Located in the eastern part of Ladakh district in Jammu and Kashmir in north India, Hemis National Park has the distinction of being the largest national park in South Asia.
Hemis National Park also has the distinction of being among the largest contiguous protected region, second only to Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. Spread over 4400 sq km, the park is home to 16 species of mammals and 73 of birds. The park is protected home for endangered mammals like leopards, Asiatic ibex, Tibetan wolf, the Eurasian brown bear and the red fox.
The park boasts of 200 leopards and is the only habitat of Shapu or the Ladakhi Urial in India. It is also home to small mammals like Himalayan marmot, mountain weasel and Himalayan mouse hare.
For bird watchers, it’s a dream destination. Besides golden eagle, Lammergeier vulture and the Himalayan griffon vulture, the park is home to Brown Accentor, Robin Accentor, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Streaked Rosefinch, Tibetan Snowfinch, Chukar, Fork-tailed Swift, Red-billed Chough, Himalayan Snowcock, and the Fire-fronted Serin. Pollution free environment and noise free surroundings make birding a joyful experience.
Six villages exist within the confines of the park. The villages –Rumbak, Kaya, Sku, Shingo, Urutse and Chilling – are home to about 16oo people. Several gompas and chortens are also located within the park.
The 400-year-old Hemis Monastery is also located within the park. Revered as the largest monastic institution in Ladakh, a trip to the monastery is a thrilling experience. Camping and trekking are other popular activities that can be indulged in the park.
The national park is also known for its scenic beauty. Lofty mountains and alpine forests of juniper and subalpine dry birch make it a treat for the eyes. The Stok Kangri peak is situated withing the park. The confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers acts as the park’s boundary and is a treat for the eyes. It also includes the catchment area of Markha, Sumdah and Rumbak, and some portion of the Zanskar Range.
In and Around
Around 200 snow leopards have been recorded, especially in the Rumbak catchments area. The snow leopard cannot roar though it has an incomplete ossification of the hyoid bone. Watching this wild cat roam in this picturesque surrounding is an experience of a lifetime.
There are a number of Tibetan gumphas and holy chortens located inside the park. The famous 400-year old Hemis Monastery is nestled in the rocky terrains.
Jeep & Elephant Safari
At such high altitudes, the best way to take a tour of some of the easy accessible areas is through jeeps. For higher altitudes, Jeep Safaris are not feasable and hence we recommend some enthralling trekking tours with trainned guides which will get you to some of the exciting spots within the park. These trekking tours will let you have a view of enslaving flora and fauna of the park. Take one such tour and wish that you also spot a growling leopard in the snow covered mountains.
Hemis High Altitude National Park Travel Circuit
Ladak-Mrakha Valley-Hemis High.
Delhi-Leh,Ladak-Rumbak Village-Hemis High National Park-Ganda La Pass.
Around Hemis National Park
This is the 17th century capital of the Namgyal Empire and the core of Ladakh. Leh is known for its beautiful monasteries, and captivating mountains and snow peaks backdrop. The place also offers you an opportunity to indulge in adventure like trekking and river rafting.
This picturesque city is famous for its lakes. Dal Lake and its houseboats are famous all over the world. Another well-known lake here is the Nagin Lake. There are number of gardens here, including Mughal Gardens, Chasma Shahi, Pari Mahal, Nishat Bagh, and more. Outside the city, there is the 1619 built Shalimar Gardens.
The best time to visit Hemis is between May and September, when the weather is pleasant. Most of the trekking routes and passage to jeep safari are closed after November due to heavy snowfall.
How to Reach
The nearest airport is Leh, which is connected by Indian Airlines to Delhi, Chandigarh, Srinagar, and Jammu.
The nearest railhead is Jammu, situated at a distance of around 690 km. Jammu is connected to all parts of India.
Buses regularly ply on the Leh-Hemis National Park route. Leh is accessible from all the major cities of J&K. There are buses daily from Srinagar that goes via Kargil to reach Leh. However, the Leh-Srinagar national highway (NH) officially opens from May 15 to November 15. Alternate route is Manali-Leh, which is open from mid-June to early October. From Manali, one can also hire a taxi to reach Leh.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
No hotels are available inside the park, however homestay facilities are available in the six villages that fall within the precincts of the park: Rumbak, Kaya, Sku, Shingo, Urutse and Chilling. This apart, the Hemis Monastery also gives out rooms to tourists.
Where to Eat
Options to eat are limited. It is advisable to carry food. Hemis Monastery does provide food to visitors. It also follows the tradition of offering butter tea to the visitors. Locals do also provide meals.