It is a National Park between Skardu, Gultari, Kharmang and Astore valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan in North of Pakistan. The word “Deosai” means ‘the Land of the Giants’. Balti people called it as ‘Ghabarsia’ because of its accessibility in to the land in the summers only.
Deosai National Park lies in outskirts of Skardu and its average elevation is about 4,114 metres (13,497 feet) above sea level. The Plains is one of the highest plateaus in the world. The park stretches over an area of 3,000 square kilometres (1,200 square miles). It is quite famous for its rich flora and fauna of the typical Karakoram, West Tibetan Plateau and alpine steppe eco-region. In the spring season, it is covered with wildflowers and a vast variety of butterflies.
Geology and Soil:
The soil of this area is coarse in nature as it is a mixture of gravel and stones of different sizes. In flat areas between the mountains, the soil is deep with marshy vegetation.
How to Reach There:
Deosai is accessible from Skardu District through the North, Gultari Kharmang District through the South-East and from the Astore District through the West. Deosai is 30 kilometres away from Skardu city, which is the shortest route to reach there. Mostly the foreigners prefer to visit to Deosai from Skardu side and it takes about an hour to reach on the top, from Sadpara, Skardu. The other route is from Astore valley through Chilim. It is accessible from the Shila valley. The people of Gultari, mainly travel through Deosai. There is another route is Burgi-la through Tsoq Kachura valley in Skardu.
Sheosar lake or Deosai lake is a magnificent lake in the Deosai Park. The meaning of Sheosar is “Blind lake” as Sheo means Blind and Sar means lake. The lake is at an elevation of 4,142 metres (13,589 feet) above sea level. It is one of the highest lakes in the world. Its length is 2.3 kilometres (7,545 feet), width 1.8 kilometres (5,906 feet) and average depth 40 metres (131 feet).
Flora and Fauna:
The Deosai National Park was established in 1993 for the protection of the endangered Himalayan brown bear and its habitat. After banning poachers and the hunters, the number of bears has significantly increased from 19 bears in 1993 to 40 in 2005. In 1993 Himalayan Wildlife Project was launched with a substantial financial support from the International Environmental Protection Organizations. But the efforts are not sufficient to protect the brown bear as it is still in danger.
The Deosai National Park is home to the Himalayan Ibex, Red Fox, Golden Marmot (locally called Phia), Gray Wolf, the Ladakh Urial, the Snow Leopard, as well as other 124+ species of local and migratory birds. Birds in the Park include the Golden Eagle, Lammergeier, Griffon Vulture, Laggar Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Sparrow-Hawk and Snow-Cock.
There are so many shrubs botanical plants and trees in the Deosai National Park like Artemisia Maritima, Polygonum Affine, Thalictrum Alpinum, Bromus Oxyodon, Saxifraga Flagellaris, Androsace Mucronifolia, Aster Flaccidus, Barbarea Vulgaris, Agropyron Longearistatum, Nepeta Connate, Carex Ruenta, Ranaculyus Laetus, Arenaria Neelgerrensis, Astrogalus Leucophylla, Polygonum Amplexinade, Echinop Nivetus, Seria Chrysanthenoides, Dracocephalum Nutsus, Anapalas Contorta, Chrysopogon Echinulatus, and Dianthus Crinitus.
There are some medicinal plants which are locally famous for using in traditional medication like Thymu Linearis (Reetumburuk), Saussures Appa (Kuth), Ephedra Intimedia (Say), Viola Canescens (Skora-Mindoq), Dracocephalum Muristanicum (Shamdun) and Artemisia maritima (Bursay) etc.
Accessibility and Scenery:
The Deosai Plains accessible between mid June and late September. There must be sporadic windstorms that are certain to test the sturdiness of your tent. Since it is on the altitude of about 13,000 feet above sea, there is no support of trees or shrubbery on the grasslands and Deosai remains a land of denizens, which are scattered colonies of large marmots. It is surrounded by snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, gives a spectacular look of unique combination of absolutely leveled ground and steepest hills. It is not simply a plateau; offering a scenic view of the mountains, it is an immense stretch of land; which has to be witnessed, to be felt and to be believed.
Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan