Chances are that you had never heard of Malli Mastan Babu until there were reports of a missing Indian mountaineer a few days back. The 40-year old breathed his last in the place he lived for – the mountains. Hailing from Nellore in Andhra Pradhesh, he was the first Indian to summit Mount Vinson Massif, the tallest peak in Antarctica. In 2005, he summitted Mount Kilimanjaro on January 20 in three and a half days.
“Mountains retained its favourite child” – a Facebook page, Rescue Malli Mastan Babu, announced on April 4, 2015 after Chilean teams found his body in the Andes range. Several expressed their grief on social media platforms and distraught friends and fellow mountaineers spoke about the inspiration that Malli has been. But in a country where cricket is the staple sport and in a world that doesn’t see very many mountaineers, Indian climbers like Malli continue to scale new heights (literally) one after the other. So what is it that keeps them going?
The one name that comes in mind when one thinks of mountaineers in India is Bachendri Pal, the first Indian female (and fifth female) to ascend the Mount Everest in 1984.
Bachendri was born into a rural working-class family in Uttarakhand and was one of seven children. Once she chose to be a professional mountaineer, Bachendri did not look back, despite stiff opposition from her family. Her persistence led her to guide an all-woman rafting expedition down the Ganges, covering about 1,500 miles. The Padma Shri awardee also led an all-woman team on a successful 2,500-mile transit of the Himalayas, beginning in Arunachal Pradesh and concluding at the Siachen Glacier. “If women are strong, the nation will be strong,” Bachendri has always maintained, adding that as citizens, each of us should be prepared to handle any situation instead of always depending on the army for help.
Santosh Yadav became the first woman in the world to climb the Mount Everest twice in less than a year (in 1992 and 1993) and the first woman to successfully climb Mount Everest from Kangshung Face. Born in Haryana, Santosh’s love for the mountains took her into the unknown range of Aravallis. Determined to take forward this casual stroll, she ran away from home to attend her first mountaineering expedition. She saved money and enrolled at Uttarkashi’s Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. However it was not a smooth start for the mountaineer. In her own words, Santosh’s parents were “very orthodox and (they) were dead against her decision.” Their focus was on marrying her, and hers was on scaling the Mount Everest. Although she had to fight it out to reach her goal, Santosh says the feeling of standing atop some of the highest peaks in the world is immensely satisfying.
Other mountaineers such as Harish Kapadia, Balwant Sandhu and Captain MS Kohli have been success stories in their own right – at times a helicopter rescue from a 6,200-metre deep gorge, at other times a dislocated hip-joint. These mountaineers chose not to give up in times that tested not only their strength but also their patience. Soon after they continued with the same zeal.
Arunima Sinha, world’s first female amputee to climb the Everest, is a story of inspiration. She attributes her motivation to the horrific incident that made her lose one of her legs. “Life does not stop. I did not want to spend my life on the wheelchair”, she said in an interview. Labeled as “crazy” and discouraged when she talked about climbing, Arunima found solace and encouragement in Bachendri Pal. Even though Arunima did not find support from her family initially, it was not long before her parents came to terms with it. Regardless of constant physical ailments throughout the trek, she knew that there is definitely no gain without any pain.
At the age of 16 years and 11 months, Arjun Vajpai became the youngest Indian to climb the Everest in 2011. He achieved this feat at an age of 16 years, 11 months and 18 days. He broke the record set by Krushnaa Patil who had climbed the summit at the age of 19 years.
India’s tryst with the mountains does not end here. She still produces men and women of steel that leave behind everything to pursue their calling.
Some like Malli leave the comforts of a luxurious white collar job while others rise above physical limitations to conquer not just peaks but will power as well. Each mountaineer has a story to tell and a story to be left behind. For now they are believing in themselves, chasing their dreams and are definitely setting great examples – if only we care to look.
