It may not be easy to visit the Dachigam Park as we need special permit from the Chief Wildlife warden, but the trip is worth all the efforts! So what is so special about this park? Let’s explore…
This protected area is a home to the last viable population of the threatened species – Hangul (Cervus elaphus hanglu). This Kashmiri stag’s future depends on the health of its habitat. This is not just an abode for the wildlife but also serves as a catchment area for the bulk of the Srinagar city’s fresh water supply.
The park is situated at a distance of 21 kms from Srinagar in the northeast and has an area of 141 sq. kms. Its altitude ranges from 1700-4000 m M.S.L. This sanctuary has been managed scientifically and visited by various naturalists, biologists, and conservationists, besides the inquisitive and enthusiastic tourists. Originally a royal game preserved area, this national park has become a sanctuary for the protection of many wildlife species. In 1910, Maharaja Hari Singh recognized the importance of Dachigam and ordered for its protection. It was declared as a sanctuary in 1951.
The wildlife includes about 20 species of mammals, over 150 species of birds, over 50 species of trees, about 20 of shrubs and 500 of herbs. The park offers a home and breeding place to a vast population of fauna and avifauna. Fauna includes Hangul, Himalayan brown bear and black bear, langur, Himalayan marmot, leopard, etc. Avifauna includes monal, koklas, bearded vulture, golden eagle, grey haron, golden oriole, paradise flycatcher, western yellow-billed blue magpie, peregrine falcon, black bulbul, etc. Surprisingly, a few jackals and feral dogs may be seen inside the park. What a variety of species!
Dachigam park – here lies the Hangul’s traditional summer feeding pastures where they play with each other and thus display their incredible energy. One can witness a beautiful sight of freedom, joy, and beauty. Hangul is related to the red deer of Europe and is characterized by its white patch and graceful antlers. Earlier there had been 3000-5000 hangul species but due to excessive poaching and illegal hunting, the figure has dropped. In a decade there was a reduction of about 85% of the total number! In 1965, the figure was a meager 180 but, thanks to some preventive measures (better late than never!), the number increased to 320-440 in 1979.
Dachigam is special and beautiful. The beauty of this landscape affects you spiritually and the entire area gives a feeling of peace and serenity. This unique habitat is divided into Lower Dachigam and Upper Dachigam. Upper Dachigam is ideal for viewing birds and mammals in summer months while Lower Dachigam is ideal for watching mammals in the autumn and winter months and bird watching during spring. It provides an ideal and wonderful zone to appreciate the natural beauty of Kashmir.
Dachigam National Park witnesses all the seasons in a unique style. The captivating beauty of the landscape of this park enhances the beauty of winter and spring. In spring, the hillslopes offer a breathtaking view and fruits begin to appear and so do the flowers. The beauty of the Marsar Lake in Upper Dachigam inspires a wide range of emotions in us. The lake is an abode of peace. There is a Trout Culture Farm of Fisheries Department at Laribal, in Lower Dachigam. The famous Trout fish is found here.
Dachigam also includes the grasslands, which are now rare in the Himalayas. Dal Lake, which attracts many tourists to Kashmir every year, depends largely on this park as it forms an important catchment area for the lake.
One is reluctant to leave the park as its beauty and consistent dose of peace captivates the heart and soul of a person. A visit to this place is a must to inculcate a sense of preservation and appreciation of wildlife in us – for the locals as well as the tourists.
For details, contact:
The Chief Wildlife Warden
Tourist Reception Center, J&K State.