Posted by: Sameer K S on
May 30, 2010
This was my third Himalayan trek and I can safely say, this is one place on earth I would never get tired of. The first was with my father, who after a lot of persuasion convinced my mother to tag me along, the second time it was my cousins turn to care for me. Not to mention, both the times I was the youngest participant of the group. Finally, here I was all by myself ready to conquer the Himalayas.
This time the destination was the Saurkundi pass located in the kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh situated at an altitude of 13000 feet. The base camp for the trek was located at Babeli off the Kullu-Manali highway. Incidentally this turned out to be the same village from from where I had begun my first Himalayan sojourn. I still had fond memories of the place.
I still remember the first bus journey with my father on the Kullu-Manali highway. One could see the snow covered peaks all through the route and river Beas accompanying us wherever we went, with all its gusto. The cold chilling breeze hitting one's face would make shivers go down the spine. It was the first time I had experienced something so spectacular, it had made me go numb. With respect to the camp, the entire location was something fascinating, with snow covered hills and beautiful valleys surrounding it and river Beas flowing adjacent to it on the other side of the highway. We could hear the sound of the gushing waters all day long. For a thirteen year old boy like me, it had to be the most beautiful place on earth. It has been ten years since and suddenly you realize all's not the same.
Being relatively familiar to a particular place gives plenty of scope for improvement . It was really hard for me to resist the comparison of what the thirteen year old boy had seen then to that of the present and I must say it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. This time round, traversing on the Kullu- Manali highway one had to make an effort to see the one odd snow covered peak (which were plenty then), there was no more the cold chilling breeze that I had hoped for and the Beas was nothing more than a megre stream, a far fetched cry from those ravaging waters. As for the camp site, one could see the denuded hill slopes all round which were severely exploited for want of softwood (Pinus and Deodar) and occupied extensively for human habitation. There was no more the sound of gushing waters of the Beas. The river once accessed by hop, skip and a jump was now out of reach, one had to walk much longer to reach the water front. One could easily make out the drastic reduction in the water levels by pointing to the water markings on the scattered boulders. The water levels had receded by nearly 15-20 meters (in a decades time). My notion of the change in water levels was re-iterated by the local folk who seemed to share similar views. On the contrary, it was also learnt that the previous winter had been the most severe in the last fifty years and there had been extensive snowfall throughout the valley, even then this was the case. This definitely makes clear the extent of damage that has been created in the last decade, even after so much fanfare about global warming and its ill effects.
Considering ten years not long enough in the life span of the planet (Earth), I was nonetheless surprised or I must say shocked to see these dramatic changes. The trip became more a self-realization of sorts. I never knew it would hit me so hard. Global Warming is not a joke, it is as real as it gets. Its high time we realize the consequences and work towards mitigating this phenomena, by doing our bit for the good of all species.