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Uttarakhand in World Media - विश्वविख्यात पत्र-पत्रिकाओं में उत्तराखण्ड

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हेम पन्त:
The Australian  में प्रकाशित माइकल गेबिकी का यात्रा संस्मरण... माइकल ने कुमाऊं के अन्दरूनी इलाकों में चार दिन ट्रैकिंग करते हुए बिताये..

source : http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25100804-5002031,00.html

Walk tall
In the steep hills of the Kumaon the villagers are ploughing terraced fields in preparation for the winter wheat.

Himalayan peaks tower above a Kumaon village house. Picture: Michael Gebicki
Barefoot men are marching in a dusty nimbus cloud behind oxen yoked in grunting pairs. The villagers are drying red chillis on their rooftops, harvesting pumpkins, potatoes and yams and hanging cut grass in shaggy clumps in trees, both to dry and to keep it out of the mouths of the cattle it will feed through the winter.

And they are getting married, since harvest is a time of plenty, when a family might afford the gold, rice and mustard oil that are prescribed for the traditional three-day wedding.

A subsection of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, Kumaon lies well below the headlines. It is calm and mostly contented, almost exclusively Hindu and calendar-pretty. Its whitewashed villages sit amid hills carved into steps, rising into forests of rhododendrons, oaks and whispering pines. To the north, separated by the Himalayas, is Tibet; Nepal lies to theeast.

I am on the march. With a guide, Jogender, and a porter, Jagdish, I am walking through a patchwork of peasant India. The Kumaon Village Walk was pioneered by Geeta Reeb and her German husband, Dieter, who also own Kalmatia Sangam, the small hotel where the walk begins and ends. With the assistance of Jogender, the Reebs have leased a chain of village houses they use as stopovers for their four-day walk. Hikers get a comfortable home in the middle of a village, local cuisine and the heartening benefits of ultra-light two-footed travel. For a couple, a small family group or even a solo hiker wanting to become embedded in the Indian village experience, with some astonishing scenery along the way, there's nothing else on the market quite like this.

It is already well into the morning when we start from the ridge on which Kalmatia Sangam sits and head down into the valley. The first part of the walk winds through a pine forest but by the time we descend a couple of hundred metres there's enough runoff to support the intensive agriculture the steep terrain demands. It is early November, prime time for walkers, and a busy one for farmers. Another month and frost will lick the valley, and then snow.

Some fields are already bristling with the tender green spikes of winter wheat. In others, while their husbands plough, women are marching with flat baskets on their heads piled with black clods of rotted dung, the only source of fertiliser. There is no such thing as wheeled traffic; their ploughs are made entirely from wood. Apart from the electricity wires slung in a haphazard spiderwork across the valley, it is a landscape that hasn't changed much since the Bhagavad Gita.

Family is big here. When I ask to take a photo of a young girl in a blue sari who is combing her wet hair in the afternoon sunlight, she smiles sweetly and squats down beside her grandmother. Although the image is not quite what I had in my mind's eye, I can admire the sentiment.

Deep in the valley we descend a sharp, slippery slope covered with pine needles to a waterfall and follow its widening stream into pastures where goats are grazing, watched by a small boy who turns away when I raise my camera. When we leave the stream and climb into the forest, we meet a teenager coming down cradling a baby goat he has wrapped in leaves, followed by the nanny. It was born just a few minutes previously, he tells us, and he's taking it back to the flock. The walk is a gentle incline for the most part but at an altitude of just under 2000m, it's enough to set the heart romping. Beyond the pine forest we climb into a forest of oaks and deodars. The trail crests the ridge at a tiny Shiva temple with an orange roof where we stop for a picnic lunch of falafel with salad, hummus, yoghurt and chapattis.

अगली पोस्ट में जारी है.....

हेम पन्त:
....पिछली पोस्ट से आगे

Arranged in saw-toothed splendour across the horizon is the main range of the Himalayas with Nanda Devi as the centrepiece: 7817m of ice and rock rising into theheavens.

Tall and moustachioed, with a perpetual grin, Jagdish, too, stands out in this region. As well as being the porter, he's the cook for our small expedition, always ready to give me more chapattis, more dahl, another spoonful of rice, more yams with my lentils. He's also a social networker par excellence. When we stop on a hillside in the afternoon, Jagdish disappears over a garden wall for a conversation with an elderly couple and comes back cradling an armful of guavas.

I have named him Mr Have-a-chat because our walk is punctuated by the chirrup of his mobile phone, which rings with pulsating Bollywood-style music. The mobile phone has transformed communication in Kumaon. Where a line-based telephone network would be impractical, mobile phones provide instant links with sons and fathers working in India's big cities.

Not that Jagdish has any need of a phone for calls across less than 5km since the booming voice he amplifies especially for his Nokia could easily be heard over that distance.

