Thursday, April 11, 2024

Hemis National Park

Hemis National Park UPSC (Largest National Park in India UPSC)

The Hemis National Park is located in eastern Ladakh and also known as Hemis High Altitude National Park. It is the largest National Park in India and the only national park in India that is north of the Himalayas. It is India’s protected area inside the Palearctic realm. 

Hemis National Park is the largest National Park in India and known for its scenic beauty, lofty mountains and alpine forests of juniper and subalpine dry birch. The park offers opportunities for trekking, mountaineering, and wildlife watching. 

Hemis National Park is famous for the highest population of snow leopards globally. The park houses a variety of flora and fauna, including the endangered species of animals and birds.

Table of Contents

  • Hemis National Park Location
  • Hemis National Park History
  • Hemis National Park Area
  • Hemis National Park Mountains
    • Ganda La (Kanda La)
    • Stok Kangri Peak
  • Hemis National Park Glacier
    • Rumbak Glacier
    • Ganglas La Glacier
  • Hemis National Park River
    • Indus River
    • Markha River
    • Sumdah River
    • Rumbak River
  • Hemis National Park Valley
    • Rumbak Valley
    • Markha Valley
    • Sumdah Valley
  • Hemis National Park Flora
    • Alpine Meadows
    • Dwarf Juniper
    • Willow and Poplar Trees
    • Alpine Cushion Plants
    • Wildflowers
    • Medicinal Plants
    • Shrubs and Bushes
  • Hemis National Park Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptiles
    • Insects
  • Snow Leopard
  • Shapu (Ladakhi Urial)
  • Hemis Monastery
    • Hemis Festival
    • Cham Dance
  • Hemis National Park UPSC Questions

                Hemis National Park Location

                Hemis National Park is located in Union Territory of Ladakh, India. It is located in the eastern part of Ladakh. It is bounded by the Markha River in the east and the Indus River in the west.

                The Hemis National Park is situated at an altitude of about 3,300 to 6,000 meters above sea level, which makes it one of the highest altitude national parks in the world. 

                It is surrounded by mountain ranges, including the Zanskar Range and the Markha Valley. The nearest town to the park is Leh, which serves as a gateway for visitors and is approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) away.

                Hemis National Park Nearest Airport:

                The Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport (Leh Airport), which is roughly 47 kilometres away, is the closest airport to the Hemis National Park.

                Hemis National Park Nearest Railway Station:

                Nearest railway station is Jammu Tawi Railway Station (700 Kms)

                Hemis National Park History

                1. Cultural Significance: The Hemis National Park gets its name from the famous Hemis Monastery, which is located within its boundaries. The monastery, belonging to the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, was founded in the 11th century and is one of the most important and largest monasteries in Ladakh. The park's name is derived from "Hemis," which means "snowy" in the local language, reflecting the snowy peaks that surround the region.

                2. Protected Area Establishment: Hemis National Park was formally established as a protected area in 1981. Its primary aim was to conserve the unique biodiversity of the region, particularly the endangered snow leopard and its prey species.

                Hemis National Park Area

                In 1981, Hemis National Park was founded with an area of around 600 sq. km to protect Markha and Rumbak regions.

                In 1988, Hemis became the largest National Park in South Asia with an area of around 3350 sq. km.

                In 1990, the area of Hemis national park was further expanded to 4400 sq km.

                Hemis National Park is the largest notified protected area in India (largest National Park in India) covering an area of 4400 square Km. It is the second largest contiguous protected area, after the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve.

                Hemis National Park is the largest national park not only in India, but also in the whole of South Asia. Hemis National Park is characterized by rugged mountains, deep valleys, and high altitude plateaus. 

                Hemis National Park Mountains

                Hemis National Park is surrounded by several important mountain ranges. Some of the important mountain ranges that surround the park include the Zanskar Range, which lies to the south of the park, and the Ladakh Range, which lies to the north. These mountain ranges are part of the larger Himalayan mountain system and are home to several important peaks, including Ganda La and Stok Kangri. Stok Kangri is the highest peak in the Stok Range.

