Nanda Devi Sanctuary Trek

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Nanda Devi Sanctuary Trek (The World Heritage Site)

(Biosphere Reserve)

The Nanda Devi national park is one of the very few wilderness areas in India that has remained naturally protected. The national park got is name after the famous Nada Devi peak, named after the goddess of whom the mountain is considered to be a manifestation. An area of 630 sq km was declared as Nanda Devi national park in the year 1982 which is now a park and core zone of Nanda Devi biosphere reserve. The national park was upgraded as the biosphere reserve. The Nanda Devi Biosphere reserve was the second such reserve in India to be established under the Mai and Biosphere (MAB) programme launched by UNESCO at its sixteenth session in 1970 It came into being on the 18th of January 1988. It was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1992 and included in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserve in 2004. The park is geographically situated between 30016’-30032’ N latitudes and 790 44’-800 02’ E longitudes. It covers an altitude varying from 2100 in the west to 7817 m in the east. Nanda Devi national park is an outstanding mountain wilderness with few if any parallels elsewhere in the Himalaya on account of its concentration of high peaks and glaciers lying within a range of near-pristine habitats. It lies within a biogeographical transition zone between the Western an Eastern Himalaya.

It is the home of several endangered, threatened and uncommon species of flora and fauna. The Nanda Devi Park the world heritage site has unique topography, climate, and soil and it supports diverse habitat, species, communities and ecosystems. The area is reputed as one of the most spectacular wilderness in the Himalaya and is dominated by Nanda Devi peak which is a natural monument and India’s second highest peak.

The revised Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (NDBR- 3005’-31002’N latitudes and 790 12’- 800 19’E longitudes comprised of the world heritage site “The Nanda Devi National Park and the world famous“ the Valley of Flowers National park” The valley of flower national park recently had bee recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is located in the northern part of west Himalaya in the biogeographical classification zone 2B. The reserve is spread over Chamoli district in Garhwal, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh districts in Kumaon in Uttaranchal state. It has a wide altitudinal range (1,800-7,817m).It covers 5860.69 sq km area with core zone.(712.12sq.km) buffer zone (5,148.57sq km) and transition zone(546.34 sqkm). The butter zone is inhabited by 47 villages whereas the transition zone is inhabited by 52 villages.

The reserve offers numerous sites of verdant forests, rhododendron, covered hillsides, tiny sheep herder’s summer settlement on the high altitude pastures, old temples, glaciers, high passes, huge peals and fascinating mountains views. The beauty of the county side, flora and fauna and the lifestyle of the people of Uttaranchal is the best and unforgettable experience for a meander through lush green hill and darks. No doubt Nanda Devi biosphere reserve with its snow peaks is the perfect destination for tranquillity or adventure. Uttaranchal offers a holiday that is more than a dream voyage of adventure and discovery. The Nanda Devi basin was declared as Nanda Devi sanctuary in 1939. The sanctuary is a cup-shaped valley surrounded by a number of lofty ethereal peaks in the hearts of the central Himalaya at an elevation of 5000 m above sea level amidst captivating surroundings. The sanctuary is dotted with alpine meadows, waterfalls and forests and is the base and starting point for mountaineering assaults to Nanda Devi, Trishul, Changbang, Dronagiri, Kalanka and many more peaks and journey’s end for trekkers.

The first attempt to enter the sanctuary was made by W.W. Graham in 1883. He could descend only up to a point where the Trishul Nullah feeds the Rishi Ganga. Now this area is known as ‘Outer Sanctuary’or the lower Rishi Gorge. Later on a number of mountaineers tried to descend into the sacred Nanda Devi sanctuary and its base but in vain In 1905 world-famous mountaineer, Dr T. G. Longstaff also tried to descend into the sanctuary in 1970 but he could not succeed, he could reach only a point now known as Longstaff Col. After more than 50 years of successive trials and failures by a number of expeditions from various countries, it was Eric Shipton and H.W. Tilman who pioneered a way into it in 1934 by negotiating one of the world’s formidable paths. These two extraordinary travellers of the unexplored world also called the Nanda Devi sanctuary as ‘Valley of Lost Horizon’. Sir Edmund Hillary, in his autobiography, has described that “the Nanda Devi sanctuary is god-gifted wilderness-India’s training ground for adventure”.