On the descent into the next valley we pass a mason building a house. Although factory-made bricks are common in houses built alongside roads, in villages without easy access it's cheaper to employ a mason than pay for transport for bricks.

Each block must be chopped from granite and the mason will make, perhaps, 10 blocks in a day. The walls are about chest-high; Jogender says the mason began building in early spring.

One of the charms of this walk is the absence of other foreigners. In four days on the trail, I see not a single outsider. My passage provokes varying reactions. Schoolchildren gape, water buffaloes sniff the air and toddlers retreat into mothers' skirts. It is a stark contrast to the walking trails in much of Nepal, where acrylic paint, corrugated iron, tea houses advertising hot showers and the detritus of plastic bottles have changed the complexion of whole valleys.

Jogender's aunt is working in the courtyard of her house when we climb into the village of Deora; she is pouring dried lentils in an arc while her daughter whisks at the flow, creating a breeze that blows away the chaff.

Deora is our home for the night. It's also the home of Jogender and Jagdish.

My bedroom is on the upper storey of a typical village dwelling. It's a white house with shuttered windows and door frame picked out in scarlet with a staircase at the front. It is a neat fit between authenticity and comfort. The floor is made from packed mud mixed with straw, there's a bare 25-watt globe and the bed is a mattress on a charpoy, a web of string over a wooden frame. In a concession to foreign eccentricities, there's an outhouse with a sit-down toilet and a shower next door.

At 3am, I am drowsily awake and needing the toilet but all I can think of is a story Jogender told me as we strolled around the village. While howling dogs have tracked my progress for much of the day, this evening there is not so much as a whimper. It's the leopards, Jogender told me. Dogs are locked inside at night because leopards will sit on the roofs of houses, wait until a dog comes out andpounce.

Will a leopard appreciate the difference between a dog and a timorous foreigner with a full bladder? It is a nervy thought but eventually I decide it would make an interesting epitaph and bolt for the outhouse. Next morning, Jogender tells me that every year a handful of villagers fall prey to leopards.

In the next village along our line of march the men are warming up for a Twenty20 cricket match with a visiting team from Deora. Today is a relaxed walk, and we wait while Jagdish races down to bowl a few overs. While religion, politics and caste are the fault lines in Indian society, cricket is a unifying force, the opium of its masses.

As we leave the village we spot a teenager in a white school shirt sprinting away from us through the trees. "My boy," says Jagdish, with a nod in his direction. He's wagged school so he can watch the match and his father grins in appreciation. All that day Jagdish keeps up to date with the cricket game over his mobile phone. Despite a run rate of more than six an over, Deora loses.

Near a village we wait beside a forest trail while Jagdish goes off to buy some batteries. Young women with shaggy mounds of grass piled on their heads file past. They're on the return journey from market to their village, where the grass will be used for cattle feed. They have walked for more than two hours with 30kg of grass on their heads, and there's another hour to go.

Over lunch on the grassy banks of a stream, a young boy sidles past and Jagdish can't resist asking if he has eaten lunch. No, he's on the way home from school and while there's a school meal if he wants it, the cook is a harijan, a member of India's vast casteless sea. Whatever the cook has made would be ritually polluted, and the boy is a kshatriya, a member of the warrior caste.

On the fourth day of the walk, Jogender wakes me before sunrise with tea and we make a panting climb from the village where we've spent the night at 2200m, up another 200m. It's the highest point around. Sixty kilometres to the north and stretching for more than 250km across the horizon, the peaks of the Himalayas run like a plot of the Dow Jones industrial average in turbulence.

After a breakfast of parathas and honey, we walk down through a cool cedar forest, following a stream for an hour. Deep in the forest is the ancient temple complex at Jageshwar, where a priest dabs my forehead with vermilion powder and rice, and sprinkles flower petals in my hair. A car is waiting to take us back to Kalmatia Sangam but Jagdish leaves us halfway. He's walking home to Deora, across the hills.

We say our goodbyes and, until a bend in the road takes us out of earshot, I can hear him clearly above the noise of the engine and the rush of the wind, talking into his mobile phone.

हेम पन्त:
माइकल गेबिकी का एक और यात्रा संस्मरण "The Australian" से ही..

Source : http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,24970813-5002031,00.html

IT is hot, I am thirsty. And after walking for three hours, I am famished. When I come across a meadow beside the stream I've been following, I don't need a sign to tell me this is my lunch spot. I am marching through late autumn scenery around Almora, the hill station in India's Kumaon region, which squeezes itself into the hindquarters of Tibet.

