China closes its Everest base camp to tourists

China has closed the base camp on its side of Mount Everest to visitors who don’t have climbing permits.


Image copyright – Getty Images

Authorities have resorted to the unusual move to deal with the mounting waste problem at the site.

The ban means tourists can only go as far as a monastery slightly below the 5,200m (17,060ft) base camp level.

More people visit the mountain from the southern side in Nepal, but over the past years numbers have been rising steadily on the Chinese side as well.

The Chinese base camp, located in Tibet, is popular as it is accessible by car – whereas the Nepalese camp can only be reached by a hike of almost two weeks.

The world’s highest peak has been struggling with escalating levels of rubbish for years, as the number of visitors rises.

The Chinese Mountaineering Association says 40,000 visited its base camp in 2015, the most recent year with figures. A record 45,000 visited Nepal’s base camp in 2016-7 according to Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation.

Ordinary tourists will only be banned from areas above Rongbuk monastery, which is around 5,000m above sea level, according to China’s state news agency Xinhua.

Mountaineers who have a permit to climb the 8,848m peak will still be allowed to use the higher camp.

In January, authorities announced that they would limit the number of climbing permits each year to 300.

On Chinese social media, claims have spread in recent days that its base camp will be permanently closed to tourists – but Xinhua cited officials denying that.

The official announcement about the closure was made in December, on the website of the Tibetan authorities.

It stated that three clean-up operations last spring had collected eight tonnes of waste, including human faeces and mountaineering equipment climbers had left behind.

This year’s clean-up efforts will also try to remove the bodies of mountaineers who have died in the so-called death zone above 8,000m, where the air is too thin to sustain life for long.

Due to the cold and high altitude, these bodies often remain on the mountain for years or even decades.

Source : The original article was written by BBC. It can be read here.

Piplantri- A Village that Plants 111 trees for Every Girl Child Born

Piplantri is a village in India, where villagers plants 111 trees every time a girl child is born. The local community ensures that these trees survive and attain fruition, as the girls grow up. Piplantri village is situated in Rajsamand district, Rajasthan, India.

Neem tree which is seen at PiplantriNeem tree

Planting trees when a a girl child is born, is unique to this village. Piplantri may be the only village in the world, known for planting a tree for the birth of a child. The villagers contribute Rs 21,000 collectively. The parents contribute Rupees 10,000. They deposit the total amount in a bank fixed deposit. The villagers also make the parents to sign a legal contract, which restricts them from marrying the girl child off, before she attains the legal age for marriage.

Shyam Sundar Paliwal, the former elected village head, was instrumental in starting the birth tree initiative in 2006. He did so in memory of his late daughter Kiran.

Neem, Mango, Amla and Sheesham trees are planted as birthday plants. This has helped the ground water level to increase. 2.5 million Aloe Vera plants were planted to keep the termites away. Aloe Vera is processed and marketed as a medicinal pant and this helped the villagers to increase their earnings.

How Do I Go to Piplantri?

Piplantri is at a distance of around 15 kilometers from Rajsamand. Rajsamand town is named after the Rajsamand Lake. Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan, is at around 330 kilometers distance from Piplantri.  Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, is at around 335 kilometers distance.

Charbhuja road railway station is at around 30 kilometers distance. Nathdwara railway station is at around 27 kilometers distance. Mavli junction railway station is at around 53 kilometers distance.  Khemli railway station is at around 64 kilometers away.

Maharana Pratap Airport at Udaipur is the nearest airport at around 87 kilometers distance.  Jodhpur Airport is at around 185 kilometers distance. Deesa Airport alias Palanpur Airport at Deesa, is at around 274 kilometers away from Piplantri village.

