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World after 5th Extinction Second Half-Yearly Edition Content Sl. No. 1 2 3 4 5 6

Item Featured Topic : Panthers of Pali (Part Three) Editors’ Desk : Eco-Nationalism versus Dialectical Naturalism Story Room : Memories from Mountains Wild Craft : 5th Biodiversity Model : Livestock Biodiversity Voice of Nature :Kinnaur – The Land of Lyrical Himalayas Theme Poster : Lyrics of Mountains

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From Team Exploring Nature Editors’ Desk : Dwaipayan Ghosh and Arnab Basu Review: Anwesha Ghatak Title & Logo Design: Arijit Das Majumder Saikat Chakraborty Newsletter Design: Dwaipayan Ghosh Arnab Basu

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Dwaipayan Ghosh

".... far more pleasure is got from pressing the button of a camera than is ever got from pressing the trigger of a rifle....in one case the leopard can be watched for hours, and there is no more graceful and interesting animal in the jungle to watch....... in the other case a fleeting glimpse.... the acquisition of the trophy which soon loses both its beauty and its interest" - Jim Corbett, in the Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag Part Three : That Spotted Cat The Thakur Sahib had many tales to tell, how leopards were killed by his forefathers and even by him, in his teenage in this region, till WPA was enforced in 1972. Even after that, the practice to tie goats to attract leopards for foreign tourists, continued. There were many a thing to disagree with, but the impact of the sheer presence of His Majesty, was intriguing. Natwar parked the Jeep at Badalda, near the railway track originating from Ajmer stretched till Ahmedabad. “पहािड़य म से कोई भी खाली नह है”, Thakur Sahib declared. There are around 70 wild leopards in this area surrounding Jawai Bandh. The most amazing fact is that; no news of severe human leopard conflict emerged here for decades. There aren’t plenty of kills for leopards there. Leopards mainly live on livestock of nearby villages, but villagers never complain. It seemed to me an exaggeration by the “ruler” of the land, but there must be palpable reasons, that I never heard of any news dreading intense Human-Leopard conflicts from this particular region in recent past. Natwar pointed out a cave and asserted to “कु म” that the female with her two cubs were sighted near that cave last evening. It was around evening, when the movement was first witnessed behind the bush. In July at 6’o clock, it wasn’t dark yet in western India. We looked through binoculars. Movement of a tawny coat with black rosettes was there within the bush. A Leopard, a wild one, came out and sat on the rocky plain near that cave. The female, at my astonishment, was shortly followed by her two cubs. They were about a kilometre away from us but still I could feel every movement of their muscles. The cubs were playing with their mother. I was numbly jubilant and so was The Thakur Sahib, until they disappeared in the bushes. The sun receded and soon darkness prevailed around half past 7 in the evening and we began our retreat towards our shelter. It was quite a successful evening, as I was a spectator of nature’s one of ferocious and magnificent creatures, leopards out of a protected forest area and in a close proximity to human habitation, for the first time in my life and so was 2|Page

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content. Natwar was, still relentlessly trying to spot a male with his searchlight, while driving single handed. It was a gesture to impress his कु म and his guest for some extra tips. Nights in the jungles are metaphorically different from cities and towns. Though Bera wasn’t a jungle, but a prosperous village instead, still the resort was nothing less than a stay in a forest. Dimmed lights in the campus and the gloomy thick vegetation here and there, created a shadowy atmosphere with continuous monotone of beetles. The only thing, lacking, were those of mysterious sounds of the jungle, some of which might be heard only once in a night. After an early dinner, I went to bed. And after a tiring but triumphant day, it took only a few minutes to fall asleep. …… to be continued

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Editors’ Desk:Eco-Nationalism versus Dialectical Naturalism

