nandakumar wrote:The notion that better road connectivity to the Chardam would reduce these places to another Simla, is misplaced.
100 % agree
I went to Gangotri a couple of years ago, to do the Gaumukh trek.
We left from Haridwar-Rishikesh and travelled up past the Tehri dams and through many smaller villages.
We stopped at one little village for tea/snacks. One of the young boys at the tea stall started talking to me, he was obviously practicing his English on me. He said he was a real fan of Stephen Hawking. I asked him about his plans and his education and work\career plans.
Education was minimal, no real future plans, he intended to stay close to his family, to look after parents etc.
Any way I have and do spend a lot of time in the mountains, those who live in cities tend to have a romantic view of life up the mountains.
My observations from many years of visiting the wilderness throughout the world.
1/ It is a hard life. Forget the romance, If the inhabitants are not assisted, they will leave.
2/ small industries need to be encouraged, these should have a focus on religious artefacts and handicrafts, after all that’s what people go there for.
This could be handmade Murtis, clothing, paintings etc, whatever the USP of the area is.
3/Infrastructure needs to be developed.
On the drive to Gangotri I was amazed to see the good state of the roads.
I made enquiries with locals and was advised that local were employed to build and more importantly maintain the roads via the village headman.
They clear minor rock falls, the larger ones, they inform the authorities who will bring in equipment.
Also, at Gangotri, I noticed that there were sewage pumping stations, it didn’t all go into the river, I saw no sign of that. It was a network of pipes from Guesthouse toilets > to larger pipes > sewage pumps. I assume it is treated, it definitely did not go to the river. Unless of course it was dumped somewhere else.
When I was in the small tea stall, talking to the tea boy, I noticed that the locals were installing geo-tex nets to stabilize the mountain side to prevent landslides/rockfalls. These are useful skills, I am pretty sure they were utilised elsewhere in the mountains.
One other interesting discovery I made was the Uttarkund has the highest percentage of Brahmins, I assume this is due to the religious nature of the area. They also tend to own the land, and the low castes work on it. Apparently, they are fleeing the areas for better opportunities lower down. This has created a shortage of labour. However, the land owners just open up tea shops, restaurants and guest houses, so this balances out.
There is no need to have all the guest houses concentrated in one area in the main town, they can be spread out, it avoids congestion in the main town and spreads the development out more evenly.
This is the story where ever I have been in the mountains, whether in the UK, Canada, USA.
Just my 2 cents worth