                (1) Ganda La (Kanda La):

                Ganda La is a high mountain pass located within the premises of Hemis National Park in Ladakh. Ganda La is also known as Kanda La. It is located at around 4980 metres above sea level. Ganda La connects the villages of Markha Valley to Leh and is often used by local people.

                (2) Stok Kangri Peak:

                The Stok Kangri peak is situated in the Hemis National Park. It is located at around 6,153 metres above sea level The Stok Kangri peak attract the highest number of climbers every year. 

                Hemis National Park Glacier

                Hemis National Park is home to several important glaciers. These glaciers are important sources of water for the region, and also play a crucial role in maintaining the biodiversity of the park.

                Glaciers are formed when snow and ice accumulate in high altitude areas and gradually transform into ice over time. 

                (1) Rumbak Glacier:

                One of the important glaciers in the Hemis National Park is the Rumbak Glacier, which is located in the Rumbak Valley. The Rumbak glacier is about 4 kilometers long and feeds several streams and rivers in the region. The Rumbak glacier is also an important source of water for the local communities and supports a diverse range of wildlife.

                (2) Ganglas La Glacier:

                Another important glacier in the Hemis National Park is the Ganglas La Glacier. Ganglas La Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in Hemis National Park. It is located in the south of the Hemis National Park and eastern part of the Ladakh region.

                The Ganglas La glacier is about 5 kilometers long. It is an important source of water for the Markha River, which flows through the Hemis National Park.

                Hemis National Park River

                Indus, Markha, Sumdah and Rumbak river passes through Hemis National Park.

                (1) Indus River:

                The Hemis National Park is bounded on the north by the banks of the Indus River (Sindhu). The park is home to several tributaries of the Indus River, including the Sumdah and Rumbak rivers. The Indus River is one of the largest rivers in the region. 

                The Indus (Sindhu) is a transboundary river of Asia and a trans-Himalayan river of South and Central Asia. It is flowing through Tibet, India and Pakistan. It is approximately 3,120 kilometers (1,976 miles) long. 

                The Indus (Sindhu) river originates in the Tibetan plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar, and then flows through India and Pakistan before emptying into the Arabian Sea near the city of Karachi.

                The Indus (Sindhu) river left-bank tributary are:

                • Zanskar River
                • Suru River
                • Soan River
                • Panjnad River
                • Ghaggar-Hakra River

                Panjnad River is formed by the of the five Punjab rivers, namely the Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers. 

                The Indus (Sindhu) river right-bank tributaries are: 

                • Shyok River
                • Hunza River
                • Gilgit River
                • Swat River
                • Kunar River
                • Kabul River
                • Kurram River
                • Gomal River
                • Zhob River

                (2) Markha River:

                Another important river that flows through the Hemis National Park is the Markha River, which is a tributary of the Zanskar River. The Markha river originates at the junction of the Langtang Chu and Nimaling Chu and flows through the Markha Valley, which is one of the most popular trekking routes in the Hemis National Park.

                The Markha River is an important source of water for irrigation and drinking purposes for the people living in the Markha Valley. It is also a popular destination for trekking enthusiasts, who hike through the valley, passing through scenic landscapes, remote villages, and ancient monasteries.

                (3) Sumdah River:

                Other important river that flow through the park is  the Sumdah River. The Sumdah river is a tributary of the Indus River.

                (4) Rumbak River:

                The Rumbak River is a small river that flows through the Hemis National Park in Ladakh The Rumbak river is a tributary of the Indus River and is fed by melting snow and glaciers in the surrounding mountains.

                Hemis National Park Valley

                Hemis National Park is it encompasses several valleys. Some of the valleys in the park include the Rumbak Valley, the Markha Valley, the Sumdah Valley, and the Indus Valley. These valleys are known for their stunning natural beauty and are popular destinations for trekkers and nature enthusiasts. 

                (1) Rumbak Valley:

                The Rumbak Valley is located in the south of the Hemis National Park. Rumbak River flow through Rumbak Valley. 

