Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarakhand

kedarnath wildlife sanctuary

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ABOUT of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary

In the Indian state of Uttarakhandthere is protected area called the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. It is situated in the Garhwal Himalayas and encompasses a diverse range of ecosystems, including forests, alpine meadows, and glaciers. The sanctuary is named after the famous Kedarnath Temple, which is an important Hindu pilgrimage site

Here are some key points about the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary:

Location: The sanctuary is located in the Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts of Uttarakhand, covering an area of approximately 975 square kilometers.

Biodiversity: Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is known for its rich biodiversity. It is home to various species of flora and fauna, including several rare and endangered species. The sanctuary provides habitat for animals like Himalayan tahr, snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan monal (the state bird of Uttarakhand), and various species of pheasants and other birds.

Vegetation: The sanctuary’s vegetation varies with altitude. The lower elevations are dominated by subtropical forests consisting of oak, rhododendron, and pine trees. As you ascend, you’ll find coniferous forests, alpine meadows, and eventually, barren rocky landscapes.

Glaciers and Rivers: The sanctuary is also the source of several important rivers and tributaries, including the Mandakini, Alaknanda, and Bhagirathi rivers. Additionally, it contains numerous glaciers that contribute to the water resources of the region.

Importance: Besides its ecological significance, the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary holds cultural and religious importance due to its proximity to the revered Kedarnath Temple. The sanctuary and its surroundings are often visited by tourists and pilgrims alike.

Challenges: The sanctuary faces various challenges, including habitat degradation due to human activities such as tourism, pilgrimage, and infrastructure development. Ensuring the balance between conservation efforts and human activities is crucial to preserve its delicate ecosystem.

Conservation: The sanctuary is managed by the Uttarakhand Forest Department and various conservation organizations. Efforts are being made to protect the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the area through sustainable management practices and community involvement.

History of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary:

The history of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is intertwined with the region’s cultural and ecological evolution. Established in 1972 under the Wildlife Protection Act, the sanctuary was aimed at safeguarding the rich biodiversity and ecosystems of the area. Initially spanning a smaller area, it was later expanded to its current size in 2005 to provide a more comprehensive protective cover to the region’s delicate ecology.

  • Established in 1972 under the Wildlife Protection Act to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • Expanded in 2005 to offer enhanced protection to the area’s ecology.

Mythology of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary:

The sanctuary’s mythology adds an enchanting layer to its allure. According to local legends, the Kedarnath region is closely linked to the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. The Kedarnath Temple, a revered pilgrimage site dedicated to Lord Shiva, lies within the sanctuary’s vicinity. It is believed that after the great Kurukshetra war, Lord Shiva eluded the Pandavas and took refuge in Kedarnath in the form of a bull. The temple was constructed at the spot where his hump was found. This mythology not only adds spiritual significance but also enhances the sanctuary’s cultural and historical value.

  • Linked to the Hindu deity Lord Shiva.
  • The Kedarnath Temple within the sanctuary holds spiritual significance.
  • Myth states Lord Shiva sought refuge here after the Kurukshetra war.

Flora and Fauna:

The sanctuary boasts a remarkable variety of flora and fauna. From lush alpine meadows to dense coniferous forests, it houses an impressive array of plant species. You can find rhododendrons painting the landscape with vibrant hues, while medicinal herbs like kutki and brahmi offer their healing properties. The sanctuary is also home to an assortment of fauna, including the elusive snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, musk deer, and a plethora of avian species. It serves as a crucial habitat for these creatures, ensuring their survival in the face of modern challenges.


  1. Himalayan Cedar (Deodar): These majestic evergreen trees are a hallmark of the sanctuary’s forested areas. They provide essential habitat and cover for various wildlife species.
  2. Rhododendron: The sanctuary is home to various species of rhododendron, which paint the landscape with vibrant colors during their blooming season.
  3. Birch Trees: Different species of birch trees, such as Himalayan Birch, can be found in the sanctuary. They are known for their distinctive white bark.
  4. Fir Trees: Various types of fir trees, including Himalayan Silver Fir, are part of the sanctuary’s forest ecosystem.
  5. Juniper: Juniper bushes and trees are common in the lower elevations of the sanctuary.
  6. Alpine Meadows: Higher elevations feature alpine meadows adorned with a variety of wildflowers and grasses.


