To parasail or trek across jungles, try Himachal

A view of snow covered mountains in Lahaul Valley, Himachal Pradesh. File Photo: PTI

If you’re an adventure freak and want to test your endurance on lofty mountains, Himachal Pradesh is the place to be this summer. From rock-climbing and cross-jungle trekking to white-water rafting and parasailing, the state offers it all.

The forest department is organising adventure sport expeditions to promote ecotourism.

“Trekking expeditions for professionals and beginners have been planned across the hills from May 15 to June 29. Any participant in the age group of 15 to 50 can participate,” Chief Conservator of Forests (Ecotourism) Harsh Mittar told IANS.

More than 50 trekking routes — both arduous and moderate — in the Himalayas have been identified and trained local youth have been roped in to assist the trekkers, he said.

“The department has identified routes of varying duration ranging from one day to eight days in Kullu, Shimla, Mandi, Sirmaur, Bilaspur and Kangra districts. Trekkers would be taken in groups of five to 20 and would also be acquainted with the local flora, fauna and culture,” Mittar said.

The trekkers will also get a taste of local culinary traditions. “Cuisine made by villagers would be served to the trekkers in their traditional utensils,” Mittar added.

The Tirthan-Sainj trek, which passes through the Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu district, is popular among trekkers. Two groups will be taken on the trek, the first departing May 15 and the second June 5.

“The eight-day trek is an ideal getaway, but for professionals only. It takes one from an altitude of 5,000 feet to 15,000 feet. It passes through Sairopa-Rolla-Shilt-Guntrao-Dhela-Humkani-Shakti-Chenga and the fees is Rs.11,200 per person, including boarding and lodging,” Mittar said.

“The other popular trek for professionals is Churdhar. The five-day trek passes through 5,000 feet to 12,500 feet and the fees is Rs.5,000 per person,” he said.

However, for newcomers who want to mix holidaying and adventure, a single-day trek to Shali Tibba, around Shimla hills, is the best option. It will cost just Rs.1,500 per person.

Mittar said the response to the short treks has been quite good, especially from schoolchildren. “On an average, we receive 10 enquiries daily about prominent trekking routes and camping sites. So far, more than 250 daredevils have got themselves registered for various expeditions ranging from one kilometre to 75 km,” he added.

The Manali-based Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports is another professional institute which conducts mountaineering expeditions and high-altitude treks.

“This year too the response of trekkers and mountaineers from all over the world is good. A number of expeditions are already under way,” said Rajeev Sharma, a senior mountaineering instructor at the institute.

The institute, set up in 1961, is also conducting special activities for corporate executives, students and families in adventure sports — mountaineering, backpacking, skiing, soft adventure, trekking, rafting, kayaking and paragliding.

The idyllic, pastoral setting of the Himalayan range in Himachal Pradesh has been drawing an increasing number of backpackers. With a population of just over six million, the state attracted 11,437,155 tourists, including 400,583 foreigners, last year.

Kullu-Manali has emerged as a favourite tourist destination, followed by Shimla and Dharamsala.


Shrinking of Renuka Lake concerns Himachal locals

Sirmour (Himachal Pradesh), Apr 29 (ANI): People in Himachal Pradesh’s Sirmour District are very concerned over the shrinking of the state’s Renuka Lake.

Renuka Lake, Himachal Pradesh.

Many feel the lake’s shrinking would affect business, as the area is a major tourist spot.

“A lot of tourists come here to see the natural beauty of this lake. In case it dries up, the business which is generated by this lake will also come to an end,” said Sandeep Sharma, a local photographer.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has said steps are being taken to protect the lake, beginning with a ban on plastic bags.

“In order to protect it, we have banned the plastic bags as wherever there is a river or a lake, people throw plastic bags. This ban should preserve the lake. The society and the government should come together to take the initiative,” said Prem Kumar Dhumal.

Renuka Lake is seen as an embodiment of the Goddess Renuka. It is the largest natural lake in the state, and is shrinking due to silt deposition and dumping of waste materials. (ANI)


Plastic garbage spoiling Himachal Pradesh tourism

Kufri, January 29(ANI): The plastic garbage scattered in the Kufri region of Himachal Pradesh has been disappointing the tourists visiting the region. Although Himachal Pradesh became the first state in India to impose a ban on the use of plastic bags on June 5, 2004, many shopkeepers across the state continue to use plastic bags in gross violation of the law. The plastic waste scattered in and around the Mahasu Peak, one of the chief attractions of the Kufri region, is spoiling its beauty.

For More Info and Video from SIFY

Plastic litter to surface 138 Km road stretch in Himachal

Shimla: Doing away with landfills for dumping plastic waste and instead recycling it for road building purposes has provided hope of making the state a polythene free one.

Efforts to clear up plastic litter led the government to launch a weeklong 2009 year ender ‘Polythene Hatao- Paryavaran Bachao’ campaign that piled up enough material to surface a 138 km road stretch, said an official spokesman.