“Think Globally Act Locally” - urges people to consider the health of the entire planet and to take action in their own communities and cities. The first use of the phrase in an environmental context is disputed. Some say it was coined by David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth (FOE), as a slogan for FOE when it was founded in 1969, although others attribute it to René Dubos who originated it as an advisor to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. Canadian "futurist" Frank Feather also chaired a conference called "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally" in 1979 and has claimed the paternity of the expression. Other possible originators include French theologian Jacques Ellul. Whoever may have coined the phrase, the reality is - the phrase “think Global - Act Local” has now become a tag line for Neo-International Red-Green movement. In politics, a red–green alliance or red–green coalition is an alliance of "red" social-democratic or democratic socialist parties with "green" environmentalist or sometimes Nordic agrarian parties. The alliance is often based on common left political views, especially a shared distrust of corporate or capitalist institutions. While the "red" social-democratic parties tend to focus on the effects of capitalism on the working class, the "green" environmentalist parties tend to focus on the environmental effects of capitalism. In recent pasts, Corporations, Green Activists, Social-Democrats, Communists and Capitalists Institutions across the world have embraced the phrase to demonstrate their concern for earth and at the same time have discovered an innovative way to prove how sustainable their business and activities are, which in turn would become a profit making mechanism for them in “sustainable” way. Practically in todays’ world as far as Environmental Politics is concern – whether its socialdemocrats, communists or capitalists, and also it hardly matters whether it’s a Corporation, Activists or Public Institution – everybody and everything – irrespective of political ideology and business strategy – are active participants and advocates of “Red-Green Coalition Politics”. This “Red-Green Movement” is an essential aspect of the inevitable “Holocene” (again Exploring Nature as an organization believes Holocene is inevitable and discussed that in the editorial column, several times, in some of the previous issues. For example, the editorial of 1st issue and 1st Anniversary issue of Holocene). Ideologically Social-Democrats, Communists and Green Activists are anyway in alignment with “Red-Green Coalition”. But the recent advocacy of this alliance or coalition by Corporations and Capitalists has started changing the equation. And that is why it’s important for us to understand different faces of this movement and how this movement has been developing over a period of time and how it may influence an inevitable Holocene. Now if we break this terminology of “Red-Green Coalition” into two of its fundamental components, we get Ecology (the green component) and Socialism (the red component). The history of the coalition started in 19th century and specifically speaking between 1880 to 1930, under the influence of three key attributors – Karl Marx, William Morris and Russian Revolutions. Place and pride in Marxism belongs to the notion (and fact) of class struggle, which means first and foremost capital’s struggle to impose labour on the working class on the former’s terms. All the identity politics and politics of place in the world cannot conceal the fact that global labour is being battered by an unprecedented attack on living standards, hard won by a century or two of labour and national struggles. Today’s hyper-capitalist world economy – and the process of what Marx called global accumulation through crisis – have made this war of capital on labour a life and death necessity for the world’s ruling classes. Therefore, this theory clearly put Marx as an ardent anthropogenic theoretician in front of global green activists and the term “watermelon” commonly applied to advocates of Ecological Marxism, often pejoratively, to Greens who seem to put "social justice" goals above ecological ones, implying they are "green on the outside but red on the inside"; the term is usually attributed to either Petr Beckmann or, more frequently, Warren T. Brookes, both critics of environmentalism, and is common in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. This “watermelon” theory triggers another associated debate of “Red-Green Coalition” - Econationalism versus Dialectical Naturalism 4|Page

