Instituted in 1980, the Margalla Hills National Park comprises the Margalla Hills (12605 hectares) the Rawal Lake, and Shakarparian Sports and Cultural complex. Located in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The hill range nestles between an elevation of 685 meters at the western end and 1,604 meters on its east, Tilla Charouni with a height of 1,604m is tallest peak in the park.
The Margalla Hills is a hill range part of the foothills Himalayas located within the Margalla Hills National Park, has an area of 12,605 hectares. The hills are a part of Murree hills. It is a range with many valleys as well as high mountains.
The park is rich in biodiversity especially rich in Sino-himalayan fauna, most notably gray goral, barking deer and the Leopard. Combined MHNP is home to around 600 plant species, 250 bird varieties, 38 mammals and 13 species of reptiles.
On 6 January 2012, after almost six years, Pir Sohawa, the citys highest tourist spot in the Park, received few inches of snowfall. Another measurable snow event occurred on 11 February 2016 where 2 inches fell after four years.
Margalla Hills National Park is a national park located on the north of the Islamabad City, within the Islamabad Capital Territory in Pakistan.
The park includes the Margalla Hills which form's the foothills of the Himalayas, along with Shakarparian Park and Rawal Lake.
Margalla Hills National Park is a popular tourist destination, with Daman-e-Koh and Pir Sohawa serve as popular hill stations, while Shakarparian Cultutal Complex and Lake View Park are popular picnic spots.
There are around 250 to 300 species of plants on the Margalla hills, These plant species belong to various families of trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers, grasses and fodder crops. The vegetation of the southern slopes is deciduous and evergreen trees with most of flowering trees like Bauhinia variegata, Ficus carica, and trees like Pinus roxburghii, Quercus leucotrichophora. In the north stand pines, eucalyptus, peepal trees (Ficus religiosa), paper mulberry and groves of oak, e.g. silver oaks.
The Margalla Hills are home to various species of wildlife, including monkeys, exotic birds and carnivores such as the rare and presently endangered Margalla leopard, Commonly found animals include rhesus monkeys, jackals (often heard cackling at night near the hills), wild boars, porcupines, mongoose and the pangolin or scaly anteater.
Much less common are leopards, which occasionally come down from the Murree area but usually remain high up in the hills. Villagers dwelling in the Margallas do report sighting of leopards off and on.
There are a number of species of poisonous snakes in the area, including cobras, Russell's vipers, kraits known in local parlance as the half-minute killer and indian phython. The snakes hibernate in the winter months; but tread carefully in the hotter months and particularly the monsoon months, when snakes abound. While they are to be found mainly in and around the hills, occasionally an overgrown garden can prove the ideal home.
As a result of a series of faunal survey of the park, 54 species of butterflies, 37 species of fish, 9 species of amphibians, 20 species of reptiles, 380 species of birds, 21 species of small mammals and 15 species of large mammals have so far been recorded.
Birds in the park include Himalayan griffon vulture, laggar falcon, peregrine falcon, kestrel, Indian sparrow hawk, Egyptian vulture, white cheeked bulbul, yellow vented bulbul, paradise flycatcher, black partridge, cheer pheasant, Khalij pheasant, golden oriole, spotted dove, collared dove, larks, shrikes, wheatears and buntings.
Popular tourist destinations include:
panoramic view of Islamabad: Daman-e-Koh and Pir Sohawa serve as popular hill stations, provides a panoramic view of Islamabad. The visitors experience a unique view of Faisal Mosque, the Seventh Avenue (Islamabad) and Rawal Lake.
Telescopes are installed for keen observers. There is also a large sign installed showing an original map of Islamabad.
Bird watching: The Margallas are an excellent place for bird watchers. The area is home to a large number of birds such as larks, paradise flycatcher, black partridge, shrikes pheasants, spotted doves, Egyptian vultures, falcons, hawks and eagles.
Hiking and trekking: The Margallas are excellent for hiking and cater for both the regular serious hikers and the less serious occasional enthusiasts.
The safest and most frequented hike path is from the zoo park to Daman-e-Koh.
The best season for hiking is from February to April, when there is less rain and the weather is extremely pleasant.
Rock climbing: There are many spots for rock climbing in Margalla Hills. Few crags have been developed but, still a lot of potential available to explore virgin lines.
Although, sport climbing is becoming increasingly popular among the youth of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, but only few local climbers can climb at advance level.
Boating and Fishing Rawal lake provides place for many avtivities like picnic spots, fishing, boating, sailing, water skating and diving. These facilities are organized by private clubs.
Paragliding and hang gliding: Facilities for Paragliding and Hang gliding are provided by private clubs based in Islamabad.
The Park is located within the Islamabad Capital Territory and easily accessible from Islamabad city by Road.