The upcoming 900 kilometre-long Char Dham highway project, is being seen as a strategic attempt to bolster preparation of India’s security forces at the India-China border, apart from increasing tourist volume. But while it will facilitate the smooth movement of pilgrims and defence forces, it could be at the cost of the environment in the fragile hill state. According to experts, unchecked construction of the all-weather highway may end up triggering disasters in the ecologically sensitive Uttarakhand region.
Something unusual happened this year in the hills of Uttarakhand in northern India — the rhododendron bloomed in January. The blooming, celebrated as flower day (phool sankranti) across the Himalayan state, usually heralds the onset of spring. But the blooming of the flower two-three months early, due to an unusually warm spell, could be a result of climate change, some researchers say.
Located just three km from the Hindu shrine of Badrinath, Mana is the last village near the India-China border. At a height of over 3,000 metres, Mana is a special attraction for pilgrims and tourists alike. Known for its condiments, handicraft and herbal tea, the village also has something special to offer. It is the gateway to an arduous walk to two important Himalayan glaciers — Satopanth and Bhagirath-Kharak. With enthusiastic trekkers trickling in, Mana remains abuzz for at least six months from May to October. However, these two glaciers are retreating, slowly and continuously.