Our majestic mountains are in trouble as tourism is picking up. Tourism is important for the local economy but sustainable tourism is the need of the hour. As more people troop into the hills with the idea of having a good time and enjoying the weather the important thing they forget is to respect the place that has welcomed them to their home.
Parts of North Sikkim especially Lachung has a no plastic bottle policy, they strictly enforce it with regular checks in vehicles. They also have a no open defecation policy in place and I actually witnessed a local person pull up a tourist who was urinating near a waterfall with a toilet accessible right there. Change happens only when people own it and this was especially noticeable in North Sikkim.
However, they need the support of everyone who visits Lachung as there are still plastic wrappers and other plastic bottles that are negligently thrown out and mar the beautiful and spectacular mountains. This holds true for other mountain areas as well as hill stations that are currently groaning with the influx of tourists and their limited resources.
Organisations that closely work with the mountains such as India Hikes have instituted programs such as Green Trails wherein trekkers go with the mandate to collect trash on their way and bring it back to base where it is then sent for recycling. Companies that believe in sustainable tourism such as F5Escapes encourage their travelers to use their own bottles and refill them at intervals instead of buying water bottles on the way which is then discarded.
Same goes for chips and other such snacks that are junk foods in anycase. A better alternative would be to carry nuts from home or eat healthier snacks such as fruits they are much better for the environment as well as for your health. It is not possible to completely eliminate your footprint but it is definitely possible to reduce it and give back to the people who open up their homes and businesses to you each year as people from the cities flock to the hills every summer.
Another small change all of us can routinely do is to carry a small trash bag when traveling so that we are not littering. At the end of the day, it can be emptied in a trash can. Sikkim like many Northeast states has bamboo trash receptacles at intervals which can be used. If you think that a small plastic wrapper is not going to make a difference or that one more bottle being thrown on the way does not matter take a look around. In the same way every wrapper you pick up or don’t litter and every plastic bottle you don’t use, helps.
The hills need you to come and explore but they also need you to respect them and ensure that you don’t harm them. Sustainable tourism is the answer and we all have to do our part in it.
Every change begins with a small step, whether it’s a change within your family, or the whole country! India’s hero, Padman, had its digital premiere on ZEE5, on 11th May. Don’t miss this inspiring true-life story, only on ZEE5. Download the app and subscribe now. For every subscription, ZEE5 will donate Rs. 5 towards the personal hygiene needs of underprivileged women.
Mountains have always given me a high. I realized this early on when I stood on top of a mountain after completing a trek as a young girl and wind blew chills around me. I feel my worries and myself melt away at the summit.
In a welcome bid to encourage trekking and developing local ecosystems, Karnataka Government started the initiative of MyEcotrip. The site features bird sanctuaries, jungle lodges and also seven select trails around Bangalore.
We went for the Malikadurga trek which we had to pay a small amount for booking the trip. Since this is a first one of kind initiative and run by the government we really didnt know what to expect. We reached quite early around 5 am at Malikadurga, the sun was still somewhere around Malaysia or probably on his way. The GPS map abruptly ended at a location at a dirt road confusing us quite a bit. But being the investigative souls we are we turned our car to the dirt road and drove into the darkness.
We reached the foot of the rocky hill and an old man, he guided us the spot where he said we could park our cars. The first faint rays of the sun were starting to come in and I could see the sky take on multiple hues as it was still undecided whether it is night or day. We laced up our shoes and started on the path, two forest officials looked at our tickets and flagged us through, they asked us to look for the white arrow marks.
The path up the mountain was well marked to our delight and made the trek so much more interesting and easy to do. We were one of the first to reach the trail and followed the rocky path up the mountain. Some places were sheer rock face which one had to climb using hands. As we went up the mountain we could also see the lake which is said to be shaped like South Africa, well I had other thoughts which I refrain from putting down on how it looked.
At the top of Malikadurga lies a fort which is now in ruins and a temple which the villagers go to worship. They also go to the temple to celebrate major festivals but otherwise, the temple is looked after but you will not find people around the temple. We also saw a tent propped up right at the top of the mountain and my was I jealous. Night trekking is being phased out in the area and the government is trying to regulate treks and trekking routes while giving back to the local economy and engaging the villagers around.