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In theory what is Eco-nationalism (or ecological nationalism)? – It manifests as a desire to eliminate reliance on foreign sources of fuel and energy by promoting alternate energy sources that can be adequately created and maintained with a nation's boundary. Brazil displayed an example of this by becoming completely energy self-reliant. According to J. Dawson (Staff Economist, USDA), eco-nationalism is the rise of social movements that closely connect problems of environment protection with nationalist concerns. In former Soviet Union citizens perceived environmental degradation as both a systemic fault of socialism and a direct result of Moscow's desire to weaken a particular nation by destroying its natural base, and exploiting its resources. Estonian, Lithuanian and Ukrainian independence movements drew great strength from environmental activism, especially from an antinuclear stance. In 1985-1991, econationalism was one of symptoms and at the same time a new impulse for disintegration of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, Dialectical Naturalism is a term coined by American philosopher Murray Bookchin to describe the philosophical underpinnings of the political program of social ecology. Dialectical naturalism explores the complex interrelationship between social problems, and the direct consequences they have on the ecological impact of human society. Bookchin offered dialectical naturalism as a contrast to what he saw as the "empyrean, basically antinaturalistic dialectical idealism" of Hegel, and "the wooden, often scientistic dialectical materialism of orthodox Marxists. The roots of dialectical naturalism are found in Hegel's own writings on dialectical methodology, which lent itself to an organic, even ecological interpretation. Bookchin interpreted the dialectical method's strength as its unity of "developmental causality" with ontology. "Dialectic," he notes, "is simultaneously a way of reasoning and an account of the objective world, with a developmental ontology." The debate of Eco-nationalism versus Dialectical Naturalism – principally move around the debate of accepting the relevance of “Ecological Marxism”. Those who concern themselves about the anthropogenic image of Marx (which is true) are even more skeptical of any wedding (or even engagement) between ecology and Marxism. Until recently, Marxism and ecology have not often been associated with each other except as opposite and self-cancelling terms. “Ecologists are not anthropocentric; Marx is …. Marx does not like nature.” The Eco-Nationalists, across the world criticize Marx’s (and Engel’s) anthropocentric views and lack of specific ecological vision. They have charged that Marx lacked sensitivity to the connectedness, diversity, and mutual interdependence in nature. The Green critics (read Eco-Nationalists) of Marxism claim that Marx’s anthropocentrism was so extreme that he denied the obvious fact that nature (combined with Human Factor) is the source of material wealth. However, if we try to understand the dialectical relationship (Dialectical Naturalism) between human history and natural history, or human economy and nature’s economy, the Marxist method can be interpreted in a different way. When critics of Ecological Marxism, strongly exemplify the absence of full-bodied ecological sensibility in Marxist thought, by the standard account of historical materialism (basis of Eco Nationalism), the Dialectical Naturalism, in contrary, emphasis that “hismat” (Historical Materialism) makes too little room for nature’s economy and too much for human economy. In the classical accounts (Eco Nationalism point of view), the relationship between material production and nature depends too much on the mode of production – or mode of exploitation of labour – and too little on environmental conditions and ecological processes, while Marxism has succeeded in demonstrating how the concept of nature is “socially constructed” in different mode of productions. From the point of view of Dialectical Naturalism, Marx said nature (with labour) is the source of wealth defined in terms of exchange value. The simple fact that Eco- Nationalists (influenced by their Capitalists brethren) fail to price nature’s bounty proves that in capitalists practice nature is not regarded as productive of wealth (exchange value). Marx did have a vision of society in which humankind ceases to be alienated from nature, one in which appropriation of nature is not based on the logic of capitalist accumulation but rather on direct individual and social need, what we would call today “ecologically rational” production. He was also very aware of what are today called “ecological regulatory” (“Eco regulatory”) processes that 5|Page

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combine with human labour processes in production in general and the production of commodities in particular. Marx was also interested in arguably key ecological problem of his day; namely, the issue of soil quality and quantity in agriculture. Therefore, in contrary to the depiction of Karl Marx by some environmentalists, social ecologists and fellow socialists as a productivist who favoured the domination of nature (Eco Nationalists), ecosocialists (read Dialectical Naturalists) have revisited Marx's writings and believe that he "was a main originator of the ecological world-view". Eco-socialist authors, like John Bellamy Foster and Paul Burkett, point to Marx's discussion of a "metabolic rift" between man and nature, his statement that "private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite absurd as private ownership of one man by another" and his observation that a society must "hand it [the planet] down to succeeding generations in an improved condition". Nonetheless, other eco-socialists (Eco Nationalists) feel that Marx overlooked a "recognition of nature in and for itself", ignoring its "receptivity" and treating nature as "subjected to labor from the start" in an "entirely active relationship". Therefore, William Morris, the English novelist, poet and designer, is largely credited with developing key principles of what was later called eco-socialism. During the 1880s and 1890s, Morris promoted his eco-socialist ideas within the Social Democratic Federation and Socialist League. Following the Russian Revolution, some environmentalists and environmental scientists attempted to integrate ecological consciousness into Bolshevism, although many such people were later purged from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The "pre-revolutionary environmental movement", encouraged by revolutionary scientist Aleksandr Bogdanov and the Proletkul't organisation, made efforts to "integrate production with natural laws and limits" in the first decade of Soviet rule, before Joseph Stalin attacked ecologists and the science of ecology and the Soviet Union fell into the pseudo-science of the state biologist Trofim Lysenko, who "set about to rearrange the Russian map" in ignorance of environmental limits. But at the same time, none can deny that the governing ideology of USSR for two decades held the ecology as the “basis of economic planning”. Marx and Engels and a number of other Marxists theorists viewed (and today view) human history and natural history as dialectically interconnected; understood (and understand) the anti-ecological nature of capitalism and the need for a theory that articulates the contradictory relationship between exchange vale and use value of nature; and had (and have) at least a latent ecological socialist vision. Therefore considering all these contradictory theories mentioned above, the whole “watermelon” debate becomes more complicated and in turn makes the process of assessing impediments of Holocene even more politically motivated. Exploring Nature, as an organization would put more effort and conduct more studies on this debate of Eco-nationalism versus Dialectical Naturalism and highlights the key issues for our followers and readers in subsequent issues.

