Hemis National Park in LehIt’s surprising to know that a land as natural and un-inhabitated as Ladakh doesn’t have a lot of gardens and parks. In fact that there are no public gardens though locals and big Hotels maintain their own beautiful private gardens.
The same goes for parks; apart from Hemis National Park there are no parks in Ladakh. However the Hemis National Park leaves an indelible impression on the mind being the largest national park of India.
Distinctive Features of Hemis National ParkThe Hemis National Park was founded just 32 years back in 1982 when concerted efforts were being made to save the Markha and Rumbak catchment areas. From a meager 230 square miles it soon expanded to 1290 square miles. In 1990 the Park again expanded to 4400 square kilometer and now it’s the biggest national park in Southern Asia.
Besides an enviable selection of exotic flora and fauna there are other distinctive features of Hemis National Park. There are several small Gompas inside the Park and a large and famous Monastery known as the Hemis Monastery. Incidentally this Park was a part of the famous silk route of Tibet. The experience of a Monastery inside a national park is a unique one.There is an ecologically conserved café inside Hemis national Park which has tribal Ladakh women selling handmade decorative items to the tourists.
This National Park is granted protection and financial assistance under Ladakh Eco Tourism project. He Park itself is built in the model of an ecological conservatory where effort has been put to mimic the natural environment of the forest. The national park of Hemis lies inside the Karakoram Western Tibet Alpine region where there are dense woods of pine and birch. The alpine Tundra shrubs are also found in profusion in this region.
Fauna of Hemis National ParkThere is a big population of Snow Leopards inside Hemis National Park. This Leopard is a distinct inhabitant of the Central Asian highland and specially the Himalayan mountain regions. Hemis National Park also has a good population of Argali on whom the Snow Leopard preys. Argali is also called the great Tibetan sheep. Other rare forms of livestock found here are Blue Bharal (blue sheep) and Shapu (Ladakhi Urial). Asiatic Ibex is also found in great numbers inside Hemis National Park.
The Eurasian Brown Bear which has been declared as an endangered species in India is also found in the Hemis National Park. The Tibetan Wolf and the Red Fox are other predators which reside here. Smaller mammals which are found in this Park include the rare Himalayan mouse shaped hare, Himalayan marmot and the weasel. If you are interested in ornithology then it will please you to know that the rare strains of Lammergeier vulture, Golden Eagle and Himalayan Griffon vulture.
The Rumbak Valley in Hemis National Park has excellent opportunities for bird watching. If you are lucky you can spot uncommon bird species like Himalayan Snowcock, Robin Accentor, Tibetan Snowfinch, Fork Tailed Swift, Red Billed Cock and Streaked Rosefinch.