One of the well-known National Parks in India – Kishtwar High Altitude National Park, Jammu and Kashmir was established in the year 1981. Located about 248 km from Jammu, Kishtwar National Park is sprawled over an area of about 2100 sq. km. Surrounded by the snow capped Himalayan Mountains, Kishtwar presents a scenic backdrop, and the numerous rivulets flowing through the park add immensely to the charm and magnetism of this Wildlife Reserve.
Geographical Location of the Park
North : The ridge separating the watersheds of Kaintal and Kulhoyan Nallahs
South: The orgraphic left ridge of Kiber Nalla from Brahma Peak upto Kibar village.
East: The ridge separating Kargil district from Kishtwar district.
West: The permanent villages in the bank of Renai, Kiar,, Nanth, and Kibber nallahs. The geographical boundary is mere indicative of the National Park: the actual area of the National Park in each of the streams is described below with the indication of the forest compartments falling in it.
Area Description of the National Park
The National Park would consist of part of the upper catchments of following streams. Renai, Kiar, Nanth and Kibber Nallah.
In each of the aforesaid streams, the area of the national park starts from watershed ridge and ends near the first permanent village/hemlet in its downstream.
The total horizontal area of the national park measured to be 2190.50 sq km in the GIS platform. The Nation Park spreads between Latitude 33 degree 27 min N to 33degree 59 min N and Longitudes 75 deg40min E to 76deg 17 min E.
The Renai Catchment:
Kulhoyan Nalla, Ain Nalla, Srankut Nalla, Borzaz nalla and Malgul nalla are confluencing at variou splaces and forms Zaiji Nalla. Krash Nalla originating from the Fariabad glacier confluences with Dech nalla and flows down. The Zaji nalla and Krash nalla confluences at Fariabad and hereafter called as Renai Nalla, flows down to Marwah Valley. In the Zaji catchment, the entire left bank area and the area on the upstream of the left bank of Malgul nalla in the right bank of Zaji nalla would be under the National Park.
Kiyar Catchment :
The Kiyar Nalla originates from Bhillan and Prui glaciers. The right bank tributaries in the National Park area in Padur nalla, Yachkhur nalla, Gumrar, Katlrar, Drayul nalla, and Gokul nalla. The left bank tributaries in the National Park area in Maimandoo nalla, Madak nalla, Sipari Rar, Lewar nalla, Wqangan nalla, and Bhoi rar. The first village, Rikinwar in the downstream of Kiyar nalla, will be out of the National Park.
The Nanth nalla originates from the Bramah glacier and flows south-west direction and reaches Dachhan area. In the National Park area, the major right bank tributaries are Trisandhya nalla and Hok rar. Gurohoi nalla, Chogunchan rar, Kutnar and Mirwan rar are the left bank tributaries in the National Park area. The first villages on the downstream of Nanth nalla in right and Left bank resp, Prasan and Gugat will be out of the National Park boundary.
The Kibber nalla is also originating frm the Brmah glacier. The National Park spreads from the alpine glazier upto 1 km from the boundary of the Kibber village in the right bank of Kibber nalla. The village Kiber will be out of the National Park boundary.
FEATURES OF THE NATIONAL PARK
The area of the National Park is contiguous in nature. The tract is situated on the high altitudes i.e., sub-alpine and alpine zone. The altitude range of 2300 m to 6000m is observed in this tract. This area is traditionally receiving appreciable quantum of snowfall during winter and rainfall during summer. The water flowing through the tract for millions of years had deeply serrated the land mass into valleys and gorges in all possible directions. It resulted in formation of land mass with varying slopes and aspects. The other local factors such as depth of soil, texture of soil, light availability and duration along with other edaphic factors creates the condition suitable for growth of varied plant species over the land. This produces grass lands, bushy vegetation, marshy land, glacial lakes and varied types of forest. In the bank of the nallas one can observe the growth of conifer trees such as bluepine, fir, spruce and Bhojpatra. Due to availability of varied vegetation along the altitudinal graduation, this area is highly suitable for the wildlife.
The area is away from the human habitation. The people living in the peripheral area i.e,. outside the National Park will never venture the National Park since it is located on the upstream of their habitation.
