The most scenic park in the state, Dachigam is popular for the endangered Hangul or the Kashmir stag- the only species of red deer to be found in India. The park is situated 22 km from Srinagar, covering an area of more than 141 sq. km. The actual beauty of the park lies in the deep valleys, rocky outcrops, steep wooded slopes and rolling alpine pastures. Being located in the mountainous area, Dachigam National Park faces a huge variation in the altitude that ranges from 1600 m to 4200 m above sea level. This variation in altitude categorises Dachigam National Park in two regions- the upper region and the lower region.
Initially, the park was created to supply clean drinking water to Srinagar. Later it was converted to a protected area in 1910. 'Dachigam' literally means “Ten Villages”, which stands for the number of villages that were relocated to facilitate its creation. Dachigam was declared a National Park in 1981 and since then it has been home to many rare species of animals within its premises.
Flora And Fauna
Dachigam is a well known habitat for the Hangul (Kashmir Stag). They can be easily spotted in winters, when they hang out in the lower valleys. Other inhabitants at Dachigam are Musk deer, Brown Bear, Leopards, Jungle Cats, Himalayan black bear, and a few species of wild goat like the markhor and ibex.
One can also spot numerous rare birds like Black Bulbuls, Cinnamon sparrows, Himalayan Monals, Kashmir Flycatcher, and Colourful pheasants including the crimson tragopan, the iridescent monal pheasant, the blood pheasant and the koklass pheasant. Apart from this, the golden eagle and the bearded vulture or lammergeier can be seen flying higher in the sky.
Coming to the flora category, Dachigam national Park is extremely rich in Wild Cherry, Pear, Plum, Peach, Apple, Apricot, Walnut, Chestnut, Oak, Willow, Poplar, Chinar, Birch, Pine and Elm.
The place is well connected by road from Srinagar. A 10 km long road runs through the lower area but the only way to visit most of the park is on foot. A few accommodation facilities are available inside the park as well. The ideal time to visit the upper Dachigam is May to August, while for lower Dachigam it is September to December.
The entire appearance of park changes with every season. The park adorns a white cloak of snow in the winters. Spring highlights the greenery of the park in contrast with the snow clad peaks. Blossoming flowers and fruit trees form the major attraction of the park in spring. Summer melts the snow to unveil waterfalls and streams. As autumn approaches, leaves of trees turn to bright shades of red, gold, yellow and orange. Dachigam National Park stays unpolluted and colourful throughout the year.