Sunrise in Kumaon mountains overlooking Ramganga valley
Each morning during our stay at Camp Shama in Kumaon mountains, was an experience which was full of delight, curiosity and a sense of fulfilment. No other meditation was required. Looking at the horizon from early morning around 5 a.m. for the next two hours was sheer bliss. The early morning soft rays of the sun would light up the mountain tops one by one and then enter the valley to show the river hidden in the night blanket. When you start seeing the river, it is morning and time for chai.
After a hard day in mountains in Sangla valley in Himachal, this fellow was on his way home. We met him late afternoon near Chitkul. He had a heavy sack on his back. Not very articulate and not keen to talk, his persona reflected the quintessential hill folk. They are rustic, hardy, simple, god fearing and content with life.
Village Chitkul which is the last village on the Indian side (the mountain ranges would lead into Tibet) can be seen in the background, whereas river Baspa is to the left. I shot this picture in early October when the colours start changing from green to yellow to red and the skies are clear. ( Chitkul, 2014)
Forest walk in the mountains near Rakcham in this region of Sangla valley was a beautiful trail. Pine trees dotted the entire stretch.
Most noteworthy aspect of this jungle walk was that the only sound was that of the breeze and the fast flowing Baspa river below in the valley. During the entire stretch, we did not come across a single soul. Finally, when we started going down towards the plain after the forest walk got over, we noticed an odd shepherd looking after his large flock.
Sangla valley is surrounded by forested slopes. It offers views of the high mountains. Furthermore, this valley is rich in apple orchards, apricot, Wall-nut, Cedar trees, and glacial streams with trout. Besides Chitkul and Kamru, main villages in the valley include Rakcham, Batseri, Themgarang, Chansu, Brua, Shong ,Kilba and Sapni.
Sangla Valley is a part of Kinnaur and inhibited by Kinnauris. The main livelihood is agriculture. Apples are a major cash crop here. This region grows some of the finest apples worldwide. The soil here as well as the weather contribute to the superior quality of the apples grown here. The valley is shut during winter due to heavy snowfall during the months from December to May. At Karcham, the old Indo-Tibet road connects Sangla to National Highway 05.
( Sangla valley, 2014 )
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School going children in the hills deserve special admiration. This is because, many of them have to trek long distances to go to school. In contrast, children in the cities cannot even imagine the kind of difficulties the children in the hills have to go through. I spotted this group of children in the hills of Kumaon Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand.
Happiness despite Hardships
Over the last so many years, I have undertaken numerous travels in the mountains. I have been amazed by what I saw about the school children. They face considerable hardships in their day to day life. Despite the hardships, there is this happiness that radiates from the faces of these children.
This hardworking woman from Kumaon hills was our loving host. We were her guests for lunch at her home in a faraway hamlet in Kumaon himalayas in the hill state of Uttarakhand. Above all, she plucked fresh vegetables for us from her small piece of land. As a result, we had a hearty meal with her family which included cattle. This woman from Kumaon hills symbolised the champion woman of rural and remote India. She works hard, fights all odds and even more – looks after the family. Despite all this, it is noteworthy that she is cheerful.
Above all it is all work, no intellectual bakwas and therefore no awards for being a Woman Achiever !