Jammu and Kashmir is a valley known for its snow-capped mountains, lush greenery and flower covered meadows. The valley is a tourist hot-spot but only few people know that the valley is much more than its Shikaras and the Dal Lake. The State has numerous National Parks that are home to various endangered and unique flora and fauna. The valley has a very diverse ecosystem with Chirpine forests, coniferous forests and broad-leaved forests at lower altitudes. The tourism sector of Jammu and Kashmir is very well developed and offers various services for all tourists. Let us look at the best National Parks of Jammu and Kashmir.
1. Dachigam National Park
Dachigam National Park is situated about 22 km from the city of Srinagar. It means ‘ten villages’ named after the ten villages that had to be relocated to construct this park. Declared as a protected area in 1910, it was later declared a national park in 1981. Situated in the Himalayas, the park has rocks as well as steep mountains. Various animals can be found here like the leopard, the musk deer, the Himalayan Black Bear, the jackal and many other unique animals like the hill fox.
The park is also home to beautiful birds like the black bulbul, the cinnamon sparrow woodpecker and thousands of migratory birds. The National Park is very unique and is home to the State animal, the Hangul.
2. Hemis National Park
Hemis National Park is a high altitude national park located in Ladakh. The park is known to be having the highest number of snow leopards of the whole world. Also known as the largest national park in the country, the park has the Indus river flowing at its boundaries and has parts of the Zanskar range. Apart from being home to the snow leopard, the park is also home to numerous Tibetan Gompas and the wold-famous four hundred year old Hemis Monastery.
The park houses the Tibetan wolf, the Red fox and the endangered Eurasian brown bear. Bird watching is also very popular here. The park has numerous trekking routes operational from mid-June to mid-October. Snow leopards can only be spotted in the late winter. A vacation here in traditional homestays and monasteries proves to be a brilliant way to spend a summer in the high mountains.
3. Kazinag National Park
Part of the proposal for a trans-Karakoram peace park with Pakistan. The uniqueness of Kazinag National Park is that it is home to about 17 different species of butterflies that are unique and endangered. Another fast vanishing animal, the Markhor, which is the national animal of Pakistan is also found here.
Apart from these animals, the park is home to musk deer, brown bears and snow leopards. Tourists can stay at the guest house in Limber Wildlife Sanctuary. Some adventure junkies also choose to stay in tents and sleeping bags which can be hired. The best time to visit is between May to September as the winters get too cold.
4. Kishtwar National Park
Located in Kishtwar district, the river Rinnay runs in the north of this national park. It was declared a national park in the year 1981. Apart from being the home to over 15 mammals, Kishtwar National Park is famous for being the place where the Hangul, a Kashmiri Stag, migrates to from the Dachigam National Park.
The park also has numerous birds that come here during migratory season and stay in the spectacular mountainous ranges. The park is also the host to various adventure sports and activities like trekking and camping.
5. Salim Ali National Park
Spread over an area of 9 sq.km, Salim Ali National Park is located in Srinagar. Name is in the honour of the famous Indian Ornithologist, Salim Ali. Later this park was converted into a golf course. It was home to the Hangul, Himalayan serow and the Himalayan black bear. It also houses over 70 varieties of birds. It is one of the best bird sanctuaries in India and tourists flock to this place since it is within the well-connected areas of the State.
Jammu and Kashmir is paradise on earth for bird and animal lovers who want to see these majestic creatures in their own natural habitat. The state tourism department promotes and maintains the sector very well and thus, tourists can visit these high altitude areas which maximum support and help. Jammu and Kashmir is a beautiful scenic place waiting to be discovered!