Lahaul fears turning into Manali with Rohtang tunnel

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

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

Tunnel within the Mountain | 1996

But simply assume Guruji
When there shall seem
a gap in its chest
And on this heaven shall enter
snakes and monkeys
and toxic air
and the soiled intentions of the town
and filthy ideas, Guruji
Even you then’ll paint them like this
and silent?

(Translated by Marvel from the unique poem ‘Pahaad’ by Ajey)

Rohtang Tunnel | 2000

Shall you be

Atal Tunnel | 2020

So you didn’t hear

IM: A strong poem like ‘Pahaad’ can typically inform us extra a few state of affairs than 100 factual books. Given that the Rohtang Tunnel is lastly about to be inaugurated, may you share the way you conceived the primary stanza in 1996?

AK: Back then, everybody believed the tunnel was an empty dream. Very few individuals have been actively preventing for it, and I used to be witness to those efforts, significantly by Tshering Dorjeji. Meanwhile, we organised an exhibition of work of Sukh Dass, who’s fondly generally known as ‘Guruji’ throughout Lahaul, at Keylong. There have been no portraits — simply our mountains in all their silent, expressionless glory. It is these mountains that I’m referring to within the poem, for one thing clicked in my head at that exhibition, and the opening query emerged: ‘Par Zara Socho Guruji.’ But simply assume Guruji.

IM: Even if individuals weren’t preventing for it, they did need the tunnel, proper?

AK: Of course. Who needs to be lower off from the world for six months in snow? Plus, the crops would attain the market and never go waste.

Connected, lastly

Heavy snow on Rohtang Pass cuts off Lahaul-Spiti from the remainder of the world for no less than six months throughout winter. Opening of the tunnel (now referred to as Atal Tunnel) would change that. It would guarantee connectivity with Kullu all year long, making issues simpler for locals who’ve been bearing the brunt of the climate, particularly in case of medical exigencies. Foundation stone of the challenge was laid in 2009 and work started two years later.

IM: So why is the poet sad?

AK: The poet’s issues are totally different. He feels the gravity of such issues extra acutely. And since motion will not be his area, he can solely categorical these emotions and lift questions even when he doesn’t have the solutions. To increase them in such a piercing method that individuals are compelled to seek out solutions, or no less than take into consideration them, that’s my motive as a poet.

IM: How did you are feeling when PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee made the announcement in 2000?

AK: Vajpayee already supported the tunnel from a defence perspective, since it might present an all-weather path to Ladakh. Then, in 1999, the Kargil War occurred. Next yr, the PM was in Keylong to make the official announcement. Amid all this, my poetic voice grew to become trivial for I couldn’t discover a single one who agreed with my views. Looking on the public consensus, I realised that maybe it was the mountain’s personal resolution to get pierced. So all I may muster was that single line: ‘Pahaad, kya tum chhid jaoge?’

IM: You added one other line this yr, and there’s a clear sense of damage.

AK: I used to be and nonetheless am damage that our mountains have been pierced. This abrupt mannequin of improvement that we’re blindly attempting to implement internationally is particularly dangerous for weak ecosystems and indigenous cultures like ours. Development should occur at a pure tempo in order that the individuals and the land get time to adapt. It’s not only a query of the atmosphere, or lack of pure magnificence and tradition. I’m speaking about dropping our Lahauliyat.

IM: What do you imply by that?

AK: The essence of the individuals and the land. You can nonetheless discover it in our peripheral villages. I’ve understood glimpses of it within the tales of Gyapo Gesar that we used to listen to from our elders. I really feel Gesar’s character embodies Lahauliyat — his innocence, sensitivity and presence of thoughts mixed together with his witty, carefree and romantic nature, and his antipathy in the direction of the elite and his glorification of the ‘ordinary’. He embodies one of the best of what a country, pastoral consciousness can supply. To me, that’s Lahauliyat.

IM: It’s unhappy that our era missed out on these oral traditions.

AK: Then let me inform you a Gesar story about how Rohtang Pass got here 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 have been too excessive even for the magic horse. So, Gesar struck the mountains together with his whip and Rohtang Pass got here into being. As he raised his whip once more, his aunt Kurman appeared from the heavens and stopped him. She defined that the Pass was sufficient, for if he struck the mountains once more, Ling (Trans-Himalayas) and Mon (Indian Himalayas) would turn into one. So you see how our ancestors tailored the Trans-Himalayan epic to replicate their knowledge about sustaining restricted connectivity with the outer world? It was a matter of preserving our Lahauliyat!

IM: Maybe that’s the place the steadiness lies — embracing modernity on one’s personal phrases, based on one’s personal context, and with out letting go off one’s roots.

AK: Exactly! Now, we have now undone our forefathers’ knowledge. And as an alternative of simply celebrating the sensible good points, we must also be focussing on the detrimental prospects to try to discover sustainable options. Not a lot is going on in that path, and that’s what I really feel unhappy about.

IM: You assume Ling and Mon will turn into one now, as in, would Lahaul turn into one other Manali?

AK: It is just a matter of time, relying on how our individuals and our management cope with this monster referred to as ‘Vikas’.

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