Kashmir's beauty is unparalleled and undefeatable. 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 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.
In that news, 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 Wild Wonderland
The park teems with discoveries. One of them is its history, which its name, Dachigam, hints towards. Meaning "ten villages," Dachigam 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 almost 500 species of herbs, nearly 50 species of trees, and 20 species of shrubs.
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.
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.
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.
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