on flowers and mountains…

Flowers of high-altitude Himalaya

flowers spell beauty, maybe because they are a sign of success, (a colourful) proof of a plant having not only survived, but getting ready to spread the seeds out for the next generation to sprout, a rainy interlude in the symphony of seasons, the sum total of all the rigour happening underground expressed as a riot of colours, some bright, some earthy, flaunting the lavender, or feeling rusty…

Flowers of high-altitude Himalaya
Dark Blue Gentian (Gentiana carinata), found in the Himalaya from Pakistan to Uttarakhand at altitudes of 3000-4300 mts., with dark blue flowers. Zaj pass (Great Lakes Trek), Kashmir.

mountains in a sense are a manifestation of yin and yang  – yin being the white, vast snowscapes portraying desolation, a wrath of the elements that is not ready to permit any life into its dominion… men go to great lengths to map and traverse these lands, tottering on the edge of sanity and mortality to reach summits that hold no tangible values save a rekindling of the soul… and yang visually represented by lush green meadows, the frozen headwaters melted by time, conjuring up carpets and canopies of green, a celebration of life in all forms and sizes…

Flowers of high-altitude Himalaya
Himalayan Teasel (Dipsacus inermis) found in the Himalaya from Afghanistan to Southwest China and Burma at altitudes of 1400-4100 mts. Tirthan valley, Himachal Pradesh.

flowers give character to mountains, ravish to the ridges and resplendence to the riverbed, and hues to the contours that become our memory of a mountain… butterflies dance to their nectar and bumblebees amble along their petals… like all beauty, this is fleeting too, a season or two, informing the outdoors on the transience of life and impermanence of sorrow before the cruel seasons set in…

Flowers of high-altitude Himalaya
Violet Monkshood (Aconitum violaceum) found in the Himalaya from Pakistan to Central Nepal at altitudes of 3600-4800 mts. The entire plant is used in Tibetan medicine, it is said to have a bitter taste and a cooling potency. An antidote, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge, it is used in the treatment of snake and scorpion bites, contagious infections and inflammation of the intestines. It has been classified in the IUCN Red List due to over-extraction. Khandedhar, Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh.

‘tis not surprising that flowers mimic faunal personalities, some stand tall and stout, swaying with the breeze in a careless defiance of youth, some hang on to the steep slopes in a steely resolve, defying gravity with permutations around cracks and crevasses, some stick close to the ground, preferring to invest their energies into expanding roots rather than indulging in extravagances above the ground, and some slyly occupy the gaps, encroaching every bit of precious real estate…

Flowers of high-altitude Himalaya
Smooth Catmint (Nepeta laevigata) found on the open slopes of drier areas in the Himalaya from Afghanistan to Southwest China at altitudes of 2000-4500 mts. Base of Thamsar pass, Himachal Pradesh.

for a terrain that is quintessentially challenging and for a large part inhabitable, flowers area a symbol of simplicity – a single strand of life defying infinite odds – that on close scrutiny turn out to be an illustration of some of the most complex theories, from fractals to Fibonacci… an iota in the universe, yet a universe within its own…

Three-Finger Buttercup (Halerpestes tricuspis), found in the Himalaya from Kashmir to Bhutan at altitudes of 3300-4400 mts, with high prominence in Ladakh. The leaves, stem, flowers and fruits are supposed to be used in treating heat disorders of the tendons and ligaments. Mankorma (Stok Kangri trek), Ladakh.

musings on flowers, travels across Western Himalaya

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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