Location: Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
Area: 141 square kilometers
Nearest Airport: Srinagar Airport
Nearest Town: Srinagar (22 km)
Nearest Railway Station: Jammu (200 km)
Entry Fee: No entry fee
Best Time to Visit: September-December (lower Dachigam), May-August (upper Dachigam) and March-May (bird viewing)
Attractions: Hangul or the Kashmiri stag
Number of Avifauna Species: 150
The Dachigam National Park provides a picturesque landscape attracting countless tourists. The park is spread over 141 sq km of area and is divided into two divisions, namely, the Lower and Upper Dachigam. The altitude of both the regions varies in altitude ranging from 1700 m to 4300 m. Two steep ridges provide a natural enclosure to the park. The park offers a variety in the landscape of alpine pastures, deep ravines, rocky ridges and steep slopes. The Masrar Lake located in the higher Dachigam is the source of the Dachigam River. The river is considered the lifeline of the park as it passes through the entire Lower Dachigam region from its originating point. The river provides water to the entire lower region.
The Dachigam National Park is at a distance of 22 km from the city of Srinagar, the capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The present area of the park was earlier outlined by Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir in the year 1910 as a game preserve. He also wanted to develop this forest into a catchment zone for Harwan reservoir for supplying water to Srinagar. Some tree species were also planted in order to provide winter fodder to several wild animals. The State Forest Department then managed Dachigam when Jammu and Kashmir was acceded to India. In the year 1951, the government of Jammu and Kashmir notified this area as a sanctuary. This sanctuary then got the status of a national park in the year 1981.
The winter season is the best time to view the Hangul, when it comes down to the lower valleys of the sanctuary. The leopard is the only predatory animal in the area but has rarely been spotted. However, tourists can see these wild cats if they possess resilience, patience and a little luck.
The park provides a natural habitat to the endangered Hangul or the Kashmiri stag. It is the only species of red deer to be found in India. Various efforts are being made to save this rare and beautiful species.
Besides the Hangul or the Kashmiri Stag, the park is home to Himalayan Black Bear, Leopard, Musk Deer, Himalayan Marmot and Species of Wild Goats like the Makhor.
The varieties of exotic Himalayan Birds are the colorful Pheasants like Crimson Tapogan, Blood Pheasant, Golden Eagle and Bearded Vulture.
The Dachigam National Park remains cold throughout the year. The summer season lasts from May to August and is cool and very pleasant. The temperatures range from 8°C to 14°C during the summers. The winters last from September to December. The winters are very cold with a drop in the temperature in a range of 2 °C to 4°C. Light woolen clothes are suitable for the summers and heavy woolens are required during winters.
• Tourists should not cause any harm to floral and faunal life.
• The flora should not be plucked.
• Do not kindle any kind of fire or throw lit matches and cigarette buds.
• Do not throw or leave trash, litter and polyethylene bags in the forest.
• Chemicals and firearms should not be taken inside the park as it may cause harm to the wildlife and the vegetation.
• Never play tape recorders and radio as their frequency and voice may disturb the animals.
• The access to Jammu and Kashmir is restricted for non-Indian nationals. Therefore, foreigners must have prior permission in the form of a permit to visit the Dachigam National Park. This must be acquired from the Indian Foreign Office.
• The best time to visit lower Dachigam is from September to December.
• The best time to visit upper Dachigam is from May to August.
• The best time for bird viewing in Dachigam is from March to May.
• It is mandatory to obtain a special permit from the chief wildlife warden before entering the park.
• It is advisable to carry heavy woolen clothing due to extremely cold weather.
• The timings are from 5:30 am to 6:30 pm.
• There is no entry fee to the park.
• Do not take any shortcuts and stick to designated walkways only.
• It is also required to take permission for camping. A special permit of photography is required for video shooting.
Srinagar is the city, which is nearest to the Dachigam National Park. The communication links like telephone and medical facilities are available in Srinagar. Nowadays, Internet/E-mail Facilities and Mobile Phone Services are also available at the city.
By Air: The closest link to the National Park is the Srinagar Airport.
By Rail: The nearest rail junction is at Jammu, which is at a distance of 200 km from Dachigam
By Road: The region of the Lower Dachigam is easily accessible through a metaled road.
By Foot: The region of the Higher Dachigam is accessible only on foot.
The accommodation for the Wildlife Sanctuary is available in Srinagar city. There are a plenty of hotels, rest houses and lodges to select from. They are priced reasonably according to the amenities that are available. There are enough options for budgeted tourist as well as for luxury travelers.