The mountainous region of the western and eastern Himalayas is the habitat of Snow leopards in India. They are primarily found in the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
Rocky outcrops and ravines provide a perfect habitat for snow leopards to conceal themselves and sneak up on the prey. Their beautiful silvery fur marked with black spots helps them camouflage against the snowline and rocks of the mountain.
Until 2017 the snow leopard was listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List. However, in 2017 the species’ status was changed to vulnerable. There are about 450-500 snow leopards in the Indian forests.
Here is a list of the 10 best national parks, where you can spot snow leopards in India.
- Hemis National Park
- Dachigam National Park
- Great Himalayan National Park
- Pin Valley National Park
- Gangotri National Park
- Valley of Flower National Park
- Nanda Devi National Park
- Govind Pashu Vihar National Park
- Khangchendzonga National Park
- Namdapha National Park
1. Hemis National Park
Stationed in the scenic valley of Ladakh, Hemis National Park is the largest national park in India spanning an area of 4,400 sq km. It is also known to be the largest national park in South Asia.
The park supports a viable breeding population of about 200 snow leopards. Many other distinct forms of wildlife also get shelter in the park including Tibetan wolf, red fox and Himalayan marmot.
Vehicles are not allowed inside the park. Tourists can go trekking to enjoy the stunning landscapes and rich wildlife of the park.
Check this post to know more about the 10 most amazing tourist places in Ladakh.
2. Dachigam National Park
Spread over an area of 500 sq km, Dachigam National Park is located 22 km away from the Jammu & Kashmir state capital of Srinagar.
The park hosts several species of mammals including the large cat – snow leopard, Kashmir stag, hill fox, Himalayan serow and Himalayan black bear
The nearest airport is in Srinagar and the most convenient railhead is Jammu at a distance of 315 km from the park. The area can be best seen by trekking.
3. Great Himalayan National Park
Located in Banjaar Sub-Division of Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, the Great Himalayan National Park is spread across 4 valleys namely, Jiwa Nal valley, Sainj Valley, Tirthan Valley and Parvati Valley.
UNESCO declared it as a ‘World Heritage Site’ in the year 2014. This park is one of the best places to spot the exquisite snow leopards in India.
The nearest airport to the park is Bhuntar in Kullu, approximately 60 km away. Some private airlines operate flights between Manali and Bhuntar Airport.
Joginder Nagar near Mandi is the nearest railhead, about 143 km away from the park. The rail route is a narrow gauge one. Trekking is the only way to explore and enjoy the scenic beauty of the park
4. Pin Valley National Park
This region is a cold desert located within the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. Pin Valley National Park is a natural habitat for many endangered animals, like Snow leopard and Siberian ibex.
It is also home to a large number of rare birds including Himalayan snowcock, Snow partridge and chukar partridge.
Tourists can reach the valley from Manali via Kaza. Bhuntar in Kullu district is the nearest airport about 250 km from Kaza. The nearest railhead is at Joginder Nagar in Mandi district.
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5. Gangotri National Park
Situated in Uttarkashi District Garhwal range in Uttarkhand, Gangotri National Park provides breath-taking views of the majestic Himalayan glaciers and lush green meadows.
The park supports 15 species of mammals and almost 150 species of birds. Snow leopards are the major attraction of this place.
Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest airport located at a distance of 220 km from Uttarkashi. The nearest railway station is also in Dehradun about 210 km from the park.
6. Valley of Flower National Park
Placed in the North Chamoli region in Uttarakhand, Valley of Flowers National Park offers beautiful landscapes teeming with gushing waterfalls and charming meadows of alpine flowers.
It is one of the major national parks for spotting the gorgeous snow leopards in India. Abode to some of the rarest and endangered animals, this place is a treat for wildlife explorers and photographers.
Besides snow leopards, you can spot Himalayan goral, Himalayan blue sheep (bharal), Asian black bear and other high-altitude animals. It is also believed to be the place, where Hanuman picked up Sanjeevani buti (medicinal herb) for curing Lakshmana.
This high-altitude valley has about 300 different varieties of alpine flowers. You can go trekking to enjoy the magnificent beauty of the park.
The nearest airport is in Dehradun 295 km away from the park and the nearest railhead is situated in Rishikesh at a distance of 276 km. Govind Ghat is the nearest point to the park where you can reach by road.
7. Nanda Devi National Park
A part of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, Nanda Devi National Park lies in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It is situated in the vicinity of Nanda Devi (7817 m), the second-highest peak in India.
UNESCO accredited it as a World Heritage Site in the year 1988. The park is immensely rich in flora and more than 300 floral species have been found here including 17 rare species.
The nearest airport is in Dehradun at a distance of about 295 km from the park. Rishikesh is the nearest railway station at a distance of 276 km.
The entry to the park is from Lata village around 23 km from Joshimath. You need to go trekking to enjoy the stunning beauty of flora and fauna in the park.
8. Govind Pashu Vihar National Park
It is located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand and is named after a prominent Indian freedom fighter Govind Ballabh Pant. The Indian Government started the ‘Snow Leopard Project’ from this park.
Govind Pashu Vihar National Park is home to about 15 large mammal species and 150 species of birds.
Dharkadhi (17 km) is the nearest town to the park. The nearest airport and railhead are in Dehradun. Visitors can trek inside the forest to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty and wildlife in the park.
9. Khangchendzonga National Park
Located at the Himalayan range in the state of Sikkim, the park gets its name from Mount Khangchendzonga (8,586 m), India’s highest peak.
Khangchendzonga National Park boasts a unique diversity of magnificent snow-capped mountains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and plains.
The park was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2016. It is considered one of the best national parks to sight snow leopards in India.
The nearest airport is in Bagdogra, 124 km from Gangtok city. Jalpaiguri and Siliguri are the nearest railheads to the park.
There are many trekking routes available for visitors to enjoy the spectacular beauty of the place. Permit is issued from the Home Department, Government of Sikkim for Indian tourists. For Foreign tourists, permit is issued from the Ministry of Home, Delhi if it is a trek to the Zemu Glacier.
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10. Namdapha National Park
Located in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India, Namdapha National Park is known to be the largest protected area in the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot.
The park boasts of enormously rich flora and fauna with more than 1000 floral and about 1400 faunal species. It is also home to four big members of the Feline family, namely snow leopard, clouded leopard, leopard and tiger.
Dibrugarh Airport in Assam is the nearest airport at about 182 km from Forest Rest House Deban, situated inside the park. The nearest railhead is in Tinsukia at a distance of around 141 km.
Useful Travel Tips
Here are some tips for you to plan a trip to spot the fascinating Snow leopards in India.
- Be ready to go trekking
- Get hiking shoes with good grip and light enough to move easily
- Stay hydrated by continuously sipping on water throughout the day
- Relax and breathe deeply as air may get thinner at high altitude
- Eat light meals
Over To You Now…
Have you visited any of these national parks to sight the elusive snow leopards in India? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below.
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