Nestled within the state of Jammu and Kashmir is the Dachigam National Park. Although only 141 square kilometres in area, this park has been protected for over 100 years, since it was first cared for by the Maharaja of the state in 1910. Thereafter, other government bodies took over the care and maintenance of the area until 1981, when it was officially established as a National Park. When it was first established, it replaced ten villages, which had to be relocated, to be a clean water supply for the town of Srinagar. It is believed that it was named Dachigam, which means ‘ten villages’, for this reason.

This beautiful park is within the western part of the Himalayan Mountain Range. This not only means that it benefits from the breath-taking beauty of the mountains, but also that the variation in the level above the sea changes dramatically. At each major increment, the landscape is defined by a completely new combination of vegetation and animals. The lowest lying areas are at about 5500 feet above sea level, which escalates to about 14 000 feet in the highest areas. The areas closest to the bottom are grasslands, ideal for grazing animals, while the very top area is desolate rocky peaks. The areas between these two extremes boast colourful blooms of flowers, meadows, alpine pastures, scrub vegetation and deep valleys.
Image of Asiatic Black Bear
An Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus or
Selenarctos thibetanus) also known as the
Tibetan black bear, the Himalayan Black Bear

Another of its natural features is the Dagwan River, which flows from the Marsar Lake and along the road all the way to the low area of the park. This river provides water to the plants and animals of the area and is also the home of the famously large population of trout.

Visitors that delight in spotting many different animal species are sure to feel well rewarded at Dachigam National Park. Some of the wild animals living here include the leopard, Hill Fox, Musk Deer, Himalayan Grey Langur, jackal, Jungle Cat, Himalayan Black Bear and – Brown Bear, Kashmir Stag, Yellow-throated Marten and Long-tailed Marmot. Soaring overhead or sitting in the branches, visitors may spot the Himalayan Monal, Pygmy Owlet, Babbler, Koklass Pheasant, Kashmir Flycatcher, Tytler's Leaf Warbler, Streaked Laughing Thrush, Himalayan Rubythroat or the Bearded Vulture.

The upper part of Dachigam National Park experiences very harsh winters and should be visited between May and August, when it is more temperate. The lower regions are warmer and can be visited at any time of year, although September through to December are believed to be the best months.

Srinagar is only 22 kilometres from the park and has its own airport. Alternatively, there is road- and rail access.

For more information, please view: http://www.ladakh-kashmir.com/wildlife-kashmir/dachigam-national-park.html

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