Here's how popularising Leh is playing Out!
When it comes to Bollywood, our very own version of Hollywood, we Indian’s are a proud lot .Movies play a significant role in our world of entertainment. 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) ~( Check them if you haven’t already! ) play out storylines which are close to a lot of heart’s ! but then here’s the frame we want to focus on~ both these movies were shot in Leh and this box office result wasn’t pleasing. Here’s how the consequences of popularising Leh played out, read on!
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 these 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.
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 score’s of bikers and tourists alike wanting to experience this magnificent place -but here’s 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 selfie’s and groupies or solo pics capturing the breathtaking background. Once the euphoria settles and satisfaction prevails ~ the sense of belonging to the place also fades away.
I am not sure how many of us are aware of the fact that 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 and a resident population of 15,000 locals.
Conserving this very fragile ecosystem remains our responsibility. As travellers or tourists these are a few small things we should do to make a difference, a real difference and effect the ecosystem in a positive way.
-Do not Litter –
This holds true for every place that we visit but more importantly in a place like Leh. 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.
-Use Compost Toilets –
Water is a limited resource for the people of Leh due to minimal rainfall. They use every drop of the melting snow to fulfil their irrigation needs and sustenance. Tourists are used to flush toilets which end up using a great amount of water + produces nitrogen rich waste. Adopt the local practices just for those few days to make a difference
-Chose local travel agencies and homestays –
Plan your trip with the local travel agencies which support and practice ecotourism. Give up the urban way of living for a few days and experience the hospitality by the locals.
-Hold or be a part of the workshops –
Help the local community and contribute your time in collaborating with them. You can do a number of things based on your skill set – English teaching lessons, music, writing, ways to enhance sustainable tourism and more.
-Save Water –
It’s okay to not take a shower everyday, yes that! Use solar heaters or room temperature water than promote the use of geysers and electrical equipment.
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 late but every single effort counts….. let us be heroes just for one day!
Please feel free add to the idea’s mentioned here. Do leave your comments/suggestions or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.