                The Rumbak valley is characterized by its rugged terrain and is an important habitat for several species of wildlife. It is famous for wildlife sighting, especially snow leopards during winters. The Rumbak Valley offers opportunities for birdwatching.

                The Rumbak valley is also an important trekking route for visitors to the park, who can experience the natural beauty of the region and get a glimpse of the local culture and traditions.

                (2) Markha Valley:

                The Markha Valley is located between the Zanskar ranges and Leh town of Ladakh. It is situated in the east of the Hemis National Park. Markha river flow in Markha Valley.

                The Markha Valley is one of the most popular trekking routes in the park and is characterized by its rugged terrain and scenic beauty. 

                (3) Sumdah Valley:

                Sumdah Valley is one of the valleys located in Hemis National Park in Ladakh. The Sumdah Valley is known for its scenic beauty and is a popular destination for trekkers and hikers. It is surrounded by high mountain ranges, and its landscape is characterized by rocky outcrops, alpine meadows, and several small streams that flow through the valley.

                Hemis National Park Flora

                Hemis National Park is characterized by its unique high-altitude ecosystem, which supports a diverse range of flora. The vegetation in the park is adapted to the harsh climatic conditions, including cold temperatures, low oxygen levels, and rocky terrain. 

                Hemis National Park region is in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, and does not receive much precipitation. The flora of the Hemis National Park is characterized by its hardiness, adaptability, and unique features.

                Here are some of the prominent flora species found in Hemis National Park:

                (1) Alpine Meadows: 

                The Hemis National Park is dotted with alpine meadows, which are characterized by a variety of grasses, sedges, and small flowering plants. These meadows burst into colorful blooms during the summer months when the snow melts, creating a vibrant landscape.

                (2) Dwarf Juniper: 

                The Hemis National Park is home to dwarf juniper (Juniperus squamata), a hardy evergreen shrub that thrives in the rocky slopes and high-altitude regions. It is a low-growing species that can withstand extreme weather conditions.

                (3) Willow and Poplar Trees:

                Along the banks of rivers and streams, you can find patches of willow and poplar trees. These deciduous trees provide shade and create a habitat for various bird species.

                (4) Alpine Cushion Plants:

                Cushion plants such as Saxifraga, Androsace, and Primula are common in Hemis National Park. These plants grow in compact clumps, hugging the ground to minimize exposure to harsh winds and conserve moisture.

                (5) Wildflowers:

                The Hemis National Park is known for its diverse array of wildflowers. During the summer months, you can find a colorful display of flowers such as gentians, primroses, asters, anemones, and many more.

                (6) Medicinal Plants: 

                Hemis National Park is also home to several medicinal plant species. Local communities have traditionally used these plants for various purposes, including herbal medicine and religious rituals.

                The flora of Hemis National Park is adapted to the extreme conditions of the high-altitude Himalayas, showcasing the resilience and diversity of plant life in this unique ecosystem.

                (7) Shrubs and Bushes:

                • Seabuckthorn
                • Barberry
                • Wild Roses

                Hemis National Park Fauna (Hemis National Park Animals)

                Hemis National Park is known for its rich and diverse wildlife, particularly its population of endangered and rare species. The park's varied terrain, including high mountains, deep valleys, and alpine meadows, provides a habitat for a wide range of fauna. 

                Here are some of the notable wildlife species found in Hemis National Park:


                • Snow leopard
                • Shapu (Ladakhi Urial)
                • Argali (Great Tibetan Sheep)
                • Bharal (Blue Sheep)
                • Asiatic ibex
                • Tibetan wolf
                • Eurasian Brown Bear (Endangered in India)
                • Red Fox
                • Himalayan Marmot
                • Mountain Weasel
                • Himalayan Mouse Hare


                • Golden Eagle
                • Lammergeier Vulture
                • Himalayan Griffon Vulture
                • Brown Accentor
                • Robin Accentor
                • Tickell's leaf warbler
                • Streaked Rosefinch
                • Black-winged Snowfinch
                • Chukar
                • Blyth's swift
                • Red-billed chough
                • Himalayan Snowcock
                • Fire-fronted Serin
                • Snow Pigeon

                Note- The Rumbak Valley offers opportunities for birdwatching in Hemis National Park.