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Story Room: Memories from Mountains

Antora Kar Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains. When I was young I knew only one place with mountains – that’s Darjeeling. Since my first visit to the queen of hills, I am truly madly deeply in love with this place. Whenever I talk about this place, it takes me back to the mornings that smell fresh tea leaves, especially when the leaves are washed with rain or dew drops. Darjeeling has magical characteristics. It has its own beauty and a soul that speaks out to them who can feel its heartbeat. It has history and geography and bio-diversity but I can tell you something which makes the place alive and awesome. The mist - My first visit to Darjeeling was in extreme winter and that was the first time I shook hands with chill and mist. I first saw the piercing sunrays through thick dense fog, the twisting roads were filled with the soaking smell of Pine and fern - the silhouettes looked so dramatic and you could feel droplets of mist under your cold-red nose. This has not changed since then. Even in this winter, the mist took my breath away in a bright sunny afternoon. All of a sudden the hilltops turned dark, every nook and corner was blanketed in haze and mist and it was dark all around.

Mall – It was crowded, noisy and full of life. The travelers, the hawkers, the locals, the youngsters, the small eyes and pink lips, flawless skins and straight hair, funky chaps and drooly kids, all would make you feel - refreshed. The unplanned walk could make you warm and hair-pin-bends would finally bring you back to mall. It used to be dingy and dirty with pony poops but this time I was surprised with the brilliant mall management. The pony rides were prohibited in Chowrasta (the center of the mall), instead they were redirected towards Mayfair, hence the roads were spick & span. The newly grown tea parlors from Golden Tips & Nathmulls - added to the beauty of the mall.

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I could spend hours in the mall just by watching people. Array of emotions, so many faces and so many stories and yet they were so simple, down to earth and close to nature. The open auditorium, the giant screen playing Champions league football match, the flight of the pigeons completed the beauty of Darjeeling mall. Furry stray dogs took rest while the tourists captured their natural cuteness.

Rum n Raisin –Glenary’s is one of the oldest bakery in Darjeeling, so I heard. Early morning, when I pushed through the glass door of the legendary eatery, it smelled freshly baked croissants and sweet breads. The alluring smell of the sizzling sausages and steaming Darjeeling tea, could make your senses more responsive than ever. Leaning at the counter you would find pastries, muffins and homemade chocolates- your Endocrinal delight. In winter they served hot chocolate with a drop of cream. Evening they opened the dinner joint upstairs where live bands played very often. Adjacent Joe's pub brought smell of weeds and beer. The music filled the air and made a lethal cocktail one could hardly avoid. The signature tea- The fragrant tea (best served with weak liquor, no aadded sugar or milk) is the signature of Darjeeling. A great portion of Darjeeling tea is grown in the lush green valleys – the famous ones are Makaibari, Gomtee, Glenburn, Gopaldhara, Happy Valley and so on. This time I visited one of these tea estates and the experience was mesmerizing. So many varieties, first flush , second flush, orange pekoe, oolong, autumnal flush – it was a complete world of wonders. Inside the Nathmull’s tea parlor, they offered me an exotic tea called Moon-Beam. An exquisite black tea with amazing fragrance (served in a goblet glass with moon-beam flower), weak golden liquor, leaving an aftertaste of berries. The tips were long with fine pubescence, affording a great bloom and a stylish appearance. Stories - The place knew many stories, as it witnessed the three phases of my life. I walked with him with promises of tomorrow, I walked as a spinster, I walked as a woman, I walked with Megh in my arms showing him the mountains, picked up the pine cones, held him on a pony. Numerous moments were born and I savored each one. The excitement of seeing the full ranges of Kanchenjunga (the best view from Tiger Hill - looks like Mahadev sleeping with a lot of powder applied on his body), toy train ride to Batasia Loop, climbing uphill -panting- hearing heartbeat, Megh's excitement after seeing Tibetan wolf in Himalayan zoo, the picture of a father -son sharing dreams, I could die there any day. I am

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not overburdened with the memories, those are like snowflakes, light and fluffy, hanging in the air, sticking to the palm and glittering .

