Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary – The Complete Travel Guide

Himalayan Black Bear at Kugti
Credit: WY Agency

Table of Contents

  1. About Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary
  2. Wildlife and Vegetation
  3. Trekking at Kugti
  4. Kugti Sanctuary Facts
  5. How to Reach Kugti Village
  6. Places to visit in Kugti
  7. Things to do at Kugti
  8. Best time to visit Kugti
  9. Travel tips for visiting Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary
  10. Kugti National Park Safari Timings
  11. Kugti National Park Entry Fee
  12. Resorts & Hotels to stay in Kugti

About Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary

The second-largest wildlife sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh, the Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at an altitude that ranges from 2195 meters to 5040 meters above sea level. With a diverse landscape and an abundance of flora and fauna, the sanctuary has bountiful water resources originating from the glaciers. It also houses the famous Manimahesh temple that is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year.

Wildlife and Vegetation

Wildlife and Vegetation at Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary
Wildlife and Vegetation

The Kugti Sanctuary is home to western mixed coniferous trees, moist-temperate deciduous trees, Kharsu oak, Birch or Rhododendron scrub trees, and alpine trees and pasture. The Kugti National Park also houses some interesting wildlife like the Brown Bear, Cheer Pheasant, Common Langur, Goral, Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan Ibex, Himalayan Tahr, Koklas, Leopard, Leopard Cat, Monal, Snow Leopard, and Yellow-throated Marten. The bird fauna of Kugti is still unexplored and fascinating. With over 40 species of birds recorded so far, it is a paradise for bird watchers as you can spot a rare bird at any time.

Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary Infographic

Trekking at Kugti

The Kugti Pass Trek is a picturesque but unexplored option that trekking enthusiasts must consider. A trek that can take you up to an altitude of 16,600 feet is a difficult climb and probably one of the most difficult treks in the Central Himalayas. The trek usually starts from Bharmour at a distance of around 21 km from Kugti village. The trek has it all – deodar and pine forests, emerald meadows, picturesque waterfalls, glistening streams, and endless orchards of apples and peaches. The most beautiful part of it is meeting shepherds moving through the terrains to find grazing grounds for their sheep. Once you reach the pass, some breathtaking views of the Lahaul Valley, Manimahesh Kailash Peak, and Grechu Pass await you.

Kugti Pass Trek

If you are a trekking enthusiast, #SavaariRecommends this gorgeous Sandakphu trek through the lower Himalayas.

Kugti Sanctuary Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • The Kugti Sanctuary is located at a distance of around 85-90 km from Chamba, Himachal Pradesh, around 30 km from Bharmaur, and 15 km from Kugti village.
  • The sanctuary is spread across an area of around 378 square km.
  • It has flora and fauna unique to the Himalayan region and is home to the less-known Himalayan Brown Bear. While India is usually associated with the Black Bear, the Himalayan Brown Bear, also known as Dzu-The, is found in Kugti National Park.
Himalayan Black Bear at Kugti Wildlife Santuary
Himalayan Black Bear

Kugti is the last village in Chamba and is an excellent destination for people looking for a remote Himalayan village experience. The villagers of Kugti are self-sufficient and tend to grow their own food and keep livestock. The locals are warm and welcoming too. Winters can be a little harsh here so be careful before planning a winter getaway to this remote village.

How to Reach Kugti Village

Here are some ways to reach Kugti village and the wildlife sanctuary:

  • By Train – The Pathankot Railway Station is the closest railhead to Kugti Sanctuary. It is at a distance of around 180 km from the sanctuary. You can reach Pathankot from most major railway stations in India. From Pathankot, you can either take a cab to Chamba (around 120 km) and then take to Kugti (80 km) or a direct cab to Kugti.
  • By Flight – The Jammu Civil Enclave or the Jammu Airport is the nearest airport to Kugti. It is located at a distance of around 290 km from Jammu Airport. From the airport, you can either take a cab directly to Kugti or take a bus to Chamba (around 206 km) and then take a cab to Kugti.
  • By Road – To reach the Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary by road, you can either take a flight to Jammu or a train to Pathankot from any part of India. You can then take a cab directly from Jammu or Pathankot to Kugti village. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Chamba and then a taxi to Kugti.
How to Reach Kugti Village

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Places to visit in Kugti

  • Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary

The most popular place to visit in the quaint Kugti village is the Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary. Famous for some unique flora and fauna, this place is an excellent option to fall in love with nature all over again.

  • Manimahesh Lake

The Manimahesh Lake, also known as Shiv Kund or Dal Jheel is a religious site in Kugti. It is situated at the foot of the Kailash Peak that is known to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Every year, on the eighth day of the light half of the moon in the month of Bhadon, a fair is held at this lake. Thousands of pilgrims assemble here to take a dip in the holy water.

  • Bharmour

Bharmour is a beautiful town that is surrounded by Pir Panjal mountain range. It is also known as the Land of Shiva since the famous Mount Kailash is located in this area. The town is popular for its beautiful surroundings, Manimahesh, Bharmani Mata Temple, Thala Waterfall, Hadsar Waterfall, Kaksen – Bhagsen Waterfalls, and Chaurasi temples.

Things to do at Kugti

  1. Spot some rare animals. The Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the few places in India where you can spot the Himalayan Brown Bear and Snow Leopard. It is also one of the late homes for the Himalayan Tahr.
  2. Experience a digital detox. Most times, there is no phone reception in Kugti. Moreover, during the harsh winter months, the village doesn’t have electricity too. Experience the no-frill, spartan style holiday.
  3. Visit Kartik Swami Temple. Located at an altitude of around 3100 meters above sea level, the Kartik Swami Temple has some interesting stories attached to it. It also offers mesmerizing views of the surroundings.
  4. Go for a Kugti Pass Trek.
  5. Visit the scenic town of Bharmour.
Kartik Swami Temple
Kartik Swami Temple

Best time to visit Kugti

The best time to visit Kugti is from April to June and October to November. The weather during these months is pleasant and the flora and fauna are at their best.

Travel tips for visiting Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary

  1. The Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the least-explored places in Himachal Pradesh. Hence, ensure that you plan your trip carefully before leaving.
  2. If you love nature photography, then this sanctuary can be an endless source of joy. Be sure to carry extra memory cards as you will never run out of picture-perfect frames.
  3. While visiting any religious place, ensure that you adhere to the guidelines specified by the locals.
  4. With minimal to zero phone connectivity and patchy electricity during winters, ensure that you are not stuck here due to the unavailability of these modern-day amenities.
Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary

Kugti National Park Safari Timings

The Park opens for tourists from 8 AM to 4 PM on all days of the week.

Kugti National Park Entry Fee

There is no entry fee to visit the Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary.

Resorts & Hotels to stay in Kugti

Here is a list of resorts and hotels to stay near Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary (30-40 km from the sanctuary):

  • Tandi Sarai Huts
  • Hotel Bharmour View
  • Sky Hills
  • Hotel Highland
  • Araiya Palampur
  • Rakkh Resort
  • The Citadel Resorts, Jiya
  • Hotel Thamsar
  • Hotel Rongla
  • RS Sarovar Portico
  • Mastiff Villa Camellia

About the author

An engineer by degree, a writer by passion, I’m a lover of fiction, classics and Shah Rukh Khan. When I’m not busy challenging the status quo, one word at a time, I fancy reading, shoe-hoarding and petting my cat.

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