Mountains

Ice stupa and its summer farewell

Ice stupa in Ladakh, India

Ice stupa, a progeny of the climate crisis… perhaps nothing is as adaptive as traditional wisdom when it comes to making the most of limited natural resources, but then this cul-de-sac called the Anthropocene comes about, leaving communities flummoxed, and livelihoods in peril…

Ice stupa in Ladakh, India

‘Tis always enlightening to see subsistence farming in Ladakh, mushrooms of green sprouting up in an endless expanse of brooding brown, all on the dint of human ingenuity… centuries of wait and watch, trial and error, cajoling the soil, conserving the water… but then this whole shebang of climate change and global warming can be overwhelming while sitting in a remote valley, mulling over the seeming immortality of granite…

Ice stupa in Ladakh, India

The Ice stupa, then… as winters turn harsher, spring becomes nonexistent and summers come sooner, those streams and rivulets that form the backbone of the short farming window dry up earlier than usual… these stupas, grafted glaciers using a mix of ice and other materials like salt, sawdust and husk, keep water frozen for longer to ensure steady supply during drier months… a simple play of gravity and thermodynamics… although there are records of them being used in the Gilgit-Baltistan region for irrigation since the 19th century, they’ve come into the limelight with their increasing usage in Ladakh, in the backdrop of water scarcities being exacerbated by climate change…

Tarchit village, Ladakh, India

This particular ice stupa in Tarchit village is one of the largest in the region (an award winner infact) because of which we were able to see it still standing in mid-June… overlooking the narrow gorges of Rong valley, it has, within a short span of time, become an integral part of the lives of the thirty or so odd families residing here… sparkling white with the glints of blue, the ice stupa stands tall as if in defiance to the otherwise dull colours of the landscape, exuding hope, but also caution… for they are fickle, these solutions, always at the mercy of the elements that may one day revoke permissions…

Musing on an Ice Stupa, Tarchit village, Rong valley, Ladakh

Author: Parth Joshi

Mountain lover ⛰️ | Hiker 🥾| Runner 🏃‍♂️ | Cyclist 🚴 | Photographer 📷... allured by the outdoors, the author is a quintessential lost soul craving for the outdoors while suffering in a desk job...

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