Physical Features: The area of the National Park is mostly precipitous and rugged comprising of steep slopes and high ridges broken by rocky cliffs and mostly narrow valleys. The altitude of the National Park ranges from 2300 m to 6000 m. The general rock formation of the National Park falls under the central Himalayan crystalline group. The geological formation is the result of succession from Precambrian to Triassic. The rocks are composed of mainly granite, gneisses and schist with occasional marble beds.
DRAINAGE: There are numerous small streams which drain into Renai, Kiyar, Nanth and Kibber Nallas and all these independently drain into river Marwah that joins river Chanderbhaga at Bhandarkoot and forms the river Chenab. The National Park is gifted with nuerous perennial streams, Nallas, Ponds, springs and Glaciers as the resilt of which the water supply is adequate throughout the year. The best known glacier in the area is Brahma Glacier which is about 18 Kms long besides the Metwan Glacier.
CLIMATE and Rainfall
The climate of the National Park confirms to temperature type and depending upon the duration and magnitude of precipitation and temperature four seasons are clearly recognized. These are summer, autumn and winter. The upper reaches of the National Park is characterized by severe and prolonged winter and short summer season. The climate becomes temperature and milder in the lower areas. Snowfall takes place, mainly during December and January sometimes even in November, February and March. During winter, the whole National Park is covered under snow. In the upper reaches and unexposed aspects, the snow remains deposited for at least nine months which acts as the source of water to the different nallas during dry summer months. Most of the precipitation is received from December to April. The monsoon is often weak and reaches late in the area. The average annual rainfall is about 920 mm. considerable winter precipitation and moderate rainfall occur during the summer. Severe winter conditions occur partly due to geographic feature and party as a result of the influences of western disturbances.
Winds are mostly light to moderate. The terrain also gives rise to various types of local winds. These become strong when blowing over fields and glaciers. Winds blowing through mountain ranges emerge out as strong currents.
The area of Kishtwar High Altitude National Park is characterized by marked variation of topography, climate and altitude as the result of which different types of forest vegetation occur in the area especially on northern and eastern aspects. Due to a wide range of elevation, aspects, slopes and moisture regime, the national park supports a variety of temperature conifer forests. These include Fir, Himalayan Yew, Deodar, Blue Pine, or Kail and Spruce. In the alpine regions of the national park, extensive alpine scrub and meadows, open rocks ad glaciers are present. The lower catchment areas of all the four nallas namely, Kiber, Nanth, Kiar and Renai support mixed forests.
Kishtwar is arguably the most important cis-Himalyan area in the state on account of its fairly size and diverse mammalian fauna including a number of rare and endangered species. Its forest was exploited to their severe detriment until 1948 since when logging has been scientifically managed and finally ceased with the establishment of ‘National Park’.
*Information provided by WARDEN- Wild Life Kishtwar National Park
KISHTWAR NATIONAL PARK (General Information)
Area : 400 sq.kms
Altitudinal Range: 1,700 to 4,800 meters above sea level
Airport ……………….Jammu (250 kms.)
Rail Head ………….Jammu (248 kms.)
Road …………………..Constructed motor able road for Sumo, Winger etc. up to Ikhala, but bus services are operated up to Palmer only 20 kms. north of Kishtwar.
Distance from Kishtwar : Beyond 40kms north-east of Kishtwar town
How to be reached : By bus or taxi upto Ikhala (Tangdoor) (40kms) and thence From on foot or horse back
Facilities available : Forest Rest houses at Ikhala, Sounder, Sirshi And Yourdu (Marwah)
Visit : Mammal viewing Bird Viewing September to March March to May
Dress : (1) Spring/Summer……….. Trekking Shoes, Raincoat, and Light clothing
(2)Winter ……………. Trekking shoes, Heavy woolens, Waterproof Windcheaters.
Kishtwar possesses a unique position in Jammu and Kashmir because of Kishtwar High Altitude National Park spread over an area of 2100Sq.Kms providing a natural habitat to various species of mammals and and of birds, this sanctuary has an altitude range of 1700 to 4800 Metres. The National Park encompasses the catchment area of Kiber, Nanth and Kiyar Nallas, all of which drain south-west into Marwah river locally called Mariv Sudir which joins Chenab at Bhandarkoot Kishtwar town. The terrain is, generally rugged and steep with narrow valleys bounded by high ridges opening out in their upper glacial parts. The area lies in the central crystalline belt of the great Himalayas, Rocks are strongly folded in places and composed mainly of granite, gneiss and schist with the occasional bed of marble.