The highest and the largest range of mountains in the world, the Himalayan range is among the most gorgeous natural wonders on earth. It has gifted Jammu and Kasmir with a diverse topography. The state houses many popular wildlife sanctuaries. Some of the major ones include Dachigam National Park, Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve and Hemis High Altitude Wildlife Sanctuary.
Blessed with varying geography, Kashmir preserves various types of plant and animal life. The inaccessible peaks of the Himalayas serve as perfect breeding grounds for the Chiru, the rare deer and others, which add popularity to Kashmir tourism. The snow leopard takes shelter in the snows covered mountain crevices. The plains of Jammu are an abode of birds like yellow grosbeak, pheasants and others.
Various wildlife parks protect the different species of flora and fauna. Let us have a look.
Dachigam National Park
It lies 32 km from the capital city. Sprawling over an area of 140 sq km, the park is among the few remaining habitats of rare species, including hangul, leopards and musk deer. The Park is well-known for harbouring the most exotic variety of wildlife in Kashmir. With its dense forests of pine on the various mountain slopes and shrubs, Dachigam stream is a spectacular sight. The park is also an abode of the endangered hangul or the Kashmir stag, which is the only species of red deer to be spotted in India.
Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve
This forest reserve is known for protecting the most endangered wildlife of Kashmir. The reserve covers an area of 180 sq km, and lies at an elevation of 2,400 – 4,300 m above sea level. This encompass musk deer, hangul, snow leopard, brown bear and fox. It has a rich bird population, including snow cock, blue rock pigeon, Jungle Crow and Kashmir Roller. In winters, tourists can spot high-altitude bird species who move to the lower valleys.
Hemis High Altitude Wildlife Sanctuary
Jammu & Kashmir wildlife tour takes you to the sanctuary that boasts of being the largest park in South Asia. Lies at 12000 feet from sea level, it sprawls over an area of about 3,350 sq. km. It is a famous sanctuary of Ladakh. Hemis sanctuary is known for providing shelter to snow leopards, bharal, goats, wild sheeps and shapu. September to March is the best time to see the wildlife of the park. Trekking routes remain open from mid June to mid October. On their Kashmir wildlife tour, visitors can also enjoy a jeep or elephant safari to spot the various endangered species of wildlife.
Overa Wildlife Sanctuary
This wildlife destination in Kashmir positions itself at 87 km away from Srinagar. It houses a rich variety of flora and fauna. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot animals like snow leopards, musk deer, hangul and langurs in the park. The birds of the sanctuary include Himalayan Thrush, griffon vulture, mynah and others. Visitors can also come across a variety of plants including mushrooms, pines and other grasses.