The majestic Himalayan Mountains are home to the highest and most magnificent peaks on Earth. These mountains are not just majestic and beautiful but also extremely holy. From ancient times, the mighty Himalayas have been the abode of divinity. Hundreds of Hindu shrines are nestled in the majestic Himalayan foothills and the lofty ice-clad peaks. Many of these shrines are closely associated with the epics which form the backbone of Hindu culture and ethos. Here are 10 sacred Hindu temples situated in the lofty Himalayas, that you should definitely visit at least once:
1. Badrinarayan Temple
Badrinath Temple located in the state of Uttarakhand in India, between the Twin Mountains of “Nar” and “Narayan”, is a holy pilgrimage visited by lacs of devotees each year. It is mentioned in many Hindu Scriptures, “There may be many sacred pilgrimages in the heaven, earth and the nether world, but there has been none equal to Badrinath, nor shall there be“.This sacred temple is located at a height of around 10,250 feet above sea level and surrounded by landscapes on all sides. The temple is open only six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), due to extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region.
The temple is mentioned in ancient religious texts like Vishnu Purana and Skanda Purana. It is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, an early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD. It is believed that once the Shraddha Karma is performed here, the descendants need not perform the yearly ritual. Badrinath temple has world-famous legends that surround it and it is one of the most esteemed Hindu Temple around the world.
Situated amidst the mighty Himalayas of Nepal is the small yet very powerfully revered temple of Sri Muktinath. According to ancient Hindu beliefs, Sri Muktinath Temple stands for masculine as well as feminine divinity. On one hand, it is considered the most ancient temples of the God Vishnu and the Vaishnava tradition in Nepal as well as one of the 108 Divya Desam, or holy places of worship of Lord Vishnu and, it is also one of the 51 Shakti Peetha goddess sites. Muktinath is a pilgrimage shrine located 140 miles from Kathmandu in the snow-clad Himalayas. It is located near the Gandaki River famous for the Salagrama stones. River Gandaki is also known as Narayani or Salagrami.
3. Pathibhara Devi Temple
Pathibhara Devi is also known by the name Mukkumlung, as mentioned in Mundhum of Limbu people is one of the holiest places for Limbu and for Hindus in Nepal. It is located on the hill of Taplejung. Worshippers from different parts of Nepal and India flock to the temple during special occasions, as it is believed that a pilgrimage to the temple ensures fulfillment of the pilgrims’ desires.
After the Gorkha attack of Limbuwan, the sacred temple of Limbu people (Mangham in Limbu language) was additionally included in the standard Hinduism and is likewise loved as one of the Hindu Shaktipeeths without changing the previous conviction or the acts of the Limbu individuals.
The Goddess at Pathibhara temple is accepted to have otherworldly powers and tirelessly answer enthusiasts’ supplications. She is considered by her devotees as a sign of the celestial female additionally called with different names as AdiKali, Maha Maya, Maha Rudri among numerous other of her perfect structures.
The explorers offer creature penances, gold, and silver to satisfy the goddess. It is accepted that neighborhood shepherds lost several their sheep while touching at a similar spot where the place stands today. The bothered shepherds had a dream in which the Goddess requested them to do the formal penance of sheep and assemble a place of worship in her respect. At the point when the sacrifice was offered the lost group apparently returned. The custom of offering penances inside the temple is accepted to have begun after this occurrence.
The slope goddess Pathibhara after which the spot is named is accepted by the aficionados as a savage goddess who can be effectively satisfied with a basic and magnanimous demonstration of sympathy, supplication and conciliatory contributions (penance in Hinduism indicates penance of sense of self and insatiability), while is unmerciful and extreme to one who has malignant goals underneath.
4. Kalinchowk Bhagwati Temple
Kalinchowk Bhagwati Temple is situated in the Dolkha district of Nepal. The temple is situated in Kalinchowk VDC in Dolkha at an altitude of 3842m from sea level. Kalinchowk Bhagwati can be promoted as a destination for both religious as well as tourism purposes. It is believed that the temple is at a place where all the wishes of the devotees’ are fulfilled in Kunda (Pond) of Bhagwati mai that lies at the hilltop.
Sundhara and Tama, two natural springs that originate from this area are the main sources of the very big two rivers the Sunkoshi and Tama Koshi rivers. One can witness an excellent view of Annapurna, Lamjung, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Shisha Panga, Langtang, Dorjee Lakpa, Jugal Himal, Amabamori, Gauri Shanker, and Namburi Himal from this place.
5. Amarnath Cave Temple
According to the legend, Shiva has given Gods immortality by blessing them with the celestial nectar. Hidden (and lost and forgotten during Middle Ages) in the tough region of Himalayas Amarnath cave is the place where Shiva explained the secret of immortal life to Parvati. Every yogi and Shaiva desiring to conquer Maya, get freed of illusion and become immortal dreams of worshipping the Lingam of Amarnath. Until recently, this yatra was considered the most dangerous in the Himalayas – few people had been able to perform it and for many sadhus, this had been the last desired one-way life’s trip.
