Uttaranchal, earlier Uttarakhand has an enriched wildlife with the forests covering 63% of the total state area. This wildlife draws a number of tourists from all over the country. Some of the important parks and sanctuaries in the state are- Govind national park, Kedarnath sanctuary, Nanda Devi national park, Askot wildlife sanctuary, etc. All these parks and sanctuaries provide refuge to a large number of rare and endangered species along with maintaining the ecological balance in nature. Ascot wildlife sanctuary is a sheer pleasure to the travelers.
The sanctuary is marked for its pristine natural surroundings that consist of mountains and lush greeneries. For this perennial beauty, it is rightly known as the 'green paradise of India'.
The sanctuary is also named as the Ascot wildlife sanctuary. It is located near a place named Ascot or Askot in Orissa. The name of the sanctuary has been derived from it. As it was established with the primary object of protecting the musk deer, it is also known as the Ascot Muscat Sanctuary.
The Muscat sanctuary was established in the year 1986. The primary objective was to protect and conserve the rare species of musk deer (Moschus moschiferus) that was available in the region. Today the sanctuary houses a good number of this species.
Area and location:
The sanctuary sprawls across an area of 284 sq. km. It is located 54 km from Pithoragarh near Ascot in the state of Uttaranchal. It stands at an altitude of 1650 m (5412 ft). The location of the sanctuary in the middle of a snow-covered peak in the Kumaon region in the Himalayas will simply drive you crazy.
Flora and fauna:
Like other sanctuaries in the state, the Askot wildlife sanctuary is blessed with an enriched biodiversity. You will find a considerable number of climbers, herbs, trees and shrubs. Darkunja, Eucalyptus, Kail, Khersu, Teak, Kunj, Fir, Bhoj Patra, Raijal and Grevelia are the main vegetation of the region.
Apart from the floral species, visitors are also allured by the faunal species that include birds, animals and reptiles. The musk deer remain to be the main attraction. But you will also find Snow Tiger, Turtles, Leopard, Spectacled cobras, Bharal, Deer, Kakar, Gaur, Thar, Horns, grey Himalayan bear, Antlers, black Himalayan bear, Monkeys, black Eagles, Chukoras, Lemurs, bonnet Macaques, Bison, Snow cock, Kraits, Pheasant, Darters, Serow, Vipers, Little cormorants, etc.
When to visit?
November to mid-June remains the best time to visit the sanctuary as the weather remains quite predictable.
Where to stay?
You can opt for accommodation in the forest rest houses at Askot, Rugling, Tejam and Kaflani.
- By air: Naina Sani in Pithoragarh at a distance of less than 60 km is the nearest airport.
- By rail: Tanakpur at a distance of 204 km is the closest railway station.
- By road: The sanctuary is around 55 km from the Pithoragarh and 150 km from Almora. It is easily accessible by road via Tanakpur - Pithoragarh or via Haldwani - Almora.
Some extra dose:
When you are only 54 km from the Pithoragrh in the sanctuary, why not visit the famous tourist attractions in and around Pithoragarh? The scenic sanctuary of Ashur Chulaa, the picturesque views of Chandak hill, Manu Temple Nakuleswar temple and Dhwaj temple, Patal Bhubaneswar and the small town of Jhulaghat on the Indo-Nepal border are places worth-a-visit.
So take this rare chance to explore the forests of Uttaranchal in the Askot wildlife sanctuary. You will be able to feel the tranquility of Mother Nature far away from the humdrums of civilization.