Mountains, Nature

On wetlands of high mountains…

Wetlands in the high Himalaya are a pleasure to the eyes but a punishment to the feet… a splash of colour and contrast twixt dull pastels, they make for impressive sceneries that create a mirage of easy traverse… a tipsy version of the terra firma, they do offer rewards for the wayfarer beyond visual feasts… that of internal monologues offering a closure to the questions on the finiteness of existence among infinites…

Wetlands near Vishansar Lake, Kashmir, India

For wetlands are the oases of high-altitudes, they not only absorb water but the wind as well it seems – as the former translates from thunderous gurgles to humble burbles, the latter seems to go from the roar of gales to whistling breezes… from such a context, wetlands in essence tend to humble the elements from their individual rebellion attitudes into a submissive state of cooperation…

Sarthu pond, Jiva Nal valley, Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh, India

Gods that fail to find an abode on the mountaintops domicile here among magical herbs and singing brooks… for whatever breeds and sustains life deserves reverence… for cold climes, the atmosphere in wetlands is rather festive, as the icy heights from their podiums watch the first signs life congregate in these pastures feeding of its large array of ecosystem services… there are myriad forms to wetlands, from the more traditional lakes and meadows with well defend boundaries to the messy, slushy biotic orgies of peatlands…

Wetlands near Satsar lakes, Kashmir, India

But they are drying up, these wetlands, due to a range of factors from overarching externalities like global warming to the innumerable quests for selfies… and communities that have carved out survival around their fringes are now flummoxed… their livestock being decimated and the spiritual fabric torn about… from flash floods to crop and livestock depredation, traditional knowledge systems built over centuries of painstaking and rigorous trial-and-error have been thrown into a tizzy…

Wetlands at Saketi top, Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh, India

The gods seem to have packed up and left for higher grounds, the cairns and prayer flags stare mutedly into the abyss… weird as it may seem, only natural calamities seem to offer a way, a natural reset to obliterate the existing, seemingly cancerous life and herald new beginnings…

Kishansar lake, Kashmir, India

Musings on high-altitude wetlands

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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