Shivapuri park : Nature walk on your doorstep

Kathmandu :

The Shivapuri National Park, the nearest park from Kathmandu city, is nature’s gift to Kathmandu denizens.

It covers an area of 144 sq-km and is situated on the northern side of the Valley. The reserve is 20 km in length and 9 km in width and is in the shape of a goldfish. The Shivapuri peak is at a height of 2,732 metres.

This park lies just above Budanilkanta and is about 12 km from Ranipokhari. Out of the 16 protected areas of Nepal, Shivapuri park is small but well known for as the water resource of Kathmandu Valley.

This park is closest natural reserve from the Capital and very rich in natural biodiversity and is the best location for any person’s ‘Nature Walk’.

This park has well protected biodiversity of flora like pines, oaks and rhododendron and even some endangered plants. It is also home to over 102 species of butterfly, 177 species of birds and more than 100 species of mammals. Among them the Himalayan black bear, wild boar, Rhesus monkey, leopard and jungle cat are some major fauna found here.

Shivapuri is also one of the nearest historical and religious places for Hindu and Buddhists, while also serving as a memorial to Kailashpuri, Bishnudwar and Baghdwar famous for being Bishnumati and Bagmati rivers resources.

In the ancient days, this place was heavily used or misused by people for its natural resources for their daily life, which resulted in the degradation of forests. In the same way, hunting as well as poaching by big shots also contributed in the reduction of its fauna. These activities also affected the vegetation of the area and brought about a decrease in the water supply for Kathmandu Valley.

In 1975, the government formed the Shivapuiri Development Board to deal with these issues and also to protect the area’s biodiversity, and a project to help this Board for Watershed Protection was also introduced in 1976. These steps made it possible to declare this area the Shivapuiri Watershed and Wildlife Reserve in 1983.

This is a favourite haunt of naturalists — Shivapuri, Gorkha, Ganesh, Langtang, Manapathi and some other peaks can be seen from here, while the Helambu trekking route to Helambu passes through Shivapuri from Sundarijal and Kakani.

A few decades ago some wild boars were released into the park that resulted in a serious problem. The boar population soared and from time to time they crossed the park boundaries and became a threat to human beings and property, spurring a notice in the Gazette that such boars outside the park premises could be killed for public security.

Encroachment on the park area by villages for several things like trails, roads and water issues also resulted in the loss of vegetation and also became fodder for local politicians to further their causes. Around a decade ago this park was surveyed for installation of a cable car service by a private company to attract more tourists, but no decision was reached.

As the park is near and easily accessible, it is also popular for its nature walk routes.

After the declaration of this area as a park has resulted in better conservation of biodiversity and helped to gain affected water resources. This park could be a major attraction for the locals as well tourists for weekend outdoor walks if promoted and developed with some packages and with people these days looking for fresh and natural environment near the city, this park could attract people for a variety of reasons.

Responsible agencies should develop and present the park’s wonderful gift to the public.