The Annapurna region lies in central Nepal. Named after the Hindu goddess Annapurna (the bestower of food), who is regarded as a manifestation of goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva.The chief mountains in this region include the Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu Himal.
The Annapurna Himal,which lies between the Kali Gandaki and Marsyangdi river valley, forms a solid mountain bastion. It covers a distance of 40 miles and encompasses within its range some twelve peaks that rise to an elevation of more than 7000m and numerous other lesser peaks.The climate in the Annapurna region varies from subtropical to alpine.
The southern slopes of the area has the highest rainfall rate in the country- 3000mm per year, whereas the northern slopes lying in the rain shadow has the lowest rate–less than 300mm per year.The difference in the climatic conditions in this region is responsible for its varied flora and fauna.
The Annapurna region possesses a variety of flora and fauna. In the Northern highlands temperate forests of oaks, rhododendron, fir and blue pine are found.The wet regions yield a variety of bamboo species. The higher altitude further North give rise to forests of birch, blue pine and juniper trees, which are replaced by juniper and rhododendron in the far North. In the semi-desert rain shadow region, behind the Himalayas, bushes of caragana and juniper species are evident. It has several species of wildlife.There are around four hundred and seventy-four species of birds, and around a hundred species of mammals.The Annapurna region serves as an excellent habitat for rare and endangered mammals like the snow leopard, musk deer ,blue sheep, red panda and many of Nepal’s brilliantly plumaged pheasants.
The Annapurna massif contains six major peaks over 7,200m: Annapurna I(8091m), Annapurna II(7937m), Annapurna III(7555m), Annapurna IV(7525m), Gangapurna(7455m) and Annapurna South(7219m). The Gurungs form the largest group in the Annapurna region.They come from Tibeto burman stock. Although essentially Buddhists some Gurungs have converted to Hinduism.They inhabit the higher northern slopes of the Annapurna, Lamjung, huli and hills around Ganesh Himal. A large number of Gurung men serve in the British and Indian armies.
The immediate vicinity of Pokhara is largely populated by Chettris and Bahuns (Brahmins).They also live around the historic site of the old Gorkha kingdom.The Magars inhabit the lower trail between Baglung and Dana.They live high on the steep ridges along the tributaries of the Kali Gandaki.
Another ethnic group of this region is the Thakalis. Known throughout the country as accomplished hoteliers and skilled traders, they are noted for their aggressive trading spirit.They make up one of the few richer groups of people in Nepal. The Jomsom trek passes through Thak Khola, the Thakali homeland.
In the valley of the Muktinath live the Baragaun Bhotiya.Their lifestyle is similar to that of the Tibetans. Another group of people who share a close affinity to the Tibetans are the Lopa people of Mustang,north of Kagbeni. Some of them practice the ancient pre-Buddhist religion of Bon which is infused with animistic and shamanic belief and ritual.The people living in the upper Marshyandi valley are generally known as Mananges.The Nyeshang area, under which fall the villages of Manang, Braga and Ngawal. The people are of Tibetan origin but their language Nyeshang is not a Tibetan dialect.This area is popularly known by the name of its largest village Manang.