Imagine, you are sitting in a beautiful garden surrounded by waterfalls and snow-laden peaks. Birds are chirping and butterflies are swarming over red roses plants, marigold. In the garden, when you look at your left, you find pine trees and on the right, orchards of juicy apples.
Sounds like a fairytale, right. Well, that is what you will get in Kishtwar National Park. Situated in the heart of Kashmir, in the beautiful Anantnag valley, it is a new nature lovers paradise. It has stunning beauty and is touted to be the next big thing in Kashmir tourism.
The national park was established on February 4, 1981. The area of the park is around 42,500 hectares. Inside the park, there is a bed of schist, marble and granite. Well, let us begin our journey to this heaven on earth.
How to reach Kishtwar National Park?
Kishtwar national park is located in the Kishtwar district, which is present in district Anantnag in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The Rinnay river flows to the north. In the south, there is Kibar Nala catchment. On the west, flows the Marwa river and to the east by the main divide of Great Himalaya.
The height of the park is from 1700 meters to 4800 meters. For those of you, who are coming by air, the closest airport is Jammu airport, which is at a distance of 250 km from the park. For railways, the nearest station is Jammu, which is situated at a distance of 248 km.
If you are coming by road, then there is a road up to Ikhala and from there you can take a bus to Plamer, which is 20 km from the park.
Incredible flora and fauna
The magnificent flora and fauna which is present in this park are one of the main attractions of tourists in this park. There are 13 types of vegetation present. Silver fir and spruce mixed with blue pine and cedar are very widely present.
Most of the trees of pine and cedar and horse chestnut are present. The alpine zone which is present in the sub region has silver fir and birch. Then, you will find a beautiful flower, known as the rhododendron.
There exists a huge variety of fauna in the park, namely leopard, snow leopard, brown bear, serox, Himalayan musk deer etc. The most popular birds which are present include Himalayan monal, pheasants, Himalayan snowcock, koklass and western tragopan.
Best Time to Visit
During winters, the weather is very cold and chilly with snowfall during December and January. There is very less rainfall in the park. For travellers, the best time to go is from March to October. Summers are extremely pleasant, with all the trees full of flowers. During winters, it is better to stay indoors, to prevent frostbite and cold from catching up.
Popular Things To Do In Kishtwar National Park
Kishtwar national park has the distinction of producing the best saffron in the world and pine nut. You will get them at the lowest rates. Apart from that, there are plenty of things to do in this amazing park.
There are wonderful peaks like Crooked Finger, Sickle Moon, Brammah-I, Cathedral, Barnaj-I, Brammah-II, Barnaj-II, Flat Top, Arjuna, Shivling, Agyasol etc. These peaks beckon nature lovers from all over the country and the world.
The park has quite complicated and adventurous trekking paths like Kishtwar to Amarnath, Kishtwar-Dachhan-Marwa-Warwan- Anantnag. Then the route leads back to Kishtwar National Park via Southern Pass.
3. Wildlife tour
For all wildlife enthusiasts, this park is a treasure house of wildlife animals. You will get to see Himalayan snowcock, brown bear. This park has 15 mammal species. Prominent among them are Himalayan black and brown bear, Snow leopard, Antelope, Kashmir stag, Wild Yak, Tibetan Ass and Wild Boar etc.
4. Sightseeing in hot spring and Nagseen.
Kishtwar National Park has fantastic host springs which are extremely popular with tourists. It is believed to cure people of rheumatic issues.
5. Religious tourism
For religious tourists, there are plenty of areas of interest. Chief among them are Athara Bhuja Devi temple, Hatta Wali Matta and Chandi Matta temple. For Muslims, there are important holy places like Farid ud din Sahab, Ziarat Zain Shah Sahib and Hazrat Asrar ud din Sahab.
For example, you will be able to see the 110-year-old mosque in the centre of Kishtwar city. It was built by Shah Akhyar ud Din and it can hold upto five thousand worshippers at a time. You will get a fantastic view of the city, by going to the top of the minarets.
For shopping enthusiasts, there is the beautiful village of Pochall village, which is in Kishtwar. You will be treated to a spectacle of purple saffron flowers, which engulf the whole place. You can purchase the finest quality saffron here. You will get renowned local handicrafts like shawls, woollen blankets, Gaba and Bakerwals silver jewellery.
You can also get exquisite spices like cardamom, cloves. Apart from shopping, you can also enjoy Kashmiri vegetarian dishes like Lotus root curry, fried paneer in red sauce, Potato in Yogurt. If you like non-vegetarian food, then you have plenty of options like Rista, Tabak Maaz, Goshtaba, Yakhni, Rogan Josh etc.
Besides these exotic dishes, there is excellent Rajma rice, Gucchi Palao, Anar Daane ki Chutney, Kasrod and Sticky White Meetha Bhat. Traditional items consist of Bhotray and Sabzi, Makki ki Roti and Saag, Namkeen Chai with Kulcha.
Stay In Kishtwar National Park
If you are worried about where you would stay in Kishtwar National Park, you needn't worry at all. There are excellent hotels and rest houses, close to the park, with budgets from low to high. Depending upon your budget, you will get simple lodges to 2-star hotel.
There are both government-owned hotels and private-owned accommodations. One very popular staying spots are the Hotel Phoenix International. It has both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms, with all the latest amenities like WiFi. Besides, there is a regular pick and drop to the park from the hotel.