                • Kashmir Rock Agama
                • Ladakh Agama
                • Himalayan Pit Viper


                • Himalayan Honeybee
                • Several species of Butterflies
                • Several species of Moths
                • Several species of Beetles

                Snow Leopard in Hemis National Park 

                Hemis National Park is globally famous for Snow Leopards. Hemis National Park is believed to have the highest density of snow leopards in any protected area in the world.

                Hemis National Park provides a suitable habitat for snow leopards due to its rugged and mountainous terrain. The park's high-altitude environment with rocky slopes, cliffs, and deep valleys offers the perfect conditions for snow leopards to thrive.

                Hemis National Park is estimated to have a significant population of snow leopards. It is considered one of the best places in the world to spot these magnificent cats. However, snow leopards are elusive and masters of camouflage, making them difficult to observe.

                Shapu (Ladakhi Urial)

                Hemis National Park is also famous for Shapu (Ladakhi Urial). This park is the only habitat of Shapu or the Ladakhi Urial in India. Shapu (Ladakhi Urial) is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

                The Shapu, also known as the Ladakhi Urial (Ovis vignei), is a wild sheep species that inhabits the rugged mountainous regions of Ladakh, including Hemis National Park. 

                Hemis Monastery

                Hemis Monastery, also known as Hemis Gompa, is a renowned Buddhist monastery located within Hemis National Park in Ladakh, India. 

                Here is some information about Hemis Monastery:

                1. History: Hemis Monastery was founded in the 11th century by Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso, who was invited to Ladakh by the king at that time. It belongs to the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and is considered one of the most important and largest monasteries in Ladakh.

                2. Architecture: The monastery features a distinctive architecture that blends Tibetan and Ladakhi styles. The complex is built on a hillside, with various structures interconnected by courtyards and narrow passages. The main assembly hall, known as Dukhang, is adorned with colorful frescoes and houses statues of Buddhist deities.

                3. Annual Festival: Hemis Monastery is famous for its annual Hemis Festival, which celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The festival takes place in June or July and includes vibrant mask dances, music performances, and other religious ceremonies. It attracts a large number of visitors from within Ladakh and around the world.

                4. Religious Significance: Hemis Monastery is a spiritual and cultural center for the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. It houses a precious collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts, thangkas (religious paintings on cloth), statues, and other religious artifacts. The monastery also serves as a place of study and meditation for the resident monks.

                5. Monastic Life: Hemis Monastery is home to a community of monks who follow a monastic way of life. The monks engage in daily religious practices, including prayers, rituals, and studying Buddhist scriptures. Visitors can witness their chanting sessions and gain insights into the monastic traditions and rituals.

                6. Museum: The monastery has a museum that displays a fascinating collection of religious artifacts, including ancient thangkas, statues, weapons, and ritual objects. The museum provides visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the rich cultural and religious heritage of the region.

                Hemis Monastery stands as a significant spiritual and cultural institution, attracting pilgrims, tourists, and researchers interested in exploring the Buddhist traditions and heritage of Ladakh. Its picturesque location and vibrant festivals make it a popular destination for visitors to Hemis National Park.

                Hemis Festival:

                The Hemis Festival is a vibrant and grand religious event celebrated annually at Hemis Monastery in Ladakh, India. Here are some key details about the Hemis Festival:

                1. Significance: The festival commemorates the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, who is considered the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. Guru Padmasambhava is believed to have introduced Buddhism to the Himalayan region.

                2. Dates: The Hemis Festival takes place on the 10th day (Tse Chu) of the Tibetan lunar month, which usually falls in June or July according to the Gregorian calendar. The festival lasts for two days, with the main events occurring on the second day.