On The Way To Banjar, Kullu: Photo by Avnish Katoch

He said that within a week after chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal launched the campaign from Dharamshala on December 21st, the authorities had collected 1381 quintals of polythene waste from hill slopes, forest areas, riversides, nullahs and urban centers.

At a campaign review meet chaired by chief secretary Asha Swaroop, where she also interacted with deputy commissioners in the district through video-conferencing, it emerged that the waste collected would help road builders to save about Rs 60 lakhs material by mixing shredded plastic with bitumen for road surfacing.

Not only is the hazardous toxic waste successfully cleared but by re-using it as a road building material under new available technology, it has been put to productive use, he said. After testing the new material near Shimla airport where about 550 kgs of plastics has been used to surface a 800 meters road stretch, the results have been encouraging, he added

The government has advocated adopting zero waste management for all agencies and would not hesitate to take appropriate action for littering of non- biodegradable waste.

The chief minister is intent to carry the campaign forward in a sustainable manner to make ‘Himachal Clean Green and Polythene Free’, the spokesman said.

Triggered by complaints of choked drainage, recycled plastic bags were first banned in 1999 and it was extended last October to all kinds of plastic bags.

Other solid waste management ways adopted has been co-processing plastic waste in kilns for manufacture of cement at existing plants. Using waste plastic in kilns has helped to reduce coal deficit because of the high calorific value that polythene has.

From Himachal

India: HP taken several steps to check global warming

Shimla, Dec 31 (PTI) Recognising the adverse impact of global warming in Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today said that government has initiated several steps for preservation of ecology and environment in the hill state.

Projected snowfall during Christmas and New Year had been eluding Himachal Pradesh and for the past few years, the state was experiencing dry winters. It was all due to the change in climate conditions and global warming, Dhumal said addressing a tribal sports meet at Solan.

The HP CM said that realising the issue of global warming, the state government has initiated various steps towards preservation of ecology and environment.

Besides imposing complete ban on green felling, use of plastic bag has been prohibited, he said.

From PTI

Green: Himachal Launches Plastic Clean Up Operation

Shimla: Operation plastic clean up, a week long campaign starting Monday is being attempted in Himachal in which local bodies, youth groups, NGO’s, women groups and eco-clubs have been roped in to collect polythene bags across the state and hand them over to public authorities for proper disposal.

Speaking about the campaign, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said, “after having banned use of polythene bags, the clean up exercise is the next stage of the community driven program.”

“The objective is to have rid the hills of polythene menace that is degrading the environment, marring the beauty of scenic tourist spots, clogging drainage systems and responsible for much of the pollution of natural water drainage channels, he said.

The drive is being carried out across 56 towns and the about 17,500 villages in the state. The polythene bags collected are slated to be collected by public works department and would be used either for road tarring purposes by mixing it with bitumen or mixed with cement mortar in kilns at the plants, officials of environment department disclosed.

Starting out with enacting a law in 1995, Himachal banning use of recycled plastic bags was eventually adopted by most states but yet completely doing away with it has taken a longer time. It was only on 2nd October, this year that a complete ban on use of any kind of plastic was enforced in the state.

Use of use and throw bags has come down drastically but the collecting the litter lying in many townships and villages is being attempted for the first time.

On a smaller scale, smaller campaigns in Shimla city have been attempted earlier and the plastic collected has even been used by PWD authorities to tar three stretches of roads on the outskirts of Shimla with a mix of plastic-asphalt.

From My Himachal

Kullu: Himachal’s First Wilderness Emergency Rescue Course

Kullu: The Forest Department is becoming proactive in its ecotourism training especially in the Great Himalayan National Park. A 10 day first aid cum Wilderness Emergency Rescue course sponsored by the Great Himalayan National Park began on the 5th of December 2009. It consisted of 20 persons belonging to the Wildlife and Forest department, Ecotourism members of the Society for Biodiversity Tourism and Community Advancement (BTCA) and staff of Sunshine Himalayan Adventures (SHA). The course is being overlooked by Jiteder Lal Gupta and members of the Kullu Medical center.

Rescue Course

This emergency course was designed by Dr. J L Gupta ( head of Kullu Medical Center) and Mr. Ankit Sood ( Ecotourism Consultant GHNP) seeing various problems that may arise in trekking in the GHNP. The syllabus of the Wilderness Emergency Course covers everything from gradients, snow blindness, acute mountain sickness, first aid, surgical management, camp hygiene, water related diseases and their prevention, snake and animal bites, bandage, Splint Usage Dressing of wounds, general medication, first aid kits, cleanliness, Mountain rescue to CPR and Mountaineering Rescue. The training is done with practical sessions of theoretical classes.

Use of drama and actual scenario training along with audio visual aids including LCD projector, first hand interaction with foreigners and site visits to local hospitals is makes the course intensive. The first aid course uses theoretical sessions in first half, practical after lunch and evening sessions taken by foreign volunteers belonging to the Kullu Project.

From Himachal