  1. Himalayan Tahr: This iconic mountain ungulate is well adapted to the steep terrain and can be seen grazing on the slopes.
  2. Snow Leopard: While elusive and rare to spot, the sanctuary provides habitat for snow leopards, one of the most elusive and endangered big cats.
  3. Himalayan Musk Deer: Known for its musk gland, this deer species inhabits the sanctuary’s forests.
  4. Himalayan Monal: The state bird of Uttarakhand, this strikingly colorful pheasant is found in the region.
  5. Black Bear: The sanctuary is also home to the Himalayan black bear.
  6. Red Fox: This adaptable predator is found across a range of elevations in the sanctuary.
  7. Koklass Pheasant: Another pheasant species found in the sanctuary, known for its distinctive call.
  8. Golden Eagle: Among the various bird species, the golden eagle soars the skies, preying on smaller mammals and birds.
  9. Himalayan Palm Civet: A small, nocturnal mammal that inhabits the sanctuary’s forests.
  10. Various Butterflies: The sanctuary is also home to a diverse array of butterflies, adding to its biodiversity.

The Architecture of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary:

The architectural features of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary are primarily influenced by its natural landscape and the need for sustainable coexistence with the diverse flora and fauna within its bounds. The sanctuary’s management focuses on creating minimal human impact while facilitating research, education, and ecotourism. Architectural elements include:

  • Visitor Centers: Strategically located visitor centers serve as entry points to the sanctuary, offering information about its ecological significance and guidelines for responsible exploration.
  • Nature Trails: Carefully designed and marked nature trails allow visitors to experience the sanctuary’s biodiversity while minimizing disturbance to the habitats.
  • Research Stations: Architecturally designed research stations provide a base for scientists to study the wildlife and ecosystems, contributing to conservation efforts.
  • Observation Platforms: Elevated platforms are constructed at select viewpoints, offering visitors unobtrusive opportunities to observe wildlife and appreciate the sanctuary’s natural beauty.
  • Rest Areas: Thoughtfully positioned rest areas ensure that visitors can take breaks without impacting sensitive habitats.

Geography of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary:

The Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, encompassing a diverse range of geographical features that contribute to its rich biodiversity and scenic beauty.

  • Elevation Variation: The sanctuary spans an elevation range from around 1,200 meters to over 7,000 meters, encompassing diverse ecosystems from subtropical forests to alpine meadows.
  • Mountain Ranges: It is nestled within the Garhwal Himalayas, with the majestic peaks of Chaukhamba, Kedarnath, and others forming its dramatic backdrop.
  • River Systems: The sanctuary is crisscrossed by various rivers and streams, including the Mandakini River, which adds to the complexity of habitats and supports diverse aquatic life.
  • Valleys and Slopes: The sanctuary features deep valleys, steep slopes, and rugged terrain, contributing to its challenging yet picturesque landscape.

The Climate of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary:

The climate of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is strongly influenced by its elevation and Himalayan location, resulting in distinct climatic zones that shape its ecosystems.

  • Subtropical Zone: Lower elevations experience a subtropical climate with warm summers and mild winters, fostering lush forests and diverse vegetation.
  • Temperate Zone: Mid-elevations feature a temperate climate, with cooler temperatures and a mix of coniferous and broad-leaved forests.
  • Alpine Zone: Higher elevations exhibit an alpine climate with cold temperatures, heavy snowfall, and shorter growing seasons, giving rise to alpine meadows and hardy vegetation.
  • Seasonal Variation: The sanctuary experiences marked seasonal changes, with monsoon rains from June to September, winter snowfall from December to February, and pleasant summers from March to May.
  • Climate Change Impact: Like many other sensitive regions, the sanctuary is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including shifts in vegetation zones, altered animal behavior, and changing water availability.