I started out mid-morning from the rim of the valley, 900m higher up. From Paparselly, on the outskirts of Almora, I took a trail that plunged down the ridgeline into the cleavage of the valley, leaving behind a view of the snow-capped Himalayas and hillsides echoing with barking dogs and small voices greeting me with "Namaste, namaste!"

At the bottom the trail met a stream at a pretty yellow Shiva temple, took me across a bridge and up through fields where men were ploughing land for winter wheat behind grunting oxen.

On the hillside above, a group of workmen building a house had downed tools for lunch, which was enough to stir my tastebuds.

About 1km upstream from the bridge, near the remains of a stone water mill, the trail dipped

again to meet the stream at the meadow where I am sprawled.

It is scenic as well as peaceful, the hills on either side notched into terraces that give way to pine forests when they become too steep even for the industrious cultivators of the Kumaon. I park myself on a warm, water-smoothed boulder that crests above the grassy surrounds, remove boots and socks and snap open the catch on the tiffin carrier provided by my hotel.

The tiffin carrier is an ingenious instrument. It consists of five metal bowls that sit one on top of another, held in place by a U-shaped metal band that also serves as the handle. This is the standard lunchbox for desk wallahs across the nation. Without the tiffin carrier, India would grind to a halt.

One of the marvels of Mumbai is the network of dabbawallahs who collect many thousands of tiffin carriers from suburban housewives each day, code them and pack them off on city-bound trains from which they are collected by another dabbawallah and delivered unerringly to their rightful owner.

Although standard tiffin fare is curries, rice and dahl, mine has a Mediterranean accent today. One bowl contains felafel balls, another chapattis, then salad, yoghurt with cucumber and finally hummus. I lay them out, glistening in the sunshine, slit open a chapatti to make a pocket and load it with felafel and salad, moistened with a dribble of yoghurt.

Just as I am crunching the first satisfying mouthful, a goat rounds the corner of the stone wall beside me with half-chewed grass in its mouth, lifts its head and sniffs the air lasciviously. I ignore it for a moment, hoping the animal will continue munching grass, but the goat has ideas that do not involve mowing. It advances, nickering with pleasure at this feast that fate has brought its way.

When it begins licking its chops over the hummus, I decide that a line must be drawn. I push its head away, gently but firmly. The goat shoves my hand back with greater vigour.

Enough is enough. I leap to my feet, manage to insert my body between goat and lunch and, with the bowls clutched in my arms and chapatti clamped between my teeth, leap across the boulders to the other side of the stream, slopping yoghurt down the front of my shirt.

On the far side is an isolated rock with steep sides where I arrange my tiffin bowls, safe from the cloven-hoofed criminal.

When I cross back to the other side to retrieve the rest of my belongings, the goat is regarding me with a melancholy expression. From its mouth dangles half of one sock. It is going to be a painful climb back to the top.

हेम पन्त:
चीन के प्रसिद्ध मीडिया समूह "झिन्हुआ" की एक खबर
New energy-boosting medicine plant discovered in India  
 NEW DELHI, March 15 (Xinhua) -- A new energy-boosting medicine plant or a fungus, Cordyceps sobolifera, has been found by an Indian scientist and professor of Garhwal University, S.P.S Visth, in hill areas of north Indian state Uttarakhand, the Hindi language daily Nai Duniya said on Sunday.

So far, the plant has only been found in Europe, Canada and China.

The drug does not show positive results in anti-doping tests, and is considered safe for use by players to boost energy, the paper said.

Because of high protein content, the drug made from the plant is more popular for use than even Vigra among men in Western countries, said the report.

The plant is also known to be capable of curing asthma and cancer patients, the paper said.

हेम पन्त:
Report on Uttarakhand's forest fire in Chinese New TV "New tang Dynasty Television"

The fire is not only polluting the environment but is also a safety concern for the people living nearby.

The locals believe that the fires are caused by either human carelessness or villagers who hope they’ll get better grass from the forest after the fire.

[M. Negi, Local]:
"One of the reasons is that while passing through the forests some people throw burning cigarette butts, secondly sometimes children do it unknowingly, and thirdly the villagers, they start the fire. Untill they understand that the forests are for them, the fires cannot be curbed. There has to be awareness and until the villagers are aware, the government cannot do anything."

People are frustrated about the lack of help from the Indian government. In some places the villagers have had to fight the fire themselves.

[B.S. Chaudhary, Local]:
"There have been no measures taken by the government. At a few places villagers tried to curb the fire but because they had no proper means, there were some casualties."

But the forest department says it’s looking into the issue.

[R.B.S. Rawat, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests]:
"I admit that maybe the people are not happy with the workings of the Forest Department. Maybe they are unhappy with our schemes. We are going to research these aspects so that, policies can be framed in the near future."

The blame may go to anyone but the fires are destroying resources and disturbing the environment.

Tos see a video related to this news.. Please click



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