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A Field Survey to Cold Desert of Himachal Pradesh -A Memorable Experience: Lahual Valley

Nature has an unparalleled ability to captivate us with its beauty, and few places exemplify this better. Nestled in the heart of the mighty Himalayas, this remote valley in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh offers a breathtaking landscape and a unique cultural experience. The opportunity to embark on a field visit has always been the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream. As a researcher, I have been fortunate to engage in field surveys across various locations. Each expedition has been a remarkable experience, filled with valuable insights and eye-opening encounters. However, the opportunity that arose in end week of March 2023 (20 - 27 March) to conduct a field survey in Lahaul Valley was truly a magical experience that left an memorable mark on my journey. The journey started on 20-03-2023 from Kullu to Lahual valley. A field survey in Valley was not just an exploration but a meaningful journey into nature's wonders and the lives of its resilient inhabitants.

On March 21, 2023, headed for the field surveys in Koksar village of Lahaul valley. The Project's research aims was to collect data on the impact of climate change on local communities and on their livelihood options (agriculture, tourism) and what are their area's adaption strategies.

Its remote location and unique ecosystem make it an ideal setting to study the impacts of climate change and explore sustainable solutions. As I prepared for the survey, I became so excited, knowing that this specific field survey would provide extraordinary insights into the struggles and resilience of communities living in this attractive valley but in harsh climatic conditions.


The air imparted a sense of calm when I stepped foot in villages of Lahaul Valley. The snow- capped peaks provided a stunning backdrop, and the fresh mountain air energized my senses. The surroundings opened in front of me is merging rocky terrains and beautiful settlements. It was as though nature had worked together to create an awe-inspiring paradise worthy of both reverence and wonder. With a profound sense of gratitude, I started work and had the privilege of meeting with the villagers from Dimpuk and Tailing villages.

The field survey itself was a journey of discovery and enlightenment. Conversations with local residents opened a window into their way of life, their traditional knowledge, and their extraordinary ability to adapt to the changing climate. Their stories painted a vivid picture of resilience, as they shared their struggles, innovations, and hopes for a sustainable future. Each step I took during the survey brought me closer to understanding the relationship between the environment and the communities.

Over the years, valley has experienced significant shifts in its climate patterns, leading to adverse consequences for the local communities. During the survey, I felt that the climate change has disrupted traditional agricultural practices and tourism activities in the valley. Changes in precipitation patterns and temperature have altered the growing seasons, leading to a decline in crop yields. This has severe implications for food security in the region, with communities being forced to rely on external sources for sustenance.
Lahaul has been renowned for its snow-covered landscapes, making it a popular winter destination for skiing, snowboarding, and snow-related recreational activities. However, the decrease in snowfall has affected the availability and quality of winter sports opportunities said by a local resident of Tailing Village 'Jatine Rashpa'. This decline has created economic uncertainty and challenges for the people who rely on the winter season to sustain their livelihoods.

On another day, at Laling Village, I met a lady in her mid-fifties, her name was Dakid Dolma. I asked her few questions related to the impact of climate change and tourism in their area. After initial hesitance, she expressed her concerns regarding the impact of tourism on the local environment, specifically related to waste management.

She stated that while tourism brings benefits, providing other livelihood options, the accumulation of garbage has become a pressing issue. Activities such as trekking, off-road driving, and improper waste disposal causing harmful effects on the environment if not handled responsibly.

Also I was lucky enough to attend a traditional function while I was there. It was a wonderful experience to see their unique cultural traditions and rituals up close.

During the survey I noticed a significantly low population density in the area. It is a longstanding practice in the valley said many inhabitants that families with young children or elderly members, choose to temporarily shifted to lower-altitude areas or nearby towns that offer better accessibility and more favorable living conditions during the winter. Also the roadways may become inaccessible or hazardous, limiting the ability of residents to travel in and out of the valley.

One of the challenge encountered during this survey was the freezing of water due to the extremely low temperatures. The frigid weather caused water sources to freeze, making it difficult to access and utilize water for personal use. It left me with a profound sense of empathy for the people who endure such challenging conditions on a regular basis. It was disheartening to witness the impact of extreme cold on their daily lives, as access to basic necessities like unfrozen water becomes a constant struggle.

In the realm of exploration and research, unexpected challenges often arise, putting our determination and adaptability to the test. One such moment occurred during survey when i unexpectedly found snowfall. It remained in my memory as a unexpected joys and challenges of research. With roads inaccessible, I had no choice but to set out on foot, embarking on a journey. The initial discomfort and physical exertion soon transformed into a liberating experience. It taught me to embrace the unexpected and adapt to changing circumstances. As a researcher, I will continue to cherish such moments, knowing that they add depth and richness to my understanding of the world around us.

After completing field survey, I had the opportunity to visit a monastery named Sangdrup choikhorling monastery that stood as a symbol of peace and spiritual wisdom. I went to the monestery with the homestay owner where I stayed during my field study. This visit provided a break from research activities and offered a chance to immerse ourselves in the peaceful ambiance of the sacred space. I found solace in spending half an hour at the monastery, engaging in moments of meditation. Taking a peaceful break at the monastery turned out to be rejuvenating, providing a much-needed relief from the exhaustion of my journey. I felt a profound sense of calm and renewed energy, leaving me refreshed and serene.

The experience itself is a transformative journey. It was opportunity to disconnect from the bustling town life and immerse oneself in the serenity of nature. The vast expanse of the region provides solitude, inviting self-reflection and introspection.

I am immensely grateful to my institute for providing me with a remarkable opportunity to learn, explore, and forge connections with both nature and local individuals. This experience has truly been a transformative journey, enriching my understanding and inspiring me in countless ways. As I reflect on this cherished experience, I eagerly anticipate the prospect of embarking on future endeavors that offer the same level of growth, connection, and wonder.

Blog by -

Twinkle Thakur


Himachal Regional Centre (Mohal, Kullu) ,G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment