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India >> North >> Jammu and Kashmir >> Hemis National Park
Hemis National Park Jammu and Kashmir, North
  Overview   Holiday Ideas 
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Declared a high altitude National Park in 1981, Hemis became Indias first National Park to be established north of the main Himalayan Range.

 

The park is home to a viable breeding population of about 200 snow leopards, especially in the Rumbak catchment area. The prey base for the apex predator in the Central Asian Highlands is primarily supported in Hemis by Argali (Great Tibetan Sheep), Bharal (Blue Sheep), Shapu (Ladakhi Urial), and livestock. A small population of the Asiatic Ibex is also present here. Hemis is the only refuge in India containing the Shapu.

 

The Tibetan Wolf, the Eurasian Brown Bear (endangered in India), and the Red Fox are also present in Hemis. Small mammals include the Himalayan Marmot, Mountain Weasel and the Himalayan Mouse Hare.

 

The park is an ideal habitat to study the Himalayan and Trans-Himalayan birds of prey. Among birds of prey noted here are the Golden Eagle, the Lammergeyer Vulture and the Himalayan Griffon Vulture.

 

The Rumbak Valley offers excellent opportunities for bird watching, including several Tibetan species a rarity in other parts of India. Birds found in this valley are the Brown Accentor, Robin Accentor, Tickell's Leaf Warbler, Streaked Rose Finch, Tibetan Snow Finch, Chukor, Fork-tailed Swift, Red-billed Chough, Himalayan Snowcock, and the Fire-fronted Serin.

 Orientation

Hemis is a high-altitude park, spotting wildlife is rather difficult but the panoramic landscape, the centuries old great monasteries and the Indus and Zanskar rivers are reasons enough to visit. During summers, wild flowers appear like colourful smudges on the otherwise bleak landscape.

 

It is one of the parks in India where trekking is permissible, the best possible way to get a close look at its elusive habitants.

 

Among the treks that one can do in the park include: Martselang to Shang (east); Skyu-Kaya (north-west of the park) to Markha valley (west of the park); and Spituk (north-west of the park) to Markha, passing through Kanda La and Kongmaru La. Yet another trek to do in this region is to Rumbak.

 

Hemis Gompa is the biggest and the most important monasteries in Ladakh, located 49 km south of Leh, is also locally known as Chang-Chub-Sam-Ling (The Love Palace of the compassionate One). Built in 17th century by Chapgon Gylshas, it enjoys the patronage of the royal family. The gompa boasts of an excellent library where one can view preserved frescoes and murals, silver gilt chortens and a Kashmiri lacquered wood throne. In summer, the two-day Hemis festival is held here to celebrate the birthday of Guru Padmasambhav, the founder of the Tibetan Buddhism.

 

Trek through the Markha Valley is worthwhile for its spectacular view and encounters with the bharal and marmots on the way. Rumbak is the appropriate place to get acquainted with flocks of blue sheep. One can also see nesting sites of the golden eagle. It's very unlikely that you may stumble upon a snow leopard in summer, some maybe lucky enough to sight some signs of its presence. During winter, snow leopards often roam the valley and may be sighted.

 

In 17th century metal workers from Nepal came to Ladakh to build monasteries, eventually some workers settled in this village and carried on with their age old tradition. The village is now a popular stop for the tourists.

 

As Hemis is one of the few National Parks where trekking is permitted, it gives you an incredible opportunity to savour the local flavours, up close and personal. Opting for a stay in one of the home stays, gives one both the thrill and experience of enjoying wildlife and an opportunity to  interact with the local gentry. In fact, exploring Hemis is more than just about spotting wildlife. Its also all about discovering the cuisine, culture, customs and religion of its people. In a home stay, by being a part of the host family you can get feel of their way of life, savour the home cooked traditional meals and enjoy learning a few local dishes.

 

If one is exploring the Hemis National Park on foot, then home stays are the best options, developed by the local NGOs, the Snow Leopard Conservancy, with support from UNESCO, these were introduced in Rumbak in 2002. A year later, other villages joined in, and by 2004, the concept had spread to all the villages. The main aim of the project is to preserve wildlife by giving locals a stake in conservation.

 

Rafting on the Zanskar

As you follow the Zanskar on your way to the village of Chilling, one of the entry points of the Hemis NP, you can see rafters busy gearing up for the arduous ordeal that lie ahead, multi- days of river rafting through the most spectacular and scenic river gorge.  The Zanskar River is the only one of its kind in India - remote, extremely desolate and enchanting, flowing at height which is high enough to raft during the summers. If you have the spirit for true adventure and prior training and experience, this classic journey down the rapids is just right for you.  The 120 km long run from Padum to Nimu, through sheer mountain gorges, breathtaking scenery in a palette of vivid colours and white water is one the best in the world. Its graded 3-4, and has no road support. At the end of each tough day, you retreat to the campsite to rest under a star studded sky amidst utter wilderness - memorable moments to last a lifetime!

 Getting there

Location

 

It lies in the Zanskar Range of the Great Himalaya in eastern Ladakh, spreading across both banks of the Zanskar.

 

Distance

 

State highway to Hemis via Thiksey and Martselang.

 Fast Facts
Name Hemis National Park Best Time To Visit Mid june to Mid October
Location Jammu and Kashmir   North   India   Destination   Best Sighing Winters
Open From 0000-00-00  To 0000-00-00 Type High Altitude National Park
Temperature Summar   15-20C      Winter   -30-(-10)C      Rainy   -5-10C
 Map
 
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