About 4400 sq km is the area where the main attraction of Ladakh is spread. We are talking about the famous Hemis National Park which is named after the popular monastery in the area of Hemis Monastery. The extremely rare species of wildlife is the reason for its global recognition. Bharals and snow leopards are examples of the collection of undiscovered animals found in Hemis National Park. The park is situated on the west bank of the Indus River.
Animals, flora, birds, and nature in and around the park are highly protected areas and it is the only place in India where protected snow leopards are seen in abundance. With the discovery of the park in 1981, the Rumbak and Markha catchment areas were found protected and increased to 4400 km in 1990, becoming the largest national park in South Asia. The Argali or Great Tibetan Sheep, Shapu, etc. are advocates of hunter-gatherers in Hemis.
Asiatic Ibex, Tibetan wolf, Eurasian brown bear, and red fox are some of the endangered species that were found earlier and some are still present in the park. The significant problem faced by the park is regular animal-human conflict as over 1600 people are living within the park’s boundaries, mainly pastoralists living with poultry, goats, and sheep.
Altitude: The altitude at which the park exists is 3000-6000 meters above sea level.
Location: The park is located at a distance of about 5 km from Leh and Leh airport is the nearest airport to the park.
Best time to visit: Several trekking routes are opened from mid-June to mid-October to reach the park. But the best season to see snow leopards is certainly in late winter.
About Hemis National Park Ladakh
Hemis National Park is a famous wildlife spot in Ladakh that is famous for its high population of snow leopards and a wide variety of birds. It is the second-largest continuous protected area in India after Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. Spread over an area of 3,350 square kilometers, the park is a must-see not only for wildlife enthusiasts, but also for photographers and trekkers, and there are opportunities for both.
Flora in Hemis National Park
Hemis National Park does not receive much rainfall throughout the year, as it is located in the rain shadow region of the Himalayas. Therefore, the park is dotted with dry forests, with deodars being present at lower elevations.
The most commonly found trees are alpine and steppe, with their lowlands dominated by plant species that require little moisture, including juniper, fir, and dry birch. The park is also home to many rare and endangered medicinal plants.
Fauna in Hemis
Hemis National Park is famous for its rich wildlife, including animals that are endangered and found especially in high-altitude areas. The park is home to 16 mammal species and 73 bird species.
Some of the high-altitude animals that you can spot in this park are Bharal (Blue Sheep), Shapu (Ladakhi Urial), Himalayan Marmot, Himalayan Mouse Hare, and the main attraction, Snow Leopard. Other animals that can be seen inside the park are Eurasian Brown Bear, Red Fox, and Tibetan Wolf.
Bird lovers should also not miss a chance to visit Hemis National Park during their trip to Ladakh. It is home to a wide variety of birds, some of the famous ones being the Golden Eagle, Lammergeier Vulture, Robin Accentor, Streaked Rosefinch, Red-billed Chow, and Fire-fronted Serine.
Other Attractions within National Park
Hemis Monastery: Hemis Monastery is one of the richest monasteries in Ladakh. Located at a distance of about 45 kilometers from the capital Leh, it is known for hosting the Hemis Festival, which is celebrated over a span of 2 days. The festival is marked by the hoisting of thangka (Buddhist painting) and cham (a masked dance performed by monks).
Ganda La: Ganda La, also known as Kanda La, is a high mountain pass located within the premises of Hemis National Park. It connects the villages of Markha Valley with Leh and is often used by the local people.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hemis
Q. Is Hemis National Park worth visiting?
A – Hemis National Park is famous for many reasons. Apart from the fact that this national park in Ladakh is home to a plethora of species of animals and birds, the park is a must-visit because of the serene environment and the splendid views it offers; This will be a treat for your eyes.
Q. What is Hemis famous for in Ladakh?
A – It is located in Kharu Tehsil, 40 km south-east of Leh city. Hemis is famous for the Hemis Monastery which was established in 1672 AD by King Sengge Namgyal. The village hosts a colorful festival held in July. It is close to Hemis National Park, an area that is home to the endangered snow leopard.
Q. What animals are found in Hemis National Park?
A – The park is a protected home to endangered mammals such as the leopard, Asian ibex, Tibetan wolf, Eurasian brown bear, and red fox. The park boasts of 200 leopards and is the only habitat of the Shapu or Ladakhi urial in India.
Q. Is Hemis National Park open now?
A – Tourists are allowed to visit the park from 9 am to 5 pm. The park is open throughout the week.
Q. Can we stay in Hemis National Park?
A – Hemis National Park may provide you with thrilling adventures, but it will not provide you with a parking lot and a tempting breakfast. However, you can stay inside the monastery. There are backcountry camps near the park. Hotels can be found a short distance from the park.
Q. Which river flows through Hemis National Park?
A – The Markha River is located within the Hemis National Park. The Markha Valley is one of the most popular trekking routes in Ladakh, accessible from the Ganda La pass near Spituk in the west, which is usually the starting point of the trek, and the Gongmaru La pass near Hemis, where treks usually take place.
Q. Which animal is protected in Hemis National Park?
A – Hemis National Park: Snow Leopard Symbol of Conservation. Officially called Hemis High-Altitude National Park, it is the largest protected area in India and also the largest in Asia. Recently completed camera trapping surveys have placed the snow leopard population at around 40-50 individuals.
Q. How many snow leopards are there in Hemis National Park?
A – Hemis National Park. This high-altitude park is located in the Himalayan Stok Range. It is home to about 200 snow leopards, the highest density of any protected area in the world, with the Hsing, Tarbun, and Rumbak valleys hunting regularly.