This Segment ” Wanderlust Tales” will bring fascinating stories of a young dreamer, a passionate traveler and a wandering soul. Witness her emotional stories coupled with exquisite photographs from her travel diaries, every Friday.
From Wanderlust Tales of theWanderingSoul
Official Globe-Trotter, The Floating Thoughts Team
” Take only memories,leave only footprints.”
As the weather gets warmer in the Himalayas, the trips organizing companies come up with different packages and plans for tourists and adventure-seekers, who wish to visit the beautiful Ladakh. Every time I browse through my social media account, I often find different events being created by these companies with their travel dates and packages. Each event is flooded with likes and comments from people across the country. Most of them ask for a detailed itinerary and customized trip plan. I see many of my friends interested in road and biking trips from Delhi-Chandigarh to Ladakh. I too find many such promotional emails from different travel companies asking me about my travel plans to Ladakh and requesting me to avail their services. To all such mails and calls, I could only just smile and say“That’s my home”.
When I browse through their itinerary, I find the visit to beautiful Pangong lake and ride through Khardong-La, the highest motorable road in the world, included in them. With curiosity, I often read these itineraries until the end, just to see if they did include some awareness among their tourists to save Ladakh from irresponsible tourism. However, the only thing I could find is a sheer disappointment. I often comment on those posts about how traveling responsibly can save Ladakh. Deep down I always felt that even if few people read those comments and traveled responsibly, it would be an achievement for me. Being a daughter of Ladakh, I feel it’s my responsibility to let people know how sad it is for us to see the dreadful changes that irresponsible tourism brings to this place of a fragile and sensitive ecosystem.
It has been more than two decades since I came to Leh to start my formal education, from a village more than 100 kms away. I was fascinated to be in Leh…was happy to see so many buses, cars, houses, new school and new friends. In village, we used to be happy to see the only daily bus from Leh. We would rush behind those buses and people coming from Leh. Time went by and with the passage of every month and every year, I started missing the peace and purity of my village. Whenever I got few days of summer holidays, I rushed to my village. There was no bigger happiness than being there. The fresh air, the pure water and of course the serenity were welcoming and overwhelmingly beautiful. Today if I looked back to that time and compared it with today’s Leh, I would say Leh was really serene and peaceful at that time.
Over the last few years, there has been a drastic change. The number of vehicles increased along with shops, restaurants. Many new hotels came up in the heart of Ladakh to cater to the increasing number of tourists from across the country and the world. I am not against development but yes, development at this pace sometimes looks scary. It’s scary because it doesn’t seem to be sustainable. It’s bringing in so many things which this place of a sensitive ecosystem cannot really take. I haven’t been to Khardong-La or Pangong lake yet or haven’t done the Chadar trek. Now I yearn to visit these places as soon as I get home because these places might cease to exist in the years to come. I am scared that a few years from now I may not be even able to see the beauty which nature did bestow upon these places. I might miss a lot of things; I might see heaps of rotting garbage…I might see people peeing in the open…I might find irresponsible crowd…I might find these places noisy. Already, I have heard from many of my friends about the formation of heaps of garbage near Khardong-La and Pangong.
As the tourist season is around the corner and many people might have already planned their travel to Ladakh, I feel changing our ways of travel can turn out to be a blessing to these places.
Special Tips from theWanderingSoul
- I always prefer staying in homestays as it give us a local touch and it’s a great way to learn the local traditions, culture, and language too. Moreover, you may not want to miss tasting a local cuisine by staying in a hotel with all modern amenities. Ladakh also offers homestays even in the remotest of the villages and you cannot expect luxury there but you will surely be surprised to see the hospitality of these simple people.This will surely be a once in a lifetime experience.
- While traveling I often avoid buying packaged water bottles (I take my own bottle filled from home) and if I buy packaged eatables, I make sure that the wrappers reach back home with me. In Leh, a few years back use of plastic bags were banned and it was a huge success but now it looks like things have gone out of control. But we can make sure that we avoid using plastic bags, bottles, and wrappers and avoid littering around.
- Ladakh has many beautiful lakes. Pangong and Tsomo-riri being the most pristine and heavenly. Many people in Leh consider a visit to these lakes as holy and we never take bath in such places. However, as more and more people started flooding this place, the greater became the instances of them taking bath and washing their vehicles in the holy lakes. If things remained like this, the day is not far when we would have to start campaigns to “Clean Pangong” and I would never want to see that.
- Though Leh is a cold desert but it has varied flora and fauna and Leh has some endagered wild life species like Urial, Snow leopard, black necked crane etc. Few people were booked for chasing the wild animals.Though the local bodies are creating awareness about importance of protecting these wildlife species but its important for us to help them safeguard it.
- During my travel across the country, I often meet people who ask me if they can do camping in villages without any charge.Yes, I have seen many people do camping even at a place nearby my village and the villagers doesn’t say anything considering they are guests and travelled from far off places. But to their utter disappointed they find their land littered. People use their place and doesn’t bother to clean it while leaving. As a token of gratitude, if we are not paying we can atleast clean the place before leaving.
- Ladakh has some of the oldest monastries.Thiksey, Shey,Stakna, Hemis, Lamayuru, Liker, Alchi monastery in Leh and Phugtal monastery in Zansakr to name a few. Monastries are epitome of Peace. Removing shoes,maintaining silence and avoiding wearing anything on your head are some of the basic etiquettes.
- NOTE :
It is a sincere request to my fellow travelers or the tourists visiting Ladakh to be kind to my place, to be a little responsible and help us in keeping Ladakh beautiful and heavenly for the generations to come. We would love to welcome your Grandchildren to this Heavenly Place!! 🙂
Feel free to contact me for suggestions on your trip to Ladakh. I would surely try my best to help provided you will leave only your Footprints there.
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