Inside the cave of Amarnath there are ice stalagmites: increate Shivalingam, to the left there is a block representing Ganesha and to the right – Parvati and Bhairava. They often change in size, reach the largest size during the full moon, and begin to wane during the new moon.
6. Kedarnath Mandir
This temple is situated in the snow-secured territory of Himalayas. One can just visit this temple during a half year of a year, the remainder of the month, the day off, outrageous virus don’t allow fans to enter. In that capacity, the Kedarnath temple stays shut for pioneers. Because of the extraordinary snowfall of Kartik, the Sri Kedarshwar symbol is brought out of the temple in the wake of lighting a ghee light, “Nanda Deepa” and the temple is shut for the winter. This symbol is moved to the Urvi Math, in the valley. The temple just opens later in Baisakh. Individuals visit here to see the Nanda Deepa, and when they see this, they believe themselves to be honored.
It is another significant site of consecrated Chota Char Dham way is named after King Kedar, whose little girl Vrinda was a manifestation of Lakshmi, Goddess of magnificence, love, and flourishing. The place of worship was worked in the eighth century and it is one of the twelve temples, lodging a Jyotirlingam, which is accepted to discharge from wretchedness each and every individual who genuinely loves Shiva.
This temple is extremely old, it’s even referenced in Mahabharata, in the scene where the Pandavas were attempting to please Shiva with their austerity to make amends for their wrongdoings. There is a spring close to the temple called Udar Kund, its water is accepted to be a blend of 5 seas and to remain new for a long time. This sacred water is frequently utilized in exoneration customs.
8. Gangotri Temple
Gangotri Temple remains on the starting point of the Ganges River. Most Hindus trust it to be the home of Ganga, Goddess of Wisdom, and the hallowed soul of waterway Ganga. It is on the Greater Himalayan Range, at a range of 3,100 meters (10,200 ft). As per the famous Hindu legend, it was here that Goddess Ganga slid when Lord Shiva discharged the forceful stream from the locks of his hair. Its other significance is for the purpose of the Chota Char Dham yatra course. The temple was initially worked by the Nepalese general Amar Singh Thapa in the XVIII century.
As indicated by Hindu sacrosanct history, King Bhagiratha contemplated at this spot so as to gain the favors of Goddess Ganga to have the option to clear the transgressions of his forerunners. After severe atonements, Ganga took a type of a waterway to free their spirits and award them salvation. Each April Goddess Ganga comes back to Gangotri from her winter cover. This day has been celebrated for right around 700 years with carrying on the cart the Goddess’ Idol in red and green garments.
9. Yamunotri Temple
The temple in Yamunotri is located on the left bank of the river Yamuna named after river Goddess Yamuna. The temple usually opens at the end of April and can be visited until Diwali. There are two hot springs near the place, the famous Surya Kund which has boiling water, where the pilgrims poach the rice for the Goddess, and the Gauri Kund with warm water for ablution. According to an ancient Hindu legend, sage Asit Muni bathed all his life in Ganges and Yamuna. When he was too old to go to Gangotri, a stream of Ganges appeared before him in Yamunotri.
10. Kartik Swami Temple
Situated in an all-around flawless setting at a tallness of 3050 m above ocean level, Kartik Swami temple is a worshipped Hindu sanctuary in the Indian Himalaya. The sanctuary is committed to Lord Shiva and Parvati’s senior child Kartikeya who is known as the president of the gods. The temple stands separated from the different temples as its stature is considered higher by devotees. It is close to Kanak Chauri Village of Rudraprayag a good way off of around 40 km from focal Rudraprayag. A stone cut symbol of Kartikeya Swami is adored here.
It is accepted that when Kartikeya got vanquished by his more youthful sibling Ganesha in a dubious scholarly showdown, he relinquished his issues that remain to be worked out Father Shiva severely. This is where the occurrence took.
These Hindu temples are an adobe of divinity. Each year they are visited by scores of tourists, devotees, and travelers. They offer not only peace of mind but being situated in the majestic Himalayas they offer some great visuals. These temples have a very surreal aura and should be a must-visit on everyone’s list.
