Monday, June 7, 2010

Kufri Nature Park – Your window to the wildlife of the Himalayas

Situated about 18 km from Shimla (Himachal Pradesh, India), at over 2,600 meters altitude, the Himalayan Nature Park is located amidst 90 hectares of forest that forms the natural habitat for many a wild animal of the Western Himalayas.


The area remains under snow for about three months from late December to March. Spring heralds the sprouting of many herbaceous species including primulas, potentillas, geraniums, balsams, and ground orchids that continue to bloom till September adding colour to the lush surroundings. The drive to Kufri Nature Park from Shimla, is through lush coniferous forest. When this author visited the Park in September 2009, incessant rain for the previous 4 days had caused many waterfalls and natural springs to flow, which made the journey even more memorable. Visitors can stop at the waterfalls, photograph various flowering shrubs and magnificent pines draped in colorful climbers.


There are a few small towns en route where one can buy bottled water and snacks.

Kufri Nature Park


An arched signage saying ‘Himalayan Nature Park, Kufri’ announces that one has reached the Park. A pictorial signboard display near the entrance also gives an idea of the kind of birds and animals that the visitors will see in the Park’s enclosures. The reception area has a ticketing counter, and also sells posters and greeting cards with pictures of the wild fauna.


The Park trail/walkways help the visitors to appreciate Nature in its most serene self. The trail meanders through the slope of the Park, with enclosures of animals on both sides of it. The trail is shaded by large Oak and Deodar trees, and on a sunny day visitors can carry light woolens.

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The natural habitat of the Nature Park houses select Himalayan species primarily for the purpose of education of the visitors. However, the animal enclosures here are big enough to house the wild animals in near natural habitat. The enclosures include shrubs, trees and boulders for the animals to feel at home and even hibernate (as brown bears do) during the winter. While inside the Nature Park, one can also enjoy a breathtaking view of the Himalayan snow-clad peaks.


At the beginning of the trail, large enclosures of Barking deer can be seen. Further ahead on the trail, there are enclosures for other herbivores such as Bharal, Sambhar and Ghoral , and Tibetan wolf. There are also separate large enclosures for the Black bears and the Brown bears, and visitors can enjoy photographing them from special viewing platforms. During late morning hours, the bears like to laze and do not show much activity. In the wild, the birds and animals are most active at dawn and at dusk, and some are even nocturnal.


The Park trail runs through a picturesque landscape, and there are benches for visitors to rest on and soak in the environs. The moss and lichen laden trees along the trail are also labeled with their scientific and common names to add to the enriching experience.


The most exciting bit of the trail is the enclosure for the rare Snow leopard. The Park is home to a male snow leopard named ‘Subhash’. Scientists working with the Forest Department are going to introduce a captive female snow leopard to help with the breeding program for this endangered species. It is exciting to see this species from less than 10 meters away, considering it is very elusive and difficult to photograph in its natural habitat in the Himalayas.


DSC02286 New Pheasantry at the Kufri Nature Park

Situated near the snow leopard enclosure are the Pheasant aviaries. The Park has some pens that were built earlier, housing the Red Junglefowl, Kaleej, Himalayan Monal and even a Silver Pheasant. A new circular shaped aviary built nearby, houses the majestic State Bird of Himachal Pradesh – the Western Tragopan, along with Cheer pheasants, Koklass, Himalayan Monal and Red Junglefowl. Visitors can walk around the enclosures to view and photograph these beautiful elusive birds.


At the end of the trail, just outside the Park boundary, there are shops selling souvenirs, tea and refreshments.


[The park is open from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M., and closed on Mondays.]

With inputs from the H.P. Forest Department website.

4 comments:

  1. Shared nice blog with us about kufri nature park. Kufri is in Himachal Pradesh- a very beautiful place to visit.Himachal Tourism

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  2. Kufri is a very beautiful hill station in Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh is known as queen of hills. Many tourists from all around the world come to visit this place.
    Manali Tourism

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  3. Nice and informative post on Kufri Nature park. It is easily accessible from Shimla and is the highest point in the surrounding region. It is also popular for skiing. The places to visit in kufri are popular among visitors which makes it an ideal destination.

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