Dachigam National Park is situated at a distance of just 22 km from Srinagar, the altitude variation in the park ranges from 5500 to 14000 ft. which helps demarcate it into the upper and lower regions, both with their own unique attractions. The best time to explore the upper region is around the summer months as during winters the harsh weather makes the place unapproachable. The lower region can be visited during both summers and winters.
The place has been a protected area since 1910 when it was under the protection and care of the maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir. Later taken under the observation of the government, the place was accorded the status of a national park in 1981.
Flora and Fauna: The Park is the habitat of the endangered Hangul or the Kashmir stag – the only species of red Deer to be found in India. Winter is the best time to view the Hangul, when they congregate in the shelter of the lower valleys. Other inhabitants include the Himalayan Black Bear, species of wild Goat like the Markhor and Ibex and varieties of exotic Himalayan birds.
The leopard, which is the only predator in this paradise, is rarely seen as also the elusive snow leopard, which is found in the higher altitudes. Other animals include the rare musk deer and the Himalayan marmot. A metalled road takes visitors from Srinagar into Lower Dachigam. Upper Dachigam can only be explored on foot.
There over 150 species of birds inhabiting park’s vicinity. Colourful pheasants include the Crimson Tragopan, the iridescent Monal Pheasant with its glittering plumage, the Blood Pheasant and the Koklass Pheasant. The golden Eagle and the bearded Vulture or Lammergeier are seen circling the brilliant blue skies.
Major Wildlife Attractions: Dachigam National Park owing to its unique geographical location, Dachigam is home to some of the most rare and unique species of flora and fauna. The park is the only habitat for the highly endangered Hangul or Kashmir Stag. Winter is the best time to catch a glimpse of these rare animals, when they come in groups to the lower region of the park. Other wild residents of the park include the Himalayan Black Bear, few species of the goat including Markhor and Ibex, Leapord and the rare snow Leapord (seen in the upper regions), musk deer and the Himalayan Marmot.
The place is also home to a variety of exotic looking rare Himalayan bird species. Over 150 species of birds can be commonly seen in the area which include Crimson Tragopan, Monal Pheasent, Blood Pheasent, Koklass Pheasent, Golden Eagle and the Bearded Vulture.
Other Attractions: There is a trout farm in Dachigam, located just near the entrance of the park. The big natural reserve requires special permission from the warden’s office for a visit. Angling is not allowed here.
The lower area of the park has gentle terrain which is not too harsh even for the ‘not so fit’ people. Trekking and walking are the best ways to explore the park while it can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable walking in the midst of machine guns peeking out from the BSF checkposts. Beware of the leopards and bears and try not to go on a trek without the company of a local person, preferably a guide with good knowledge of the area.
Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit the Dachigam National Park is April to August every year.
How to Get there:
Air: The nearest town and airport is Srinagar 22-km away.
Rail: It is 310-km from Jammu, the nearest railway station.
Road: To reach the place by road from Srinagar, travel via state road from Shalimar Bagh and Harwan to Dachigam National Park, while to gain access from Jammu, take the NH1 to Srinagar and follow the state road from there to Dachigam. Lower Dachigam is well connected to Srinagar by metalled roads w hile upper region of the park can only be accessed on foot.
General Info / Tips:
The upper region of the park has colder, more harsh weather and needs protective woollen clothing.
The entry to the park is free.
Park timings are 5:30 AM to 6:30 PM.
The visitors require a special permit from the chief wildlife warden before visiting the park.
Do not go on a trek alone and try to get a local person (preferably a guide) along.
Jammu & Kashmir, India
Snow Leopard, Bear