Wild Wonderland: Spot The Endangered Hangul In Kashmir

Located 22 km from Srinagar, Dachigam national park is India's only home to the endangered Kashmiri Stag
Dachigam National Park
Dachigam National ParkShutterstock

Kashmir's beauty is unparalleled. Its pristine nature does not just draw tourists from all over the world, but also sundry birds and animals. Even the red deer native to central Europe finds another of its kind -- known as Hangul or Kashmiri stag -- roaming Kashmir's lush grounds in the Dachigam National Park. 

As the only national park in India where the endangered Hangul can be spotted, officials have invested concerted efforts hoping their numbers will proliferate. And the recent census conducted within its contours suggests that these efforts have reaped success. Even though official numbers aren't out yet, the records indicate a significant jump towards the right direction. 

Dachigam National Park, 22 km from the picturesque Srinagar, deserves a visit. And while the main attraction remains the majestic Hangul, the park unfolds many surprises of the wild -- including the gushing Dagwan River that cuts through the forest. 

The gushing Dagwan River in Dachigam National Park
The gushing Dagwan River in Dachigam National Park

Game Preserve

The park teems with discoveries. One of them is its history, which its name, Dachigam, hints towards. Meaning "ten villages", Dachigam was set up in 1910. It was previously a cluster of villages that was cleared out to set up a game preserve and a catchment area for the erstwhile Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Under his patronage, thousands of trees were planted, and now the forest's flora boasts of almost 500 species of herbs, nearly 50 species of trees, and 20 species of shrubs. In 1981, the park was upgraded and declared a national park.

Apart from swathes of green, the national park also puts forth a fantastic estimation of the region's rich wildlife -- from the demure musk deer to the ferocious leopard, Himalayan black bear, and yellow-throated marten. If you are a passionate bird-watcher, the national park is an ideal place to pull your cameras out. You can fill your gallery with stunning images of birds such as the Himalayan monal, Kashmir flycatcher, Himalayan rubythroat and many other special ones. 

The Hangul is a subspecies of the Central Asian red deer
The Hangul is a subspecies of the Central Asian red deer

While Dachigam National Park looks equally beautiful every season, the time when blue poppy flowers cover the whole area from May to September is the best. The autumn rutting season of Hangul is also a fantastic time to visit the park. Since the park ranges from 5,500 ft to 14,000 ft, you can also enjoy incomparable sunset views. 

Permission To Visit

To visit Dachigam National Park, you need to apply online for permission.
Only one booking allowed per day. The maximum group size is 15 persons. The ID proof of any one person in the group has to be provided.

For Schools/Colleges, a maximum 80 students can be taken in one group.
Schools/Colleges have to upload a list of teachers and students on the letter head of the Institution, duly signed and stamped, at the time of booking.

Once Booking is confirmed and Payment made, refund or date change is not allowed. The park is closed on Tuesdays.

Entry Fee

For Indians - INR 25
Entry is free for Children less than 10 years of age

For Foreigners - INR 50

How To Reach

By air: The nearest airport is in Srinagar. From there, you can hail a private cab to Dachigam. 

By train: The nearest railhead is in Jammu. Daily trains run from New Delhi. 

By road: To reach the national park from Srinagar, take the state road from Shalimar Bagh and Harwan. 

Best Time To Visit

The ideal time to visit is between April and October.

Where To Stay

Two lodges and rest houses in the sanctuary are available for accommodation, Sangargulu Valley in Upper Dachigam and at Gretnar in Lower Dachigam. There are several budgeted hotels, rest houses and lodges in Srinagar city.

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