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Himachal Pradesh Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary
As one of the largest reserves in Himachal Pradesh, the Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary is a Himalayan paradise for nature lovers as well as for regular tourists.
The Sanctuary boasts varying terrain from concave meadows and small lakes to craggy hills and steep passes to wet grasslands in a small area of just over 378 sq km. part of the credit goes to the high range of altitude (2000 – 5000 m) of this area and also the catchment of the Ravi River.
A popular Manimahesh (Shiva) Temple exists inside the Kugti Sanctuary and has a large number of visitors during its annual pilgrimage.
The Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary was created as a reserve habitat for the Himalayan Thar, which was declared later as threatened internationally. This Sanctuary was created by the government in 1962 and has been a popular destination for trekkers and mountaineers as it provides passage to the higher peaks of the Himalayas.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Given the altitude (2000 to 5000 meters, and a peak of around 6000 m) the climate here is cold all year round and the higher reaches are almost always covered with snow. During summer, the lower plains are filled with streams and wet patches due to the glacial snowmelt. The winter is snow filled with an aesthetic quality of its own and the Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary receives visitors all year round. However, the best time to visit would be right after the winter, coinciding with snowmelt, from February to June.
How to Reach
Pathankot (200 km) is the nearest airport, from where visitors have to reach the Kugti Sanctuary via Bharmaur.
The Pathankot (209 km) railway station is the nearest terminal and is connected to the rest of India quite efficiently. From here, there is road passage to the Bharmur town that grants access to the Kugti area.
Kugti is well connected to the rest of India by good roads (the famous Kugti Pass) and can be approached from Pathankot (200 km) - Bharmur (30 km) - Hadsar (15 km).
Many Himalayan birds are common here and the Kugti Sanctuary is home to a wide variety of species. The commonly recorded birds are Jungle Babbler Snow Cock, Great Hill Barbet, Monal, Red-Billed Babbler, Red-vented Bul-Bul, Crested Bunting, White Cheeked Bul-Bul, and Greyhead Bunting.
The Himalayan Thar and the Himalayan Brown Bear are the flagship species of the Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary. Other large animals in the sanctuary include Himalayan Yellow Throated Fox Ibex, Brown Langur, Leopard, Deer, Musk Marten, Ghoral and Indian Red Serow. A Snow Leopard sighting was recorded for the very first time in this Sanctuary for the first time in January 2013.
The starting part of the safari has to include the breathtaking trek to the Kugati village. From there on, visitors are taken in jeeps to view the scenery and wildlife in the lower plains as well as the higher plateaus.
Where to Stay
There are many accommodations in the nearby towns of Hadsar, Bharmur and Chamba. Cottages for visitors are also available in the Kugti village, but are very difficult to get a reservation.
- The Sanctuary follows strict rules about cleanliness and animal interaction.
- Many herbivores are particularly friendly to humans and there is strict etiquette in Kugti Wildlife sanctuary regarding the interaction with such animals, example, not feeding them.