Why Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is famous

  • Biodiversity Gem: The Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, situated in Uttarakhand’s Himalayas, has earned its fame as a precious repository of biodiversity. Its expansive span, covering around 975 square kilometers, is a sanctuary for diverse life forms and natural wonders.
  • Cultural and Ecological Importance: This sanctuary’s eminence extends beyond its ecological richness. It holds cultural significance due to its proximity to the revered Kedarnath Temple, which attracts pilgrims seeking both spiritual solace and communion with nature.
  • Origin of Vital Rivers: The sanctuary’s glaciers are the origin of vital rivers like Mandakini and Alaknanda, serving as lifelines for ecosystems and communities downstream.

Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary travel guide

In the Indian state of Uttarakhand is the magnificent and biologically varied Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. It is known for its lush forests, diverse flora and fauna, and breathtaking landscapes. If you’re planning to visit the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, here’s a travel guide to help you make the most of your trip:

Things to Know about Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Varied Wildlife: Within its precincts, the sanctuary shelters a remarkable range of wildlife. From the elusive snow leopard and Himalayan tahr to the vibrant monal pheasant, the sanctuary is a haven for numerous threatened species, contributing to conservation efforts.
  • Floral Diversity: The sanctuary’s verdant tapestry encompasses diverse flora, spanning from alpine meadows to dense woodlands. The region’s repertoire of medicinal plants and herbs further underscores its ecological value.
  • Elevation Spectrum: With an elevation spanning from around 1,200 meters to over 7,000 meters, the sanctuary traverses various altitudes, each fostering distinct ecosystems. This elevation gradient underpins the sanctuary’s rich biodiversity.

Things to do in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Trekking and Wilderness Sojourn: The sanctuary beckons adventure enthusiasts with its splendid trekking routes. Exploring these trails unveils breathtaking vistas and opportunities to witness indigenous wildlife in its natural habitat. Camping beneath starlit skies is an unforgettable experience.
  • Nature Photography: Photography enthusiasts can capture the sanctuary’s enchanting landscapes, diverse flora, and elusive fauna. Every frame narrates a unique story of nature’s artistry.
  • Spiritual Communion: Beyond its ecological marvels, the sanctuary offers a serene space for spiritual contemplation. The tranquil environment complements the sanctity of the nearby Kedarnath Temple, inviting visitors to introspect and connect with their inner selves.
  • Avian Delight: Birdwatchers can revel in spotting a plethora of avian species. The resplendent monal pheasant, an emblem of the Himalayas, graces the sanctuary with its vibrant presence.

Exploring the Enchanting Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary

Nestled in the pristine lap of the Himalayas, the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary beckons nature enthusiasts and wildlife aficionados with its untouched beauty and diverse flora and fauna. This sanctuary, situated in the Uttarakhand region of India, offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the serenity of nature while observing a wide array of wildlife species in their natural habitat.

Top Reasons to Visit Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary:

  1. Biodiversity Galore: The sanctuary boasts an incredible variety of flora and fauna, making it a paradise for nature lovers. From majestic Himalayan species like snow leopards and musk deer to numerous bird species, the sanctuary offers a chance to witness nature’s diversity up close.
  2. Scenic Landscapes: The sanctuary is surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, including lush meadows, dense forests, and snow-capped peaks. It’s a haven for trekkers and adventure seekers, providing stunning views and unforgettable experiences.
  3. Spiritual Connection: For those seeking a blend of spirituality and nature, the sanctuary is located in close proximity to the revered Kedarnath Temple. This offers a unique opportunity to experience both natural beauty and spiritual serenity.
  4. Photographer’s Delight: With its diverse wildlife and picturesque landscapes, the sanctuary is a paradise for photographers. Capturing rare animal sightings and the ever-changing play of light on the mountains becomes a truly rewarding experience.

Best Time to Explore:

The best time to visit the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is during the summer months, from May to June, and the post-monsoon period, from September to November. During these periods, the weather is pleasant, and the wildlife is relatively active. The summer months provide a chance to escape the scorching heat of the plains, while the post-monsoon season showcases the lush rejuvenation of the ecosystem.

Summer Months (May to June): During the summer, Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary experiences a milder climate compared to the scorching heat of the plains. The snow begins to melt, revealing the sanctuary’s verdant landscapes and rejuvenated flora. This period is especially attractive for those seeking respite from the heat and a chance to witness the sanctuary’s diverse wildlife.

