 100 plus species of avian fauna with more than 300 flora species.
The Niti Valley where in lies the Nanda Devi National Park is inhabited by the trans Himalaya Bhotiya tribal community who reside in 22 villages across the valley. Due to extreme climatic conditions the villages practice transhumance and shift to lower villages during winters. With the onset of summer, the villagers move from their winter villages to summer villages and spend 6-7 months in the summer village doing rain fed agriculture and foraging from the nearby forests and alpine meadows. As winter approaches, they start making arrangements to move down to winter villages, some of which are more than 100 kilometers downstream. Niti Valley is one of the last repositories of the unique trans Himalayan culture and customs which are still practiced with devotion by the Bhotiya community. The Lapsu, Mask Dance, Sitoon and celebrating Sangrand (first day of the month on moon calendar) are some of the unique customs still prevalent among the Bhotiya community.
After a continued agitation by the native community under the Jhapto Cheeno campaign, a post Chipko movement, the Nanda Devi National Park was reopened for limited ecotourism activities in the year 2003. A total number of 500 visitors/year are allowed to enter the core-zone till Dharansi between the months of May and October. Nanda Devi Institute of Adventure Sports in collaboration with the native community is now offering an Interpretive trek to the Nanda Devi National Park
As a destination, Nanda Devi National Park can only be approached through a 5-6 days of moderate trekking starting from the road-head of Lata village. Village Lata, the gateway to the Nanda Devi National Park is approx 275 kilometers from the nearest Railway station of haridwar/Rishikesh. The nearest airport is at Jollygrant, midway between Dehradun and Rishikesh. The road travel from Rishikesh takes 8-9 hours on the mountainous road covering the towns of Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Karanprayag and Joshimath on the way. Village Lata, the base camp for the Nanda Devi National Park trek is 25 kilometers upstream along the Dhouli Ganga river on the Niti-Malari highway.
The entry permits to the Nanda Devi National Park are issued by the office of the Divisional Forest Officer of NDNP at Joshimath. In view of the recent High Court order, the Village Council of Lata has submitted its micro plan to manage the eco tourism of its Van Panchayat area including the meadows of Lata Kharak, Saini Kharak and Jhindidhar. The process is on to establish the Eco Tourism Committee in Lata village, which will thereafter issue permits for trekking to Lata Kharak.
Trekking is the only option to browse the various destinations in and around the Nanda Devi National Park. The Interpretation Center on Bio-Cultural Diversity at Lata Village is a major attraction for the visitors of the park. One can also drive till the last village of Niti to experience the changing trans Himalayan landscape of the Niti Valley.One can also opt for a home stay in the beautiful village of Tolma on the lap of Dunagiri peak. This involves a one way hike of 3 Kms from Suraithota.
1. Dharansi Trek inside the core zone of the Nanda Devi National Park. Issues of getting entry permit due to the recent High Court judgement of August 2018. 5 to 6 days duration trek under difficult category.
2. Lata Kharak-Saini Kharak-Jhindidhar on the periphery of the core zone of Nanda Devi National Park, a community led interpretive nature trail n the high altitude Van Panchayat meadows of Lata village bordering the core zone of Nanda Devi National Park .Entry open between May and October. 3 - 4 days duration under moderate category.
3. Bagini Glacier further up from village Dronagiri. 5-6 days duration under difficult category.
4. Rishikund Trek above summer Suki Village. 3-4 days duration under morderate category.
5. Tadag Tal, from Tolma village. 3-4 days duration under morderate category.
6. Damarsain meadows above Gamsali village. 1-2 days duration from Gamsali village under easy category
7. Bhavisya Badri, 1 day steep hike from Saldhar roadhead
Join the six days/five night unique interpretive trek to the Nanda Devi National Park offered by the native community from Lata in collaboration with the Nanda Devi Institute of Adventure Sports and Outdoor Education. This all immersive trek takes you to the meadows of Lata Kharak and Saini Kharak with highest altitude gain of 4180 meters at Jhindidhar and culminating at village Tolma with a home stay experience. As an community organized event with thorough professional management, it provides an all immersive experience and takeaways.
One can buy traditional hand made rugs from the villages of Lata and Tolma. The rugs are exclusively made by the Bhotiya women and tourism provides an income opportunity to the villagers
Shepherds Lodge Devangan, is a 10 room riverside facility at village Lata. The lodge is the best option for visitors to Nanda Devi and off road travelers. Its the best available option as compared to staying in the crowded Joshimath. By staying at Devangan lodge, the trekkers can start early for the Nanda Devi National Park trek. All the rooms are attached with WC with hot running water.
Camping is allowed at Bhelta and Kanook, Lata Kharak and at other trek routes like Bagini Glacier and Damarsain further up from the village of Gamsali
Avoid trek itineraries suggesting a straight walk to the Lata Kharak meadows as chances of getting high altitude sickness are a common feature associated with this trek. Insist on a mid way camp near Bhelta or at the private camping site at Kanook.
Carry woolens, rain coat, personal medicine kit and enough water for the trek. There is just one water point between the village of Lata and Lata Kharak.