Skip to main content

Featured Post

Ladakh - Planning The Trip

Over 2000 Km by road, in around 10 days. Stunning landscapes, wonderful people. That sums up our Ladakh trip. But how did it actually work? How did we make it happen? Read on to find out!  Leh, the capital of Ladakh , is accessible by air and road. Flying into Leh is the easiest, and time-saving option, while the road is the time consuming one, but with the added advantage of driving past some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country. Each option has much to recommend it, and we chose the road for just one reason – altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was one of my biggest concerns, since I suffer from motion-sickness. Yes, I do travel a lot, but that is despite my condition, and, over the years, have learnt how to handle it. I struggled with it when we visited Nathu-La in Sikkim, and wondered if I would be able to manage a week at the even higher altitudes that we would encounter in Ladakh. This was the reason we stuck to a basic plan, of only 9 days in Ladakh, though we

Forest Fire

Before I complete my series of posts on Binsar, there is just one more thing I wanted to post. It does not concern any place of interest or any great experience, but an experience which was a first for me, and brought up a lot of thoughts….. I kept this one to the last, since I thought I would get out the ‘touristy’ stuff before coming to this……. I even wondered if I should put it up before I finally conclude the series, but then decided to, since it relates to the mountains intimately, and my trip too….

We were returning after our trip to Patal Bhuvaneshwar and Bageshwar, tired and worn out after a day spent on the road….and couldn’t wait to get back to the room and put our legs up. Suddenly, as we turned a curve on the mountain road, I saw something bright and shining, and wondered what it was. Our driver had missed it, and we left it, thinking that it must have been my imagination. After a few moments, however, as we rounded another curve, our eyes glimpsed a glow, and our driver slowed down to see what it was - a forest fire!

I had only heard of forest fires so far, and had never seen one, so I was curious about it, and asked our driver to stop so that I could take photos… however, he said it was dangerous to stop there, and I made the most I could from the moving vehicle……






As we got to talking about it, we saw a forest department vehicle speeding towards it, probably to bring things under control. However, as we rounded another hairpin bend in the road, we realized that we were much closer to the fire than we had imagined, for a flaming branch fell, just missing our car! A close shave indeed! Our driver sped on, not even uttering a word till we left the fire far behind us!

Once we were sure that the danger was past, I asked our driver about it, and if such fires were common, he replied that yes, they occurred quite frequently in the summer months. The locals attributed these fires to the pines which were all over the place, and the careless people who threw lit cigarettes out of speeding cars. The pines catch fire fast, and in the summer, the needles which have fallen in heaps around every tree act as fodder for any stray match thrown by the careless and ignorant people, starting fires which destroy everything in sight!

Among the locals, the pines seemed to be the villain of the piece – after all, these trees yielded nothing but turpentine and pine cones – and once the turpentine had been drawn, the trees were useless, and they usually fell in a storm. The fallen trees were no use to anyone, especially since few still used wood for burning, but the fallen trees and their needles aided the forest fires too……

Most of the pines we saw near the road had blackened at their base – indicating that the turpentine was gone, and so was the tree… it would soon fall and become fuel for either man or nature…..



However, what struck me was the attitude of the locals that it didn’t matter if the pines were gone…… they didn’t yield much, anyway…… asked what they were doing to replace the pines, they had no answer!

This seems to be the attitude of most of the people I meet everywhere I go – we take as much as we can from nature… but as to replenishing her, we don’t even think of it! I wonder how long things can go on at the same rate if things stay the same….. while I can understand people’s preoccupation with their livelihood and earning enough to live, what I can not understand is the ease with we take nature for granted, grasping with both our hands for everything she has, but our resistance to control our greed and make due returns to her!


It is at such times that I wonder if I should travel at all, for I am also one of the many tourists who leave their footsteps behind, even though I try to minimize their effect! This one incident acted as a major dampener to my trip, for I came back with many more questions than I had set out with….

P.S. Shankar had an entirely different take on the fire – he felt that it was not a natural one, but one set by the villagers, probably to clear out the useless pine trees and their needles, and clear out the ground so that it could be used for farming or at any rate, something more lucrative than pines! Quite possible, I would say, considering that this happens all over India…. but makes me shudder even more, for it is so easy for a man-made fire to get out of control of the hands which started it!


