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13 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries
Uttarakhand is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. With its diverse landscapes, ranging from snow-capped mountains to lush green valleys, Uttarakhand boasts a rich biodiversity that is preserved in its numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. In this article, we will take you on a virtual tour of 13 remarkable national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Uttarakhand, each offering a unique and captivating experience.
1. Jim Corbett National Park
- Established: 1936
- Area: 1,318.54 square kilometers
- Notable Species: Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, leopard, over 600 bird species
Jim Corbett National Park, named after the renowned hunter and conservationist Jim Corbett, is India’s oldest national park. Spanning across the Nainital, Pauri Garhwal, and Almora districts, it offers a rich biodiversity and remarkable landscapes, making it a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts.
2. Valley of Flowers National Park
- Established: 1982
- Area: 87.50 square kilometers
- Notable Species: Snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, Brahma Kamal, various alpine flowers
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Valley of Flowers National Park is an enchanting meadow nestled in the West Himalayas. Bursting with vibrant alpine flowers during the monsoon season, this park is a visual spectacle and a habitat for rare fauna.
3. Nanda Devi National Park
- Established: 1982
- Area: 630.33 square kilometers
- Notable Species: Snow leopard, Himalayan musk deer, blue sheep, Himalayan monal
Encompassing the Nanda Devi Peak, the second highest mountain in India, this national park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is renowned for its unique biodiversity and serves as a sanctuary for endangered and rare species.
4. Rajaji National Park
- Established: 1983
- Area: 820.42 square kilometers
- Notable Species: Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, leopard, Himalayan yellow-throated marten
Named after C. Rajagopalachari, the last Governor-General of India, Rajaji National Park is spread across the Dehradun, Haridwar, and Pauri Garhwal districts. It’s a significant hub for wildlife conservation, preserving both flora and fauna.
5. Govind Wildlife Sanctuary
- Established: 1955
- Area: 953.07 square kilometers
- Notable Species: Snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, black bear, variety of medicinal plants
Located in the Uttarkashi district, Govind Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for nature lovers. Its diverse landscapes, including glaciers and alpine meadows, offer a natural habitat for rare and endangered species.
6. Asan Conservation Reserve
- Established: 2005
- Area: 4.44 square kilometers
- Notable Species: Migratory birds, various aquatic life
Situated along the Asan River, this conservation reserve is a birdwatcher’s paradise. It’s a crucial stopover point for migratory birds, making it an ideal location for bird enthusiasts and photographers.
7. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Established: 1988
- Area: 46.20 square kilometers
- Notable Species: Leopard, black bear, pine marten, variety of bird species
Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, perched on the Jhandi Dhar hills, offers panoramic views of the Himalayas. Besides its breathtaking vistas, it hosts a rich biodiversity, making it a favorite spot for trekkers and wildlife photographers.
8. Gangotri National Park
- Established: 1989
- Area: 2,390.02 square kilometers
- Notable Species: Snow leopard, Himalayan blue sheep, Himalayan monal, various alpine flora
Gangotri National Park, the origin of the Ganges River, is a place of spiritual importance and ecological significance. Its varied landscapes provide a habitat for diverse wildlife, offering a unique experience for nature enthusiasts.
9. Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
- Established: 1972
- Area: 975 square kilometers
- Notable Species: Himalayan serow, musk deer, snow leopard, various medicinal plants
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for wildlife and plant enthusiasts. It’s a sanctuary of serenity and biodiversity, preserving endangered species and medicinal herbs.
10. Askot Wildlife Sanctuary
- Established: 1986
- Area: 600 square kilometers
- Notable Species: Snow leopard, brown bear, musk deer, variety of bird species
Nestled in the Pithoragarh district, Askot Wildlife Sanctuary is not just a sanctuary for rare animals but also a visual delight for nature lovers. Its forests and mountains offer a picturesque backdrop for the diverse wildlife that inhabits the area.
11. Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary
- Established: Part of Rajaji National Park
- Area: Part of the 820.42 square kilometers of Rajaji National Park
- Notable Species: Asian elephant, various bird species, Bengal tiger, leopard
Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary, a component of Rajaji National Park, is an important part of Uttarakhand’s wildlife conservation efforts. It’s a vital corridor for the movement of animals and offers a delightful experience for birdwatchers.
12. Benog Wildlife Sanctuary
- Established: Not specified
- Area: Not specified
- Notable Species: Mountain quail, various pheasants, variety of flora
Located near Mussoorie, Benog Wildlife Sanctuary is a charming retreat for bird enthusiasts. Its trails offer glimpses of rare avian species amidst the serene Himalayan landscapes, making it a peaceful escape for nature lovers.
13. Darma Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
- Established: Not specified
- Area: Not specified
- Notable Species: Red panda, various bird species, alpine flora
Darma Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Dharchula region, is a hidden gem in Uttarakhand. It’s a sanctuary for the endangered red panda, offering a unique opportunity to witness these elusive creatures in their natural habitat.
Uttarakhand’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are not just protected areas; they are living museums of nature’s splendor. Exploring these sanctuaries not only allows you to witness the diverse wildlife of the region but also offers an opportunity to connect with the pristine beauty of the Himalayas. Each sanctuary and park has a unique story to tell, making Uttarakhand a must-visit destination for every nature lover and adventurer.
FAQs Related to National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries of Uttarakhand
1. What is the best time to visit Uttarakhand’s National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries?
The best time to visit Uttarakhand’s National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries is during the months of March to June and September to November. During these periods, the weather is pleasant, and wildlife sightings are more frequent due to the moderate temperatures and lush vegetation.
2. Are there accommodations available within these sanctuaries?
Yes, most of Uttarakhand’s National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries offer accommodation options ranging from forest rest houses to eco-friendly resorts. It’s advisable to book your stay in advance, especially during the peak tourist seasons, to ensure availability.
3. What precautions should visitors take during their wildlife safari?
Visitors should adhere to the guidelines provided by the park authorities. It’s crucial to maintain silence during safaris to avoid disturbing the wildlife. Also, following safety protocols, such as staying inside the vehicle and not feeding the animals, ensures a safe and enjoyable safari experience.
4. Can visitors engage in trekking and other adventure activities within these sanctuaries?
Yes, many of these sanctuaries offer trekking opportunities and other adventure activities, but it’s essential to obtain the necessary permits and be accompanied by experienced guides. Respect for the natural environment and wildlife is paramount during these activities.
5. Are these sanctuaries suitable for birdwatching enthusiasts?
Absolutely, Uttarakhand’s National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are a paradise for birdwatchers. With a wide variety of avian species, including rare and migratory birds, enthusiasts can enjoy birdwatching throughout the year. Carrying binoculars and a bird guidebook enhances the birdwatching experience in these pristine natural habitats.