The Western Ghats: Abode of 300 threatened species
Enjoy the crisp mountain air and natural sights while you can. It was only a matter of time before the green treasures of the Western Ghats came under the scanner of builders and developers. With the Mumbai-Pune Expressway cutting right into the hills, it is no longer an inaccessible region.
This teamed up with its proximity to the cities make them all the more alluring. The land zoning regulations that converted hill and agricultural land to residential and commercial ones too do not help in its conservation.
There have already been some angry outbursts about how little is done to protect the Ghats and we suggest you head here quick before it turns into a concrete jungle!
2) Rakhigarhi in Haryana: The largest known city from the Indus Valley civilization
If you are into history and have been fascinated by civilization, then this is for you. Another site that seems to be eroding due to development and other causes is Rakhigarhi in Haryana.
Considered as the largest known city during the period of the Indus Valley civilization, this is one of India’s most prized possessions. However, insufficient management, looting, neglect and threat of development loom large.
Dating back to 5,000 years, Global Heritage Fund declared this place as one of the 10 most endangered heritage sites in Asia. According to a study of Sunday Times, it was found that the villagers sold the priceless artefacts from here and certain areas have been encroached by private houses.
3) Rama Setu, Tamil Nadu: From the epic Ramayana
Rama Setu is a bridge that is reputed for its references in the epic Ramayana. It starts as a chain of shoals from the Dhanushkodi tip of India’s Pamban Island and ends at Sri Lanka’s Mannar Island. A symbol of unity, geological evidence alludes that this bridge was once a land connection between India and Sri Lanka.
However the proposal of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project by the Indian government would damage it. The project would entail the unfortunate breaking of the limestone shoals of Rama’s Bridge.
4) Sundarbans: UNESCO World Heritage Site
Delve into the enigmatic terrain of wilderness that is the Sunderbans. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and covered with the largest mangrove forests in the world, the Sundarbans is home to many gems, one of them being the endangered Bengal Tiger. It also houses around 334 plant species, various bird species, snakes, crocodiles and other fauna.
Located in West Bengal, an ominous threat lies to the entire region. Low lying in nature, the rising sea levels havealready submerged some parts of it. Due to global warming the sea has already taken down a count of four islands. It is alleged that around 10,000 inhabitants are now environmental refugees. The fear is that the entire site would be under water one day.
5) Dechen Namgyal Monastery, Ladakh: Dates back to 17th century
Witness a monastery that dates all the way back to the 17th century and lies in the winsome land of Ladakh. The Dechen Namgyal Monastery was constructed under the patronage of the Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal along with the Tibetan priest Stag-Tsang-ras-pa.
Built along an ancient trade route, the architecture of the structure echoes the monastic layout and fortification. Inside are impressive wall paintings and sculptures. However, you might not get to see any of this since insufficient repairs, lack of financial resources, and limited preservation understandings have led to its decline.
6) Balpakram Forest: Resting place for the departed souls
Savour the rare sights of Balpakram Forest that is famous for its forest covered canyon-cum-gorge. It lies in the South Garo Hills district of Meghalaya. Adding to the mystery of the place is the belief of the indigenous people, that the hill is a resting place for departed souls. Several strange formations are said to be formed in this area.
The forests have been vanishing fast due to water damns, shifting cultivation on the hills and coal mines. Along with this deterioration, the exotic wildlife has been disappearing too.
7) Lakshadweep Coral Reef: Transporting you to a lucid dream
So stunning are the coral reef in Lakshadweep that they transport you to a dream, though this might not be the case for long. According to a study conducted by Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), coral reefs face dire threat from pollution, rummaging of navigational channels, coral mining, and blast fishing.
The study also states that sea-level rise triggered by global warming can indirectly have an effect on reefs, lagoons, beaches, and sand dunes.
The island that already has a fragile coastal environment has been subject to increase in population, mining of corals, coastal corrosion,unrestrained construction and unscientific waste disposal. One would dread to think what the plight would be some years later.
8) Chiktan Castle in Kargil: Emerging from a cliff
Reminiscent of a Disney movie, the Chiktan Castle in Kargil emerges from a cliff. It served as a royal residence for hundreds of years even after the power of reign made changes. Constructed in the 16th century, this castle depicts the fine dexterity of Balti (Pakistani) craftsmen. The intriguing structure was once a symbol of unity, strength and community as it prepared the people for impending attacks.
The castle was abandoned in the late 19th century and what once stood grand and mighty is left in a state of degeneration. Neglect and natural elements have been a cause for this. Huge parts of the outer walls have collapsed, one reason being the removal of stone for a local government hospital sometime in the 20th century. The structure is another one on the caution list of WMF.
9) Majuli: One of the largest river islands in the world
Lap up a view of one of the largest river islands in the world that goes by the name Majuli. Lolling on the banks of the holy Brahmaputra River, the landscape is rather unsullied and portrays nature at its charming best. It also represents a rich cultural heritage.
We suggest visiting this place while you can as it is likely to submerge in 15-20 years due to the erosion of Brahmaputra. In 1950, when an earthquake occurred, the river spilled in the upper reaches of the island creating a huge impact. Though a dyke system was constructed, it failed to be very effective. In 1998 too, the floodwaters brought about destruction and killed standing crops.