Department of Tourism, Jammu and Kashmir

Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary

Dachigam National Park is located 22 km from Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. The name literally stands for 'ten villages', which could be in memory of the ten villages that were relocated in order to create the park. The Park is only 141 sq. kms. and roughly rectangular in shape, approximately 23.5km by 6km. It is best considered as two sections - Upper and Lower Dachigam. Lower Dachigam, in the west, comprises approximately a third of the total area and is the area most accessible to a visitor. Upper Dachigam in the east extends over the higher reaches and is a good day's trek from the nearest roadhead.
Dachigam was initially established to ensure the supply of clean drinking water to Srinagar city. A protected area since 1910, it was declared as a national park in 1981. The park is best known as the home of the hangul, or Kashmir stag.
The Park harbors the last viable population of the endangered Hangul or Kashmir Stag. Himalayan Black Bear are visible in the lower reaches from spring to autumn and hibernate in winter. Long-Tailed Marmots are very conspicuous during summer in the upper reaches while Mouse Hare are active throughout the year. Other wildlife includes Leopard, Common Palm Civet, Jackal, Red Fox, Yellow-throated Marten and Himalayan Weasel.
Over 145 different bird species including the Lammergeier, colourful species like Monal Pheasant and Blue Magpie are seen.
Just 21kms north-east of Srinagar, and beyond the Mughal Gardens of Nishat and Shalimar, Dachigam is best considered as two parts. Lower Dachigam is more accessible to a visitor while Upper Dachigam is a day's trek. Good time to visit is in September-October which is also the Hangul rutting season. Forest Department accommodation is available in the Park and may be reserved through the Chief Wildlife Warden at the office in the Tourist Reception Centre in Srinagar. 
The area now known as the Dachigam National Park was first given protection by the Maharaja of Kashmir in 1910 when he delineated the valley as a game preserve and relocated the ten villages that were present within its precincts. From this comes its name Dachigam, translating as 'ten villages'. The Maharaja was motivated not only by the desire for sport for himself and his guests but also to ensure an undisturbed catchment zone for the Harwan reservoir which supplied water to his summer capital, Srinagar. The National Park occupies almost half of the catchment zone of the famous Dal Lake and still plays a crucial role is supplying clean drinking water to the inhabitants of Srinagar. The Maharaja planted a number of tree species preferred by the wild denizens, such as oak and horse chestnut and supplemented the limited winter fodder available to the wild animals. He also introduced Wild Boar to the area, a small population of which survived into the early 1990s but which have now died out. 
Following independence, responsibility for managing Dachigam went to the State Government and it was administered at different times by the State Fisheries Department, Tawaza Entertainment Department and the Forest Department. From 1978 it has been under the purview of the Directorate of Game Preservation of the Forest Department and in 1982 the Directorate was upgraded to an independent department and is now known as the Department of Wildlife Protection. In 1951 the State notified the area as a Sanctuary and in 1981 it was re-notified as a National Park. Dachigam National Park is one of the most accessible parks of India as its main entrance is only 21kms by road, north-east of the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar and not far beyond the popular Moghul Gardens of Nishat and Shalimar. However the road only runs for 10kms inside the Park, so to truly appreciate the beauty and variety of this Park it is necessary to explore on foot. 
Best time to visit: 
Dachigam is open throughout the year, but the best time to visit is between April and October and has something to offer in every season. The upper areas are not easily accessible in the winter months and are at their best between June and August. Summer is also a good time to visit the lower areas although probably the best month is October when the rutting season is on and Kashmir's glorious autumn tree colours are in evidence. September/October is also a good time for viewing the Black Bear which is feeding up on the remaining walnuts and acorns, building up fat for its long hibernation. The closest airport is at Srinagar. The nearest railway station is Jammu, which is 310 km away.

About Jammu & Kashmir Tourism

The Department of Tourism, J&K is the main developmental, promotional and regulatory arm of the J&K Government. Its main role comprises of overall planning and execution of schemes for the development, up-gradation and improvement of the tourism infrastructure in different parts of the State.
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