Srinagar is one of the best and the most popular tourist destinations in Jammu and Kashmir. When it comes to J&K tourism, Srinagar is among the most sought-after places by visitors across the globe. This city has a pleasant climate throughout the year but the best time to visit here is from April to October, which is the time when spring blossoms paint the city’s landscape in vibrant colours. Srinagar is known for its lakes, primarily Dal, some ancient monuments, and the most famous Tulip Garden, and this city is also one of the best shopping destinations in J&K. However, if you are fond of safari tours, and would like to take one on your visit to Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar can definitely feature on your list. Here, we give you some important things that you need to know about Safari tours in Srinagar.
What You Should Know About a Safari Tour in Srinagar
Jammu and Kashmir houses 5 national parks, 14 wildlife sanctuaries, and 35 wildlife conservation reserves. They cover an area of around 16,000 sq. kms and are known for their rich biodiversity. Out of these protected areas, the ones in Srinagar include the City Forest National Park (now converted to a golf course), the famous Dachigam National Park, the Brain-Nishat Conservation Reserve, the Khimber/Dara/Sharazbal Conservation Reserve, and the Hokera Wetland Reserve.
The City Forest National Park (known as Salim Ali National Park) covered an area of more than 9 sq. kms. and housed wildlife species like musk deer, hangul, Himalayan black bear, leopard and the Himalayan serow along with 70 bird species like the paradise flycatcher, Himalayan monal and the Himalayan snowcock. Farooq Abdulla the then CM of J&K converted this park into the Royal Springs Golf Course between 1998 and 2001.
The Dachigam National Park is located in the Zabarwan Range near Srinagar. It was once a site of ten villages which were relocated for the formation of this park. Hangul is mainly found here as also the musk deer, snow leopard, leopard cat, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan brown bear, otter, jackal, among many other animal species. The bird species in this national park include black bulbul, minivet, Himalayan monal, Himalayan rubythroat, red-billed blue magpie, bearded vulture, Himalayan griffon vulture and cinammon sparrow, among others.
The Dachigam National Park is a wonderful place to visit for a safari tour in Srinagar. The park is open throughout the day from 5.30 am to 6.30 pm. The best time of the year to visit this wildlife sanctuary is from March to August and from September to December. This wildlife sanctuary has a few jungle resorts, some forest rest houses and tourist lodges run by the forest department. On your visit to the Dachigam national park, you can stay in one of them. Srinagar airport is the nearest to the Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary, the nearest railhead is Jammu and the park is easily accessible by road as it is located 22 kms away from Srinagar.
Jasrota Wildlife Sanctuary spans an area of 10 sq. kms and is located 70 kms away from Srinagar on the banks of river Ujh. Mammals and birds can be spotted here. The main animal species found in this sanctuary include the barking deer, wild boar, rhesus monkey, lantana camara and dodonea visacosa to name a few. There are some trekking routes that start from here, so it’s advisable to carry trekking shoes when visiting this sanctuary.
The Ram Nagar Wildlife Sanctuary spans an area of more than 32 sq. kms and is located just 6 kms away from Srinagar. Pheasants are commonly found here as also the nilgai, barking deer, wild boar, golden oriole and the jungle crow.
Nandini Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Nandini village which is 28 kms away from Srinagar. Pheasants are mainly found here, apart from which garal, grey langur, wild boar, Indian Mynah, chakor and peafowl can also be found in this sanctuary.
Surinsar Mansar Wildlife Sanctuary is located between the Surinsar and Mansar lakes on its two sides and covers an area of 998 sq.kms. About 15 species of birds can be spotted here, which include the blue rock pigeon, rufus turtle dove, green pigeon and grey partridge among others.
Apart from these destinations suitable for a wildlife safari in Srinagar, there are others like the Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve located 48 kms away from Srinagar, which is known for protecting many endangered species and the Overa Wildlife Sanctuary located in Pahalgam about 76 kms away from Srinagar known for housing pheasants and a variety of mammal species.
The Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary is at a distance of 48 kms from Srinagar. The best time to visit here is from March to June and the main animal species spotted here is the musk deer.
The Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary located 70 kms from Srinagar has a good population of several animal and bird species. Some endangered animals are protected in this sanctuary. The best time to visit this place is from October to March.
The Achabal Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at a distance of 60 kms from Srinagar and is home to some unique animal species. The best time to visit here is from March to June and it is easily accessible by road.
When going on a safari tour to Srinagar, carry everything that features on any safari packing list, like sunglasses, a sunscreen and a hat because you will be outdoors most of the time. Remember to carry binoculars to obtain the best views of the animals or birds that you spot on the safari, and carry a camera to take photos and videos. Wear comfortable clothing and footwear. Wear neutral coloured clothing and hiking shoes. Check the weather in Srinagar at the time of your visit and carry winterwear, rainwear and other essentials you would require during the visit. With the necessary information about the various places to see wildlife in Srinagar and a good itinerary, your safari tour in Srinagar will surely be an enjoyable experience.