HEMIS NATIONAL PARK
Trekking, snow, Kashmir and snow leopard, what if you get all of it in one place? Nemis National Park is the place you are looking for.
Nemis National Park is the largest National Park in South Asia, situated in the eastern Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. After Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, it is the largest contiguous protected region. Located at an altitude of 17, 000 ft., it is spread over an area of 4400 sq. km and houses 16 species of mammals and 73 species of birds. The park is bounded on the north by the Indus and includes the catchments of Markha, Rumbak, Sumdah, and parts of the Zaskar Range.
Here are all the reasons why you should visit this place.
1. SNOW LEOPARDS
It is world famous for seeing the snow leopard and is believed to have the highest density of snow leopards of any protected area in the world. Around 200 snow leopards have been recorded here. Spotting a snow leopard in a mesmerizing surrounding is an experience of a lifetime.
2. HEMIS MONASTERY
The 400-year-old monastery is located within the park and is revered as the largest monastic institution in Ladakh. It has been a place of pilgrimage for the Tibetan Buddhists. It is home to over 1000 monks. It is rich with artifacts, statues of Buddha and stupas made of gold and silver. Some writings even claim that Jesus spent the missing years of his life in Tibet and Ladakh.
The trekking route through Hemis National Park is a moderate trek and passes through the picturesque Himalayan Homestay villages of Rumbak, Yurutse, Shingo, Sku-Kaya, and Chilling. The trek begins at the bridge over the Indus in Spituk village. Apart from the rugged landscape, a wide species of flora and fauna can also be spotted during the trek. Trekking routes are closed after November due to heavy snowfall.
4. STOK KANGRI
Stok Kangri is the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas in the Ladakh region of northwest India. The peak is located within the Hemis National Park. It is 6153 meters high and is a popular trekking peak.
- It is the only habitat of Shapu or Ladakhi Urial in India.
- Apart from snow leopard, it is home to several endangered mammals like Tibetan wolf, red fox, and the Eurasian brown bear. Several small mammals including Himalayan marmot, mountain weasel, and Himalayan mouse hare can also be spotted here.
- The noise and pollution free environments of the park make bird seeing a wonderful experience. It is a dream destination for those who love birds as the park inhabits birds ranging from Golden Eagle, Himalayan Griffon Vulture to Chukar, Himalayan Snowcock and much more.
- Not only is the fauna of this place exquisite but the flora will leave one awestruck too. The alpine forests of juniper and sub alpine dry birch are a treat for the eyes.
- It also houses humans apart from the rich flora and fauna. Six villages exist within the confines of the park, housing 1600 people in Rumbak, Sku-Kaya, Shingo, Yurutse, and Chilling. Several gompas and chortens can also be seen within the park.
- Hemis Festival held in the month of June/ July every year is a 9 days and 8 nights festival, a cultural extravaganza to behold. People from across the globe come to witness the celebration when Ladakh reverberates with the sound of drums and horns during the festival.
- If there is a shopping bug in you then, pick souvenirs, statues, local jewelry, paintings, and curios from the Hemis museum shop,
Ø How to reach here?
The city of Leh is 10 km to the north of the park. Once, you land into Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, Leh district is 5 km away.
Ø Best time to visit the place?
For a hassle- free and pleasant trip, one must plan a trip between the months of May and early October. Trekking and camping are terminated after November due to heavy snowfall. If you wish to witness the Hemis festival, June- July would be a good time.
Ø Food and lodging
There are no hotels in the vicinity of the park. However, one can have a homestay in any of the six villages within the park. The Hemis Monastery also offers room for visitors to stay.
Fooding options are limited here. Hence, it is advisable to carry some packed stuff to avoid hunger pangs. Hemis Monastery offers food to the visitors and follows the tradition of offering butter tea to its guests. Locals are generous enough to provide meals too.
If you are looking for a holiday destination with thrilling adventure, serenity, the exotic beauty of nature and happen to be an animal and bird lover, then pack your bags right away to experience all of it in Hemis National Park !!