Friday November 22, 2019

Chandrashila: Trek to the ‘moon rock’

0
//

By Arundhati Roy

It seldom happens that a place initiates a new phase in someone’s life. It tends to inspire the person in a way that was previously unknown. A trek to Chandrashila summit raises questions in a person which can never be answered but only contemplated.

This trek takes you to the world’s highest Shiva temple situated in Tungnath which is one of the Panch Kedar temples, at a height of 12074 ft. The summit of Tungnath is Chandrashila Peak at an altitude of 13000 ft. above the sea level. This is an all season trek known for breath-taking landscapes and dense forests surrounded with excellent views of the peaks.

The trek begins from Deoriatal, amid nicely stretched greenery, which reminds us how vast and overpowering Mother Nature could be. The trail winds through five different varieties of forests; Oaks, Maple and Rhododendrons are the prominent variants that one would not miss to spot. The trek is full of sudden, uphill trails covered with wooded trees, and then within a blink of the eye, there is a moss-covered downhill trail through enveloping tunnels.

11838817_10206896187139627_8964569498996584942_o

This stupendous sight is followed by the trails that weave through clearings in the jungles in Rohini Bugyal. There are tall trees on the way which lay fallen on the ground with wild mushrooms growing on them. If one manages to see the entire scene from a distance, it would appear as if these beautiful elements of nature have been deliberately placed in order to create an awe-inspiring moment.

11143222_10206896423185528_3553939600476603832_o

If there’s a bird watchers’ trail, then it has to be Deoriatal. The Himalayan woodpecker and Verditer Flycatcther can be easily spotted here. It has more birds to show in one day than the entire Goechala trek. There is a waterfall on the way, which invites trekkers to bathe in it after the exhausting 12 hour trek to the village of Chopta.

The last stretch of the trek is from Chopta to Tungnath, and then to Chandrashila. It seems short when cited in terms of distance, i.e. 3 .5 kms, but the trail ascends sharply via a series of 11 scissor bends. The walk is made pleasant due to the magnificent view despite the continuous steep climb.

This trail passes through a section of Bhoj trees before the Tungnath temple, on a concrete and stone laden path. The entire route is surrounded by the Himalayan range of mountains. Every time one stops to catch a breath, the view doesn’t fail to amaze.

12038915_10206896323583038_512027852437575903_o

Wide, lush, green meadows stretch for as far as the eyes can see, with the clouds continuously rolling in and relaying with sunshine. There comes a point where the excitement to reach the destination demands rest and makes one stop and think about where they are standing, with just a few souls scattered at a distance. If any elderly local passes by you nonchalantly, don’t be intimidated. They’re very friendly.

The trek from Tungnath to Chandrashila is an ascent of 600 feet and is even steeper than the previous one. It might just be of 1 km but the climb tends to be very hectic. A part of the trail presents a view from a cliff which looks over layers of mountains in the distance thinly veiled by clouds.

The trek is, literally, a walk through clouds and an extremely exhilarating experience. The steepness is scary but the thrill to reach the top with nothing to climb beyond it, keeps one motivated. Nothing can beat the view at the top of the summit, as it looks over parts of the Himalayan mountain range including Nanda Devi.

The altitude gain could hamper the breathing but it’s all forgiven, for the feeling of accomplishment cannot match anything.

To be able to spend some time at the tip on the Chandrashila summit can prove to be an once-in-a-lifetime experience. The mountains and the sun carry on in their usual ways, as if indifferent to anybody else’s presence. It is this moment when one gets to have that conversation with one’s self; the question of one’s minisculity in front of this gigantic world amid the colossal mountains layered one up on another.

12031504_10206896214820319_8256695759031800681_o

But then again, maybe that’s what mountains do to you. All that remains in our hands is how we wish to mould this experience and come back to the same peak again with more humility in ourselves because that’s all we can ever be… a little bit humbler, every single time.

Next Story

Uttarakhand High Court Bans the Use of Red Chilli Powder to Drive Away Elephants

Sackfuls of chilli powder and chilly bombs were used by people living on the outskirts of the 11 Elephant corridors in the state to shoo away Elephants

0
Elephants
Sackfuls of chilli powder and chilly bombs were used by people living on the outskirts of the 11 Elephant corridors in the state to shoo away Elephants and reduce man-animal conflict in the region. Pixabay

After the Uttarakhand High Court banned the practice of using red chillies and chilly bombs to drive away the elephants, the local people are at their wit’s end now.

