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Dachigam National Park (Kashmir)
Tour Code: (NHI – DNP - K)
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Location: 22 - Km from Srinagar, Kashmir
Nearest Access: The closest town to the park is Srinagar (22km)
The closest R. Station to the park is located at Jammu (315km)
The closest Airport to the park is located at Srinagar (30km)
Wildlife Attractions: Tigers, Leopards, Hangul (The Kashmiri Stag), Black Bear
Coverage Area: -sq-kms

The Term “Wildlife” encompasses all un-cultivated flora and un-domesticated fauna. Every species has the right to live and every threatened species must be protected to prevent its extinction. Water, wilderness, and wildlife are irrevocably interlinked. Mounting agricultural, industrial, and demographic pressures have caused drastic shrinkage of the wilderness areas, which are the richest repositories of wildlife and bio-diversity. Their continued existence is crucial for the long-term survival of the bio-diversity and the ecosystem supporting them.

India is the 6th richest among the 12-mega biodiversity countries of the world. Conservation of biodiversity is directly linked with conservation of ecosystems and thus with water and food security. These together constitute a major plank of our economy.

As someone said, "When Dachigam is in full bloom with all its wild fruit trees and beautiful animals; it makes you feel that this is the closest you could get to the abode of the Gods". It would not be surprising if the Gods were actually envious of this place on Earth. Try to picture a place beautiful beyond your imagination, and then to your image add Wild Cherry, Pear, Plum, Peach, Apple, Apricot, Walnut, and Chestnut trees! All growing wild!

About Dachigam National Park
The park has been a protected area since 1910, first under the care and watchful eye of the Maharaja of J & K and later under the observation of the concerned government authorities. The name of the park literally stands for "ten villages" which could be in memory of the ten villages that were relocated for its formation. It was finally upgraded and declared a National Park in the year 1981, Although it is the last proper home of the Hangul, or Kashmir Stag, and harbours many rare species within it's borders, it was initially created to ensure clean drinking water supply for the city of Srinagar.

This beautiful reserve is located only 22 kilometers from Srinagar, the capital city of the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. It covers an area of 141 square kilometers consisting of some of the most scenic natural beauty present on Earth. 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 best times to explore these two areas are summer and winter respectively. Due to the upper region's extremely harsh winter, the best months for visiting here is between the months of May and August. For the lower region, the ideal time is between September and December but is also equally rewarding in the summer months. Dachigam is one sanctuary that cannot be seen in all its glory with just one visit. This is because the park changes its entire appearance with the onset of each season, every one of which is as beautiful as the one before or the next to arrive.

Topography and Flora at Dachigam National Park
Dachigam National park is located among the high mountains of the very western Himalayas. It is blessed with natural boundaries on either side by high ridges. Its altitude varies from 5500ft to 14000ft and 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 it's own kind of natural beauty with bare rock mountains and crevices. The mountainsides below the tree line are heavily wooded. Most of this coniferous forest consists of broad leaf species. Interspersed between these are alpine pastures, undulating meadows, waterfalls and scrub vegetation with deep gullies, locally known as Nars, running down the mountain face. Most of the grasslands and meadows, except in the harsh winters, are covered with brightly coloured flowers. Located high among its interiors is the Marsar Lake from which flows the Dagwan River. This river flows all the way down to, and past, the lower region where it runs along the only proper road in the park and is famous for its fish population, the trout.

The Flora of the park is some of the most exotic sounding of any park anywhere in the world. The wild trees of the park consist of Wild Cherry, Pear, Plum, Peach, Apple, Apricot, Walnut, Chestnut, Oak, Willow, Poplar, Chinar, Birch, Pine, and Elm!

Fauna at Dachigam National Park
The main animal species that Dachigam is most famous for is the Hangul, or the Kashmir Stag. Other than this animal, some of the other species that inhabit its interiors are Himalayan Musk Deer, Leopards, Snow Leopards, Himalayan Gray Langurs, Leopard Cats, Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan Brown Bear, Markhor, Serow, Jackals, Hill Fox, Red Fox, Himalayan Weasel, Himalayan Yellow Throated Martens, Jungle Cats, Long Tailed Marmots, Ibex, and Many More Species.
Many of these animals are very rarely seen and it is important to take along a guide well versed with their migratory, hibernating, and daily habits. For example, there is no point in looking for Bears or Marmots during winter, even in lower Dachigam, as they are fast asleep in hibernation.