Are you Interested in Going for the Two Day Agasthyarkoodam Trekking or Agasthyamalai Trekking

Agasthyarkoodam or Agasthyamalai Trekking routeAgasthyarkoodam  alias Agasthyakoodam or Agasthyamalai Trekking route

Agasthyarkoodam alias Agasthyamalai is considered as a sacred hill. In spite of the remoteness of these hills, determined devotees comes here. Trekking to Agasthyamalai and back takes two or three days (depending on your health condition) and the entry permits are issued every year in January.

Statue of Saint Agastya alias Agasthya Muni on top of Agasthyarkoodam or Agasthyamalai. Photo courtesy – Laser Shine.

Entry passes to Agasthyarkoodam Trekking or Agasthyamalai

Entry permits  are  normally issued during the first week of January for a few days. 100 passes are issued in advance, for each day.

Another option to trek Agastyamala is to form a group of 10 people and apply for the entry passes at the Thiruvanathapuram district forest department office. This group permits are issued except during Monsoon season. During Monsoon season, it is is highly risky to trek to Agasthyamalai as the rivers gets flooded (at times Flash floods too).

2019 Update on Agasthyarkoodam Trekking and Ladies Trekking to Agasthyarkoodam

From 2019, ladies are also allowed trekking to Agastyamala. Dhanya Sanal became the first lady to trek to Agasthyamalai, officially. Dhanya trekked to Agasthyamalai in the middle of January 2019. There were reports of female devotees and tribal ladies, who used to go to Agastyamala earlier.

Charges for Agasthyamalai or Agasthyakoodam Trekking 2019

Entry pass charges are rupees 1000 per person. Food is charged separately. It costs around 40 for the breakfast and 70 each for the lunch and dinner (Kanji in local language or porridge in English). Tea is charged at rupees 10. Camera is charged at INR 100. These rates or charges are as of January 2019  and is  subject change. Please verify the rates by yourself.

You are not allowed to carry plastic items, except for water bottles and  lunch  boxes. Such items are checked at the Bonacaud picket station (entry point to the trekking area) and rupees 100 or so  is collected, as caution deposit. When you return to the Bonacaud picket station, you will get this money refunded, provided you bring back those items which were taken with you. You are not allowed to carry biscuits or other similarly packed food items. You need to open such packs and wrap it in a paper or put it inside your bag, to take them inside.

How Do I Go to Agasthyamalai alias Agasthyarkoodam or Agasthyakoodam Trekking Base Camp?

There are buses from KSRTC bus station at Thampanoor, Thiruvanthapuaram. First bus to the trekking entry gate at Bonakad, starts at 5 am. It reaches Bonakad picket station, where the forest office is situated in around two and a half hours time. The distance is around 55 kilometers. Next bus from Thampanoor is at 5.30 am.

You may also take your vehicle (two or  four wheeler) and park it at the premises of forest department office at Bonakad. Parking charges of rupees 40 and 100 are applicable for two wheeler and four wheeler, respectively.

Bonacaud Picket Station (Bonakad forest office) is the starting point for trekking to Agasthyarkoodam or Agasthya malai.

Day One – The base camp is at a distance of around 15 kilometers from  Bonacaud Picket Station.  It is relatively easy to trek this distance. You need to stay at the base camp here, on the day one.

On the second day, you need to start early in the morning. Trekking route passes through  steep mountains and streams covering a distance of around six kilometers (one way). You must return to the base camp on the same day. i.e. on second day.

If you start early and return early, and is in good spirits to trek back to the Bonacaud Picket Station, you can do so. In that case, trekking is completed on day two.

Otherwise, you can stay at the base camp on the second day night. You can trek back to the Bonacaud Picket Station on the third day.

Last bus from Bonakad towards the city is at 5.45 pm. This bus goes to Vithura. Vithura is at a distance of around 22 kilometers from Bonakad picket station. From Vithura, you need to change the bus to go to Thiruvanthapuaram, which is at around 34 kilometers distance from Vithura.