Comments

  1. I am from Victoria in Australia, where bush fires are our greatest natural disasters, so my immediate reaction is that I am glad you are safe!
    But reading your post I want to say I agree with you. Our natural environment is so precious on every level, and we need every person in the world to appreciate and respect her!
    Thanks for your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Grrr ! Makes me shudder ! That was a close shave indeed !
    And regarding the loals and their attitude, you are so right ! Grabbing with both hands and no return seems to be what is happening every where ! so bad and so true Anu!

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Joy: I have heard of the Australian bush fires, and thank God we have never had anything so bad here till now..... but the causes mainly remain the same, and as you say, it is up to every individual to do everything to contain such calamities....

    @Lavanya: it was scary for a while, but only till the anger took over :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. That was close! I agree with you Anu, we have to seriously think on these issues.

    ReplyDelete
  5. First time, I encountered a forest fire was when we were travelling to Kedar - Badri. I could see burnt pieces of wood rolling down the slope and falling in front of the vehicle. Then this was a daily spectacle for me during summer when I was in Sivakasi . I could see hills i.e Western ghats far away from my balcony. The forest fire used to rage for days together. It would exactly appear like the photos you have presented here.

    Other than the reason you have mentioned for forest fire, it also
    happens naturally by friction when branches brush against each other during the peak of summer. We have seen forest fire happening in places where there is no human habitation.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That was close... At times, people's thoughtless acts cause a lot of destruction which could be easily avoided...

    ReplyDelete
  7. It is a pity some people start forest fires for their personal gain
    I remember seeing one in Uttaranchal. Our driver also said that such fires are usually started by villagers

    ReplyDelete
  8. it is wonderful yu could get these pictures and muse on this point
    Man has indeed made enemies with nature and i believe it fortells doom...hahah
    seriously speaking...unless we learn to live with nature we are not going to leave much behind for the future...
    this needless destruction and thoughtless insensitivity makes me so maaaad
    Anu as usual your organised thoughts and visuals are a treat!

    ReplyDelete
  9. @Indrani: though i had heard of such things before, this was the first time i was so close..... and once the fear was gone, the thoughts wouldnt leave!!!

    @Chitra: yes, i have heard of those too.... it does happen everywhere, and often naturally, but in any case, its a huge danger and we must really do our best to stop things getting worse..... but those logs falling in front of your vehicle must have been really frightening! we just passed by a bit of it, nothing really serious, but it still scared me for a while!

    @Shilpa: absolutely... as chitra says, sometimes it is natural too, but at least we can reduce the impact!

    @soumya: it happens everywhere..... and few people are even aware of the result!

    @ssstoryteller: i spoke with a relative about this just over the weekend, and it turned into an argument...so it really helps that at least there are some of you who think like i do!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis

Bhedaghat - Home of the 81 Yoginis

The Narmada flows down the mountains , carving out a path for herself as she makes her way down to the plains of Central India. She cascades from the rocks, her fine spray making it appear as if billows of smoke (dhuan) arise from the flowing streams of water (dhaar), giving it the name Dhuandhar. Dhuandhar Falls The force of her flow creates a gorge , smoothening and carving out the rocks into fantastic shapes, the pure white of the rocks standing starkly against the shades of the water. It is a joy to cruise down the river in a boat, seeing the natural contours created by the river, now famous as the Marble Rocks. We are at Bhedaghat, located on the banks of the Narmada near Jabalpur, where thousands of visitors turn up to see these natural landscapes, creations of the sacred Narmada, and pay obeisance to her. However, to me, the most interesting thing about Bhedaghat, isn’t the falls or the rocks, or even the river. What makes Bhedaghat special is t

Kabini Part 3 - After the Rains

Visiting Kabini in peak summer, we hadn’t bargained for the rains, which dominated our three days at the Lodge. While animal sightings were understandably lesser than usual, seeing the forest in the rain was an interesting experience in its own way. However, as we headed back into the forest for our second and third safaris, we hoped the rains would let up, and allow us to see more animals! Winding jungle paths