Valley of Flowers National Park

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Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

View of the Valley of Flowers
State Party Flag of India India
Type Natural
Criteria vii, x
Reference 335
Region** Asia-Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription 1988  (12th Session)
Extensions 2005
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Valley of Flowers National Park is an Indian national park since 1982, nestled high in the West Himalayas. The park stretches over an expanse of 87.50 square kilometers (33.78 sq mi). The Valley of Flowers has enshrined in Hindu Mythology. It won international renown during the past century, brought to the world's attention by the work of Frank S. Smythe. Home to a variety of endangered plants and medicinal plants, the region displays the best example of the West Himalaya biogeographic zone. The majority of flowers include Orchids, Poppies, Primulas, Calendulas, Daisies and Anemones as well as alpine forests of Birch and Rhododendron.

The richly diverse area serves as home to rare and endangered animals, including the Asiatic Black Bear, Snow Leopard, Brown Bear and Blue Sheep. The region lies within the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area. The Indian government has banned settlements and animal grazing in the park. It is open only from June to October due to the heavy snow fall. The gentle landscape of the Valley of Flowers National Park compliments the rugged mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi National Park. Together they encompass a unique transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and Great Himalaya. The park has won fame for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and outstanding natural beauty. UNESCO designated the Valley of Flowers National Park a World Heritage Site along with Nanda Devi National Park.

Contents

Description

The Valley of Flowers is an outstandingly beautiful high-altitude Himalayan valley that has been acknowledged as such by renowned mountaineers and botanists in literature for over a century and in Hindu mythology for much longer. Its gentle landscape, breath-takingly beautiful meadows of alpine flowers and ease of access complement the rugged, mountain wilderness for which the inner basin of Nanda Devi National Park has won acclaim.[1]

The Valley of Flowers diverse alpine flora, representative of the West Himalaya biogeographic zone, has international importance. The rich diversity of species reflects the valley’s location within a transition zone between the Zaskar and Great Himalaya ranges to the north and south, respectively, and between the Eastern and Western Himalaya flora. A number of plant species are internationally threatened, several have not been recorded from elsewhere in Uttarakhand and two have not been recorded in Nanda Devi National Park. The diversity of threatened species of medicinal plants is higher than has been recorded in other Indian Himalayan protected areas. The entire Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve lies within the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA). Seven restricted-range bird species are endemic to this part of the EBA.[2]

The Republic of India declared The Valley of Flowers a national park in 1982. That part of Uttarakhand, in the upper reaches of Garhwal, proves inaccessible through much of the year. The area lies on the Zanskar range of the Himalayas with the highest point in the national park being Gauri Parbat at 6,719 meters (22,040 ft) above sea level.[3]

Settlements have been prohibited in the national park and grazing in the areas banned. Open only in summer between June and October, heavy snow covers the region during the rest of the year. Getting to the Valley of Flowers requires a trek of about 17 kilometers (11 mi). The nearest major town is Joshimath in Garhwal, which has convenient road connections from railheads such as Hardwar and Dehradun, both about 270 kilometers (170 mi) from Joshimath.

From Joshimath, a vehicle can be hired to take you to within 17 kilometers (11 mi) of the park, to the settlement of Gobindghat. The route from Joshimath to the Valley of Flowers goes along the main road to Badrinath; roughly midway along this road, a minor road branches off to Gobindghat, the roadhead for the Valley. From Gobindghat, a trek of 14 kilometers (8.7 mi) brings hikers to the tiny settlement of Ghangaria. Valley of flowers is about 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) from this village. Hemkund Sahib sits around five kilometers from Ghangaria.

History

Picturesque landscape near Margaret Legge's memorial and grave site

Frank S. Smythe, mountaineer, explorer, and botanist introduced the Valley to the world as the Valley of Flowers. He had camped in the valley for several weeks in the monsoon of 1937 and performed valuable exploratory work.[4] Smythe authored a book called "The Valley of Flowers" which unveiled the beauty and floral splendors of the valley and thus threw open the doors of this verdant jewel to nature-enthusiasts all over the world.[5]

In 1939 Miss Margaret Legge, a botanist deputed by the Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh arrived at the valley for further studies. While she was traversing some rocky slopes to collect flowers, she slipped off and perished. Her sister later visited the valley and erected a memorial on the spot where locals buried her. The heart-felt memorial stands as of 2008.

Fauna and Flora

The park serves as home to Tahr, Snow Leopard, Musk Deer, Red Fox, Common Langur, Bharal, Serow, Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan Brown Bear, Pica (Mouse Hare) and a huge variety of butterflies. Among the important birds and Pheasant are the Himalayan Golden Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Snow Partridge, Himalayan Snow Cock,Himalayan Monal, Snow Pigeon, and Sparrow Hawk.

