Nanda Devi National Park
|Nanda Devi National Park|
|Part of||Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks|
|Criteria||Natural: (vii), (x)|
|Inscription||1988 (12th Session)|
|Area||62,460 ha (241.2 sq mi)|
The Nanda Devi National Park or Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, established in 1982 , is a national park situated around the peak of Nanda Devi (7816 m) in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India. The entire park lies at an elevation of more than 3,500 m (11,500 ft) above mean sea level.
Within the National Park lies the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, a glacial basin surrounded by a ring of peaks between 6,000 metres (19,700 ft) and 7,500 m (24,600 ft) high, and drained by the Rishi Ganga through the Rishi Ganga Gorge, a steep, almost impassable defile.
The National Park is embedded in the 2,236.74 km2 (863.61 sq mi) sized Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, which, in turn, is encompassed in the 5,148.57 km2 (1,987.87 sq mi) buffer zone around the Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks UNESCO site.
Best time to visit Nanda Devi National Park is from May to October.
The first recorded attempt to explore the sanctuary was in 1883 by W. W. Graham, who could proceed only up to Rishi Ganga. 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 Rishi Ganga in 1934, thus opening the extensive exploration in the sanctuary. In 1939, the area was declared as a game sanctuary.
Layout of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary
The Nanda Devi Sanctuary within the National Park can be divided into two parts, Inner and Outer. Together, they are surrounded by the main sanctuary wall, which forms a roughly square outline, with high, continuous ridges on the north, east, and south sides. On the west side, less high but still imposing ridges drop from the north and south toward the Rishi Ganga Gorge, which drains the sanctuary towards the west.
The Inner Sanctuary occupies roughly the eastern two-thirds of the total area, and contains Nanda Devi itself and the two major glaciers flanking the peak, the Uttari (north) Rishi Glacier and the Dakshini (south) Rishi Glacier. These are fed by the smaller Uttari Nanda Devi and Dakshini Nanda Devi Glaciers respectively. This region was already inhabited by the aryanic, Mongolian and Himalayan indigenous peoples as per vedas and natural history but the first recorded entry of the British into the Inner Sanctuary was by Eric Shipton and H. W. Tilman in 1934, via the Rishi Gorge.
The Outer Sanctuary occupies the western third of the total sanctuary, and is separated from the Inner Sanctuary by high ridges, through which flows the Rishi Ganga. It is split in two by the Rishi Ganga; on the north side lies the Ramani Glacier, flowing down from the slopes of Dunagiri and Changabang, and on the south lies the Trisul Glacier, flowing from the peak of the same name. This portion of the sanctuary is accessible to the outside (though requiring the crossing of a 4,000 m (13,000 ft) pass). The first serious climbing expedition to pass through the Outer Sanctuary was that of T. G. Longstaff, who climbed Trisul I in 1907 via the eponymous glacier.
Common larger mammals are Himalayan musk deer, mainland serow and Himalayan tahr. Goral are not found within, but in the vicinity of the park. Carnivores are represented by snow leopard, Himalayan black bear and perhaps also brown bear. Langurs are found within the park, whereas rhesus macaque are known to occur in the neighboring areas of the park. In a scientific expedition in 1993, a total of 114 bird species was recognized.
Vegetation is scarce In the inner sanctuary due to the dryness of the conditions. One will not find vegetation near Nanda Devi Glacier. Ramani, alpine, prone mosses and lichens are other notable floral species found in Nanda Devi National Park.
Named peaks of the park and environs
Within the sanctuary
Apart from Nanda Devi, the following peaks lie on ridges dividing the Inner and Outer Sanctuary areas.
- Nanda Devi: 7,816 m (25,643 ft)
- Devistan I, II: 6,678 metres (21,909 ft), 6,529 m (21,421 ft)
- Rishi Kot: 6,236 m (20,459 ft)
On the sanctuary wall
These peaks are listed in clockwise order, starting from just north of the Rishi Gorge. Some of them are relatively minor summits and have small topographic prominence, while others are independent peaks.
