Dhauladhar Nature Park & Zoo in Gopalpur, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh - A great place around snow covered mountains of Palampur-Dharmshala for good time with Kids

What do you do when you are driving without a particular destination in mind and have time on your hands, and a zoo suddenly materializes on the roadside? You stop and visit, of course. I know people have mixed feelings about zoos and many zoos make me feel very sad for the animals that they house, but I still like to take a look. Not this zoo though. Dhauladhar Nature Park & Zoo in Himachal Pradesh was better than most though.
Leopard

What do you do when you are driving without a particular destination in mind and have time on your hands, and a zoo suddenly materializes on the roadside? You stop and visit, of course. I know people have mixed feelings about zoos and many zoos make me feel very sad for the animals that they house, but I still like to take a look. Not this zoo though. Dhauladhar Nature Park & Zoo in Himachal Pradesh was better than most though. 

This was an unplanned stop when we were exploring Kangra during a recent visit to Dharamshala. We happened to spot it on our way to Chamunda Devi Temple. We had reached there at around 4:30 and the zoo closes at 5. So we quickly bought the tickets and entered the complex.
Barking Deer

This was an unplanned stop when we were exploring Kangra during a recent visit to Dharamshala. We happened to spot it on our way to Chamunda Devi Temple. We had reached there at around 4:30 and the zoo closes at 5. So we quickly bought the tickets and entered the complex. 

Related Blogpost - Mixed feelings from our quick visit to tiny zoo in Rewalsar, a Lake Town of Himachal Pradesh

 

We had thought that we had enough time to explore before the sun goes down. Mountain zoos are usually small and do not house too much of a variety of fauna. And usually the timings mentioned are for entry. Once you enter, you can finish your round and exit without needing to hurry too much. So we took our time to look at the pheasants, Gorals, and Barking deer.
Himalayan Griffon Vulture

We had thought that we had enough time to explore before the sun goes down. Mountain zoos are usually small and do not house too much of a variety of fauna. And usually the timings mentioned are for entry. Once you enter, you can finish your round and exit without needing to hurry too much. So we took our time to look at the pheasants, Gorals, and Barking deer. 


Lion's enclosure is built on an incline and is pretty large, so we spotted the lion from a distance and it was facing away from us. We thought that we would complete the walk and come around to the other side and get a closer look later. So we moved ahead to look at Wild Boar and Sambhar. All of these animals have very large enclosures. Sambhars especially looked very comfortable as they chewed on grass and observed our movements.
Black Kite

Lion's enclosure is built on an incline and is pretty large, so we spotted the lion from a distance and it was facing away from us. We thought that we would complete the walk and come around to the other side and get a closer look later. So we moved ahead to look at Wild Boar and Sambhar. All of these animals have very large enclosures. Sambhars especially looked very comfortable as they chewed on grass and observed our movements.

 
We then went round to the other side and took our time to admire the Griffon Vulture and the Leopard Cat. Not all fauna was in cages. We saw a Blue-Fronted Redstart and a Black kite chilling in the fences and on platforms near the cages. We clicked them too.   Related Blogpost - Darjeeling Zoo and its Exotic Animals
Leopard Cat

We then went round to the other side and took our time to admire the Griffon Vulture and the Leopard Cat. Not all fauna was in cages. We saw a Blue-Fronted Redstart and a Black kite chilling in the fences and on platforms near the cages. We clicked them too. 


And then we reached the leopard enclosure. It was divided into two sections. One towards the back that seemed to house bigger leopards and the one in front that had almost full-grown juveniles. As we were looking at them, they started getting restless and soon one stood up and started growling at something. Then growling and snarling, it started running at full speed. we first thought that it wanted to attack us, but then realized that it was headed to the covered feeding enclosure.
Leopard

And then we reached the leopard enclosure. It was divided into two sections. One towards the back that seemed to house bigger leopards and the one in front that had almost full-grown juveniles. As we were looking at them, they started getting restless and soon one stood up and started growling at something. Then growling and snarling, it started running at full speed. we first thought that it wanted to attack us, but then realized that it was headed to the covered feeding enclosure. 


It was then that we noticed the cause of this reaction. There was a man (a zoo keeper) walking on top of the cage and ordering these big, scary cats to head to the enclosure. And within 5 minutes, all leopards, big and small, were inside the enclosure. The amount of noise they were making was incredible and scary and we were imagining what would happen if they were to break out somehow. Thankfully, we did not get an opportunity to find out.   Related Blogpost - Zoo in Capital City of India, Delhi
Blue-fronted Redstart

It was then that we noticed the cause of this reaction. There was a man (a zoo keeper) walking on top of the cage and ordering these big, scary cats to head to the enclosure. And within 5 minutes, all leopards, big and small, were inside the enclosure. The amount of noise they were making was incredible and scary and we were imagining what would happen if they were to break out somehow. Thankfully, we did not get an opportunity to find out.


We then strolled towards the lion enclosure, and the great lion that we had seen from a distance was nowhere to be seen now. We thought that may be the lion too has been driven to its enclosure and soon were able to confirm the same with the two zoo keepers who were coming back after ensuring that all predators were nice and snug in their covered enclosures.   Related Blogpost - San Diego Zoo - One of the must visit places in San Diego, California
Sambhar Deer

We then strolled towards the lion enclosure, and the great lion that we had seen from a distance was nowhere to be seen now. We thought that may be the lion too has been driven to its enclosure and soon were able to confirm the same with the two zoo keepers who were coming back after ensuring that all predators were nice and snug in their covered enclosures.
 

