International Mountain Day is celebrated annually on 11th December to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development, and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world.
When the French doctor François Bernier entered the Kashmir valley for the first time, in 1665, he was astounded by what he found. “In truth,” he wrote, it “surpasses in beauty all that my warm imagination had anticipated. It is not indeed without reason that the Moghuls call Kachemire the terrestrial paradise of the Indies.”
The valley, which is some ninety miles long and twenty miles across, is sumptuously fertile. Along its floor, there are walnut and almond trees, orchards of apricots and apples, vineyards, rice paddies, hemp and saffron fields. There are woods on the lower slopes of the surrounding mountains-sycamore, oak, pine, and cedar.
The southern side is bounded by the Pir Panjal, not the highest mountain range in Asia but one of the most striking, rising abruptly from the valley floor. The northern boundary is formed by the Great Himalayas. At the heart of the valley lie Dal Lake and the graceful capital, Srinagar.
Mountain resources play a significant role in our J&K. The diverse mountain products like water, wood, horticulture, agriculture produce, fisheries and sericulture etc. are creating sustainable opportunities for us.
Our picturesque mountain regions offer potential for developing environmentally friendly sustainable eco-tourism as a source of livelihood for most of us.
There is a need to conserve the mountains, architecture, arts and crafts, as well as indigenous knowledge for future generations. Our mountains could create the potential for sustainable supply of renewable energy. We have a responsibility to protect the environment.
Illegal construction, timber smuggling and a decades-long conflict have degraded Kashmir valley’s forests. But locals are stepping in to protect the unique nature of their home in the Himalayas.
Reckless construction and lack of waste management have wrecked the fragile ecosystems of Sonamarg, Pahalgam and Gulmarg. Let’s be environment friendly citizens in our Kashmir.
We must come forward and protect our state. We must realise that this is not the legacy we are supposed to leave behind for our future generations.
Let’s educate others about the significance of living an environmenta friendly life. The more we share an awareness of the richness of the environment, the more we can do together to protect it.
Irshad Hazari is the Director at Euphoria Travel Services and Hon. Treasurer of Travel Agents Association of India (JK Chapter).
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.