Be it Fashion, Humour, Style, Culture, Haute-Couture or Travel ~ movies have been the first influencers to the millions of audiences young and old! Two such movies Dil Chahta hai (2001) and 3 idiots (2003) play out storylines which are close to a lot of hearts! But then here’s the frame we want to focus on~ both these movies made Goa and Leh extremely popular, giving us bucket list items as well as travel goals! And this box office result wasn’t pleasing as it popularised these places to an extent where it started having adverse effect on the ecosystem of the place. A case in point is ~ Leh~ and what we as travellers should do to conserve this rapidly degrading pristine environment.
When I first visited Leh in 2010, bikers trailing the Manali ~ Leh route was an uncommon sight, fast forward to present day one can witness scores of bikers and tourists alike wanting to experience this magnificent place. What’s missing – their actions to preserve and conserve this pristine landscape they so much enjoy. As soon as these passes open for public, pictures start flooding social media platforms~ facebook / instagram won’t stop buzzing with selfies/groupies, capturing the breathtaking background. Once the euphoria settles and satisfaction prevails ~guess the sense of belongingness to the place also fades away.
Tourist arrivals have increased rapidly especially in the past decade which has undoubtedly given a boost to its economy and created more jobs. Leh has evolved as one of the most visited destinations in India in the summer months. As the terrain in Leh is extremely fragile, it is subject to more carbon footprint, more plastic waste and very little water to sustain the needs of the tourists. It is wrong to blame the movies for the most part of the modernisation that Leh is subject to and it is upon us as tourists/travellers to practice ways that conserve the nature rather destroy it.
Leh is the only cold desert in India with extreme temperatures, very little rainfall, ingenious agriculture and heart-warming culture. The region was opened for tourism in 1974 and about 500 tourists visited the destination in the first year, mostly expats with a resident population of 15,000 locals.Conserving this very fragile ecosystem remains our responsibility.
As travellers or tourists, here are a few things we should do to make a real difference and affect the ecosystem in a positive way.
Here’s How we can help~
~Do not Litter ~
This holds true for every place that we visit but more importantly in a place like Leh since waste management is a difficult due to the location and altitude . Avoid buying plastic water bottles, instead carry a bottle with you to refill. It is heartbreaking to see the lakes/passes littered with bottles of Coke, mineral water etc. Carry the non-biodegradable waste back home ~Yes, it makes a huge difference.
~Choose local travel partners , Prefer Homestay’s ~
Plan your trip with the local travel partners who understand the ecosystem hence , practice travel, matching to the local ecosystem. Give up the urban way of living for a few days and experience the local culture. After all a good traveler understands and immerses oneself in the culture of the place.
~Be a part of the community~
Help the local community and contribute your time in collaborating with them. You can do a number of things , based on your skill set – However small you think your contribution is or will be , it does make a difference in the everyday lives of locals.
~Save Water ~
In 2009 over 1.5 million litres of ground water was supplied daily, this is predicted to go up by 6 million litres by 2019! ,life is difficult for the locals in a lot of other aspects. Contribute your ideas or practices for saving water and yes we should start by leading the effort as individuals. For ex, use a bucket of water instead of a shower to bathe, it consumes lesser water!
There are many volunteering opportunities in the region. Getting involved at the ground level is the best form of contribution. For those of us who have time crunch there are many short term projects in the offing. Get in touch with us for more details.
A famous quote reads – the use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are. We must inherit these practices as a way of life and conserve this place as is. We are already pretty late but every single effort counts ~
Please feel free add to the ideas mentioned here. Do leave your comments/suggestions or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.