We assumed that this was being done to protect the animals from cold and frost, but only the predators were being driven inside. Why not the herbivores? Or was it to keep the variables at the minimum when it comes to predators? At night most of the staff would leave for their homes, so the support would be at minimum as well if anything unexpected happens. But we did not ask the zoo staff. We should have done so to find out the exact reason.
Wild Boar

We assumed that this was being done to protect the animals from cold and frost, but only the predators were being driven inside. Why not the herbivores? Or was it to keep the variables at the minimum when it comes to predators? At night most of the staff would leave for their homes, so the support would be at minimum as well if anything unexpected happens. But we did not ask the zoo staff. We should have done so to find out the exact reason.  


Anyway, these were the last few animals that we saw at the zoo and by 5:15 we were out of the place and ready to head back toward Dharamshala. Even if you explore the zoo fully, you will probably find that you can spend only about a couple hours in this tiny zoo.
Sambhar Deer

Anyway, these were the last few animals that we saw at the zoo and by 5:15 we were out of the place and ready to head back toward Dharamshala. Even if you explore the zoo fully, you will probably find that you can spend only about a couple hours in this tiny zoo. 


However, unlike Darjeeling Zoo, this zoo did not leave me questioning about the welfare of animals as much. Each animal seemed to have a large enclosure and the zoo hadn't tried to stuff in too many species. Of course when it comes to wild animals, no enclosure is large enough and for birds, nothing can compare to open skies. But animals here looked happy and active and healthy.
Asiatic Lion

However, unlike Darjeeling Zoo, this zoo did not leave me questioning about the welfare of animals as much. Each animal seemed to have a large enclosure and the zoo hadn't tried to stuff in too many species. Of course when it comes to wild animals, no enclosure is large enough and for birds, nothing can compare to open skies. But animals here looked happy and active and healthy.

 
And upon doing some research, I also discovered that the zoo also houses some animals that need medical treatment and rehabilitation. You can find the details in the 2019-20 annual report of the zoo. Though many of the animals that come to the zoo came in too badly hurt and couldn't survive, at least some were nursed back to health and released back in to the wild.
Barking Deer

And upon doing some research, I also discovered that the zoo also houses some animals that need medical treatment and rehabilitation. You can find the details in the 2019-20 annual report of the zoo. Though many of the animals that come to the zoo came in too badly hurt and couldn't survive, at least some were nursed back to health and released back in to the wild.  


The Dhauladhar Nature Park was inaugurated on 23rd April 1992 and is located about 20 kilometers from Dharamshala and about 13 kilometers from Palampur. The roads are all smooth and the drive is good. The trip to Dhauladhar Nature Park can be planned along with a visit to Kangra Fort.
Red Junglefowl

The Dhauladhar Nature Park was inaugurated on 23rd April 1992 and is located about 20 kilometers from Dharamshala and about 13 kilometers from Palampur. The roads are all smooth and the drive is good. The trip to Dhauladhar Nature Park can be planned along with a visit to Kangra Fort. 


 
During the winter months (October to March) the park is open from 9 AM to 5 PM and during summer months (April to September) the park is open from 9AM to 7PM. The park is closed on Mondays, so plan your trip accordingly.
Khalij Pheasant

During the winter months (October to March) the park is open from 9 AM to 5 PM and during summer months (April to September) the park is open from 9AM to 7PM. The park is closed on Mondays, so plan your trip accordingly. 


The park was created with three main objectives - 1) to create awareness among visitors about nature and wildlife, 2) for conservation and breeding of wildlife and related research, and 3) to acquire knowledge about wildlife through research, education, and study of animal behavior. While the objectives are all noble, Zoos in general need to do a better job in making the visits interesting. For example, interesting animal behaviors can be mentioned on the identification placards outside enclosures. And some video documentaries and also more interaction with zoo keepers can make the visits more interesting and educational.
Khalij Pheasant

The park was created with three main objectives - 1) to create awareness among visitors about nature and wildlife, 2) for conservation and breeding of wildlife and related research, and 3) to acquire knowledge about wildlife through research, education, and study of animal behavior. While the objectives are all noble, Zoos in general need to do a better job in making the visits interesting. For example, interesting animal behaviors can be mentioned on the identification placards outside enclosures. And some video documentaries and also more interaction with zoo keepers can make the visits more interesting and educational. 

You can travel to the Dhauladhar Nature Park in your own vehicle (there's parking outside the park), or you can board a bus from Palampur or Dharamshala. You can also travel by train to Chamunda Temple Railway Station from where the park is about 10 kms. Nearest airport is at Gaggal, which is about 32 kilometers from the Zoo.
Grey Peacock Pheasant

You can travel to the Dhauladhar Nature Park in your own vehicle (there's parking outside the park), or you can board a bus from Palampur or Dharamshala. You can also travel by train to Chamunda Temple Railway Station from where the park is about 10 kms. Nearest airport is at Gaggal, which is about 32 kilometers from the Zoo. 

If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -   1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter Use dustbins.  2. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.   3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.   4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.  5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite.
Himalayan Goral

If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling - 

1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter Use dustbins.

2. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin. 

3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem. 

4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits. 

5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite.

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