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Uttarakhand in World Media - विश्वविख्यात पत्र-पत्रिकाओं में उत्तराखण्ड

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हेम पन्त:
MUMBAI (Reuters) - At least forty-six people were killed in a landslide triggered by heavy rains in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, police said on Sunday.

Three villages in the hilly Pithoragarh district were swept away in the landslide after a cloudburst on Saturday, local police official M.S. Sathnam said.

Seventeen bodies have so far been recovered, he said, with rescue efforts on Saturday by local emergency personnel and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police hampered by bad weather.

"It has stopped raining now, and rescue work is underway in full swing," he said.

हेम पन्त:
Landslide strikes Indian villages

At least 15 people are reported to have been killed in a landslide in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Several houses were washed away in two villages when heavy rain swept Pithoragarh district, officials quoted by the Press Trust of India (PTI) said.

Reports say many people were trapped in their homes when the landslide happened and dozens are still missing.

Pithoragarh is a mountainous region near the border with China and is prone to monsoons after June.

The rescue operation, which also involves local police, has been hampered by poor weather, PTI reported.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokriyal has gone to the district. He said relief work was under way.

To view a video of this accident visit this link : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8191462.stm

हेम पन्त:
At least 38 feared dead in India rains

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- At least 38 people are feared dead in landslides and heavy rains in two hilly hamlets of northern India, authorities said Saturday.

The villages were about 5,000 feet high, said Manoj Pande, a senior disaster management official in northwestern Uttarakhand state's Pithoragarh district.

Ten bodies have been recovered and rescue efforts are ongoing, but chances of finding survivors are remote, Pande said.

Until Friday, federal authorities put the death toll at 654 from seasonal monsoon flooding this year.

More than 2.9 million people in India have been affected by floods since June, according to federal officials.

Yearly monsoon rains sweep across the subcontinent from June till September. Though they bring much-needed relief to often-parched farmlands, they also leave a trail of landslides, home collapses and often fatal floods.

Source : http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/08/india.landslides.deaths/

हेम पन्त:
By MICHAEL FIELD in Newzealand's top most news website Stuff.co.nz

Source : http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/international/2910506/Northern-Indias-rugged-Uttarakhand  

The happy dogs of Uttarakhand, India.

Tourism is full of secret destinations, all carefully notarised in Lonely Planet.

If they are in India, you can be sure of crowds made up of people believing they're onto a special place.

In the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand there is such with a quite unique endorsement.

"I wonder why people go to Switzerland, when there is Kausani, and the Kumaon Hills," wrote Mahatma Gandhi.

He had gone there to find peace to write "Anasakti Yoga", a commentary on The Gita.

Uttarakhand, India's newest state bordering Nepal and China, is dominated by the Himalayas and India's sacred - if now severely misused - Ganga River. It's so rugged that driving from place to place is akin to flying, so vast and deep are the valleys and mountains.

The state is known for Raj era Hill Stations where the ruling British escaped Kolkata and Delhi summer heat.

Kausani was not really for the Raj, if only because it was too far from the nearest railhead.

Only people in on its secret, dedicated Hindis and the odd farangi make it to its 1890 metre elevation.

It's a tiny place; the village square (actually a circle) boasts about six shops, including two barbers (a good head-shave with massage is R100 - about NZ$3-4).

It has dogs, perhaps the finest and most loved dogs in the world (Paris included). They seem to be called "hilly dogs" and are kind of small Newfoundland type dogs. Only the best dogs survive the leopards, tigers and bears of the nearby hills.

Kausani has a range of hotels and guest houses in walking distance (albeit it's up and down walking distance). I stayed at one of the premier hotels, the Krishna Mount View, for around NZ$80 a night. I had fluked the seasons; two weeks later it would be full with Bengalis up for the Durga Puja holidays.

I was in Kausani during what was supposed to be the monsoon. This year's monsoon has been a weak affair that may yet have major consequences for India. In distant Mumbai lemons have gone from three lemons for five rupees to one.

I arrived in Kausani in the rain and saw nothing for the next two days.

One morning came one of the planet's great opening sequences.

The clouds had gone and off to the east the sun slowly rose. I stood on my hotel terrace and witnessed a natural light show play out upon a daunting 320 kilometres of Himalaya mountains. It was simply spellbinding.

There was India's highest, Nanda Devi at 7816 metres, powerful Trishul (7120m), named after the Hindu trident and dozens of peaks, almost all of them higher than Aorangi/Cook. Once you've seen the mountains, they are the dominant force, even if covered in clouds. Sunset was my favourite moment as colours played through the Himalayas, with light competing with cloud.

