In Ladakh, your eyes meet sights which you knew existed but didn’t know where exactly. Snowcapped mountains, with their barren slopes, stand next to lakes which appear as divine as ever. Monasteries with their fluttering flags seem to stand there since times immemorial. While the various passes and valleys set you off on an adventure like never before. Hemis National Park lets you see yet another side of Ladakh region, a side which you most probably would be unaware of.
Did you know that Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir state is also home to fascinating wildlife and wild vegetation? If you did not, then you are missing out on a special experience. The next time you visit Ladakh with your friends and family, take some time out and visit Hemis High Altitude National Park. The park is bounded by the Indus River on the north and includes parts of the Zanskar Range as well. You will know what makes it so special and why this place should be visited by every person taking a trip to Ladakh.
Surely, the first question crossing your mind would be, why should I visit Hemis National Park? Aren’t there enough attractions in Ladakh to keep you occupied? Well yes, but, this National Park lets you see and discover a different side of Ladakh. Established in 1981, the park is named after the famous monastery of Ladakh, Hemis Gompa. The park, apart from showcasing the varied landscape of Ladakh, is home to almost 11 species of fauna and 30 species of avifauna. The main attraction of the park is the snow leopard, especially in the Rumbak catchment area. Another reason to visit is to explore the vegetation of Ladakh, which is as interesting as it is varied.
There are several things to explore and discover in Hemis National Park, one of them being its varied vegetation, and of course, it’s wildlife. The foliage of the park mostly consists of Himalayan subtropical pine forests, Western Himalayan alpine shrubs and meadows and Himalayan alpine tundra. In the lower reaches of the park, there are several kinds of plant species including dry birch, juniper and fir. If you head to the upper mountain slopes of the park where there is greater precipitation in the air. You come across a wide kind of alpine vegetation.
Another things to see in Hemis National Park is the different kinds of animal species. However, the prime attractions are the Shapu sheep and the Snow Leopard, two animal species not to be found anywhere else in the country. While exploring the park, you will spot various kinds of animals like Bharal (Blue Sheep), Shapu (Ladakhi Urial) and Great Tibetan Sheep. Several endangered species including the Eurasian brown bear, Tibetan wolf and red fox, among others, can also be found in the park. don't miss to spot Himalayan Snowcock, Himalayan Griffon vulture, Leaf Warbler, Gold Eagle etc.
The Shapu sheep and snow leopard are the special attractions of Hemis National Park. Simply because these animals cannot be seen anywhere else in the country. Apart from these, the park is also home to other endangered species like Eurasian brown bear, red fox and Tibetan wolf.
If you are planning a visit to Hemis National Park, then you should do it between the months of May and early October. If visiting in summer, you can also attend the popular Hemis Festival conducted in the Hemis Monastery. After October, most of the roads generally used for jeep safaris and trekking are blocked due to heavy rainfall.
After reaching Leh via flight, you can reach Hemis National Park by road through a bus or a private vehicle. Several buses travel from Leh to Hemis on a regular basis. However, if you are feeling adventurous, you can trek from Spituk Village below Leh and pass through Zingchen and Markha Valleys to reach the Hemis National Park.