- Hanuman: 6,075 m (19,931 ft)
- Dunagiri: 7,066 m (23,182 ft)
- Changabang: 6,864 m (22,520 ft)
- Kalanka: 6,931 m (22,740 ft)
- Rishi Pahar: 6,992 m (22,940 ft)
- Mangraon: 6,568 m (21,549 ft)
- Deo Damla: 6,620 m (21,719 ft)
- Bamchu: 6,303 m (20,679 ft)
- Sakram: 6,254 m (20,518 ft)
- Latu Dhura: 6,392 m (20,971 ft)
- Sunanda Devi: 7,434 m (24,390 ft)
- Nanda Khat: 6,611 m (21,690 ft)
- Panwali Doar (or "Panwali Dwar"): 6,663 m (21,860 ft)
- Maiktoli: 6,803 m (22,320 ft)
- Devtoli: 6,788 m (22,270 ft)
- Mrigthuni: 6,855 m (22,490 ft)
- Trisul I, II, III: 7,120 metres (23,360 ft), 6,690 metres (21,949 ft), 6,008 m (19,711 ft)
- Bethartoli Himal: 6,352 m (20,840 ft)
Just outside the wall
The following are the most notable peaks which are adjacent to the wall; they are all connected to the wall by high passes. They lie just outside the boundaries of the park.
- Hardeol: 7,151 m (23,461 ft) (northeast corner)
- Trishuli: 7,074 m (23,209 ft) (just beyond Hardeol)
- Nanda Kot: 6,861 m (22,510 ft) (southeast corner)
- Nanda Ghunti: 6,309 m (20,699 ft) (southwest corner)
Nuclear-powered spying device on Nanda Devi
During the cold war era when Chinese carried out their first nuclear test in 1964 and followed it up with missile testing, the US and India actively collaborated to spy on China’s nuclear capabilities. Before the advent of spy satellites much of the clandestine intelligence gathering relied on ground based sensors. The Chinese missile testing facility was north of the Himalayan range which was a big hurdle in picking missile telemetry signals. CIA was looking for a Himalayan peak high enough to secure a direct line of sight to the Chinese missile testing zone. Together with the Intelligence Bureau of India, they planned a secret mission to install a nuclear powered listening device on top of the peak of Nanda Devi. A joint team of CIA hired US mountaineers together with Indian contingent from the defense forces were detailed to carry out the secret mission. By that time the mountaineering season was concluding and the mission met with adverse climatic conditions. They left behind the plutonium fueled device with the intention of renewing their attempt during the next year’s climbing season. The follow-up Indian expedition during the next season found the device missing from where it was anchored. Probably fell down due to rock fall and slid towards the glaciers carrying its plutonium with it. All the follow-up secret expeditions launched to retrieve the device met with failure. Recently, the Tourism Minister of Uttarakhand State Mr. Satpal Maharaj met the Prime Minister of India to express his apprehensions that the atomic device that had gone missing over 50 years ago might be polluting waters of the Ganges.
- Official UNESCO site
- World Conservation Monitoring Centre Archived 10 July 1997 at Archive.today
- Kala, Chandra Prakash 2005. The Valley of Flowers: A Newly Declared World Heritage Site. Current Science, 89 (6): 919-920.
- Nanda Devi National Park - HillTaxi.com
- Garhwal-Himalaya-Ost, 1:150,000 scale topographic map, prepared in 1992 by Ernst Huber for the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, based on maps of the Survey of India. It is in the extreme northern part if india on the countries border with China. it takes up a great deal of mountain space in Uttarakhand.
- H. W. Tilman, The Ascent of Nanda Devi, Cambridge University Press, 1937. Reprinted in The Seven Mountain-Travel Books, The Mountaineers, Seattle, 2003, ISBN 0-89886-960-9.
- Takeda, Pete (January 2007). "The Secrets of Nanda Devi". Retrieved 23 December 2018.
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