Location: 22-km From Srinagar, Kashmir Region, J&K
Area : 141-sq-kms.
Attractions: Kashmir Stag, Himalayan Black Bear, Markhor, Ibex, Exotic Birds
Best Time To Visit: Upper Dachigam - May-August
Lower Dachigam - September- December
Bird Viewing - March To May
Located very close to Srinagar (22-km), Dachigam National Park with its splendid forests and magnificent scenery is easily accessible. Of all the many sanctuaries in the state, the one at Dachigam is the best known. At one time the exclusive hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Kashmir, it was declared a national park in 1951, and owing to a strictly enforced conservation programme, the Hangul population, once 150, now stands at over 400 animals.
The two sectors of the Park - Upper and Lower Dachigam are spread over an area of 141-sq-km. and altitudes vary between 1,700 and 4,300 metres. Two steep ridges enclose the Park with its great topographical variety - deep ravines, rocky outcrops, steep wooded slopes and rolling alpine pastures. Tumbling down from the Masrar Lake (4,300m), up in the high ranges, the Dachigam River winds through Lower Dachigam.
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.
Amidst forests of silver birch and conifer roams the Hangul. Rare and on the verge of extinction till a few years ago, the national park at Dachigam contains the last viable Hangul population in the world. Related to the red Deer of Europe, this breed is characterised by its white rump patch and impressive spread of antlers.
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: A metalled road links Srinagar with Lower Dachigam. Upper Dachigam can be reached on foot.