Nanda Devi, the mountain goddess, means “she who gives bless” and whole of Uttaranchal, villagers worship her as a patron deity. Nanda Devi has received many people into her foldinlife and death. Among them was Ms Nandsa Devi Unsoeld and her father William Unsoeld, from America, whose attachment to the sacred mountain makes a moving tale. The sad but interesting story begins 1949 when Unsoeld and his two fellow climbers came to India to scale Nilkanth peak. During this trip, he encountered the enchanting beauty of Nanda Devi peak. He was so impressed and decided that if he would have a daughter he would give her the name Nanda. Fortunately, he was blessed with a daughter in 1954 and she was named Nanda Devi Unsoeld. She had great affection for the mountain since her childhood particularly to the mountain after who she had been named. She always used to say, “I feel a very close relationship to the mountain. There has been something within me about this mountain ever since I was born.” She did arduous preparation for climbing. At the very young age of 22, she was chosen to accompany her father and group leader Adom Carter on a joint Indo-American expedition to climb Nanda Devi peak in 1976.

Trip Facts:

Trip length: 7 Days
Grade: Moderate
Starts in: Rishikesh
Ends in: Rishikesh
Accommodation:Deluxe Hotel and Tents (on trekking days)
Transportation: Joshimath
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Maximum altitude: 4152 M
Trek length: 6 night / 7 days

Itinerary in Brief

  • 1

    Arrival Joshimath

    Upon arrival at a pre-booked hotel in Joshimath meet our Trekking crew. Remaining day to Relax and acclimatize Overnight stay in Joshimath (Panchvati Inn Joshimath hotel) Joshimath is a small town in the Uttarakhand Garhwal hills on the bank of the Alaknanda River. This place is very famous for Sankaracharya temple and. It is also the main town of many mountaineering and trekking expedition in Garhwal Himalayas region.

  • 2

    Joshimath - Lata Village (2317 mts/7599 ft) (2 km/ 1 hrs)

    Morning after Breakfast An hour's drive takes to the Lata Village road head. Then trek to the village. Visit The Nanda Devi Temple and get a first hand experience of the distinctive culture of the region. Overnight in the village

  • 3

    Lata Village - Lata Kharak (3689 mts/12099 ft) (9 kms/4-5 hrs)

    Morning early breakfast Today's trek is a steep incline. The going is arduous but very satisfying as the trail unfolds before ones eyes. Lata Kharak is a high plateau with high peaks surrounding it. Overnight in tent .

  • 4

    Day visit to Hemkund Sahib (Max Altitude 4632 mtr)

    Post breakfast today we start our fully escorted trek to Hemkund - internationally acclaimed, one of the finest high latitude lakes in Uttarakhand Himalayas. It is also a place of worship for Sikhs and Hindus. It's an uphill trek to reach Hemkund. See the crystal clear lake with astonishing views of surrounding peaks, visit Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara and Lakshman Temple on the banks of the lake. Return to Ghangharia in the evening for dinner and overnight stay.


  • 5

    Lata Kharak - Dharansi Pass (4250 mts/13940 ft) (10 kms/4 -5 hrs)

    Morning early walkup and enjoy the snow-clad peaks all around. Dronagiri, Nanda Gunthi Nanda Devi and many more. The trail today takes a steep climb to Jhandi Dhar and Bagfyana Pass. From here on it ascends and descends through the narrow gorge of Satkul to Dharansi Pass. Overnight in a tent.

  • 6

    Hitoli Campsite - Joshimath (1890 mts/6199 ft) (8 kms/3-4 hrs)

    The trek goes through the village of Tolma to the road head from where it is a 30 km drive to Joshimath. We will trek through thick forests of Rhododendron, birch and many others. Upon arrival at Joshimath check into a hotel for dinner and overnight stay at Panchvati Inn Joshimath hotel.

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