Gaurishankar Conservation Area is a newly declared conservation area of Nepal. It was declared by a historic and special meeting of the cabinet of ministers held at Kala Pathar plateau (5542 m), on 4th December 2009. The objectives for declaration of Gaurishankar conservation area is to maintain a biological corridor between Sagarmatha National park and Langtang national park, conserve the ecology of hilly and mountain region and to improve the livelihood of people of its region. After the establishment of this conservation area, the government of Nepal handed over the responsibility to manage this conservation area to National Trust for Nature Conservation(NTNC) on 19th July 2010. NTNC was established in 1982 by a legislative act as an autonomous and not-for-profit organization, mandated to work in the field of nature conservation in Nepal. GCA is the third conservation area under the management responsibility of NTNC. Though the Gaurishankar conservation area is a younger conservation area in comparison to others, it has a wide possibility in tourism and biodiversity conservation. Here are some of my opinions as reasons to visit the Gaurishankar Conservation area in visit Nepal year 2020.
Mountains, hills, and Landscape
GCA lies mostly in the hilly and mountainous region and it consists of many mountains which are higher than 6000m. The highest peak within the area is Mt. Gaurishankar (7134 m) which is in Rolwaling valley. In Rolwaling valley there are more than 14 Himalayan ranges above 5000 m. In the northern part of this area is fenced by mountains. This area, being rich in scenic beauty, is very attractive and appropriate for trekking and hiking. The mixture of hills mountains, valley and various types of forests makes it an outstanding nature-based tourism area. Daldung(Gaurishankar), Sothali(Khare), Samling(Lamabagar), Tutwan (Kalinchok), Ghyangdanda(Kalinchok), Dalchidanda(Aalampu), Thopadanda(historical value), Ladukdanda(Laduk) are some of the famous touristic hills in GCA.
This area has mainly 3 famous which have cultural, social and historical importance. Rolwaling, Lapchi, and Garjang are the valleys of this area. Rolwaling valley is located in Gaurishankar rural municipality-9, Gaurishanakar. This is the longest valley inside this area. Many types of animals and birds are found in this valley. Nepal’s biggest glacial lake, The Tsho-Rolpa glacial lake is situated here. Lapchi is also known as the international meditation center. This valley is situated above Lamabagar of Bigu rural municipality. Sherpas are the only ethnic group living in this area. Lapchi Gumba is situated here which was constructed by Milarepa and has very important historical values. 100s of caves are around here where tourists including Nepalese come to meditate. Lapchi valley is also adjacent to Tibet of China. Garjang valley situated in Gokulganga rural municipality, ward no. 1, Chuchure, has its own value. This valley is mostly important for cultural diversity and pasture land. This valley also consists of some parts of Khimti river basin.
Glacier lake, lakes and springs
Many lakes and glacier lakes are here in this area. Tshorolpa(Rolwaling) is the biggest glacial lake in Nepal which is in this area and is situated at 4500 masl. Dudhkunda (Rolwaling), Bahulapokhari(Aalampu), Bhairabkunda(Tatopani), Jattapokhari(Chuchure), Panchpokhari (Chuchure, Shyama) are the major lakes in this conservation area. Locals who are nearby this lake worship in these lakes. In all this lake, local communities, as well as Hindu and Buddhist people, celebrate and manage festivals. Tatopani hot spring is also another attraction. Hot water flows continuously here this spring. It is said that taking a bath in this water is good for health as it cures skin related diseases. Hattijung(Chetchet), Bhorle Waterfall are the major waterfalls here.
Lapchi monastery and cave
Lapchi, which is also called Milarepa’s Hermitage, is situated in this area. It is said that in Milarepa Cave, the famous Tibetan Yogi (poet & singer as well), Milarepa lived and died, so the region became one of the most sacred destinations in the Himalayas after Kailash and Tsari. We usually only know about the Miparepa’s Cave but on the contrary, there are many other cave hermitages in Lapchi. Another equally famous cave is the Ne Pe Masal cave (Jugal, Sindhupalchok) where Buddhist monk Guru Rimpoche had meditated. The cave can accommodate about 2000 people at the same time.
