Ice Stupa, winter Ladakh

Ice Stupa winter Ladakh Ice Stupa Ladakh Sonam Wangchuk

Ice Stupa winter Ladakh Ice Stupa Ladakh Sonam Wangchuk

Ice Stupa winter Ladakh Ice Stupa Ladakh Sonam Wangchuk

Ice Stupa winter Ladakh Ice Stupa Ladakh Sonam Wangchuk

Ice Stupa winter Ladakh Ice Stupa Ladakh Sonam Wangchuk

I have witnessed the Ice Stupa, in the winter of Ladakh.

“High in the Himalaya, a desert is turning green.”  – This was the beginning of the article, A WATERY SHRINE, by Nina Strochlic drew my attention again in the month of March 2017. I was just back home in down south after leading a few group of the Chadar trek. I recollect 2 words again from the far away land of Ladakh, the cold desert of the Himalayas, The Ice Stupa and the engineer man Mr.Sonam Wangchuk; which I heard for the 1st time early 2016. I was biting my nails for missing to be an eyewitness of such a milestone in the history of human civilization. On that very moment, I decided to visit it next year of winter of Ladakh. My friends, I kept my promise to myself in the winter of 2018, and writing back to you with the eagerness of the cheerful emotion of a social animal, the human, – the happiness should be shared.

I witnessed the history. I was very much there when an Indian national flag was hosted to celebrate the 69th Republic day of the nation on top of an ice stupa, a creation truly – of the people, by the people, for the people. I am proud to be an Indian.

In the winter of Ladakh, near the Phyang Village, these 2 ice shrines become an amusement park for locals. With no offense, people are celebrating a true achievement of human and national history with their family. They may not even know the simplest details of the engineering of the Ice Stupa, but their future is secure.

Ice stupa in front of    69th Republic day of Indian on top of ice stupa

 

What is an Ice Stupa?

  1. Using a high mountain stream, or a higher altitude lake/ reservoir connect a pipe to release water at a lower altitude.
  2. Now, this piped away water due to altitude difference develop a great pressure to leave the vertical pipe as a water fountain. Something similar you may observe in your garden water pipe.
  3. Now at a winter night of -20C to -30C degree in Ladakh, exposed water drops freeze to ice and create this conical shrine of fantasy, the Ice Stupa. Collected twigs firms the base of the stupa and help it grow bigger.
ice Stupa Phyang

ice Stupa near Phyang

 

Why is Ice stupa so important?

Now finally the key to the magnificent invention of Wangchuk. He is a savior for the future when climate change is very much present in the land of Himalayas. Glacial meltwater is reducing in the high mountain. The window of agriculture for a mountain farmer is becoming smaller with unpredictable water supply. Many plants of apple, barley, apricot died in the desert. Now an Ice Shrine beyond winter, with the rising temperature of spring, releases slow melting water for their farmland. Wangchuk brings the glacier to them. Protected their children to be a climate refugee.

Even in winter, it generates income as a tourist attraction for a farmer.

inside of an ice stupa 2

inside of an ice stupa

inside of an ice stupa

 

This winter for 1st time an Ice stupa village has been planned beyond Ladakh at Morteratsch Valley of the Swiss Alps.

While rivers are disappearing, Glacial lakes are growing in size. Many of them are on the brink of causing floods that will wash away many cities downstream. One solution is not enough. We need more Wangchuk to step in. In 2015, its all started with a 125000 USD crowdfunding fund. Support conservation action.

You can read more about his effort or get involve at Ladakh SECMOL campus.

2 ice stupa ladakh phyang village Leh

Ichamati, a trans-boundary river

Ichamati river at Taki

I reached Taki on 31st December 2017.  There was no decisive purpose to travel or a destination to reach. But a few words to connect. Bangladesh, Ichamati and Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, these 3 words were enough to get lost within me on a year-end afternoon. Today’s world near the river is truly far from the painting, has been drawn by one of the finest craftsmen of Bengali literature Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay in his novel ‘Ichamati’. But it is not so hard for one who read him once. In my childhood, he taught me the power of imagination. A tool to travel the unknown world and the time with your untamed mind. So, in my 1st blog of 2018, a year-end, time, river, the novel, the partition, Bibhutibhusan and much more is creating an anarchy. I let them flow as imagination or a river goes on. And I wish all of you a green, calm and untamed new year on this beautiful planet. let’s welcome 2018.