Flowers, mostly Orchids, Poppies, Primulas, Calendulas, Daisies and Anemones carpet the park. Alpine forests of Birch and Rhododendron cover parts of the park's area.

Species

A flower found in the park.
A flower with several insects on it
An exquisite purple flower
ValleyOf Flowers RedFlowerwithBee.jpg
Morning Dew on a pink flower
Multi storied Flowers
An exquisite white flower
No. Name of Flowers Time of flowering
1. Rhododendron arboreum February-June
2. Primula denticuleta April-July
3. Iris kemaonensis June-July
4. Fritillaria roylei June-July
5. Lilium oxypetalum June-July
6. Arisaema costautum June-July
7. Thermopsisa barbata June-July
8. Rosa macrophylla June-July
9. Caltha palustris June-July
10. Fragaria nubicola May-July
11. Saxifraga roylei July-August
12. Anemone obtusiloba June-August
13. Cypripedium himalaicum June-August
14. Rheum australe July-August
15. Phlomis oracteosa June-August
16. Hackelia uncinata June-August
17. Senecio jacquemotiamus August-September
18. Ligularia amplexicaulis July-August
19. Morina longifolia July-September
20. Geum elatum July-August
21. Geranium wallichianum July-August
22. Impatiense sulcata July-August
23. Meconopsis aculeata July-August
24. Delphenium roylei July-August
25. Aconitum hookeri August-September
26. Thalictrum reniforme July-September
27. Potentilla atrosanguinea July-September
28. Sedum ewersii August-September
29. Dactylorhiza hatagirea June-July
30. Bistorta affinis August-September
31. Stachys sericee August-September
32. Nepeta connata August-September
33. Pedicularis hoffmeistri July-August
34. Swertia hookeri August-September
35. Gentiana ornata August-September
36. Gaultheria erichophy August-September
37. Codonopsis affinis August-September
38. Angelica cyelocarpa July-September
39. Leontopodium jacotianum July-September
40. Saussurea fastuosa July-September
41. Campanula latitotia August-September
42. Cyananthus lobotus August-September
43. Sassurea obvallata August-September
44. Cremanthodium ellisii July-September
45. Anaphalis triplineruts July-September
46. Inula grandiflora August-September
47. Aster albescens July-September
48. Selinium tenuifolium August-September
49. Heracleum pinnatum August-September
50. Epilobium latisperma August-September
51. Silene setisperma August-September
52. Arenaria griffithii August-September
53. Corydalis junecea August-September
54. Erigerono multiradiatus August-September
55. Polygonum molle August-September
56. Himalayan Blue Poppy July-September
57. Codonopsis viridis July-August
58. Origanus vulgare July-August
59. Hackelia uncinata July-August
60. Salvia hins/lanata July-August
61. Smilacina purpurea/oleracea June-July
62. Viola biflora June-August
63. Rhodiola heterodonta July-August
64. Epilohium latifolium July-August
65. Cotoneaster integrifolius July-August
66. Dubyaea hispida August-September
67. Saussurea costus July-August
68. Ligularia fiseheri July-August
69. Androsace museoidea July-August
70. Eritrichium conum July-August
71. Lindelofi anchusoides July-August
72. Thymus linearis June-August
73. Rheum webbianum June-August
74. Megacorpaea polyandra June-August
75. Trillidium govanianum June-August
76. Satyrium nepoleanse June-August
77. Podophyllum hexaneum June-August
78. Picrorhiza kurrooa June-August
79. Polygonatum multiflorum June-August

See Also

Notes

  1. James Workman. Pragmatic solutions: an assessment of progress, 2005. (Gland, Switzerland: IUCN, 2006)
  2. R. S. Ambasht and Navin K. Ambasht. Modern trends in applied terrestrial ecology. (New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2002), 125
  3. Jagdish Kaur. Himalayan pilgrimages and the new tourism. (New Delhi: Himalayan Books, 1985), 62.
  4. Harish Kapadia. Meeting the mountains. (New Delhi: Indus Pub. Co., 1998), 121.
  5. F. S. Smythe. The valley of flowers. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938)

References

  • Ambasht, R. S., and Navin K. Ambasht. 2002. Modern trends in applied terrestrial ecology. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. ISBN 9780306473326.
  • Kaur, Jagdish. 1985. Himalayan pilgrimages and the new tourism. New Delhi: Himalayan Books. ISBN 9788170020004.
  • Kapadia, Harish. 1998. Meeting the mountains. New Delhi: Indus Pub. Co. ISBN 9788173870859.
  • Smythe, F. S. 1938. The valley of flowers. London: Hodder and Stoughton. OCLC 341916.
  • Workman, James. 2006. Pragmatic solutions: an assessment of progress, 2005. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. ISBN 9782831709246.

External links

Links retrieved November 23, 2008.


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