A dream like place in the Himalayas, in the remotest corners of the Earth. Home to myriads of heavenly species of flora and fauna. A place right out of the realms of fantasy. A place called Pin Valley National Park.
Geography of Pin Valley National Park
The Pin Valley National Park is located within a cold desert biosphere reserve, in the Himalayas. Close to the Tibetan Border, it segregates the land of Lahaul from Spiti, which were two separate districts in the past. The altitude of the Park ranges from 3300 mtrs to 6200 mtrs.
It lies a bit off the way from the famous tourist corridor that leads up to Key Monastery. The area between Reckong Peo and Kaza is a very famous tourist attraction and has in the recent past acquired a large tourist base. It was only a few years back that the International Travelers were allowed to visit. The stretch a few Kms after Reckong Peo until Kaza is called ‘The Inner Line Area.’ At present Indians can easily go there but foreigners need to carry an inner line permit with them.
Having traveled extensively in the Himalayas, I can firmly say that there are not many places as surreal as the Pin Valley National Park. The hues of the mountains, the sky, the water and even the houses! It is ethereal. You can literally sense the subtle variations in the landscapes after short intervals of travel.
The architecture and design draws its major inspiration from the Buddhist & Tibetan cultures. ‘Dhankar’ which is the highest monastery in Spiti and the former capital of the district is the closest monastery. The type of forests that constitute the major area of Pin Valley are Dry Alpine and Junifer Scrub(dwarf). Although the flora of the place holds allure it is the fauna which is to die for.
You can find the most exotic and the rarest Himalayan animal/bird species in this area. Throughout your journey you’ll see sign boards showcasing different animal species of the area. The highlight of the place is surely The Snow Leopard. Talk to any local and he would proudly and snobbishly mention about their encounter with a snow leopard. Bharal, Small Woolly Donkeys,Woolly Hares, Himalayan snow cock, Snow Pigeon, Siberian Ibex, Indian Porcupine and the Himalayan Marmot are the other species.
When you are inside the Pin Valley National Park, you don’t think about attractions. You would just want to cease in the present moment itself. The entire visual setting is so captivating, you can feel the magic.
Mud Village in the Pin Valley is arguably the most beautiful village in the world. Symmetrically beautiful houses nestled in the mystical desert mountains in sub zero temperatures, overseeing the most surreal landscapes. Mud Village is my personal favorite. From Mud, you can go for treks to Bhabha Pass and Pin Parvati Pass.
If you are low on time, then you should take short hikes from the village. I can assure you the visuals of exotic animals and plants. The freezing water of the Pin river with its greenish hue is like the icing on the cake.
When to visit
May – October
Your visit to Pin Valley National Park & Mud village can be planned as a side trip. The major trip can be a road trip from Shimla to Kaza/ Key Monastery. You can witness an entire world, plethora of things to do and plenty of places to visit. No matter how long you go there for, you’ll always feel low on time.