Dachigam National Park Shrinagar, in Jammu & kashmir

Written by Sudhir Kumar

Dachigam National Park is in full bloom with its wild fruit trees and beautiful animals –that give you a feeling that this is the closest you could get to the Land of the Gods. It would hardly be surprising if the gods themselves were to be envious of this heaven on earth. Some of the exotic plant species you will locate at one of these excursions from Srinagar comprise: wild cherry, pear, plum, peach, apple, apricot, walnut and chestnut. The Dachigam National Park is the most scenic of India’s wildlife reserves. This is the place where only dreams can take you

About Dachigam National Park :

Situated in the exotic state of Jammu & Kashmir, Dachigam national park is as fascinating as any other tourist attraction in the entire state. A place of immense natural beauty, the park is replete with beautiful trees of cherry, peach, apricot, pear and apple and houses such rare and exotic variety of animals as the Himalayan snow leopard, Himalayan marmot, musk deer and plenty more…surely a place you would not want to miss.

Located about 22 km from the capital of Jammu & Kashmir, Srinagar, the altitude in Dachigam national park varies between 5500 to 14000 ft, making two distinct areas of upper and lower Dachigam. The climatic conditions in both these regions vary drastically. Whereas upper Dachigam can be freezing cold during the winters making it suitable to visit only during summer months, lower Dachigam can be visited all throughout the year. A protected regions since the early 1900’s, Dachigam National Park was made into a national park during the year 1981.

History of  Dachigam National Park :

The area of what is now Dachigam National Park was the exclusive hunting ground and protected area of the Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir.  Among other issues, one of the mandate of the protected area was to ensure clean supply of water for Srinagar. Following India’s Independence, the area came under the control of the Forest Department, and in 1951 it was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary.

In 1981, the area was declared a National Park after the successful relocation of 10 villages that had previously been located within the Park’s borders. The name Dachigam actually means “Ten Villages” – and as such the Park was named in honour of the villages that relocated.

Tourist Attractions in Dachigam National Park :

The park is home to some of the most rare species of animals and birds which are hard to spot anywhere else in the country. While animals such as the Himalayan black bear, ibex goat and markhor can be seen in the lower regions during winters, others like the highly endangered snow leopard can only be spotted in upper Dachigam. Dachigam also provides a safe heaven to over 150 species of birds including the monal pheasent, koklass pheasent, bearded vulture and the crimson tragopan.

Topography of Dachigam National Park :

Dachigam National park is located among the high mountains of the mighty western Himalayas. The variation in altitude is vast, ranging from 5500 ft to 14000 ft above mean sea level. Due to this vast variation, the park is very clearly demarcated into an upper and lower region. The terrain ranges from gently sloping grasslands to sharp rocky outcrops and cliffs. Part of the park lies above the tree line and this area displays its own kind of natural beauty with bare rock mountains and crevices.

Wildlife at Dachigam National Park :

The park abounds in a rich vegetation cover, which comprises of various species of plants and trees that are hard to find somewhere else. The park also provides shelter to various species of animals. The chief attraction of the park is the endangered species of Kashmir Stag or Hangul. There are various other animals like Himalayan black bear, markhor, Ibex, leopard, musk deer, Himalayan marmot etc. One can also see here various types of birds like crimson tragopan, the blood pheasant, iridescent monal pheasant, golden eagle, koklass pheasant, lammergeyer and many more.

The Ecological System in the Dachigam National Park :

The Flora in Dachigam National Park

Coniferous forests cover a large area in Dachigam National Park. The mountainsides of the forest are thickly covered with wild trees. Running don the mountain’s face are the alpine pastures, watrefalls, scrub vegetation with deep gullies and undulating meadows forms the flora here. You will find equisite variety of flowers which cover most of the terrain, except for the winters which are cold dry. One of the important lake of the region is Maskar Lake which flows out of Dagwan river. The wild tree variety here include: Wild Cherry, Pear, Plum, Peach, Apple, Apricot, Walnut, Chestnut, Oak, Willow, Poplar, Chinar, Birch, Pine and Elm.

The Fauna in the Dachigam National Park

Dachigam boasts of housing some of the rarest species of the world. Most eminent of all is Hangul or the Kashmiri Stag. Musk Deer, leopards, Himalayan Gray Langurs, Leopard Cats, Asiatic Black Bear, Jackals, Hill Fox, Himalayan Weasel, Yellow-throated Martens, Jungle Ctas, Long Tailed Marmots are the other important species that inhibit this place.

The Avi-fauna in the Dachigam National Park

With onset of every new season, the bird life of the park also changes. Among the major birds here, some of these are : Cinnamon Sparrows, Black Bulbuls, Himalayan Flycatcher, Lammergeier, Black and Yellow Grosbeaks and Himalayan Rubythroats.

Important Tips for Travellers :

  • The climate in this part of the country can get extremely cold, therefore it is advisable for the travellers to carry heavy woollen clothing.
  • There is no entry fee to the park, however, the timings are 5:30 AM to 6:30 PM.
  • A special permit from the chief wildlife warden is required before entering the park.

Climate :

The climate in the Lower Dachigam areas is comfortable throughout the year – Winter minimum temperatures of 10 C and Summer maximum temperatures of 34 C.

The weather in the Upper Dachigam is especially harsh in the Winters and almost inaccessible due to wind, snow, and chilling cold temperatures.

Best time to visit : 

Dachigam National Park is open throughout the year and has something to offer in every season. The upper areas are not easily accessible in the winter months and are at their best between June and August. Summer is also a good time to visit the lower areas although probably the best month is October when the rutting season is on and Kashmir’s glorious autumn tree colours are in evidence. September/October is also a good time for viewing the Black Bear which is feeding up on the remaining walnuts and acorns, building up fat for its long hibernation.

How to Reach the Dachigam National Park :

Air : Srinagar Airport is located at a distance of 22km and hence is a good access point.

Rail :The nearest rail junction is Jammu at a distance of 200 kms away from Dachigam National Park.

Road :The Lower Dachigam region is accessible via a metaled road, but Higher Dachigam areas are accessible only on foot.

Area covered- 141square.kilometers.
Altitude- 1700-4300meters.
Location- The Park is situated around 22kms from Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir.

About the author

Sudhir Kumar

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