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Lahaul fears turning into Manali with Rohtang tunnel
The ambitious Rohtang Tunnel is set for inauguration in September-end, opening the doors of the world for Lahaul-Spiti throughout the year. But Hindi poet Ajey Kumar, who grew up on the other side of the Pass, is unhappy. In conversation with fellow Lahauli Ishan Marvel

Posted: Sep 20, 2020 07:50 AM (IST)
Updated : 9 hours ago

Ajey Kumar is a poet from Sumnam village in Lahaul. His poems have appeared in noted Hindi literary journals such as Pahal, Gyanodaya, Tadbhav, Akaar and Kathadesh.

Ishan Marvel hails from Marbal village in Lahaul. His debut book Exit One was published in 2018.

Tunnel in the Mountain | 1996
But just think Guruji
When there shall appear
a hole in its chest
And in this heaven shall enter
snakes and monkeys
and poisonous air
and the dirty intentions of the city
and filthy thoughts, Guruji
Even then you’ll paint them like this
and silent?

(Translated by Marvel from the original poem ‘Pahaad’ by Ajey)
Rohtang Tunnel | 2000
Shall you be

Atal Tunnel | 2020
So you didn’t listen
Mountain !

Ajey Kumar

Ishan Marvel

IM: A powerful poem like ‘Pahaad’ can often tell us more about a situation than a hundred factual books. Given that the Rohtang Tunnel is finally about to be inaugurated, could you share how you conceived the first stanza in 1996?
AK: Back then, everyone believed the tunnel was an empty dream. Very few people were actively fighting for it, and I was witness to these efforts, particularly by Tshering Dorjeji. Meanwhile, we organised an exhibition of paintings of Sukh Dass, who is fondly known as ‘Guruji’ across Lahaul, at Keylong. There were no portraits — just our mountains in all their silent, expressionless glory. It is these mountains that I’m referring to in the poem, for something clicked in my head at that exhibition, and the opening question emerged: ‘Par Zara Socho Guruji.’ But just think Guruji.

IM: Even if people were not fighting for it, they did want the tunnel, right?
AK: Of course. Who wants to be cut off from the world for six months in snow? Plus, the crops would reach the market and not go waste.
Connected, finally
Heavy snow on Rohtang Pass cuts off Lahaul-Spiti from the rest of the world for at least six months during winter. Opening of the tunnel (now called Atal Tunnel) would change that. It would ensure connectivity with Kullu throughout the year, making things easier for locals who have been bearing the brunt of the weather, especially in case of medical exigencies. Foundation stone of the project was laid in 2009 and work began two years later.

A vehicle makes its way through the tunnel.

IM: So why is the poet unhappy?
AK: The poet’s concerns are different. He feels the gravity of such things more acutely. And since action is not his domain, he can only express these feelings and raise questions even if he doesn’t have the answers. To raise them in such a piercing manner that people are forced to find answers, or at least think about them, that is my motive as a poet.
IM: How did you feel when PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee made the announcement in 2000?
AK: Vajpayee already supported the tunnel from a defence perspective, since it would provide an all-weather route to Ladakh. Then, in 1999, the Kargil War happened. Next year, the PM was in Keylong to make the official announcement. Amid all this, my poetic voice became trivial for I couldn’t find a single person who agreed with my views. Looking at the public consensus, I realised that perhaps it was the mountain’s own decision to get pierced. So all I could muster was that single line: ‘Pahaad, kya tum chhid jaoge?’

IM: You added another line this year, and there is a clear sense of hurt.
AK: I was and still am hurt that our mountains have been pierced. This abrupt model of development that we are blindly trying to implement across the world is especially harmful for vulnerable ecosystems and indigenous cultures like ours. Development must happen at a natural pace so that the people and the land get time to adapt. It’s not just a question of the environment, or loss of natural beauty and culture. I’m talking about losing our Lahauliyat.
IM: What do you mean by that?
AK: The essence of the people and the land. You can still find it in our peripheral villages. I have understood glimpses of it in the tales of Gyapo Gesar that we used to hear from our elders. I feel Gesar’s character embodies Lahauliyat — his innocence, sensitivity and presence of mind combined with his witty, carefree and romantic nature, and his antipathy towards the elite and his glorification of the ‘ordinary’. He embodies the best of what a rustic, pastoral consciousness can offer. To me, that is Lahauliyat.
IM: It’s sad that our generation missed out on these oral traditions.
AK: Then let me tell you a Gesar story about how Rohtang Pass came into existence. Once there was an evil king in Kullu, and it fell upon Gesar to go on his flying horse and destroy the tyrant. However, the Pir Panjal mountains were too high even for the magic horse. So, Gesar struck the mountains with his whip and Rohtang Pass came into being. As he raised his whip again, his aunt Kurman appeared from the heavens and stopped him. She explained that the Pass was enough, for if he struck the mountains again, Ling (Trans-Himalayas) and Mon (Indian Himalayas) would become one. So you see how our ancestors adapted the Trans-Himalayan epic to reflect their wisdom about maintaining limited connectivity with the outer world? It was a matter of preserving our Lahauliyat!