taki rajbari

There is no end, my friend.  Nor a beginning. Moment after moment, year after year, time flows. Time unites people. Time divides too. Science says time is just a dimension. The way our river Ichamati has length, breadth and depth; It has time. Again, as you walk along the river bank from the origin to the ocean, you can travel the time too. Science is making progress alike light. That time is not so far when on an upcoming new year eve, you will experience the time travel with your family just like a 3D movie. On a button click, just after few ads, you will start experiencing the magic of a time machine. The spreading roots of a living banyan tree are disappearing from the ruins of old zamindari house Thakurdalan (a pavilion or arena of worship). Those destroyed walls and pillars, which has never seen before any of the new generation, is reconstructing with all it’s intricate art and artefacts in front of your senses. It will be in such a minute detail that you are not even going to miss the quintessence of an old essence stick burning in the Tulsi Mancha at the centre of the courtyard. I get goosebumps in wonder. I am scared too, mechanization to the imagination.  The thoughts of the experience of a time machine took me far from the noises of multiple loudspeakers playing music cheerfully at the year-end parties in front of the river Ichamati.

taki rajbari banyan tree

Taki rajbari banyan tree

Today at this junction, time is blending into the river. Ichamati is coalescing into the time. Still, the invisible division remains. Ichamati is the division between the very same people on both sides of the river. The history, the deeply rooted culture within them is waiting. Maybe for a new mechanism or an old idealism to arise.

River unites people. The river divides too. River teaches you, there is neither an end nor a beginning, but an ongoing process with all her wisdom and experiences, instilled in us.

Ichamati River is a trans-boundary river which flows through India and Bangladesh and also forms the boundary between the two countries. The river is facing the problem of siltation leading to the thin flow of water in the dry season and floods in the rainy season. Experts are handling the situation and remedial matters are being discussed between the governments of India and Bangladesh. The political border of 2 countries is just a 10 mins boat ride away from here, in Taki.

Ichamati Bangladesh border

Ichamati Bangladesh border

From Taki Rajbari Ghat, You can avail a boat ride in Ichamati river and view the Bangladesh Border as close as you can’t imagine. I found the destination as a perfect day out from Kolkata. But one wants to stay for a night, may venture out the following links; Amrapali Gust House OR a few other Staying options at Taki.

Ladakh Festivals Calendar

chaam mask dance at ladakh festivals

Ladakh Festival Calendar is important to one who wants to capture and feel the culture of Ladakh. This hamlet of trans-Himalayas is well known for their rich, vibrant and colorful culture.  The daily life of Ladakhi people in a town may look more western dressed up to fit the today’s world, but a festival will surely be ethnic as it was 100 years ago. During the festival, the locals get dressed up in traditional clothes, where men wear cummerbunds and women wear vibrant headgears and loads of jewelry.  Read more

Best Himalayan trek for beginners

I have worked as exploration leader and managed multiple groups in Himalaya with beginners or 1st-time trekkers. Many of them successfully completed the trek and made me realized a fact – That any trek can be your 1st trek irrespective of the grade of the trek. And if you are one looking for an answer to the similar question like – What can be the best Himalayan trek for beginners? OR  Can chadar be my 1st trek? Or Can I go to Goecha La as a beginner?

 I will suggest a rational though steps to get an answer by ownself.

Read more

Sunderban Biosphere- Trip to BIG CAT’s Den

It was monsoon time ,and a visit to the Sunderbans was long time due .When the proposal came in from my friend Sutonu that a group of bird enthusiasts and wildlife lovers are venturing into the largest estuarine delta in the world to explore and unravel the beauty of Sunderban’s rich marine diversity of flora and fauna, I could not say no to such a mouth-watering prospect. Read more

LATPANCHAR – A BIRD WATCHER’S PARADISE

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary (MWLS)” is not an uncommon name for the birders around Bengal and in India as well. The very elusive and endangered Rufous Necked Hornbill has made this place more famous.-the Sanctuary falls under Darjeeling Wildlife Division, West Bengal.
Latpanchar is a small hamlet on the outskirts of the MWLS. The treasure of trove of Latpanchar always fascinates me and it has become kind of a second home.

We embarked on our journey on 27th April from Kolkata with a return on 1st May.

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School of Birds – Excursion to Mukutmanipur

Location:

Chnadra village in Bankura district of West Bengal, India is our venue for the project ‘School of Birds’ with 52 local children under its wings.

The birding excursion was conducted at Mukutmanipur in Bankura district, the site for the confluence of Kangsabati and Kumari rivers. It’s also home to a giant water dam reservoir. Bangopalpur Reserve Forest, home to rich flora and fauna lies approximately 2kms from the reservoir. Read more

Rupin Pass Waterfall crossing – in pre season

Rupin valley is nestled in between two approximately parallel runs of giant lateral ribs a.k.a spur, stretching south from the high snowfields just below the main ridge of Dhaula Dhar range. Rupin pass is situated on this ridge beyond the snowfield, where the ridge-altitude is as low as 4680 meters (15350 feet) thus allowing a crossing of the ridge without much risk. However, during the preseason, snow is found from an altitude of 2900-3000 meters (9500 feet) even when snowfall of previous year was less than average. In any case, during preseason you will have to climb at least 1700 meters (5600 feet) of snow slopes of varying gradient before reaching the pass, which offers a superb experience and learning for relatively less experienced trekkers.