Wild Craft: Livestock Biodiversity Model

The workshop on 5th Biodiversity model of Exploring Nature – based on the theme of Livestock Biodiversity of Country side Farmhouse, will be started soon. Farmhouse is a general term for the main house of a farm. It is a type of building or house which serves a residential purpose as well as rearing of livestock in rural or agricultural setting. Historically, farmhouses were combined with spaces for animals, called a housebarn. Other farm houses may be connected to one or more barns, built to form a courtyard, or each farm building was built separately.

Livestock are domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. Poultry or farmed fish are also commonly included within the meaning of "livestock". Livestock are generally raised for profit. Raising animals (animal husbandry) is a component of modern agriculture. It has been practiced in many cultures since the transition to farming from hunter-gather lifestyles. Animal-rearing has its origins in the transition of cultures to settled farming communities, rather than hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Animals are ‘domesticated’ when their breeding and living conditions are controlled by humans. Over time, the collective behaviour, life cycle, and physiology of livestock have changed radically. Many modern farm animals are unsuited to live in the wild. Dogs were domesticated in East Asia about 15,000 years ago, Goats and sheep were domesticated around 8000 BCE in Asia. Swine or pigs were domesticated by 7000 BCE in the Middle East and China. The earliest evidence of horse domestication dates to around 4000 BCE. The issue of raising livestock for human benefit raises the issue of the relationship between humans and animals, in terms of the status of animals and obligations of people. Animal welfare is the viewpoint that animals under human care should be treated in such a way that they do not suffer unnecessarily. Poultry is a category of domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of collecting of their eggs, or killing for their meat or feathers. These most typically are members of the superorder Galloanserae (fowl), especially the order Galliformes (which includes chickens, quails and turkeys) and the family Anatidae (in order Anseriformes), commonly known as "waterfowl" (e.g. domestic ducks and domestic geese). Poultry also includes other birds which are killed for their meat, such as pigeons or doves or birds considered to be game, such as pheasants. Poultry comes from the French/Norman word poule, itself derived from the Latin word pullus, which means small animal. Poultry is the second most widely eaten meat in the world, accounting for about 30% of meat production worldwide, after pork at 38% Following species will be available for display in Exploring Nature’s model Farmhouse: Herds of Horse, Goat, Pig, Sheep, Donkey, Holstein Cow, Chicken and Duck. periodic update will be given in Face book page of Wild Craft and final report will be uploaded in Wild craft section of our website.

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Voice of Nature: Kinnaur – The Land of Lyrical Himalayas

Barnali Roy, Translated in English from original Bengali story by Anwesha Ghatak.

The name “Kinnaur”, in English “Centaur”, connotes a creature with the head, arms, and torso of a man and the body and legs of a horse, reckoned among the Gandharvas as divine musicians. Kinnaur beckoned me as a promise of a euphonious vacation, amidst the hustles and bustles of “Life in a Metro”. According to the Hindu Mythology, the Goddess Durga comes home to the mother earth from the Kailash Mountains in autumn, to get pampered for all six days, observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami. And along comes the threats to extort money in the name of worship, noisy microphones in the puja pandals, the mob in long queues to get a glimpse of their beloved Deity, immobilizing the city traffic. To seclude, Kinnaur in the Northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh is a perfect escape. The tour was planned in well advance. But autumn in Indian Railways is indeed a busy season and it took three perseverant nights to finally reserve a berth in “Kalka Mail”, even four months prior. I started on the auspicious day of “Shashthi”, when the goddess is invoked. Two days of soothing Air-conditioned journey was a welcome change from the sultry October climate in Kolkata. When I arrived at Kalka, dawn was breaking at 4.30 AM. I could feel the chill in the air. I clutched onto the warm hug of a sweater holding a cup of smoky “masala chai”. It was time to avail the ”Shivalik Express”, one of Indian Railways’ pioneer Narrow Gauge train experiences. Not to mention my booking was confirmed earlier and so getting on to the “toy train”, as its popularly known, with my entire luggage, was hassle free. The “choo-choo” train, moving like a caterpillar, going zig-zag over the curvy mountain tracks, was an absolute fun ride. My window seat was rendering a panorama of a sleepy hamlet awakening leisurely to the daylight. Through a narrow track, penetrating the lush green hilly woods, the train almost passed by yards of local shacks. After 5 and half hours of amusements, the toy train took me to Shimla. Though my final destination was Kinnaur, almost 235 kilometers from the capital city Shimla, of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, I was depleted to travel any further. Shimla was a perfect repose with its exciting Mall road, divine “Kalibari” (place of worship for Hindu Goddess kali) and my stay was rewarding. Next morning started with a quintessential Indian breakfast consisting of Puri (Fried Indian bread) and potato curry. My hired 4-wheeler would now take me to Sarahan, the gateway to Kinnaur district, one of 12 administrative districts of Himachal Pradesh. My transport voyaged through the terrains of Himachal Himalayas, overlooking luxuriant Shimla Reserve Forest, named as “Green Valley”, locally. The sun was playing hide and seek persistently with the greeneries of the Himalayas. The car drove past Fagu, Kufri and other breathtaking viewpoints, if only I had moments to pause. Then I had to, even if briefly, the sight of river Sutlej, streaming along, sometimes drifting apart, appearing again, was stupendous. After the vehicle engine was shut off, I could feel the profound silence, only the subtle rhythm of Sutlej waltzing over the pebbles. When we left behind Narkanda, Rampur, the same river was flowing with a big roar in the gorge. The hillsides were dynamited to pave our way, giving it a shape of an open mouth. There was