IM: Maybe that’s where the balance lies — embracing modernity on one’s own terms, according to one’s own context, and without letting go off one’s roots.
AK: Exactly! Now, we have undone our forefathers’ wisdom. And instead of just celebrating the practical gains, we should also be focussing on the negative prospects to try and find sustainable solutions. Not much is happening in that direction, and that’s what I feel sad about.
IM: You think Ling and Mon will become one now, as in, would Lahaul become another Manali?
AK: It is only a matter of time, depending on how our people and our leadership deal with this monster called ‘Vikas’.

Lahaul fears turning into Manali with Rohtang tunnel
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A group returned from Chandratal yesterday to Delhi.

Main Road is open.
You can't enter a village / populated area.

They carried own tent.
On route dhabas and food points are open.
They carried a portable gas stove and food, food packets.
Kaza and other villages are closed.

As now border is open of Himachal Pradesh
Manali is too crowded


A group returned from Chandratal yesterday to Delhi.

Main Road is open.
You can't enter a village / populated area.

They carried own tent.
On route dhabas and food points are open.
They carried a portable gas stove and food, food packets.
Kaza and other villages are closed.

As now border is open of Himachal Pradesh
Manali is too crowded
Satinder Ji,

In case the Kinnaur association decides to open after 1st November then would it be still doable? Of course, weather could be unexpected but what about the experience from tourers who tried this circuit in November?


The Local Panchayats / Hotel Association already decided to close till 31 March 2021
Rest depends on you to take risk in cold weather conditions to survive on your own.

People are doing Spiti in winters too with 4x4 machines only.
Black Ice is a big problem that you have to face in winters.
Winters start early in Kinnaur & Spiti.
Must Take Snow Chains / Rope (Consumable) to handle this situation in shadow areas in morning specially or in evening too after Sun loose it's warmth.

Engine Oil must added with Negative Temperature survival Fluid / Graded Oil.

Anti Freeze Coolant

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This is old news but see how determined they were then and same is for now with New Notice.

Manali, Kinnaur hotels to stay shut despite Himachal opening state to tourists amid rising Covid-19 cases
Hotels, home-stay units and tourism activities will stay suspended till the situation normalises, says Kinnaur hotel association head
CHANDIGARH Updated: Jul 08, 2020 18:02 IST
HT Correspondent

HT Correspondent
Asian News International

The water level of the Beas river rises following heavy rainfall in Manali on Wednesday.

The water level of the Beas river rises following heavy rainfall in Manali on Wednesday.(ANI Photo)

Hoteliers in the tribal district of Kinnaur have unanimously decided to keep all tourism operations closed till the Covid-19 situation improves.
Kinnaur reported its first Covid-19 case on June 3 when a Delhi-returned couple tested positive.

The border district’s count has since risen to 34. Though most of the cases in the district are Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel quarantined at their camps, residents fear the situation may aggravate in coming days as the government has opened the state’s borders for tourists.
“We have decided to keep tourism activities suspended till the situation normalises,” said Mohan Prakash Negi, president of the Kinnaur Hoteliers’ Association.
“All hotels and home-stay units in the district will remain closed and no bookings will be accepted,” he said.
Negi said that the panchayats in Kinnaur are opposed to opening tourism activities. “Since most of the hotels in the district are located in the rural areas, inviting tourists to the region may spell Covid trouble. We appeal to tourists to postpone their plans,” he added.

The Hoteliers Association of Kullu-Manali also decided to keep hotels closed till September.
The decision was taken at the association’s meeting in Manali on Tuesday in view of the rising Covid cases in the state.
Villagers adjoining Manali town requested the hoteliers to keep operations shut till the situation stabilises.
The Himachal Pradesh government opened the state’s borders for tourists on July 6, relaxing the Covid e-pass condition for inter-state movement after the Centre denied it permission to continue with the travel curbs.
According to the new guidelines, tourists having Covid-19 negative report not older than 72 hours and having five-day confirmed booking in hotels may enter the state.
The tourists seeking entry to the state will have to register themselves on the Covid portal at least 48 hours before entry. This will help in monitoring and contact tracing.