Among all these sections of snow climbings, personally, I loved crossing the frozen Rupin waterfall the most. Let us look at it in greater detail.

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Trek Planning, beginning a trek

Why trek planning is important?

In a theoretical sense – Trekking is a necessary routine within a sport called Mountaineering. Any mountaineering expedition must involve trekking unless the full expedition team is being flown(by helicopter/small aeroplane) all the way to the climbing base camp of the target mountain. The more remote a mountain is , the more time and resources(i.e fuel,food,porter,pony/yak) are invested in trek just to reach a base camp.

In a more practical sense – Trekking is just hiking through any terrain , given you have the following major things in place –

  1. RESOURCES :Managing resources comes under administration. This is one thing which plays the most crucial role in a trek. Even without adequate planning ,information, or first aid, a trek can be done just because you have resources in place; but of course it will bevery risky and very childish. Or we can put it this way – if resources are not present , trek does not even start.In life threatening or simply challenging situations in a trek, quality ,quantity and management of resources decide the outcome. Read more

Toilet, on a trek or Outdoor camping

Pop up toilet tent

Where and how to poop on a trek or Outdoor? Where and how do people poop on a trek or while camping outdoor? These are a very frequent question asked by fresh trekkers, prior trek. Yes, obviously you should ask this question to your trek operator too. Also, I found a lot of trekkers or operators come up with a partially wrong answer or an answer without environmental awareness. Read more

Himalayan Trek Packing List

Himalayan trek Packing list

A comprehensive Himalayan Trek Packing List is an important concern for many trekkers. Here, we try to develop a logical approach to finding it.

The weight of a backpack is inversely proportioned with the experience of outdoor. Keeping your backpack light is an art.  It begins with the question – ‘what to pack?’.  And the answer to the question is absolutely related to – ‘when and where are you heading to?’. Even every different region of Himalaya has its own climatic patterns based on the seasons. Your backpacking checklist should change too with the pattern.  Understanding of the expected weather and its uncertainty is the key of your packing. Read more

We Love Our Rhododendron ~ Lets Know Them Too ~ Focus Indian Himalaya

Found in Uttarakhand@Copyright Rockfeet.com

 

Walking through a Himalayan Nature Park we often come across with Rhododendron species. Many we know – Many we don’t. But No matter what , when they Bloom they set the forest on fire.

For city dwellers the view of a Rhododendron Burst can be enchanting but it may leave a huge impression on you. Personally when I traveled Kanchenjunga Wildlife Sanctuary in Spring time , The Forest made me insane. It was an unforgettable place which I could not Forget and it haunts my soul  till date. Read more

RIP : The Aryan Myth ~ Welcome to the Genetic era of Human History

Human Migration
https://www.washingtonpost.com

Picture Courtesy : https://www.washingtonpost.com

With Gene Technology making its presence felt – Many History Primarily based of Folklore , Legends , Literature & Classical Anthropological Tools Needs a Critical Revision.We Are Not Too Old To Forget the Aryan Theory that we knew from our School Books.

Read more

Purbasthali Oxbow Lake – Birding Diaries – Trip Report

The mighty Osprey provided some of the moments of the day with a partially devoured fish in its talons

Ten of us decided to cool off a bit after epic wedding celebrations of Kabya and Roopdatta during the first week of February 2017. The plan was made hastily but executed with precision.

Onset of our boat journey

Onset of our boat journey

The Plan:

Birding on fishing boats on the Ox-bow Lake at Chupi/Purbasthali (Burdwan, West Bengal). This 11 kms long lake in the shape of an Ox-bow has been the winter and permanent homes of thousands of ducks, waders and other birds from time immemorial, i suppose.
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Pilgrim on the mountain, KangYatse 2


This post is a part of a three chapter series on my experience summiting Stok Kangri,6153m and Kang Yatse 6200m in two fortunate weeks of July in 2016. I’ve never been laconic with my blog posts but unless you’re hooked on to Pokemon Go, you should be alright.

Zero – Training for a 6000er
One – Stok Kangri
Two – Kang Yatse 2 – You are reading.