Sackfuls of chilli powder and chilly bombs were used by people living on the outskirts of the 11 elephant corridors in the state to shoo away elephants and reduce man-animal conflict in the region. However, the High Court put a stop to this on Tuesday.

The elephants from Nepal, as well as the Terai region in Uttar Pradesh, travel to Ramnagar, Corbett and the Kosi river, crossing the patch of the National Highway 121 along which the three elephant corridors — Kota, Chilkiya – Kota, and South Patlidun – Chilkiya are located.

With increasing human population, the corridors have shrunk over the years, bringing the elephants closer to human habitats.

The people living on the outskirts of these corridors, over the years, devised a method of warding off the wild Tuskers. They used to place bags of chilli powder on the outskirts of the settlement and the moment they saw a herd of pachyderms, they would fling the chilli powder into the air. The elephants were forced to retreat.

“The elephants do not come back for a week or so. For the past few years there has been an increase in the elephant population in the area and the animals not only destroy our crops but also attack people. We have no option but to use chili powder because the government is doing nothing,” said Ramesh Tiwari, a resident of Nandpur village.

He admitted that the use of chilli against the elephants was the ‘cheapest and safest option because it did not kill the animal.’ Most of the farmers in the region plant sugarcane which, in turn, attracts the elephants.

In the past one year, there have been over 20 incidents of elephants attacking people.

However, a Public Interest litigation (PIL) was recently filed by a Noida based non-government organisation called ‘Independent Medical Initiative Society’.

Elephants
The three major elephant corridors of Golapar, Fatehpur-Lamachaur and Lalkuan near Haldwani have seen mushrooming of human settlements, thus reducing the age-old path of the Elephants. Pixabay

The petition alleged that the forest department, instead of controlling the human activities on the road passing through these elephant corridors, is trying to control the elephants’ movement by allowing cruel means such as feeding chilli powder-filled flour balls to the wild elephants, putting chilli powder-filled bags on the edge of the road and by firing shots and burning firecrackers to keep them away from the road passing through the elephant corridor.

Dushyant Mainali, the counsel for the petitioner, said: “The division bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma has banned the use of chilli powder and any other such cruel means against the elephants. The court has also issued directives to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The Ministry has been directed to file the reply within two weeks.”

The petitioner told the court that the “disappointment and frustration due to difficulties in crossing the corridor, are changing the behaviour of elephants in the entire area. The chief reason of concern is the changing behaviour of the baby elephants, which are becoming aggressive day by day and have been found to be involved in most of the incidents of charging.”

According to reports, the corridors are also facing the threat from sand mining in nearby areas, and also a large number of resorts have come up which have increased the traffic flow through the river corridor, thereby disturbing the elephants.

The petition claimed that in the past one year there has been tremendous rise in the human-elephant conflict in the corridors passing on the edge of Corbett National Park and especially on the patch of the Mohaan-Ramnagar Road which is part of NH-121.

Wildlife expert S. R. Rahi said that an elephant requires about 225 litres of water per day and for this the herd of the wild elephants have to travel towards river Kosi and mostly in the night time when it is believed to be safe for them to cross the corridors, but now they are facing the wrath of fast-moving vehicles even during the night time.

The three major elephant corridors of Golapar, Fatehpur-Lamachaur and Lalkuan near Haldwani have seen mushrooming of human settlements, thus reducing the age-old path of the elephants.

The Surai-Kilpura elephant corridor near Khatima is also witnessing an increase of human settlement. Three of these corridors adjoining the Ramnagar-Mohaan border include 27 kms of highway.

Elephants
The Elephants from Nepal, as well as the Terai region in Uttar Pradesh, travel to Ramnagar, Corbett and the Kosi river, crossing the patch of the National Highway 121 along which the three elephant corridors — Kota, Chilkiya – Kota, and South Patlidun – Chilkiya are located. Pixabay

The elephant corridor in Dhikuli area has more than 150 commercial constructions due to which it is completely blocked. Construction in the Mohaan area and vehicular traffic during the night time is hampering the elephants from reaching the Kosi River.

Marriages, parties and the noise generated at commercial buildings and resorts at night is also causing disturbance to the wild animals.

Instead of preventing human interference in the forest areas, the forest department is allowing chili powder and crackers to prevent the pachyderm from coming onto the highway.

ALSO READ: Now Pay Bills on Amazon Pay While Speaking to Alexa

“There are 11 functional corridors in Uttarakhand, but human activities are increasing around the age-old corridors. Elephants are distance migratory animal with sharp memory and if someone attacks them, they remember to return the attack,” said Rahi. (IANS)