Hemis National Park is a high altitude national park situated in the eastern part of the Ladakh region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This national park is the only park in the north part of the Himalayas in India. It is also the largest notified protected area in India thus making it the largest national park of India. It is spread over an area of 4400 sq. Km. The park is surrounded on the north by the banks of the Indus river which includes the catchments of Markha, Sumdah and Rumbak and also some parts of the Zanskar Range. There are six villages that exist in this park namely, Rumbak, Kaya, Urutse, Sku, Chilling and Shingo that are home to around 1600 people. There are also many Gompas and Chortens situated in this park. The 400 year old Hemis Monastery is also situated in the park. Hemis National park is also the largest national park in South Asia and famous for its scenic beauty.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Due to the rough area and harsh environmental conditions, only the fittest of the animals and plant life can survive here. Up till now sixteen species of mammals and seventy three species of birds have been recorded in the park. The park is home to around 200 snow leopards and most of them are to be found in the Rumbak valley area. Many endangered animals like the Great Tibetan Sheep, Blue Sheep, Shapu and Asiatic Ibex are to be found here. Infact, Hemis National Park is the only refuge in India for Shapu. Amongst the other animals are the Red fox, Himalayan Marmot, Mountain Weasel, etc. For a bird watcher, this place is a dream destination as it is a good place to study Himalayan species of birds and some of the most endangered birds are found here too. The most endangered bird named black necked crane can be found here. Other birds commonly seen here are kingfishers, barbets, Brown Accentor, Fire fronted Serin, the Golden Eagle, etc. However, this exclusive wildlife is threatened due to habitat loss and poaching. You will mostly find dry forests of Juniper, subalpine dry birch as this region is situated in the rain shadow of Himalaya and as a result does not receive much precipitation.
GET IN AND BEST TIME TO VISIT
You can take a flight to Leh from Delhi, Srinagar or Jammu. Or if you wish to take a road trip to Leh then there are two ways, one from Manali and the other from Srinagar. And then by road you can travel to the Hemis National Park by taking a car on rent or there is also a daily public bus service from Leh to Hemis. The best time to visit this place would be from May to September as during the other months it is very cold and the temperature drops too low. Also the roads could be closed due to the heavy snowfall.
Hemis Monastery is 400 years old and is situated in the park. This is the largest monastic institution in Ladakh and a trip to this place could be a beautiful experience. It is situated at a height of about 12000 feet making it the highest settlement in the world. This place also offers an opportunity to stay in a monastery. Visitors in the park are allowed to stay here for the night and are also offered meals. There is also an annual Hemis festival held every year in early June.
Stok Kangri Peak
This is the highest mountain in the Stok Range of Himalayas in the region of Ladakh. It is situated at a height of 20,500 feet in the village of Stok which is 24 kilometres away from the capital of Ladakh, Leh. It is a popular trek amongst the tourists. The shortest and the most famous approach to the peak ascends the Stok valley which has a beautiful grazing landscape. This is one of the most popular and also a safe trek in Hemis National Park. It takes about six days to trek on this mountain to reach on the top.
Confluence of Zanskar and Indus River
The confluence of the River Indus and Zanskar acts as the boundary of the park and is a treat for your eyes. The Indus River drains the dry and deserted region of Ladakh and serves as a lifeline to this place whereas Zanskar is a tributary of this river. When the two rivers meet you can spot the difference between the two rivers water and see them merging into one. It is a treat for all the nature lovers and a must see when visiting the Hemis National Park.
Camping and trekking is one of the most beautiful experiences in the park. There are no hotels in the park to stay but you can opt for home stays in the villages or stay at the monastery. Hemis National Park is known for its scenic beauty and the beautiful snow capped mountains. The lofty mountains and alpine forests in the park make it a treat for the eye. Every nature lover must visit this park and experience the beauty of this place.