How to Get There
Due to it's proximity to Srinagar, the capital of the Northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir, getting to Dachigam is not a problem at all. Srinagar is well connected by road and air transport. However, the closest rail connection is possible only at Jammu, which is 315km away. Getting from Srinagar to Dachigam is not a problem as there are many local operators who ply jeeps, and other vehicles back and forth from the park, for the lucky souls who have time on their side, driving down all the way to Srinagar would be an unforgettable experience through unbelievably beautiful scenery.

Air: Dachigam directs connected to airport via main Srinagar parts Nishat, Shalimar, and Lal Chowk at a distance of 30-kms.

Rail: The closest Railway Station to the park is located at Jammu (315km) exotic view of national Highway Road from Dachigam National Park and connections to other parts to Delhi, Mumbai or Many other places.

Accommodation Facilities at Dachigam
There are a few facilities available in the park but permits for these are extremely hard to come by and you also have to go with proper and meticulous preparations. These lodging facilities are available at the Sangargulu Valley in Upper Dachigam and at Gretnar in Lower Dachigam. Due to the park being in such close proximity to Srinagar, a majority of the visiting tourist put up at hotels here. Due to this same proximity, it is also possible to take day trips to the park, which is a very popular way of touring it. Srinagar, being the capital of the state, has a wide range of accommodation facilities but the most popular of the lot are the House Boats available of hire.

Internal Transport at Dachigam National Park
The ideal way to move around Dachigam is on your very own two feet, numerous tracks can be traversed. Many of these tracks do not consist of strenuous climbs and can be attempted even by the not so fit visitors. The treks to the upper region however are quite strenuous and require proper camping / climbing equipment to be taken along due to the climate. These treks to upper Dachigam should mostly be attempted by serious trekkers or by die-hard nature lovers. This is possible only in the summers, as the higher areas are very inaccessible during the winters. A small portion of the lower region can be toured by jeep. This beautiful jeep track (Numbal Beat), which is around 10km long, runs along the River Dagwan as it twists and splashes its way through the park. The trek along this track is quite a relaxing and enjoyable one. Some of the more strenuous treks, but not as exhausting as those to upper Dachigam, are along the Nars that lie to the north of the jeep track. A couple of the good ones here are the Drognar and Munyu Nars. Jeeps can be hired from Srinagar, which is only 22km away from the park.

Birds at Dachigam
Just like the park itself, the bird life here also changes largely with the onset of every new season. Some of the main bird species found here consist of Cinnamon Sparrows, Black Bulbuls, Monal Pheasants, Golden Orioles, Minivets, Pygmy Owlets, Woodpeckers, Babblers, Redstarts, Wagtails, Kokla Pheasants, Choughs, Warblers, Buntings, Streaked Laughing Thrushes, Laughing Thrushes, Red Browed Finches, Himalayan Ruby Throats, Wall Creepers, Black and Yellow Grosbeaks, Himalayan Griffons, Bearded Vultures, Long Tailed Blue Magpies and Tits.

The beautiful Seasons at Dachigam
Changes with Seasons: The only way it would be possible for anyone to see Dachigam in all its glory would be to spend an entire year there.

Starting from the cold winter season during the months of November to February, when the temperature in even the lower areas in sub zero, the park adorns a white cloak that covers it's every corner. During this time, the park's famous resident, the Hangul, moves down to the lower regions and more easily sighted. Due to the lack of greenery and nourishment for the animals during this period, the park authorities create mineral licks and feeding areas. It is advisable to find a guide well versed with these areas as they provide excellent viewing and photographic opportunities of these rare animals.

Spring arrives with the Coming of March. Many trees come into leaf and greens in complete contrast to the preceding snow can be seen everywhere, especially on the mountain slopes. Wild Cherry and other fruit trees give the lower regions a splash of pastel colours.

May heralds the arrival of the short summer period. Waterfalls and streams are visible everywhere due to the melting snow. Even the higher regions during this period consist of vast grassy meadows covered with bright and beautifully scented flowers. The male Hanguls, which have already moved to the higher region, are followed by the females and their recently born young ones during this season, The Langurs also move up at the same time and it isn't unusual to spot the two animals species together. Towards the end of summer, the fruits start appearing and this is party time for the Himalayan Black Bear who starts stocking himself for the coming long winter sleep.

With August comes the most amazing phase of the park. The entire tree leaves turn to bright shades of red, gold, yellow, and orange. The most outstanding tree during this period is the Chinar, which is the last of the trees to shed its leaves before the onset of winter. During this time, entire mountainsides take on these brilliant colours and it is almost impossible to imagine it as plain white scenery, which is what it changes back to in only a matter of a few weeks. Also during this time of the year, animals can be seen moving back to the lower areas to shelter themselves from the wrath of winter.

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