Manali, Kinnaur hotels to stay shut despite Himachal opening state to tourists amid rising Covid-19 cases


A Friend's Conversation in a group :

Pata nahi,
NAKO sey aage jaane nahi diya ja raha

My friend went in his car along with family.
He had covid report as well.

Why ?

Check reports and notices posted by us in above posts.
Hotel Association
Local Panchayats both decided to stop tourism in the area till 31 March 2021.


UK also opened without Covid Report :


So, the rules for travel in Uttarakhand have been changed again.
Registration is must to enter UK.
Thermal Screening at Border will be done.
No negative Covid Report requiment from now on.


हिमाचल घूमने का प्लान बना रहे हैं तो दें ध्यान, ये दो जगहें अभी भी बंद

हिमाचल प्रदेश में पर्यटकों और टूरिज्म एक्टिविटी के लिए बॉर्डर खोल दिए गए हैं. हालांकि दो जगहों को अभी बंद रखने का फैसला किया गया है. अगर आप भी हिमाचल घूमने जा रहे हैं तो इनके बारे में पूरी जानकारी लेकर ही जाएं.

[https://akm-img-a-in]दो जगहों को छोड़कर पर्यटकों के लिए खुला हिमाचल प्रदेश


नई दिल्ली,

22 सितंबर 2020,

(अपडेटेड 22 सितंबर 2020, 7:43 AM IST)

स्टोरी हाइलाइट्स

पर्यटकों के लिए खुला हिमाचल

दो जगहों पर जारी रहेगी रोक

कोरोना संक्रमण की वजह से लिया गया फैसला

लंबे लॉकडाउन के बाद ज्यादातर लोग किसी खुली जगह पर घूमने का प्लान बना रहे हैं. हिमाचल प्रदेश में पर्यटकों और टूरिज्म एक्टिविटी के लिए बॉर्डर खोल दिए गए हैं. टूरिस्ट के लिए ई-पास या रजिस्ट्रेशन कराने जैसी अनिवार्य शर्तों को भी हटा लिया गया है. हालांकि, यहां दो जगहों को अभी बंद ही रखा गया है. अगर आप भी हिमाचल घूमने का प्लान बना रहे हैं तो इनके बारे में पूरी जानकारी जुटा लें. आपको बताते हैं कि फिलहाल हिमाचल में कौन सी दो जगहों को बंद रखने का फैसला किया गया है और ये रोक कब तक जारी रहेगी.

स्पीति घाटी (Spiti Valley)- स्पीति घाटी ऐसी जगह है जहां हिमाचल में आने वाले लोग सबसे ज्यादा घूमने जाते हैं. स्पीति टूरिज्म सोसाइटी ने निर्णय लिया है कि स्पीति घाटी को इस पूरे साल बंद रखा जाएगा, खासतौर से जीप सफारी, पैकेज टूर, ट्रेकिंग और कैंपिंग जैसे किसी भी तरह के टूरिज्म एक्टिविटी पर 31 अक्टूबर 2020 तक रोक जारी रहेगी. स्पीति टूरिज्म सोसाइटी की तरफ से सर्कुलर जारी कर इसकी जानकारी दी गई है. सर्कुलर में कहा गया है कि ऊंची घाटियों में मेडिकल सुविधाएं कम हैं और ठंड के मौसम सोशल डिस्टेंसिंग का पालन करना मुश्किल होगा. ऐसे में महामारी फैलने के डर से इसे बंद करने का निर्णय लिया गया है.

किन्नौर (Kinnaur)- स्पीति घाटी के अलावा किन्नौर को भी 1 नवंबर तक पूरी तरह बंद रखने का फैसला किया गया है. यहां एक नवंबर तक सभी टूरिज्म एक्टिविटी पर रोक रहेगी. ये घोषणा किन्नौर होटल एसोसिएशन द्वारा की गई है. एसोसिएशन द्वारा एक पत्र जारी कर इसकी जानकारी दी गई है. पत्र में कहा गया है, 'यहां अभी सेब, ड्राई फ्रूट्स और अन्य फसलों का मौसम है, ऐसे में पर्यटकों के आने से महामारी का खतरा फैल सकता है जिसका असर आर्थिक तौर पर भी पड़ेगा.' पर्यटकों से एक नवंबर तक यहां ना आने की अपील की गई है.



Thank you Satinder Ji for regular updates. It really helps me a lot. I don't have words to express gratitude. Your words "what if someone in remode place like spiti gets corona infected because of us" has really touched me. We have no right to put someone on edge, because of our personal greed.
Now, after lots of feedback and suggestions, we have decided to scale down our 10 days trip to 4 days. Destination yet to be finalized but it will be a weekend hike to spend sometime in hills.
Also, a trip has been finalized to cover Delhi Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur later in winters.
Thank you once again

Best Regards