A study by an international team of scientists has revealed that ancient DNA from mysterious skeletons found in and around Roopkund Lake show there were Mediterranean migrants in Himalayas.
The study involving 28 researchers from institutions in India, the US and Europe revealed that the skeletons belonged to three genetically distinct groups.
The study, published in popular science journal ‘Nature Communications’, covered 38 skeletons found in Roopkund Lake and once thought to have died during a single catastrophic event. However, researchers found that they died in multiple periods separated by at least 1,000 years.
Genome-wide ancient DNA reveals that 23 of the individuals had ancestry that falls within the range of variation of present-day South Asians. A further 14 had ancestry typical of the eastern Mediterranean while one individual was found with Southeast Asian-related ancestry.
According to Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), which was part of the study, it was the first ancient DNA ever reported from India.
Nestled deep in the Himalayan mountains at 5,029 metres above sea level, Roopkund Lake is colloquially referred to as “Skeleton Lake” due to the remains of several hundred ancient humans scattered around its shores.
“Little was known about the origin of these skeletons, as they have never been subjected to systematic anthropological or archaeological scrutiny, in part due to the disturbed nature of the site, which is frequently affected by rockslides, and which is often visited by local pilgrims and hikers who have manipulated the skeletons and removed many of the artifacts,” says the study.
“There have been multiple proposals to explain the origins of these skeletons. Local folklore describes a pilgrimage to the nearby shrine of the mountain goddess, Nanda Devi, undertaken by a king and queen and their many attendants, who “due to their inappropriate, celebratory behaviour” were struck down by the wrath of Nanda Devi. It has also been suggested that these are the remains of an army or group of merchants who were caught in a storm. Finally, it has been suggested that they were the victims of an epidemic.”
The researchers analyzed the remains using a series of bioarcheological analyses, including ancient DNA, stable isotope dietary reconstruction, radiocarbon dating, and osteological analysis.
They obtained genome-wide data from 38 individuals by extracting DNA from powder drilled from long bones, producing next-generation sequencing libraries, and enriching them for approximately 1.2 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from across the genome.
A total of 76 skeletal samples (72 long bones and four teeth) were sampled at the Anthropological Survey of India, Kolkata. Skeletal sampling was performed in dedicated ancient DNA facilities at CCMB in Hyderabad.
A subset of samples were further processed at Harvard Medical School, Boston.
“We first became aware of the presence of multiple distinct groups at Roopkund after sequencing the mitochondrial DNA of 72 skeletons. While many of the individuals possessed genetic information typical of present-day Indian populations, we also identified a large number of individuals with genetic makeup that would be more typical of populations from West Eurasia (a term used in the study to refer to the cluster of ancestry types common in Europe, the Near East, and Iran)” says Kumarasamy Thangaraj, co-senior author and chief scientist at CCMB.
Dr Kumarasamy and then CCMB director Dr Lalji Singh, who is no more, had initiated the work of sampling the skeletons at ancient DNA lab more than a decade ago. (IANS)
At least a third of the ice in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region could melt by the end of this century due to climate change, even if there is aggressive action to curb greenhouse gases and meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement,according to a new study.
The study issued on Monday night said that rising temperatures are a serious threat to the eight countries — India, China, Myanmar, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan — in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, CNN reported.
Fresh water from the region’s glaciers flows into 10 major river basins, contributing to the drinking water, irrigation and energy needs of approximately 1.9 billion people, or about a quarter of the world’s population.
“The consequences are pretty extreme. We are concerned, and we are worried,” said one of the study’s authors, Philippus Wester, chief scientist with the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.
“Urgent climate action is needed,” he said.
Glaciers have been retreating and thinning in the area since the 1970s but there has been an accelerating rate of retreat since then, the study said.
Climate change will also reduce how much food farmers will be able to produce in this part of the world. About 70 per cent of the population of this region are farmers, and there is already great food insecurity there, it added.
Warmer water temperatures will encourage the growth of invasive species. Extreme floods and droughts may “destroy the food production base of the region”, the study said, adding the rivers that farmers and energy companies rely on, like the Ganges, Yangtze, Mekong and Indus, will also be affected by glacier melt.
The Hindu Kush Himalayan Assessment was put together by more than 200 authors aiming to create a baseline of knowledge to understand the region. (IANS)