Place:Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
Main attraction:Shapu, Bharal, Snow Leopard
Best time to visit:June to October
Nearest town: Ladakh
Named after the famous monastery Hemis Gompa, the national park spread out over 600 sq. Km, is situated at Ladakh in J&K. The park known as the Snow leopard capital of India has an altitudinal range of 3,300 to 6,000 m, and hosts a remarkable variety of wildlife. Hemis was established as a national park on 4th February 1981. This national park offers the tourists an abundant treasure of natural beauty with mountains of various shapes and sizes, mixed with vast flatlands, deserts and bordered by the fast flowing river Indus.
Hemis occupies much of the catchments of the lower Zanskar River, from its confluence with the Markha river to its meeting with the Indus. The smaller northern sector consists of Sumdah Valley which runs south-east until it meets the main Zanskar Valley. In the southern sector is the beautiful Markha Valley, also a tributary of the Zanskar Valley, and the Rumbak Valley which runs eastwards directly into the Indus Valley.
The area of this cold desert is rocky and the thin soil cover supports a poor vegetative growth. Grass growth is relatively rapid during the summer season after the melting of the snow. The Markha and Rumbak valleys are high altitude deserts charecterised by sparse grasslands and herbaceous vegetation on mountain slopes. These areas consists of trees and plants like Junipers, Myricaria, Poplar, Salix, Birch, Astragalus, Taraxacum, Leortopodium, Ephedra and many sparse grasslands.
The National park is famous for its population of the rare Snow Leopards and the Ibex. The other main species recorded in the National park are Palla's cat, srapu, bharal, red fox, rhesus macaque, Hanuman languor, wolf, marmot, Tibetan argali and Ladakh urial etc. The bharal and urial are seen in large numbers. The park has been earmarked as one of the snow leopard reserves under a central government project to conserve the species.