  • Weather Delight: The weather is pleasantly cool during these months, making it an ideal time for outdoor exploration. The daytime temperatures are moderate, ensuring comfortable hiking and wildlife spotting experiences.
  • Flourishing Wildlife: As the snow recedes, the sanctuary’s wildlife becomes more active. Various animal species, including the elusive snow leopards, Himalayan tahr, and musk deer, venture out to bask in the warmer weather, enhancing your chances of spotting them.
  • Lush Greenery: The meadows and forests come to life with vibrant foliage and blooming flowers, creating picturesque landscapes perfect for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

Post-Monsoon Months (September to November): The post-monsoon months also hold their own charm, drawing visitors with unique experiences that showcase the sanctuary’s diverse beauty.

  • Spectacular Transition: After the monsoon rains, the sanctuary transforms into a lush paradise, with newly sprouted vegetation adding a fresh green hue to the surroundings. Views of the Himalayan peaks are crystal clear thanks to the fresh, pure air.
  • Wildlife Activity: This period marks the breeding season for many wildlife species. The increased wildlife activity, along with the backdrop of autumn colors, creates a captivating atmosphere for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.
  • Less Crowded: Compared to the peak summer tourist season, the post-monsoon period sees fewer visitors, allowing for a more serene and intimate experience with nature. Trails and viewpoints are less crowded, providing a peaceful setting for exploration.

Planning Your Stay:

  1. Accommodation: The nearby town of Kedarnath offers a range of accommodation options, including hotels, lodges, and guesthouses. For a more immersive experience, camping within designated areas can be a great choice, allowing you to truly connect with nature.
  2. Permits and Guides: It’s important to obtain the necessary permits from the forest department before entering the sanctuary. Engaging a local guide can enhance your experience, as they are familiar with the terrain, wildlife habits, and can ensure your safety.
  3. Packing Essentials: Due to the varying altitude and changing weather conditions, pack layers of clothing, sturdy footwear, rain gear, and essential medications. Don’t forget your camera, binoculars, and a field guidebook to enhance your wildlife spotting experience.

Reaching Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary:

To reach the picturesque Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, situated in the lap of the majestic Himalayas, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Your Mode of Transport: Depending on your location and preferences, you can reach the sanctuary via air, rail, or road. Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the closest airport. To go to the sanctuary from there, take bus or order taxi. The closest railway station is Rishikesh, which is well-connected to major cities in India. You can also drive to the sanctuary if you prefer a road trip.
  2. Road Journey: If you’re traveling by road, you can take the National Highway 58 that connects Delhi to Badrinath. The sanctuary is approximately 223 kilometers from Rishikesh and can be reached by a scenic drive.
  3. Base Camp: Gaurikund is the base camp for Kedarnath and the sanctuary is accessible from there. It’s well-connected by road, and you can either trek or take a horse or palanquin ride to the sanctuary entrance.

Tips For Visiting Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary:

When planning a visit to the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, keep the following tips in mind for a smooth and memorable experience:

  1. Weather and Clothing: The weather can be unpredictable, so pack layers of clothing that can be easily added or removed. Be prepared for sudden changes in temperature, especially during the evening.
  2. Permits and Permissions: Obtain the necessary permits and permissions before entering the sanctuary. These can be acquired in advance from the forest department or at the entry point.
  3. Guided Tours: Consider hiring a local guide who is familiar with the sanctuary. They can provide valuable insights about the flora, fauna, and the best trails to explore.
  4. Photography and Binoculars: Don’t forget your camera and binoculars to capture the stunning landscapes and spot wildlife. However, avoid using flash photography to prevent disturbing the animals.
  5. Stay and Accommodation: If you’re planning an extended stay, book accommodations well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. There are guesthouses and lodges available in nearby towns like Gaurikund.

Places to Eat near Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary:

While exploring the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, you’ll find a few eateries and options for local cuisine nearby:

  1. Local Eateries: Around the sanctuary and nearby towns, you’ll come across local eateries that offer simple yet delicious Garhwali cuisine. Don’t pass up the chance to sample regional specialties.
  2. Snacks and Refreshments: Carry some energy bars, nuts, and bottled water for your treks and explorations within the sanctuary. These will keep you energized throughout the day.
  3. Town Restaurants: In towns like Gaurikund and nearby areas, there are small restaurants and food stalls where you can enjoy a variety of North Indian dishes.
  4. Personal Picnics: Many areas within the sanctuary are perfect for a picnic. Pack your own meals and enjoy a scenic lunch amidst the natural beauty.
  5. Resort and Lodge Dining: If you’re staying at a resort or lodge, they often have in-house restaurants serving a mix of local and popular Indian dishes.

