Spread over a sprawling 1,553 square kilometer area and located in the Uttarkashi District of Uttarkhand, the Gangotri National Park comprises of a majestic beauty of coniferous forests, and the grandeur of the Himalayan Glacial World meshed together with pleasantly surprising lush green meadows and valleys. It harbors the Western Himalayan sub-alpine conifer forests at lower altitudes and Western Himalayan alpine shrub with meadows at higher elevations.
The forest cover mostly consists of Chirpine Deodar, Fir, Spruce, Oak and Rhododendrons. The Gangotri National Park is home to 15 species of mammals and over 150 species of birds that include some of the rare and charismatic species like the Snow Leopard, Black Bear, Brown Bear, Musk Deer, the Blue Sheep or ‘Bharal’, Himalayan Tahr, Himalayan Monal, Koklass and the Himalayan Snow-Cock. Located on the upper catchment area of the Bhagirathi River, it has a typical high altitude eco-system with decisive influences from the Trans-Himalayan elements.
The north-eastern park boundary however, runs along the international border with China including a considerable stretch of snow-clad mountains and glaciers. The Gaumukh Glacier, located within the Gangotri National Park is the origin of River Ganga, and also happens to be one of the holiest Shrine’s of the Hindus. This park comprises of high ridges, deep gorges, precipitous cliffs, rocky craggy glaciers and narrow valleys is a viable continuity between the Govind National Park and the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. The months of April to October, are the best time to be here; Harsil is the nearest town at 30 kilometers while Dehradun, 220 kilometers in the south is the nearest Airport and Rail-head.
Snow Leopards: A moderately large cat mostly living between 3,000 and 5,500 meters above sea level, are native to the mountain ranges of the South and Central Asian regions. The exact numbers of this secretive animal are unknown; however, estimated that a number between 3,500 - 7,000 Snow-Leopards are said to be living in the wild, of which 600 to 700 occupy places in the zoo worldwide. Although smaller than the other big cats, they have long thick fur with base color varying from Smoky-Grey to Yellowish-Tan mostly with whitish underpants. They have stocky bodies with small and rounded ears, and wide paws enabling better weight distribution for walking on the snow.