Flora And Fauna Of Himachal Pradesh
Himachal is a land of jade forests and fresh air. As much as 68% of the land area is covered with jungles. While the foothills and valleys are a refreshing green, the areas above the snow line are almost bare.
The southernmost tracts are dominated by sal (Shorea robusta), sisham, chir pine, dry deciduous and moist broad-leafed forests. The temperate region above this grows oaks, deodar, blue pine, fir and spruce. In the uppermost climes, trees are sturdy with a vast network of roots (to help them tide over the weeks of burial under heavy snow). You’ll mostly find alders, birches, rhododendrons and moist alpine scrubs in the name of vegetation. The tough rhododendron, by the way, is an amazing plant and of terrific importance in the ecological chain. By attracting insects, which in turn attract birds, it forms a major link in high altitude ecosystems. The rhododendrons you see along the hillsides around Shimla from March to May are breathtakingly beautiful.
Himachal is the fruit bowl of the country with orchards scattered all over the place. Meadows and pastures are often seen clinging to the dangerously steep slopes. After the winter snow thaws, the hillsides and orchards bloom with wild flowers, while gladiolas, carnations, marigolds, roses, chrysanthemums, tulips, lilies and other flowers are carefully cultivated. The state government is gearing up to make Himachal the flower basket of the world.
From thick sub-tropical forests to the dry alpine vegetation, Himachal home to a wide variety of animals. This includes the leopard, which is the most widely distributed mammal in the entire state, the snow leopard, ghoral (goat-like stout animal), musk deer which is the state animal and monal (a pretty bird in nine iridescent colours), the state bird. HP has 11 major national parks and sanctuaries – the largest number in the Himalayan region. The Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu – the first in the state – was created to conserve the flora and fauna of the main Himalayan range, while the Pin Valley National Park to conserve the flora and fauna of the cold desert.
At present there are 32 Sanctuaries, 2 National Parks and 3 Games Reserves.
Himachal Pradesh also called Himachal, is an Indian state located along the northern part of country at the foot of lower Himalayas. Himachal Pradesh shares its borders with other Indian states like Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttarakhand. It also shares international border with Tibet. Himachal Pradesh’s total area is approximately 55,000 square kilometers. The presence of varied landscape like hills, valleys, lush meadows, peaks, forests, lakes, rivers and fertile lands make this state a favorite destination for tourists. The most prominent river of the state is Sutlej and Beas. The high altitude topography and cold climate conditions of the state is house for numerous, unique flora and fauna. Majority of these are among categories of rarest and exclusively found in the hill state alone.
The Himalayas play a vital role in deciding excellent quality of life in India. The presence of varied geographical location which is usually found in a continent are found in India and this has earned the name of sub continent for the country. The presence of Himalayas has contributed to diversified climatic and geographical conditions. It has largely affected the life of people and their living style etc. Also, this diversified geographical location has proved to be a rich source of natural resources no matter they are living and hidden.
The variations in altitude have given rise to varied vegetation and this has emerged as the house for numerous varieties of birds as well as animals. The flora of Himalayas is very distinctive as it consists of diverse forests. It consists of forests of all types like hot and cold deserts, alpine meadows, rhododendron forests, coniferous forests, deciduous forests and tropical swampy forests. The state is not only a dwelling point for human habitat and birth place of human civilization, but also the abode of numerous plant and animal species. Himalayas are the youngest mountain ranges in the world, which is full of treasure of flora and fauna. The geological structure of Himalayas is not stabilized and this makes its ecosystem to remain weak.
The Variation of Elevation in Himachal and Its Effects
The highest regions of the state fall in eastern and northern area, those situated on the foot of Himalayas. The elevation of these areas is in the range of 4,500 to 7,000 meters above sea level. The important mountain in this range is Zanskar Mountains (near Spiti which has peaks of an altitude of over 6500 meters), the Shilla peak (stands tall at 7,000 meters) and Riwo Phargyul summit (located at an altitude of more than 6,800 meters above sea level). These high elevation areas also have several famous passes. The prominent ones are Kangra pass (placed at around 5,200 meters), Bara Lacha pass (approximately 4,500 meters), and Pin Parbati pass (located at 4,800 meters above sea level). These high altitude areas also contain several glaciers and forests.
The state of Himachal also has some regions which form part of lower Himalayas whose altitude varies somewhere between 1000 meters to 4500 meters above sea level. The lower Himalayan region is the abode for numerous mountain ranges like Dhauladhar range, Pir Panjal range and Shimla hills. The Dhauladhar range, which forms part of Kangra valley, is famous for its excellent landscape and picturesque locations. They are placed at an altitude of more than 4500 meters above sea level. The Pir Panjal range, adjoining Satluj river bank houses several glaciers and a good number of passes. The most prominent among these passes is Rohtang Pass, located above 4,000 meters from sea level and connects Leh with the state. The southern Shimla hill is popular due to the presence of Chandni peak stands tall at 3,600 meters above sea level.
The state also houses a small mountain range called Shivalik Mountains. These are also called as Outer Himalayas and contain certain hills of altitude ranges of 1000 meters above sea level.
Full of Flora and Fauna
The survey conducted by Forest Department of India defines total forest area of the state to be 66.52%. However, the total area covered by trees includes just 25.78%. The complete vegetation of this region relies on two factors – height and rainfall. The southernmost part of the state is at a lower altitude level and it contains both humid and subtropical dry broadleaf woodlands, along with subtropical moist broadleaf forests. The majority of area is covered by Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests. Apart from this we also have some of the vegetation which is abundant with sal, sisham, chir pine, dry deciduous and moist broad-leafed forests. The landscape which falls in temperate regions has some of the prominent trees like oaks, deodar, blue pine, fir and spruce. The places that lie in top elevation have numerous trees that are sturdy and contain roots that run deep into the earth. Some of the commonly found trees in these regions include Alders, birches, rhododendrons and moist alpine scrubs. The rhododendron is a common type of tree in the Shimla region and this is seen in abundance in months between March to May.
Himachal has abundant growth of fruits like apple, peaches, plums and berries. It is rightly called the ‘fruit bowl of India’. There are plenty of fruit orchards and fruits are exported to various parts of the country and abroad. Lush Meadows and paddock can be seen along hillocks and steep lying areas. Post winter season the hilly regions and orchards are full of fruits. The pleasant climate helps numerous flower varieties like gladiolas, lilies, tulips, chrysanthemums, roses, marigolds, carnations etc to grow in abundance. The state government is dedicated in making the state ‘the flower basket of the world’ and for this there has been good initiative from all corners towards this commitment.
The state is house for numerous species of habitat. The state is the resting place for approximately 1200 birds along with 359 animal species. Some of the animals which form members of this vast list are leopards, ghoral, snow leopard, musk deer (state animal) and Western Tragopan (state bird). The state is an ideal tourist destination for animal lovers as it hosts 12 main national parks & sanctuaries. The state also has the distinction of hosting maximum number of sanctuaries in Himalayan region. The Kullu district hosts The Great Himalayan National Park, which was established with the main aim to protect endangered fauna and flora of main Himalayan Mountains. Similarly Pin Valley National Park conserves the flora and fauna of popular cold desert.
Ideal Time to Visit
Plan your trip during the months of January to April to enjoy the nature’s beauty at its best and abundant flora and fauna.