Top Places to Visit Near Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary:

While exploring the captivating Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, you’ll find a wealth of other enchanting destinations nearby. Some of the best locations to visit include those listed below:

  1. Kedarnath Temple: The famous Kedarnath Temple is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites for Hindus. Nestled against the backdrop of towering mountains, this ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is a spiritual haven and a remarkable architectural marvel.
  2. Chopta: Often referred to as the “Mini Switzerland of India,” Chopta is a serene hill station renowned for its lush meadows and panoramic views of the Himalayas. It’s a great place for trekking and offers a gateway to the Tungnath Temple, one of the Panch Kedar temples.
  3. Tungnath Temple: This temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the highest Shiva temple in the world. It’s a significant part of the Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks.
  4. Deoria Tal: Deoria Tal is a pristine alpine lake that offers stunning reflections of the Chaukhamba range on its surface. The trek to this tranquil spot is relatively easy and rewards trekkers with captivating vistas.
  5. Rudraprayag: Situated at the confluence of the Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers, Rudraprayag is a sacred town with a spiritual aura. The suspension bridge over the river adds to the picturesque charm of the place.
  6. Madhyamaheshwar Temple: Another temple in the Panch Kedar circuit, the Madhyamaheshwar Temple is known for its distinctive architecture and serene surroundings. The trek to the temple takes you through lush forests and offers a deep connection with nature.
  7. Kalimath: This revered religious site is dedicated to the goddess Kali. It’s a place of both spiritual significance and natural beauty, located amidst tranquil landscapes.
  8. Gaurikund: The starting point for the trek to Kedarnath Temple, Gaurikund is famous for its hot springs and the Gauri Devi Temple. The town also serves as a base for various treks in the region.
  9. Triyuginarayan Temple: Linked to Hindu mythology, this temple is believed to be the spot where Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati tied the knot. The peaceful ambiance and scenic surroundings make it an appealing destination.
  10. Ukhimath: Ukhimath is a significant religious center and is often referred to as the “Winter Kedarnath.” It’s the place where the deity of Kedarnath is worshipped during the winter months when the Kedarnath Temple is closed.


In conclusion, the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary stands as a remarkable testament to the diverse and fragile ecosystems that thrive within the majestic Himalayan landscape. This sanctuary not only shelters an array of endangered and indigenous species but also provides an invaluable opportunity for scientific research, conservation efforts, and eco-tourism. As visitors, researchers, and conservationists continue to engage with this sanctuary, it is imperative that we uphold our responsibility to preserve its pristine environment for future generations. By respecting the delicate balance of nature within the sanctuary and supporting sustainable practices, we can ensure the continued flourishing of its rich biodiversity and contribute to the global efforts of environmental protection.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) :

1. What is the location of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary?

The Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. It encompasses areas near the revered Kedarnath Temple and extends to parts of the Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts.

2. What types of wildlife can be found in the sanctuary?

The sanctuary is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including Himalayan tahr, snow leopards, musk deer, monal pheasants, and numerous species of butterflies and birds. It provides a habitat for many endangered and rare species.

3. Can visitors access the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary?

Yes, the sanctuary is open to visitors who are interested in exploring its natural beauty and observing its wildlife. However, entry and activities are regulated to minimize human impact on the ecosystem.

4. How does the sanctuary contribute to conservation efforts?

The Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary plays a crucial role in conserving biodiversity by providing a protected environment for various species. It also supports research initiatives aimed at understanding and preserving Himalayan ecosystems.

5. What measures are in place to ensure the sanctuary’s protection?

To safeguard the sanctuary’s ecological balance, authorities have implemented regulations on activities like trekking and construction. Additionally, awareness campaigns and community involvement are integral to maintaining the sanctuary’s integrity.

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