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never an instant of dullness in the ever-changing scenarios of the alluring Himalayas, with its peaks and torrents. The journey of 163 kilometers to Sarahan was smooth and charming. Sarahan is cited as “SonitPur” in Puranas. The place, otherwise known as “SarahanBushahr”, was the summer retreat for the Bushahr Dynasty. In the harsh winter, the Royal family would come down to Rampur. Sarahan is prominent for its “Bhima-Kali” temple, one of the acclaimed 51 “Pithasthanas” of Goddess "Sati", a celestial place for Hindu devotees. Goddess "Sati" or "Parvati" is the daughter of Himalaya, according to Hindu Mythology and to pay her homage, surrounded by sacred mountain ranges of Himalayas, was befitting. "Bhima-Kali" was the supreme divinity for the Bushahr ancestry. Erected centuries ago, with rock and wood, this temple is an architectural wonder. The wooden walls in this temple sculpture, are aesthetically carved, exhibiting artistic attributes from the "Kushana" monarchy. The temple doors are moulded with precious stones and crafted with diligent adornments. The motifs installed in this temple especially intrigued me, as they illustrated an amalgamation of Indo-Tibetan artistry. This fusion of art and culture is a depiction that, these were the zones to exchange trades with Tibet. The temple is as ceremonial as it was during the kingship and the site is big enough, with a designated place to conduct the Hindu ritual "Homa-Yogya". Before entering into the premises, you would have to cover your head with a piece of cloth, keep out any belonging made of animal skin and wash your hands and feet. According to Hinduism, you would thus be unadulterated to step into a pious space. After I set foot inside, the spectacle of snow-capped "Mt. Shreekhand", captivated my senses. Other significant Hindu shrines in Sarahan are, Raghunath temple, Narsimha temple and the temple of Patal-Bhairavi. The Royal Mansion was only steps away from the "Bhima-kali" temple. But, we could only catch a glimpse of it from outside, as admission was restricted. It was time to end my ante-meridian expedition and after midday I started off for Sangla. Autumn in Himalayas symbolizes blue sky, scattered waxen clouds and in beneath, snow blessed mountain ranges shining silver bright. Sangla valley or Baspa valley is about 98 kilometers from Sarahan. Baspa is a notable river in that territory, originating from Baspa Mountain, flowing over Indo-Tibet border, converging with river Sutlej near Karchcham. Sangla valley extends from Karchcham till Chitkul, the last inhabited village near the Indo-Tibet border. Throughout our pathway, various floras of this region, Pine, Oak, Birch, and Deodar stood guard to felicitate my arrival. After a memorable journey for around four and a half hours, I approached Sangla valley, surrounded by forests and snow peaks. Before reaching the valley, we travelled past "Baspa Hydro-Electric Power Station". A tiny part of the valley is inhabited by locals and hosts a stadium, a bank, a school, a monastery and a Tibetan market place. Sangla valley is home for some exquisite fruits, like apple, apricot, and walnut. Also river Baspa is brimming with trout, a fishy delight, consumed globally for its toothsome delicacies. The hotel where I was accommodated, hosted a luscious apple orchard. Apples from Kinnaur district are famous for their natural sweetness, color and succulence and October is the season for apple harvest. In the garden, hand-picked "Red Delicious" apples boxed and ready to be exported, immediately caught my attention. A bite of those apples tasted heavenly. After refreshment, I left for "Kamru fort”. The motorable road ended near the village and I had to take a stroll in the locality. A steep stairway went straight up to a temple, in the hilly path. I adored the views of Himachali log cabins and apple orchards, in both the sides. After little or no exertion, I climbed to the temple ground. In every temple in Himachal Pradesh, I witnessed Buddhist murals, motifs and idols of Goutama Budhdha, along with the likes of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Lakshmi, Vishnu. Thus a societal blend of Hindu-Budhdhist art and craft was discerned. The other citable place, nearby, was “Badrinath” temple, Badrinath is another name of God Vishnu. Leaving the temple behind, I had to walk further till the gateway to “Kamru” fort. Figurines of Hindu Goddess “Kamakhya” and “Bhagaban Budhdha” were sculpted in the principal entrance of the fort. Before I could pass through the portal, the Royal guard handed me a hat to cover my head and a ribbon to tie around my waist. When I entered inside the fort, barefoot, was mesmerized by what unfolded before my eyes. The fort, a wooden 3-tier structure, a scintillating work of art, by the painstaking artisans, was indeed a rare sight. Trespass was prohibited, only the Priest could enter to worship 11 | P a g e

