|Bada Bhangal village|
Last year the trail leading to Bada Bhangal via Thamsar Pass got damaged between Palachak and Jhodi . The sliding caused between these points made this trail very risky for mules and horses to cross which carry essentials to Bada Bhangal . Thamsar Pass is the most widely and commonly used trail to Bada Bhangal as it connects Bada Bhangal directly to mainland Kangra .
|The treacherous trail from Bada Bhangal to Nayagram Chamba|
The trail from Rajgunda / Badagram is all in the jurisdiction of District Kangra unlike the foot trail from Nayagram / Holi ( Chamba side ) where the trail upto Fared Nallah is in the jurisdiction of District Chamba .
|The original trail was somewhere from here but now this stretch is damaged|
Last year when the trail got damaged between Palachak and Jhodi all the transportation of essentials to Bada Bhangal came to a standstill. It was impossible for mules and horses to pass this patch in rainy season as sliding continued unabated. Only when monsoons came to a standstill in September last year that a few essentials could be supplied to Bada Bhangal that too only in a very limited quantity. Eventually snowfall led to the closure of Thamsar Pass. So last year only a very few essentials reached Bada Bhangal . The district administration had requested the Forest Department to make an alternate trail bypassing this damaged patch but since this area falls in wildlife sanctuary, there were many complexities involved so it could not get clearance .
In 2018 also this issue is still unaddressed as a result of which nothing has been done so far to restore the Thamsar Pass trail.
Who suffered? The common people of Bada Bhangal as the necessary supplies didn’t reach them this year also.
|Kaleheni Pass connecting Bada Bhangal and Kullu valley|
Save Bada Bhangal campaign was launched by a group of mountain enthusiasts who could not see the plight and suffering of the local people of Bada Bhangal . The Kaleheni Pass trail from Patlikul ( Kullu ) to Bada Bhangal was chosen for this purpose because since times immemorial , Kaleheni Pass which too is crossable by mules and horses has been an important trade route between Bada Bhangal and Kullu .
What led to this campaign ?
|Addressing the natives of Bada Bhangal|
The members of the #SaveBadaBhangal campaign were in constant touch with the people of Bada Bhangal who had made them aware about the famine like conditions in Bada Bhangal . The village was indeed very short on essentials and a few families were finding it hard to arrange meals twice a day. Also the shepherds who stay in Bada Bhangal valley for 3-4 months didn’t have salt in sufficient amount for their sheep and goat . There were many news in the local papers claiming that sufficient food grains were there in the Bada Bhangal village but the locals could would not lie about the dire condition in their village .Also common sense said that when a place had not received any supplies for a year , the place was certainly short on essentials . This was reason enough to help out our fellow beings in Bada Bhangal . We have always believed that as mountain lovers , it’s our duty to give back to these beautiful mountains and its inhabitants.
A crowdfunding campaign was launched so that sufficient funds could be arranged so that essentials could be supplied to the village which could last for a month or so .
Preparations for Bada Bhangal
|Three layers of packing|
The team of volunteers after getting the sufficient funds decided to move to Kullu from where the essentials would be carried to Bada Bhangal . The plan was to initially undertake this journey on 10th August but due to some engagements the plan was postponed to 12th August .
Then came a big blow to this campaign as the head of horse union who had promised 60 horses ditched at the very last moment for obvious reasons . A lot of energy , resources and time was wasted in arranging horses and a good 5 days were spent wandering here and there in Kullu valley making necessary arrangements for the horses . Horses were arranged at last but at almost double the price .
Finally the team left for Bada Bhangal on 17th August .
Reaching Bada Bhangal
|Mules and horses crossing Kaleheni glacier|
|On reaching Bada Bhangal Village|
|Distributing notebooks, stationary and sweets|
This is an expensive affair and the amount spent on airdropping the supplies is actually way more the cost in which the Thamsar Pass trail can be restored and also the alternate mule track from Chamba can be made .
Problems and solution :-
During the team’s visit to Bada Bhangal for carrying out relief work , following problems came to their notice :-
1. Permanent solution to this problem ( Airdropping the supplies and carrying essentials via Kaleheni are temporary solutions to this problem ) a) Restoring the Thamsar Pass trail which is the lifeline to the locals as well as the shepherds as it connects Bada Bhangal directly to Kangra. b) Making a mule track from Dhardi ( Holi / Chamba ) to Bada Bhangal as it a shorter route and provides quick access to Bada Bhangal .
2. The shepherds in Bada Bhangal area were very short in basic food commodities and didn’t have any salt for their sheep . They also didn’t have medicines for their livestock . A provision must be made where they will get all the necessary commodities at Bada Bhangal itself.
3. The Mini Hydel project is not operational for over 5 years now as a result of which there is no electricity in the village . This project must be restored to bail out the future of Bada Bhangal from darkness.
4. The High school at Bada Bhangal has only PTI and Drawing teachers . The future of Bada Bhangal and India is at stake . Necessary steps must be taken
5. There is no medical staff at Bada Bhangal . Even there is noone to administer First Aid just in case of emergency . There is no Vet also at Bada Bhangal to cater to the need of shepherds.
6. The village gains nothing out of tourism . The tour operators are mostly from Dharamsala or Manali . Their staff including guides , porters and horsemen are all non locals , so tourism which can change the fortunes of Bada Bhangal is actually contributing nothing for the local economy .
7. Connectivity to the outside world is limited only to the satellite phone which works only if it’s charged sufficiently during the day using solar power . Many a times , it doesn’t work also because of inclement weather . All in all the villagers remain disconnected to the outside world and are not aware of what’s going on around . This issue also needs to be addressed because in 21st century when we are talking about digital India , we are not anywhere near this Dream of digital India .
8. The most rampant problem faced by not only Bada Bhangal but the rest of India also is unemployment . Very few people complete their education in Bada Bhangal and the ones who do so don’t get job also because they can’t compete with their peers from other parts of Himachal as they don’t have proper exposure .
9. Last but not the least , it’s been a long pending demand of the people of Bada Bhangal that they must be given tribal benifits as Bada Bhangal is the remotest area of Himachal . Their demand is highly justified and giving Tribal benifits to the 700 odd people of Bada Bhangal will hardly cause any imbalance to our system .
|Ravi river flowing across the Bada Bhangal village|
|Bada Bhangal village from Baggi fields|
|The beautiful but remote Bada Bhangal Village|
The real enemies of Bada Bhangal
|No captions needed. Pictures are self explanatory|
Well one would wonder how can this heaven on earth have enemies ? To be honest this place doesn’t have threat from outside world but from people within Bada Bhangal . There is a rich class which now lives permanently in Bir and can’t see Bada Bhangal progress . They try to create obstacles in any developmental scheme that’s sanctioned for Bada Bhangal . The poor people of Bada Bhangal , mostly 15-20 families are suffering so badly that they are the ones who are actually finding it hard to arrange meals twice a day .
Even a remote place like Bada Bhangal is not untouched from the evils of modern world like corruption . Yes , you heard it right , corruption !
We are not a detective agency going about chasing these cases but seeing such sad state of affairs depressed our heart to the core .
Well , we wish to stay away from this filth and as mountain lovers we wish that the crisis which Bada Bhangal is going through presently comes to an end and a lasting solution is found out to all the problems so that the common people don’t suffer .