Ubbalamadugu Falls alias Varadhapalayam Falls or Tada Falls Near Chennai

Ubbalamadugu Falls alias Varadhapalayam Falls Or Tada Falls is situated at around 10 kilometers inside reserved forests near Varadhapalayam and Tada, in Chittor District, Andhra Pradesh state, India. It is one of the best weekend getaways for Chennai residents.

Ubbalamadugu Falls alias Varadhapalayam Falls Or Tada Falls

Varadhapalayam Falls or Ubbalamadugu Falls is situated deep inside reserved forests. Mud roads are there to go to the falls. Vehicles go through a very scenic route with a large lake on your left side.

Entry Procedure to Ubbalamadugu Falls alias Varadhapalayam Falls or Tada Falls

You need to get entry permit for each person and vehicle at the Andhra Pradesh forest department entrance gate. Entry is allowed from 6 am up to 4 pm in the evening. You need to come out by 6 pm. Entry fee per person is rupees 50. Two wheeler entry fee is also the same. Car entry fee is rupees 200. The rates are written at the entrance. There is a fee for camera also. Please confirm the rates and pay the amount, at the counter only. Forest department will issue you a receipt for the amount paid.

You need to travel around 3 or 4 kilometers from the entry gate to reach the parking lot. Some portions of the road are in off-road condition. On the left side of the parking lot, you will find a small temporary bridge to cross the stream.

You may come across a few people bathing here on one side this bridge. If  you walk straight, you can see the stream on your left side. Keep walking. Whenever you feel like bathing, turn to your left and take a refreshing bath int he cold waters of the stream. A word of caution. The water flow is very powerful to even carry adults. There are rocks along the path of the stream. Hence, take care.

This falls and the stream are one of the best falls I have seen in South India. Since the falls is hard to access (which needs to be trekked for a couple of hours along the stream side), very few tourists goes to the actual falls. Entry fee also prevents many from coming here. Many of the other nearby falls in Andhra Pradesh state does not charge any entry fee, vehicle entry fee, camera fee, etc.

How Do I Go to Ubbalamadugu Falls alias Varadhapalayam Falls Or Tada Falls?

Ubbalamadugu Falls alias Varadhapalayam Falls Or Tada Falls is very close to Tada town and Sri City. It is around 90 kilometers from Chennai city.Sriharihota rocket launching station is situated very close to Varadhapalayam and Sri City.

Always go via Tada. After crossing the Varadhapalayam goverment bus depot, you will find a sign board on the left side, written “Ubbalamadugu Waterfalls”.

If you ask locals near the state border in Tamilnadu, some of them may misguide you (out of ignorance of the falls) to go via Sathyavedu town. This route is circuitous and should be avoided. Right now, from Sathyavedu to Tada road, a large number of culverts are under construction. It is very tedious to travel by this route.

Anamudi Shola National Park near Munnar Hill Station

Anamudi Shola National Park is situated near to Munnar Hill station, in Idukki District, Kerala state. Anamudi park is one of the smallest national parks in India.

Anamudi Shola National Park Entrance
Anamudi Shola National Park Entrance

Anamudi Shola National Park is at an altitude of 2,152 meters (7,060 feet) to 2,305 meters (7,562 feet). It is located along the Western Ghats. Anamudi Wildlife Park is a protected area, spread over 7.5 square kilometers. It covers Idivara shola, Mannavan shola and Pullardi shola.

This national park is rich in flora and fauna. Tigers are seen in the protected area.

Mathikettan Shola National Park, Eravikulam National Park, Pambadum Shola National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and the Kurinjimala Sanctuary are the surrounding national parks to Anamudi Shola National Park.

Anamudi National Park is at around 130 kilometers from Periyar National Park. Periyar National park  is the  most famous national park and wildlife sanctuary in the state of Kerala.

How Do I Go to Anamudi Shola National Park?

Anamudi Shola National Park can be accessed from Kanthalloor-Perumala Road. Kanthalloor is the nearest village at around 4.5 kilometers away from the entry gate of the Anamudi Shola park.

It is situated at around 36 kilometers from Munnar Town.