                3. Mask Dances: The highlight of the Hemis Festival is the spectacular mask dances, known as Cham dances. The resident monks of Hemis Monastery, dressed in colorful traditional costumes and wearing intricate masks representing various deities, perform these sacred dances. The dances depict stories from Buddhist mythology, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil and the subjugation of negative forces.

                4. Religious Ceremonies: The festival includes various religious ceremonies and rituals conducted by the monks. Chanting of prayers, recitation of scriptures, and the blowing of traditional musical instruments create a sacred and spiritually charged atmosphere.

                5. Cultural Performances: Alongside the religious ceremonies, the Hemis Festival also features traditional music performances, including drumming and cymbal playing, as well as folk dances and songs. These cultural elements add to the festive and joyous ambiance of the celebration.

                6. Pilgrimage and Gathering: The Hemis Festival attracts a large number of devotees, pilgrims, and tourists from both within Ladakh and around the world. People gather at Hemis Monastery to witness the festival, seek blessings, and participate in the festivities. It offers an opportunity to experience the vibrant Buddhist culture and traditions of the region.

                7. Market and Handicrafts: During the Hemis Festival, a colorful market is set up near the monastery, showcasing local handicrafts, traditional attire, jewelry, and delicious local food. Visitors can explore and purchase unique souvenirs and immerse themselves in the local Ladakhi culture.

                Cham Dance:

                Cham Dance, also known as Mask Dance, is a traditional form of sacred dance performed in various Tibetan Buddhist festivals, including the Hemis Festival in Ladakh, India. 

                Here are some details about Cham Dance:

                1. Religious Significance: Cham Dance is considered a form of meditation in motion and is performed as a religious offering. It is believed to have originated from the tantric practices of Guru Padmasambhava, who introduced Buddhism to Tibet and the Himalayan region.

                2. Symbolism: Cham Dances are highly symbolic and portray stories from Buddhist mythology, depicting various deities, enlightened beings, and spiritual figures. Each mask and dance movement has specific meanings associated with the characters and the teachings they represent.

                3. Costumes and Masks: The dancers wear vibrant and elaborate costumes that are often adorned with intricate designs, brocade, and ornaments. The most distinctive feature of Cham Dance is the masks, which are skillfully crafted and painted to represent deities, demons, animals, and other mythological figures. The masks are believed to embody the spirit of the deity or character being portrayed.

                4. Ritualistic Movements: The dance movements in Cham Dance are precise and choreographed, with each gesture and step having symbolic significance. The dancers often perform stylized movements representing different aspects of the deity's power, compassion, and wisdom.

                5. Blessings and Liberation: It is believed that witnessing Cham Dance can bestow blessings, cleanse negative karma, and bring spiritual protection. The dances are also performed to subdue and dispel negative forces and obstacles, promoting harmony and well-being in the community.

                6. Music and Instruments: Cham Dance is accompanied by traditional Tibetan music, including ceremonial drums, cymbals, horns, and long trumpets called dungchen. The rhythmic beats and melodies enhance the performance and create a mesmerizing atmosphere.

                7. Preservation and Cultural Heritage: Cham Dance plays a crucial role in preserving and transmitting Tibetan Buddhist culture and traditions. The dances are passed down through generations, and the training and performance of Cham Dance are considered an integral part of monastic education and practice.

                Hemis National Park UPSC Questions

                Q. Where is Hemis National Park situated?/Hemis National Park in which state?

                A. Hemis National Park is situated in Union Territory of  Ladakh, India.

                Q. Hemis National Park is famous for which animal?

                A. Hemis National Park is famous for Snow Leopards.

                Q. Hemis National Park which is the biggest national park in India is situated in?

                A. Hemis National Park which is the biggest national park in India is situated in Union Territory of  Ladakh, India.

                Q. Who is the largest national park in India?

                A. Hemis National Park is is the largest national park in India. It  covers an area of 4400 square Km.

                Q. Which river passes through Hemis National Park?

                A. Indus, Markha, Sumdah and Rumbak rivers passes through Hemis National Park.

                Q. When was Hemis National Park declared as national park?

                A. Hemis National Park was declared as national park in 1981.

                Hemis National Park

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