Himachal Pradesh

Great Himalayan National Park: A Hike to Hippo Waterfall and the Park’s Gate

The Great Himalayan National Park is located in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. It spans some of the popular destinations in Himachal Pradesh including Parvati Valley and Tirthan Valley amidst others – though it still has not been explored well by the general public. However, the Great Himalayan National Park has great routes for serious trekkers. These treks range from moderate to difficult and span across several days.

To go trekking in the Great Himalayan National Park you require GHNP permits. These can be obtained at the GHNP offices at Shamshi, Shairopa and Ropa villages.

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Not many know, however, that there are several GHNP day hikes that beginner trekkers can undertake very easily and witness the magic of virgin forests of the Great Himalayan National Park. The two most popular Great Himalayan National Park day hikes include the Chhoie Waterfall Hike, as well as the GHNP gate hike. We’ll leave a blog on Chhoie Waterfall hike for some other day. For today, let’s talk about how you can do one of the most beautiful day hikes in Tirthan Valley: the GHNP gate trek.

How to reach the Great Himalayan National Park gate

The hike to the GHNP gate is one of the easiest GHNP treks. The trek begins from Gushaini village in Tirthan Valley.

To reach Great Himalayan National Park from Delhi, take an overnight bus to Bhuntar and get down at Aut. From Aut, hop on to a local bus to Gushaini.

Gushaini to GHNP gate trek starting point is 3 kilometres away. Follow the dirt road diverting from the Gushaini market, that goes on the right side of the river. There is no landmark for the starting point, but a small shrine beside the road on a curve. Park your vehicle somewhere here, and start following the trail going downhill towards the river. Lo, and behold! You have begun the Great Himalayan National Park gate trek.

Hippo Waterfall and The Way Beyond

The Great Himalayan National Park trek trail is beautiful and goes through a mesmerising forest, along the Tirthan river. You also pass a few small villages on the way – with houses built in the traditional Kath-Kuni architectural style. At the midpoint of the trek comes the Darakhali mobile point which is the last place you will receive mobile network. It has a small wooden gazebo overlooking snowcapped mountains and makes for a beautiful little rest stop!

villages in great himalayan national park trek
Little villages en route
great himalayan national park ghnp gate trek
Pristine forests of the Great Himalayan National Park

Just a few meters ahead of Darakhali, is a diversion that often goes amiss. A small, obscure wooden plank hanging on a tree with the words “GHNP” painted across it is the only indication you will receive to find the right way. As you walk further and cross several bridges, you finally reach the Hippo Waterfall right at the end of the GHNP gate trek.

mobile point darakhali ghnp gate trek great himalayan national park
Darakhali Mobile Point
ghnp great himalayan national park gate trek
Tony signboard to the correct destination

The Hippo Waterfall is named so because the water gushes down on a giant brown-grey rock that is unmissably similar to a hippopotamus! With the water glistening on the rock surface, it looks exactly like a hippo bathing in a pond. Locally, this place is called “Chuli Chaw”. In the local Pahari dialect of this region, chuli means the hollow between two palms when hands are joined together, and chaw means a waterfall. It is named so because the water gushes through a slit in the rock above, seeming like it is flowing through a chuli!

Right after the Hippo Waterfall or Chuli Chaw is the gate that officially welcomes you to the Great Himalayan National Park, marking the end of your Tirthan Valley day hike. Inside the gate are a rest house, bathrooms and a fire pit accessible to the general public. Beyond the gate, one can also opt to continue hiking towards Rolla which is just 2 kilometres from the GHNP entry gate. The hike to Rolla in GHNP takes a maximum of 1 hour from the entry gate. (I couldn’t go further because I started the trek at noon, and reached the entry gate at 3 pm).

hippo waterfall trek tirthan valley great himalayan national park
Hippo Waterfall – or Chuli Chaw!
great himalayan national park ghnp gate
Great Himalayan National Park Gate
rest house at great himalayan national park
Forest office, rest houses, fire pits and bathrooms.

GHNP Gate Trek: All You Need to Know

  • This is one of the easiest GHNP treks possible.
  • No permit is required to do the GHNP gate trek.
  • The GHNP gate hike is about 3 hours long and is an easy, level walk.
  • Mobile network is available in GHNP up till the mobile point at Darakhali (midpoint of the trek).
  • Entry is free for this hike and there is no Great Himalayan National Park trek cost.
  • There are bathrooms available at the GHNP gate. Fire pits and rest houses are also available here. Luxury in the middle of a forest!
  • Make sure you wear trekking boots and carry sufficient water. There are two water sources on the trek.
  • Small shops selling chai and biscuits can be found at the very beginning of the hike.
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A twenty-something solo adventurer, Avantika finds comfort in learning about various cultures, its people and listening to age-old folk tales. When not on the road, she can be found cuddled up with her dog in her room, with a book in her hand.


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