The skies and the air were so clear and clean; never saw an aeroplane the entire time I was there.

The region is often wet, giving a rich greenness to the steep hills, while genuinely wild, clean and clear rivers run through the valleys. It's the only place in India where even the foreigners can drink the tap water. Rice paddies and wheat fields are scattered across valley floors while families roam to crop grass for the cows and goats they keep at their homes.

Ad Feedback At Uttaranchal Tea Company, a part state owned operation, they're bringing back their tea.

"Darjeeling tea is too commercial now, too popular, this is pure tea," manager Vijay Kumar Bathra tells me, over a cup of tea, a cup of goldness like I've never had before.

Uttarakhand houses give the whole place a kind of Italian/French rural appearance, while some of the pine forests can give the sense of being in New Zealand.

The region is rich in places to visit, including an important, if daunting, ancient Hindu cave. Foreigners must present their passports to get in; I don't know why, India is like that.

Getting to Kausani is something of an epic. Sensitive travellers will need car sick pills. It has no airport.

I got there from Mumbai, taking the Rajdhani Express to Delhi. It is a high speed train that only makes a few stops and has none of the food wallas that make the rest of India Rail so much fun. Worse still, they serve instant coffee.

Its other big hassle is that the train terminates at Nizamuddin Station in Delhi, a nightmare for anybody. You need to get across to Old Delhi Station.

That trip alone quickly convinces anybody that next year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi will be a challenge. Delhi is a hard edged city with a heavy concentration of criminals targeting tourists and a police force given to brutality (and rarely seen by any tourist). The city infrastructure is a nightmare.

The overnight Ranikhet Express arrives at Kathgodam at 6am. Taxi drivers bargain for business; Rs.2000 (or around NZ$60) for the four hour drive to Kausani is fair. It's a dramatic drive as Kathgodam sits on the plain and right on its edge the Himalaya foothills start.

It is an exhausting drive which could usefully be concluded with a cold Kingfisher beer, except Kausani is a dry town. A sweet lime soda does the trick.

The ashram Gandhi wrote from is next door to the Krishna Mount View Hotel. It has a kind of museum feel about it now; it's not so much alive, as a memorial.

But across the village are two remarkable ashram; one for girls of the district and the other for the families of single mothers. They welcome visitors and the experience is deeply moving.

Uttarakhand, with its motto "the abode of Gods", is the kind of place that gives meaning to "Incredible India".

Some more of the equally captivated Mahatma: "In these hills, nature's hospitality eclipses all man can ever do. The enchanting beauties of the Himalayas, their bracing climate and the soothing green that envelopes you leavings nothing more to be desired.

"I wonder whether the scenery of these hills and the climate are to be surpassed, if qualified, by any of the beauty spots of the world."

In a lifetime of travelling, I've seldom so much wanted to return to a place, as I do for Kausani.

हेम पन्त:
News from leading Newspaper of New Zealand

Source : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/religion-and-beliefs/news/article.cfm?c_id=301&objectid=10619931

Ganges braced for 60 million bathing pilgrims
Security personnel keep guard around the temple complex region near the river Ganges at Haridwar. Photo / APAs millions of Hindus prepare to descend on the holy city of Haridwar, the authorities have urged people to avoid dirtying the Ganges - India's most sacred river yet one of its most heavily polluted.

When the three-month-long Kumbh Mela festival begins tomorrow in the northern Indian city, 2.5 million people could take a ritual bath in the river on the first day alone.

Many more - perhaps as many as 60 million - will follow in the weeks ahead.

Yet for all its importance to the Hindu faith, those overseeing the festival - held in four different locations over a period of 12 years - are aware of the very damaging effect so many people could have on the river that is considered a living Goddess.

Yesterday, the government of Uttarakhand state took out full-page advertisements in national news papers listing a code of conduct for pilgrims.

Chief among the rules is not to use detergents or soaps when bathing in the river, and not to bring polythene and plastic.

"Observe the sanctity of the holy sites," it adds. Along with several other sacred rivers, the state of the Ganges is one of India's greatest environmental embarrassments.

A combination of billions of litres of raw sewage being pumped into the river along with the waste from industry have transformed the 1,500-mile waterway into one of the world's most heavily polluted.

Just last month, the World Bank announced it was to give India US$1bn to help it clean up the river, which provides a lifeline to at least 400 million people who either live beside it or depend on it to irrigate their crops.

"There is an increasing pressure from population at these festivals," said Lalit Pande, director of the Uttarakhand Environmental Education Centre.

"But most of the problems with the pollution comes from sewage that is discharged."


By Andrew Buncombe


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