“We are approaching 6000m”, announces Sharki Sherpa, as we make a steep 60 degree, but shorter detour to the summit ridge that starts at about 6100m. The detour took us up a 100m in a short, exhausting push. Both Jan and I were feeling alright and very excited about the prospect of being on top on KangYatse 2 on the day. All seemed to be going well when our sherpa stopped sharp. We followed closer and came to a halt at an icy blue and endless crack of the bergschrund staring at us right in the face and it spanned the entire width of the north east face we were climbing.The summit was the least of my concerns at that point, it was more like,

” F— this. How do we get out of this mess?” Read more

How to combat cold in Himalayan treks? The concept of layering clothes

How to combat cold in Himalayan treks? The concept of layering clothes

How to combat cold in Himalayan treks? OR how to combat the extreme cold like Chadar trek? The one and only answer is the concept of layering clothes. There can’t be any single Jacket from any brand to protect you from cold of -25 C, what a winter Himalayan trek like Chadar offers. And if there is any such from a brand like North Face, then definitely that will cost more than your trip Or if it is cheap then you will end up adding the heaviest item into the backpack. Read more

How To Prepare for a trek, The Physical Endurance

HOW TO PREPARE FOR A TREK, THE PHYSICAL ENDURANCE

How To Prepare for a trek, The Physical Endurance is the 2nd Chapter of the article. Please read chapter 1 of the article titled To Prepare for a trek, The Mental Endurance.

To prepare for a trek, we need to strengthen our 2 prime M’s – Mind and Muscle, the body. Only then, the spending of the 3rd M – Money; a little or more, can bring to us an intense lifelong experience like trekking. Read more

How To Prepare for a trek, The Mental Endurance

Looks like a good bet for the Marathon title...:D

How To Prepare for a trek, The Mental Endurance is the 1st part of the article. Please read Part 2 of the article titled To Prepare for a trek, The Physical Endurance.

To prepare for a trek, we need to strengthen our 2 prime M’s – Mind and Muscle, the body. Only then, the spending of the 3rd M – Money; a little or more, can bring to us an intense lifelong experience like trekking. Read more

How to walk on Chadar trek? the penguin style

One of the most common questions asked by a traveler prior the trek that  -How to walk on Chadar trek ? Or what shoe should I use during the Chadar trek? What is penguin style? And much more.

One of the most unique and magnificent treks of the world, the Zanskar canyon trek, mostly known as Chadar Trek is hugely popular now. Chadar (literal meaning is Blanket in the Hindi language) signifies the frozen sheet of ice that is formed on the raging River Zanskar. Due to extreme cold and the less amount of direct sunlight as the river flows through a narrow gorge. Solid ice is formed best around the time frame, 2nd week of January to 2nd week of February – the time when the winter at it’s maximum.

Read more

Walking crampon or microspikes, a companion of winter trek

MICROspikes in action.    Photo:Kahtoola

Flexible, or “hinged,” or walking crampon or micro spikes or anti-slip or ice gripper, many names to call the recently introduced ice gears of outdoor adventure sports. Flexible crampons are best for climbing snow and walking on glaciers. They are designed to flex with the boot, making walking more natural. If you plan on more hiking than technical climbing, flexible crampons will really shine. New age products are evolving more and almost developing a new category of ice traction gear for a more generic ice walk. Soon we may have to stop calling it crampon as it looses the technical seriousness.

Read more

Pilgrim on the mountain: Training for a 6000er


IThis post is a part of a three chapter series on my experience summiting Stok Kangri,6153m and Kang Yatse 6200m in two fortunate weeks of July in 2016. I’ve never been laconic with my blog posts but unless you’re hooked on to Pokemon Go, you should be alright.

Zero – Training for a 6000er. You are reading.
One – Stok Kangri
Two – Kang Yatse II

To the stray dogs who chased me in every night run and threatened to chew my legs off, to the pub hopping pillion on the motorbike who asked me to buck up while I was on another run…on a Friday night… 12 AM and to the guy at the pushcart who shared his day’s water with me without a thought on a hot sunny day in Hyderabad after a solid elevation gain bike ride.
Read more

Pilgrim on the mountain: Stok Kangri


This post is a part of a three chapter series on my experience summiting Stok Kangri,6153m and Kang Yatse 6200m in two fortunate weeks of July in 2016. I’ve never been laconic with my blog posts but unless you’re hooked on to Pokemon Go, you should be alright.

Zero – Training for a 6000er
One – Stok Kangri . You are reading.
Two – Kang Yatse II

As my left leg started to lose complete control, my right one, which till now was resting a little, sprung into action and thrust the toes into the snow slope and the ice axe, on my right hand, still in slow-motion, came right in front of my chest and punched in three rapid self arresting swings into the snow till it latched on to harder ice below it to stop my slide. Pure adrenalin rush and a total love affair with my crampons and ice axe began at that moment. Love at first fright.

Read more

Birding Okhrey | Hilley| Varsey |West Sikkim| Gorkhey | North Bengal|

Verditer Flycatcher (male)

Explorers:

  1. Titas Kar – A doctor by profession and a passionate birdwatcher and stargazer.
  2. Aritra Guha – A doctor by profession and a passionate birdwatcher.
  3. Priyabrata Banerjee – A teacher by profession and a very good musician.
  4. Titash Chakrabarti – Exploration leader with RockyFeet

Read more

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