Dunagiri – The Land of Mysterious Mountains

On a recent trip we went to Dunagiri  (also called Drongiri and Doonagiri) to a place called Dunagiri Retreat which is at an astounding height of 8,000 feet surrounded by lush forest overlooking scenic snow peaks. Its situated 400 km North of Delhi,  and it takes about 10-11 hours to reach.

The retreat offers organic vegetarian food, fireside dining, inspiring walks and treks to the nearby mountains, and modern bathroom facilities in the middle of nowhere. It truly is an amazing location, with a beautiful view.

When we met the owner of the retreat, it was revealed to us that the place was famous for its temple of Shakti known there as Dunagiri Devi. Apparently, this location is where “Bharat”,  the son of Shakuntala, was born. The mountains were said to have special energy.

In one of our conversations with the owner, we shared that almost every night we randomly woke up between 3 and 4 AM, which he found to be normal since that was the time “Mata ki chowki” landed on the adjacent mountains.  On one of two days I spent there, I even stumbled upon a medium-sized snake, and when we shared this with the owner, to my surprise he found it rather odd. Why? Because he has been living there for years and never once saw a snake in his campus. Weird, right?

Here are a few pictures from my trip. (all self clicked, some edited via snapseed app)

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I got really tired after a trek
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Dunagiri retreat
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A common sight, clouds envelope the mountains

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Welcome To Haze-ing

Beijing is one of the most famous cities in the world but unfortunately also infamous for its unhealthy pollution levels. The city has been trying to clear its act up especially since the Olympics, which was an important time for China’s image as a host country.

A short back-story: In preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics and to fulfill promises to clean up the city’s air, according to the Wikipedia, nearly 17 billion USD was spent. Beijing implemented a number of air improvement schemes for the duration of the Games, including halting work at all construction sites, closing many factories in Beijing permanently, temporarily shutting industry in neighboring regions, closing some gas stations, and cutting motor traffic by half, reducing bus and subway fares, opening new subway lines, and banning high-emission vehicles.

But more recently in January 2013, measurements showed levels of air pollution, as measured by the density of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres in size – higher than the maximum 755mcg the US Embassy’s equipment can measure (40 times above what the World Health Organization deems safe). You can see the Air pollution measurements on the Chinese website as well.

What’s more?

It is of no secret that the government regularly uses cloud-seeding- a method to increase the likelihood of rain showers in the region to clear the air prior to large events by altering the microphysical processes within the cloud (read: every Sunday).

People that come here from all over the world experience difficulty in breathing, skin conditions, hair-fall issues, teary eyes, and so on. Living in Beijing comes with getting used to air purifiers, mouth masks, and waking up to smoggy and hence, very gloomy mornings. The intensity of this situation is so serious that even wealthy locals are planning to move to other countries like the United States and Europe, after acquiring the respective country’s citizenship.

Meanwhile, there are several ways to keep yourself informed of the Beijing Air quality; not only through websites but even twitter, mobile apps, even calling the local authority. All we can hope for is that Beijing sets more rigid rules in the future that limit factories and vehicles from contributing to the hazardous pollution level not only in Beijing but throughout China, for the betterment of the locals along with the rest of us.

Also Check out: China’s Smog As Seen From Space.