Temples and Monasteries in GCA
Temples and monasteries are the symbol of peace where people gather and worship to god. This is also the signal of prosperity and love. In this conservation area, there are many temples and monasteries. Kalinchok temple(Kalinchok), Shivalaya(Aalampu), Shangba Mahadev (Chilankha, Khopachagu), Deulangeshwor (Orang), Samthar Mahadev (Rolwaling), Deudhunga (Bigu), Haleshor (Suri), Umatirtha temple(Gumdel), Listimai(Listikot) are some of the famous temples in GCA. Bigu gumba(Bigu), Lapchi gumba(Lamabagar), Beding gumba(Rolwaling), Na gumba(Rolwaling), Chhagam gumba(Listikot) are the famous monasteries in GCA. Tamrakausika and Kalinchok which is famous in Hindu culture also lie in this area.
Wildlife in GCA
Comparison to the country’s overall biodiversity statistics, this area is rich in wildlife diversity. Nepal has a total area of 147181 sq km while the conservation area has 2179 sq km in area. This conservation area constitutes only 1.48% of the land of Nepal but the wildlife ranges are higher than the land proportion. 38.38% of mammals, 26.92% protected species of Nepal, 26.11% birds, 19.60% reptiles and 22.07% snakes are found in GCA. According to the last research by GCAP, Snow leopard(Uncia uncia), Golden cat(………) which are vulnerable were found through the camera trapping method of wildlife survey in GCA. The following table shows a list of faunal diversity in GCA.
|Particular||Nepal||Gaurishankar Conservation Area||Percent (%)|
|Area||147181 Sq km||2179 Sq km||1.48|
|Protected spps of Nepal according to DNPWC||27||7||26.92|
Source: Gaurishankar Conservation Area management plan(2013-2018)
The forest types
This conservation area is like an open university for the study of wildlife and forest. 3 main types of forest are found in this area and 18 subtypes of forest are found. Details are given in the table below.
|Subtropical forest||Temperate zone||Subalpine Zone|
|Riverine forestSchima-Castanopsis forestPinus roxburghii mixed forestAlnus forestPinus patula forest||Quercus lamellosa forestPinus wallichiana forestLower temperate mixed broad leaved forestUpper temperate mixed broad leaved forestRhododendron forest||Abies spectabilis forestBetula utilis-Rhodendron (upper temperate mixed) forestTemperate mountain oak forestEast Himalayan oak forestOpen pasture/alpine scribsRhododendron scrubBerberis scrubJuniperus scrub|
Source:- Gaurishankar Conservation area management plan(2013-2018)
For the guests who will be here, there is a facility of hotels. Furthermore, the Gaurishankar Conservation Area Project has also supported and motivated local communities to establish homestay in a different places inside the conservation area. Laduk, Bigu,Dugunagadi, Simigaun, and Tashinam have already established homestays. After this, the conservation area has started the work of expanding some homestays in other villages such as Luwangsa(Chankhu), Tokding, Gamata and Sikpaswor of Marbu, and Chhipung of Kalinchok.
Festivals and Culture
People in this conservation area celebrate many festivals. Dashain and Tihar are the major festivals of Nepal as well as within this conservation area. In Nepal, people celebrate the festival according to time, religion, area, part and mostly according to ethnic groups. Different ethnic groups have their own culture and tradition and way of celebrating festivals. Mainly Dashain, Tihar, Saune Sankranti, Magesakranti, Chaite Dashain, Udhauli, Ubhauli, Bhumi Puja, Buddha Jayanti are the major festival which is celebrated in this area. Also, this area is an excellent example of a place with religious tolerance. Even though people are from different ethnic groups, everybody celebrates the festival in a community. An important ethnic group called Surel (cast) is also found in this area which is unique to not only within the conservation area but to the whole country as well.
