If you have been wondering about the largest national park in India then this post is a must-read for you.
In this post, we will show you data and information about it in an easily consumable manner.
So first, let’s answer the question for which you are here.
Which is the largest national park in India?
The Hemis National Park covering an area of about 4,400 sq. km is the largest national park in India. It is located at a height of about 19,600 feet in the eastern Ladakh region in the Jammu & Kashmir state of India. This park is also well-known as the famous habitat of the rare Snow Leopards found here.
In the year 1981, the Hemis National Park was first founded with a starting covering area of about 600 sq. km by taking the Rumbak and Markha Valley catchments within its boundary.
Then by the year 1988, the area of this park increased to around 3,350 sq. km by including the areas of neighboring lands and other catchment areas of the nearby valleys.
Thereafter, it again grew in the year 1990 and finally became 4,400 sq km.
And, this led the Hemis National Park into becoming not only the largest national park in India but also the largest in the whole of South Asia.
Not only this, but Hemis National Park is also known to be the highest national park in the world.
This park is also a well-known habitat of more than 200 Snow Leopards. It is also the habitat of 15 species of mammals and approximately 75 species of birds which also include some of the rare migratory birds.
Globally famous for its snow leopards, it is believed to have the highest density of them than in any other protected area in the world.
Let’s Know A Bit About The Largest National Park in India.
Amongst all the other national parks in India, the Hemis National Park is the only one which is situated to the North of the great Himalayas and has the largest protected area. Let’s learn what’s so wonderful about it.
So, without any further ado, let’s get started…
Here are the interesting things about Hemis National Park.
#1. It’s geography
This park lies within the Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau of the Alpine steppe eco-region and is equipped with pine forests, alpine shrublands and meadows, and alpine tundra type of vegetation.
Speaking about its location, it can be seen located between 3,000 to 4,000 meters height in Leh district of Ladakh of Jammu & Kashmir state.
The normal altitude of this park just starts from 9,800 feet above the sea level and ranges till the altitude of about 19,000 feet above the sea level.
The National Park is situated at the bank of Indus river and includes the catchments areas of Markha, Sumdah, and Rumbak Valley.
This very high altitude protected region was established in the year 1981 in the eastern section of Ladakh- a cold desert of India.
This region is composed of stony and quite thin soil type of land offering a very-weak vegetative growth.
Growth of the grasses can be observed during the summer months after the snow starts melting.
#2. There are 4 different areas in the park
This park is so huge that it is composed of four different zones. These are the (i) Mountainous Zone (ii) Sub-Humid Zone (iii) Dense-Dry Forest Zone (iv) Vegetational Zone
(i) MOUNTAINOUS ZONE: This zone receives very high snowfall throughout the year. It has very little vegetation in this zone of the park. During the summer season, flooding is the most common in this region due to the condensation of glaciers. A few snow leopards can be witnessed here but sometimes the chances get almost nil.
(ii) SUB-HUMID ZONE: This zone is also known as the rain-shadow zone. Rainfall is very scarce in this region. This sub-humid area is covered with small shrubs and trees. A few small mammals can be seen in this region of the national park. Sometimes, great views of the snow leopard can also be witnessed here.
(iii) DENSE-DRY FOREST ZONE: This zone is also known as the rain-shadow zone. This sub-humid area is covered with small shrubs and trees. In this dense dry forest region, you can spot numerous animals, birds, and the very famous snow leopard. This zone has the facilities for exploration, sightseeing, and accommodation in the very famous 400-years old Hemis monastery.
(iv) VEGETATIONAL ZONE: This zone is the most easily reached zone and is very rich in vegetation and forests. Various trekking and camping routes of Leh, Ladakh passes through this zone. It is rich in bio-diversity. You can spot many animals and birds near the water sources. Beautiful rivers of the region and streams have put down a deep sand deposit on their respective banks in this zone making the soil fertile for agriculture purposes.
#3. It’s the habitat of a wide bio-diversity
The bio-diversity of the cold part of north India can be seen here at its max. This park is the home to a huge number of species of endangered mammals, including the snow leopard.
Hemis National Park is India’s protected area inside the Palearctic zone which is one of the eight biogeographic eco-zone on the Earth’s surface.
It’s the major habitat of:
(i) BIRDS: Golden Eagle, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Lammergeier Vulture, Tibetan Snow Finch, Robin Accentor, Brown Accentor, Tickell’s and Streaked-leaf Warbler, Fork-tailed Swift, Fire-Fronter Serin, Himalayan Snowcock, Chukar, Red-billed Chough, etc.
(ii) PLANTS: Anemone, Gentiana, Thallctrwn, Lloydia, Veronica, Delphinium, Kobresia, Caragana, Artemisia, Stachys, Ephedra, Junipers, Myricaria, Poplar, Salix, Birch, Astragalus, Taraxacum, Leortopodium, etc.
(iii) ANIMALS: Snow Leopard, Great Tibetan Sheep, Bharal, Asiatic Ibex, The Tibetan Wolf, Red Fox, Eurasian Brown Bear, Himalayan Marmot, Mountain Weasel, Mountain Mouse Hare, Tibetan wolf, Eurasian brown bear, etc.
#4. The largest monastic institution of Ladakh is situated here
Yes! we are specifically talking about the Hemis monastery. Hemis Monastery is a very famous 400-years old Himalayan Buddhist monastery located in Hemis Village of Leh-Ladakh, India.
Situated in the Hemis village of the Hemis National Park, this monastery provides sightseeing and accommodation facilities in the park for the tourists visiting there.
This monastery is also the largest monastic institution of Ladakh that shares Buddhists knowledge and learning to monks living there.
About more than one-hundred monks reside inside the monastery. This monastery is also famous for the Hemis festival, which takes place in the summer season from June 23rd to June 24th every year.
Another one is the Spituk festival which falls during the January month every year.
Spituk Festival held in the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar for about two weeks. The monks play masked dances representing goodness over bad. They also perform stories depicting the life span of Buddha.
#5. More than 13 villages are located here
In fact, it is to be noted that the vast tracts of sparse grasslands, shrubs covering regions, and small patches of trees can be seen in the bottom valley, covering about 10% of the total land.
You can find a few tribal villages inside the park and livestock is common near the villages.
The alluvial soil down in the valley has made it possible for human civilization to survive.
This valley bottom is the place more than 13 villages can be seen. These sparsely located villages are Hemis, Rumbak, Shey, Yurutse, Kaya, Shukpachan, Skiu, Skiumarkha, Sumdah, Shingo, Zinchan, Chuchat Gongma, Hankar, Chuchat Yakma, Chuchat shama, Chilling, etc.
These villages are home to about 16000 people and their livestock. The majority of the people are mostly Buddhists. Several gompas and Buddhist shrines are also located within the park.
Their livestock mostly consists of poultry, goats, and sheep. These often cause considerable animal-human conflict within the region.
Snow leopards prey on livestock, occasionally killing many animals from one flock in a single hunt. Crop damage brought on by Bharal has also been observed here.