Environmentally the most beautiful places in UT J&K but the same cannot be said about the cities and the reasons we all well known
UT Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most beautiful spots created by nature especially so the mountain curves on the skyline, hilly slopes and the valleys in their laps like Kashmir, Bhaderwah, Poonch and so many others all interspersed with diverse fauna and flora, maximized tree cover, countryside tracks, narrow roads, rivers gushing and splashing by, streamlets and rivulets running wild downhill and brooks leisurely meandering along and tempting you to sit on the banks to have a reverie. The cool refreshing breeze unpolluted and making your lungs healthier, icy alpine winds sending the chill down the spine and activating the fragile human skin with goose pimples (it is a experience by itself), the blue waters that give the eyes a sudden freshness, the green carpeted meadows take you to a different world altogether, extravagant expansive valleys are almost disease free, seasonal rains and snow falls are a testimony to the vibrant fact that the climate is essentially good for health and finally the people, they are innocent and lovers of the nature maybe because they were born in this great cradle of joy which the nature bestowed upon them.
I would strictly be restricting to Poonch Rajouri and Budhal where the gems sprinkled by nature are enormous and lucky are those who stay in this beautiful environment not disturbed as to what is happening elsewhere on the globe and much better placed then those who have lost themselves in the gizmo, glitz, razzmatazz of the city thus living a hectic, tiring, mechanical, unhealthy and a boring life. To search for some relief they head towards the hills but here also now they are forbidden because the contagion has got into the nook and corners to do what it is best at doing. But the places and the people in above places though not untouched by the contagion yet feel perfectly safe because to a major extent they have kept the environment clean.
The people will argue that these places as above mentioned remain so calm and serene because they are in the interiors and are yet untouched by the buzz and noise of the world. The simple reply here would be that those who wanted to shift have done so but those who stay here are better than them because they love their lands and their needs are few. That is why they live in an environment that gives them joy and longevity. Remember a lady from a far flung area in District Udhampur whose age was more than 124 years took a shot of the corona vaccine and so many other ladies all above ninety from the same lady also did it. Yet another one over 124 years from District Baramulla also joined the list. This is what I call longevity and living in a healthy environment. After all there is a lot of difference between living in nature and living in artificial luxuries that have the tendency to get you ill!
Those staying in Budhal, Rajouri and Poonch in the lap of the Pir Panjals do always say when someone is talking to them, when asked as to why you stay healthy and fit around the year, climb the mountains and get their good folds. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy and that will also ensure that you never get sick and move down in search of doctors. It’s not that they do not get sick, they do but it is not that the environment has played a roguish game but it is the people themselves who are to be blamed with hygiene, sanitation and wrong eating playing a major role.
Now thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home, that wildness is a necessity somewhere in life. This is because they were somewhere responsible for destroying their own habitat and never took any interest in protecting it.
The people of the Districts Rajouri and Poonch living in the foothills and valleys which have the Pir Panjal mountain range in the backdrop are not extraordinary because they are like us. The difference is that they love nature and care for it. Though the localities may not be well planned and huddled together yet the fact is that they look neat and clean. The little town ships like Budhal, Kotranka, Rajouri, Bafliaz, Mandi, Surankote, Mendhar and Poonch may seem to the visitors that they are crowded but it’s not the case because people come here for essentials and moreover they are the bus terminals. The people come and move back. Early in the morning and after twilight these places are lifeless akin to ghost towns. The people do complain of garbage patches to the administration and it’s a regular affair. If the administration over indulges itself these townships will give a cleaner and healthier look. Let me put this one across a bit philosophically and I’m sure that the administration will rise to the occasion, as such, the sun rises on the top of the mountain, the valleys in the dark watch it enviously! The light first visits those who have raised their mind high! Those who are at the lowest get the light last!
But in the countryside it is absolutely clean and gratifying. The above areas have magnificent lakes, heart pleasing scenic spots, villages perched up in hills and a splendid ecosystem to survive and in the forests there are animals who love their own domain. They come down, move about and immediately return to their safe dens, not bothering the people much. If you have a walk around with these mountain people, you will realize that there are no milestones to inform you as to how far you are from your destination and where you are. They will guide you through natural legends which have existed for god knows how many years and trust me the historical cut lines are still there with mysterious myths backing them. Had they been in plains they would have been uprooted by now with some architectural delight coming in their place, of course at the cost of the environment which has made cities contracted, claustrophobic and suffocating. Those who live in multi storeyed societies do not get to know the feeling which you have in an open and a healthy environment and thus they do give a thought to this, I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the new ways and on return they say in anguish, ‘wish I could stay for a few more days’
Yes environmental parks, environmental zones, ecological parks, aquatic parks. plantation of trees, cleanliness of drainage and sewerage systems, regulation of disposal or organic and inorganic waste bans on encroachment of forest lands, wet lands and natural resources are coming in thick and fast into vogue in these areas but implementing in the town ships it will take time. All of them are great places and environmentally supreme yet precautions have to be taken so that they too not go downhill as others have in the UT!
Develop the places but in the harmony of nature. Development in the long run is a continuous commercial process and this tends to destroy a place which was once beautiful and thus start the environmental hazards and leave the natives who have been protecting all throughout the gone by years crestfallen Over the years and generations they have been saying, we know we can’t own a hilltop, a meadow, or a mountainside but keeping it a secret somehow makes them ours and thus we will protect them. Let this feeling remain with them for the sake of the environment!