We walked around the wall of the fort and though it is in ruins it gives glimpses of what once was and that is definitely a thrill. There were many frangipani trees in full bloom in the fort and even a water tank built for the fort when it was inhabited.
Sunday’s are my no cooking day mainly because I don’t want to spend Sunday washing dishes. But Sunday meals have to be special as the whole family is at home and Sunday brunches are a good way to spend quality time with each other while having fun.
I am listing here my top 5 favorite Sunday brunch nonveg dishes which have recently blown me away and made me want to go for more.
Teriyaki Chicken in Panipuri
Teriyaki chicken in panipuri is a dish born at the Fusion union festival that Flechazo is hosting. I went to Flechazo with some good friends recently and had an absolutely brilliant time. Flechazo Whitefield had a food shot counter complete with a conveyer belt with bite-sized options. Of these, I tried the teriyaki chicken in pani puri shells, the momos and mocktails.
I love an eggs benedict as much as the next guy. The runny yolk on the bread sloshed with hollandaise sauce is absolute yum. Pair it up with some cold coffee and my Sunday is made. Lazy Suzy in Indira Nagar is a good option to go to for eggs benedict.
Biriyani and Sunday could almost be synonyms in India. Biriyani’s are perfect for that lazy Sunday as long as you don’t have to make it and it is available in the buffet. Biriyani, a good raita with maybe a papad is heaven. I usually like the Kerala or Thalassery biriyani because well my roots lie there but I also liked the dum biriyani at Flechazo.
Mango cheesecake or blueberry cheesecake is bae and if it comes in bite-sized portions then nothing like it. In a Sunday buffet, I would like to try different desserts without having to end up over indulging. Some restaurants do this well I like Onesta and Flechazo for this.
I am partial to rice so give me well made risotto anyday. Many restaurants in Bangalore are perfecting the risotto my personal favorites are Toscano or Smoke House Deli. I could also go for Dhansak at Red Fork in Indira Nagar.
Ahmedabad is dear to me and complex to me, I spent my formative years in Ahmedabad and that kind of explains my love for colors and food which are quite opposite of what my born and bought up Malayalee husband identifies with.
I did my primary schooling in Ahmedabad (in the 1990’s) and a lot of what the city showed me was a yin and yang. While it showed how to stand up for one’s rights it also showed the extent to which male preference oppressed an entire gender. It taught peace and coexistence with animals while being torn apart by religion during the riots in the early 90’s.
From mandir to masjid is thus an apt name for the heritage walk conducted by the Gujrat tourism in Ahmedabad. The walk took us through the fabric around which modern-day Amdavad is built. The walk starts at 8 am from Swaminarayan Mandir in old Ahmedabad. As a child growing up in the 90’s whose school was in the ‘Muslim area’ as the area beyond the bridge was called I finally got a more holistic idea of my city Ahmedabad as I saw both communities coexisting like they have for centuries.
Ahmedabad was founded by Ahmed Shah on the banks of Karnavati river which is now long lost. The walk allows a peak into structures that house lifestyles and the requirements of the bygone era which have in many parts prevailed. The walk takes us through pols or community living houses and courtyards, the wooden structures with wood which was once imported from Burma and oles which are market areas where these communities converge. A planned city with roads and sewers that were built to last and which survived the devastating earthquake where modern structures succumbed.
The old city area which is made up of pols and oles in close quarters while separating the different communities also unites them in a unique way. The narrow passages and secret roads that connected one to the other is still a thriving way of life. Ahmedabad both old and modern areas have a legacy of cohabiting with all animal and plant life. This is one city where monkeys, peacocks, squirrels, and birds perch on balconies no matter how crowded the city. Chabutara’s or bird feeders are important structures in pols and continue to make their appearances in modern Gujrati’s households as well. In fact houses in old Ahmedabad where made keeping these tiny visitors in mind by leaving cubby holes and feeding trays.
Parts of the walk took us beneath Fernandes bridge which was one of the first bridges built in Ahmedabad. Present day Fernandes bridge is known as a popular book market the roads beneath the bridge where knowledge flows once a river flowed. Though I can romanticize the city there are things I wish worked better here such as the lack of cleanliness in these narrow lanes and open defecation.
The two-hour walk however ended on a high note for me as I got to gorge on a yummy Gujarati breakfast as Chandravillas with a steaming cup of tea.
All pictures are owned by Traveling Noodles and should not be reused without permission.