Nanda Devi Biosphere On The Top Of The World

Nanda Devi National Park is located near to Nanda Devi, the second highest mountain peak in India with an altitude of 7,817 meters in Chamoli district in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India and has some of the most unique high altitude flora and fauna in the world. The park covers an area of 630 square kilometres. The national park was set up in 1982 and has been declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1988.

Nanda Devi National Park

Historical Background

The Westerners had reached the Nanda Devi region long ago. In 1883, a person called W W Graham had reached here en route his expedition to the Nanda Devi but it was largely a failed effort. In the mid-1930s, after Tilman and Noel Odell explored and scaled the Nanda Devi and opened the route before the rest of the world, others began to frequent the spot and soon the Nanda Devi wildlife spot turned out into a game sanctuary. In the 1950s organized expeditions started for the Nanda Devi. In 1982, the Indian government declared the region as a national park and later granted it the special status of Biosphere Reserve.

Geography and Climate

The Nanda Devi National Park encompasses Nanda Devi sanctuary (a glacial basin surrounded by mountain peaks) and is drained by the Rishi Ganga River, which joins Alaknanda River near Joshimath. The national park along with the Valley of Flowers National Park located to the north-west and a further buffer zone of 5,149 square kilometres, make up the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (2,23,674 hectares in area). The park is located at an elevation between 2,100 and 7,817 metres above the sea level. Being a part of the Garhwal Himalayas, Nanda Devi National Park is surrounded by mountains on all sides except in the west where it is flanked by an inaccessible gorge. Being in the high altitudes, Nanda Devi National Park enjoys a distinct climate. The region remains snow-covered for six months while for the rest of the year, the climate remains dry with the period between June-August receiving heavy rainfall.


Uttarakhand is located in the north of India. It is a mountainous state is bordered by Uttar Pradesh in the south, Nepal in the east, Tibet in the north and Himachal Pradesh in the north-west and Haryana in the west. Uttarakhand is a new state that was carved out from Uttar Pradesh in 2000. State capital is Dehradun.

Geography of Uttarakhand

93 per cent of Uttarakhand’s geography is mountainous while 65 per cent is covered with forest areas. In the north, the state has borders with the Greater Himalayas. The Himalayan ecosystem makes the region ideal for a great flora and fauna diversity. Two of India’s important rivers, the Ganga and Yamuna originate from the glaciers of Uttarakhand. The vegetation type in the state changes with the elevation. The highest altitudes are dominated by glaciers with little or no green while tropical forests are mainly found in the lower rungs of the landscape. Uttarakhand is home to a great many national parks.

Nanda Devi Sanctuary can be divided into two parts, namely the Inner and the Outer. The former occupies roughly the eastern two-third of the total area besides containing Nanda Devi peak and the two major glaciers flanking it, the Uttari Rishi Glacier and the Dakkihni Rishi Glacier. These are fed by the smaller Uttari Nanda Devi and Dakkhni Nanda Devi Glaciers respectively.

Nanda Devi Flora

Red Fox at Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve

Birch, rhododendron, juniper, fir are some of the main vegetation types that are found in this park. The forest cover of the park is mainly concentrated in the Rishi Ganga Gorge area. Conditions are much drier in the inner sanctuary while vegetation is almost zero near Nanda Devi Glacier. From Ramani, only Alpine vegetation is visible. Over 300 flora species are found in the park of which 17 are considered to be rare.


Himalayan Tahr, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, common langur, Himalayan musk deer, bharal and brown bear are the common animals found in this park. Besides, birds like warblers, rose finches, ruby throats are also spotted.

Time to Visit

April to October is the best time to visit the park.

Other Attractions Around Nanda Devi National Park

Joshimath, which lies at a distance of around 23 km from the Nanda Devi National Park, is an important stop in any expedition trip to the Garhwal Himalayas.

Badrinath Dham

Badrinath Dham Temple

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

Hemkund Sahib

Hemkund Sahib, Gurudwara

There are also peaks like Hanuman Peak, Dronagiri, Rishi Pahar, Mangraon, Bamchu, Sakram, Deo Damla, Latu Dhura, Nanda Ghunti, Nanda Kot, Hardeol and others.

Dronagiri Parvat

By Air

Dehradun is the nearest airport at around 295 km away. Regular flights connect Dehradun with New Delhi.

By Rail

The nearest rail station is Rishikesh, located at a distance of 276 km. Rishikesh is accessible from Joshimath. Dehradun, Haridwar, and Kathgodam are other major railway stations to enter Uttarakhand.

By Road

Bus service is available from New Delhi to major points in Uttarakhand from where Joshimath can be reached. Joshimath is 253 km by road from Rishikesh. One has to trek along metalled roads from Joshimath to reach the park. Treks can be undertaken only during summer. Metalled roads are there till Joshimath from where one has to trek to reach this place. Lata village, located at around 23 km from Joshimath, is the entry point to the park.

Other Attractions and Activities in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is a paradise for tourism activities. Some of the top attractions of this state are:

Exemplary sand and wood works at Chandpur Fort, Pandukeshwar, Devi Madin, Devalgarh Temple and others

Tourist attractions at Dehradun, Mussoorie, Haridwar, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh, Rishikesh, Nainital, Almora, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Ranikhet and others

Fairs like Hatkalika Fair, Tapkeshwar Fair, Kunjapuri Fair, Surkanda devi Devi Mela, Lakhawar Village Fair, Mata Murti Ka Mela, Uttarayani Mela, Kasar Devi fair, Nanda Devi Mela and others.

National parks like Govind Pashu Vihar National Park and Sanctuary, Corbett national Park, Gangotri National Park.

Activities like trekking, river-rafting, mountaineering, skiing, Para-gliding and others.


Hotels are available in Joshimath:

  • GMVN Tourist Bungalow
  • Dronagiri Hotel
  • Hotel Snow Crest
  • Hotel Mount View

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