Nobody wishes to get hurt purposefully and no one wants to wound his or her own self then why do we end up hurting our mother earth. Some would say it is not intentional and some would be ignorant towards what ignorance we are talking about.
To heal is to feel we care,
No, we do not.
If we would, things would be different altogether. That’s the thought which paved the path of Shrikhand Mahadev Kailash Yatra Clean Drive this year by young blood who opted to take this pilgrimage with “The Purpose”
Shrikhand Mahadev Kailash Yatra is one of the five most important Kailash Yatra in the world. The trek is one of the toughest and full of difficult terrains and that is the reason it is considered as one of the toughest pilgrimages in India at an altitude of 17150 Feet / 5227 metres above the sea level. Every year thousands of Lord Shiva devotees participate in this yatra between the scheduled dates as per the suitable weather conditions. This year young lads from a newly formed NGO Healing Himalayas Foundation team performed recce of Shrikhand Mahadev trail in the month of July to understand the condition of garbage disposal during the yatra. Major camping sites were full of garbage that majorly included plastic bottles, wrappers, disposed clothes, shoes, umbrellas by the pilgrims. The team was surprised to find the surrounding area of the Khand to be full of plastic garbages.
Based on the recce, the team organised an event “Shrikhand Kailash Yatra Clean Drive” on August 18. Total eleven people left for the yatra; Pradeep Sangwan, the Founder of HHF, Sunil Negi, a trekking enthusiast from Kinnaur, Sonia Chauhan, an active contributor from Shimla, Kanav Sharma from Manali and Paramvir Singh from Moga who volunteered for the clean drive along with two well-experienced trekkers of TsoLa Adventures, Rajiv Mathas and Prashant Negi. The seven members were assisted by four Gurkhas who assisted in cooking and other tasks as the yatra is officially closed and the team was last to visit the location. The team majorly emphasised on picking plastic wrappers and plastic bottles from the main locations and from the top. The garbage collected from the top was carried back to the second base camp on August 22 and the team carried total 11 sacks of collected garbage from the base camp to Rampur Bushahar on August 23rd and dumped in the city’s major dumping sites.
- Day 1: A team of 11 people started the journey to Shrikhand Mahadev from the जाओं village in निरमंड on 19th August. The task of cleaning up started from बराटी नाला , where team stopped for the day and cleaned the stretch of 5 km. Hundreds of plastic bottles, wrappers were collected from the area. The team kept the collected garbage in the camp to be taken on their way back. During the cleaning up, one of the team members found the layers of plastic buried and after digging deep in, it was shocking to see that plastic from last 3 to 4 years has not been decomposed yet and has formed a layer and covered by soil.
- Day 2: August, 20th: Team started from बराटी नाला to भीम तलाई. The day started with a bad weather and also ended the same way. Due to the heavy rainfall, the team decided to take the halt at भीम तलाई. Next morning, the team cleaned up the remaining trash by the people who organise लंगर for the pilgrims during the yatra.
- Day 3: August 21st: Team started from भीम तलाई to भीम द्वारी and it seemed like Lord of Rain was not much happy that day also because it continued to rain very heavily. Due to which, the team had to set up their tents and use the nearby गद्दी shed as their kitchen. The plan was to clean the camping sites of भीम द्वारी which was forcefully cancelled later on due to the bad weather. Everyone got disappointed and the hope of reaching to the top and cleaning rest of the route seemed very bleak.
- Day 4: August 22nd: The day once again started with the bad weather early in the morning due to which one of the team member Pradeep Sangwan decided to leave for नयन सरोवर to get the idea whether it was possible to continue to trek to the top or not. However, by the time rest of the team reached नयन सरोवर, they were welcomed with the most beautiful sunny day for the trek. The energy of all the team members was back on track and after performing the rituals of holy dip and parikrama of नयन सरोवर, they started cleaning up the सरोवर area. The entire area of नयन सरोवर was full of leftover clothes, plastic bottles, wrappers and remaining packets of पूजा सामग्री. The weirdest part was that the garbage was hidden in between the rocks which were very difficult to take out. However, the team tried their best to restore the serenity of the place and collected the sacks of garbage to be taken on their way back. After completing the task, the team was ready to climb up to the खंड top.
- Day 4: August 22nd: The feeling of reaching the top of 5227mts cannot be described in the words. After battling with bad weather for 2 days and falling hopes, to be able to reach the top of India’s one of the toughest pilgrimage trek gave the feeling of ecstasy. The smile on each face confirmed how lucky we felt to be there and to be able to clean up. We would like to give special thanks to Exploring Himalayas with Tso_La Adventures members for their patience and smiles throughout the journey. Also to our four helpers from Nepal who assisted us in all the tasks. The team reached the top of the खंड in the afternoon and everyone performed पूजा. Members cleaned the surrounding of खंड and collected bottles, plastic boxes, wrappers etc. Though, we were not able to completely clean the area because of the left over पूजा सामग्री such as coconuts, dry fruits etc. However, we do assure that all the plastic related objects were picked up and the area is devoid of any plastic waste.
- Day 4: August 22nd: After hours of walking uphill and cleaning at an altitude of approx 5227 mts, the satisfaction could only be presented through this victorious sign. The entire day favoured us with a clear sky and the moving will to complete the drive. The team started the descend back to भीम द्वारी around 3:30 pm and carried the sacks of garbage. The day came to an end after 12 hours of total walking and cleaning. We are happy to inform that three main locations नयन सरोवर, पारवती बाग़ and श्रीखंड top were cleaned and all the members reached back safe and sound.
- Day 5: August 23rd: Team started wrapping up the tents from भीम द्वारी and collected all the sacks of garbage for their way back. Descended from भीम द्वारी to बराटी नाला with a bad weather and continuous rain.
- Day 6: August 24th: Drove back from जाओं village to निरमंड but we did not find the proper location to dispose of the garbage sacks. Therefore, the team decided to take it all the way to Rampur Bushahr (H.P.) and disposed of the collected garbage in town’s dumping zone. Everything seems to be difficult when we see it from a distance, but in reality, it is as easy as holding hands and walking together because when you have people who walk with you with smiles and laughs even the toughest journey seems to be easiest.
After the event, the organisation has focused on spreading the awareness among the villagers and has decided to speak to panchayat pradhan to ask people who put up their stalls in Shrikhand Mahadev during the yatra to collect the garbage and keep at certain locations from where the HFF team would collect the garbage and will take the responsibility of disposing it off right after the yatra closes for the year. The event was successfully executed and the entire team was able to reach the top, cleaned the targeted locations after battling with bad weather conditions in the toughest terrains.
Heartfelt Thankyou to: Pradeep Sangwan, the Founder of HHF, Sunil Negi, a trekking enthusiast from Kinnaur, Sonia Chauhan, an active contributor from Shimla, Kanav Sharma from Manali and Paramvir Singh from Moga who volunteered for the clean drive along with two well-experienced trekkers of TsoLa Adventures, Rajiv Mathas and Prashant Negi and four of our Gurkha brothers without whom the purpose would not have reached to its successful completion. We miss their laughs and their enthusiasm!