This conservation area lies in the hilly and mountainous region. In the high region, there are many Sherpas settlement. Below Sherpa, there is Tamangs/Thamis/Newar settlement and below that line, there is a mixed settlement. Mainly Dal (lentil soup), Bhat (rice), tarkari (vegetable curry) are the main food consumed by people in this conservation area. Besides this, people also prefer eating chapati occasionally. Sherpa/Tamang their own unique food items. They prefer Falki (maize soup with vegetables or meat), Potato momo (dumplings), Rilduk (mashed potato soup), Potato stem, and potato bread. This place is unique in organic foods, homemade wine from millet, wild edible mushroom, local chickens, nettle soup and freshwater fish from rivers and streams.
This area has many pasture land inside the forest of hills and many yak sheds are present in that pasture land. They used to shift their yak shed from one place to another place according to time and produce dairy products from yaks. This area is famous for dairy products. Handicraft of wood, bamboo, thanka paint is also available here.
The adventure sports
This area has many rivers, streams, cliff and many bases for adventure sports. Also, this area is suitable for hiking and trekking. Nepal’s first Bungy jump lies in this area where one can also enjoy canoeing and swing. This is in “The last resort” of Bhotekoshi rural municipality-1(Nayapul). Rafting is also tested in some rivers. Tamakoshi river is famous for rafting where Kalinchok and Gaurishankar rural municipality have performed the feasibility test for rafting in this river and are in the next phase of promoting rafting in this area.
This place has a very rich history. Nepal’s time is based on Gaurishankar mountain. Gaurishankar mountain is also known as the Kailas, the home of Lord Shankar and Parbati. Sumeru Parbat(Aalampu) which is believed to be rounded by lord Kumar(son of Lord Shankar), Thopadanda(Barasay paltan) where Nepali army created a fake 1200 platoons of stones during Nepal Tibet war to deceive enemies also lies within the area. Dugunagadi fort(1912) was established by Rana prime minister Junga Bahadur Rana for the protection of the country against the Tibetan army. The Beding which is known as the Mt. Everest submitter’s village is here in GCA. Deulangeswor temple which is also written in “Shree Sosthani Brata Katha”, Milarepa gumba(Lapchi) constructed by Milarepa(Chinese saint, yogi, artist) is also here in GCA and another gumba of Lapchi is constructed by Bhrikuti(daughter of Ansuverma) which is faced towards Kathmandu. During the Nepal Tibet war, in Bigu and Chuchure, mining tools and guns were manufactured to meet the demands of the army. Newar people from Kathmandu were taken there to prepare guns and to dig iron ore. At last here are many historical valued places in GCA.
Slate mine of Alampu
The slate mine is located in the tribal land of Thangmi people in Aalampu of Bigu rural municipality. 50% of the people of Aalampu are dependent on this mine. Taking a slate stone and selling to the market is a traditional job for them.
Trekking trail in GCA
The main trekking destination in GCA is Lapchi, Rolwaling, Kalinchok, Bigu, Beding, Tshorolpa, Jatta Pokhari, Panch Pokhari, and Bhairav Kunda. The list of trekking trails are mentioned in below. GCAP going to explore new trekking trail from Kalinchok to Bigu, Via Thingsang
- Eco-lodge trekking(Kathmandu-Barhabise-Dolangsa-Bigu-Loting-Laduk-Bulung-Orang-Gongor-Simigaun)
- Classical Rolwaling trek (Singati-Simigaun-Beding-Chugima-Tashilapcha pass-Lukla)
- Great Himalayan trail
- Numbur Cheese circuit
- Panchpokhari -Balefi trekking route
- Jalbire Bhairabkunda-Sherpa gaun-Dugunagadi-Larcha
Hydropower in GCA
Having a lot of water resources is an advantage of produces hydroelectricity. This conservation area also has a wide range of hydro tourism. Above 1000 MW electricity will be produced from this area after some years. Nepal’s biggest nationally prioritized hydropower Upper Tamakoshi hydropower is also located in this area.