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Floods of Ladakh

July 31, 2019 2 min read

The mighty force of the Himlayas – its mountains, its glaciers & snows and its rivers – can be imagined just by seeing the scale and magnitude of its being. But this force can be experienced by human life only in devastating forms through its avalanches, landslides and floods.

In 2015, at one of the minor turning points (of which there must be hundreds) of the river Sindhu, there is a narrow section where the mountains are very close to each other. AT this point, in rafting language, the rapids would probably at their worst – and it would be sheer madness to attempt these in a raft.

The gap being narrow, leaves limited space for the water to flow. Around this area there is a small settlement along the bank of about 100 people.

One night in 2015, about a hundred kilometers away, in Zanskar river, there was a landslide. Landslides are a common or even a daily event everywhere in that region and particularly along the roads as these have been carved out of the mountains and the process creates a little instability. But even where there are no roads, as the ice melts, the stones and rocks get loose and sometimes with the weight of the melted snow, come tumbling down. Minor and major landslides are a part of Himalayan life.

But in this case, it is said that the landslide caused the rocks and mud to fall into the river. Or maybe the landslide happened in a section under the water in Zanskar river. No one quite knows exactly what happened as most of the region is uninhabited.

Just how much mud & rocks fell in and displaced the water is anyone’s guess.

But the water that came gushing forth with full force gushed forth dozens of kilometers bound on both sides of hard rock mountain, with the limited space resulting in increased force. Until it reached a turning point that was made of vulnerable soft mud – where it jumped the human-created boundaries, into the houses and flooded everything until it reached a rock wall again that contained the fury.

About 60 people were in the their homes that night. There was no damage to life but homes went under water and their possessions were destroyed. Everyone has resettled into new homes now and the old buildings that are still standing are being occupied temporarily by workers.

A few visuals:

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A view of the same location from the top of the mountain: (the little blue-still-water section)

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I lived in one of the new rebuilt homes noting that the might & fury of the Himalayas – that are monuments of peace and serenity – must never be taken for granted:

 

jm

July 2019

 

 



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