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Year – 2/Issue – 6/ February - March’17

the Royal family deity. From the fort campus, the entire Sangla valley was visible, surrounded by Himalayan ranges and a quaint portion was inhabited by “Kinnauris”. At the end of the day, the mountain ranges were covered in sheets of clouds. The radiance of the setting sun upon the clouds created an irresistible ambience. Enchanted, I longed for the day to never end. Finally like the sun, I also called it a day. Worn out, I slipped into deep sleep right after dinner. The next morning, the majestic white peaks were shimmering in early daylight, covered in fresh snow after last night’s precipitation. I geared for an exciting venture into the last village of Indian Territory, Chitkul, where quiet flows river Baspa. A small village with handful of dwellings built mostly of wood and stone, near Indo-Tibet border. The presence of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) was conspicuous. Chitkul boasts the finest of apple orchards in the Nation, especially sought after for “Golden Delicious” and “Red Delicious” apples. The heavily guarded orchards were hard to intrude. Apples from Kinnaur are exported internationally and in Chitkul, I spotted quite a few transports with boxes full of best quality apples, ready to be sent across borders. The car stopped near the village and I found a concrete road going downhill till the banks of river Baspa. The river there was in full vigour. Come winter, the village would be coated in thick snow for about 6 months. I noticed a primary school was under construction in serene surroundings. Mountain ranges were all around and the jolly river was flowing over pebbles and mountain rocks, challenging the stillness of the stones with her rhythmic pace. Though a mini village, Chitkul is considered holy by the Hindu devotees, as the pilgrimage to “Kinnaur-Kailash” culminates here. The realm of Indian sovereign terminates in Chitkul and the boundless “No Man’s Land” commences. What I discovered in the land of Kinnaur was, the native livelihoods are solely reliant on the commerce of tourism and apples. Kinnaur is a celebrated place for vacation and garners a great deal of Indians as well as foreign travellers every year. Only primary and secondary educations are offered in few schools in Kinnaur, for higher studies or for specialty treatments, the locals have to come to Shimla. Transits in highways of this district are maintained by Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Some roads are well aided but some are inaccessible due to the rugged geography of the zone. I had to cross several tunnels, constructed after cutting through Rocky Mountains. The visitors were duly warned with signboards which read….”Most Treacherous Road In The world”. But among other things, bus services are handled efficiently by Himachal Pradesh Transport. If not plenty, buses are well timed and connect the remotest corners of kinnaur and other districts of this mountainous state, to the prime cities of Northern India. The residents of this splendid land, the “Kinnauris”, both male and female, are as pretty as the landscape. “Kinnaur” as the name suggest, is lyrical and devout, a location where Mother Nature is bountiful.

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E-mail: natural_destination@yahoo.com Website:www.exploringnature.org.in


Year – 2/Issue – 6/ February - March’17

Theme Poster

:: Lyrics of Mountains – Sketch by Gitanjali Chhetri::

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E-mail: natural_destination@yahoo.com Website:www.exploringnature.org.in

Holocene year 2 issue 6  

Holocene year 2 issue 6 The monthly news letter of Exploring Nature. Year 2/Issue 6/February-March'17

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