The frozen Zanskar river is where the famous Chadar Trek takes place in Ladakh. And the reason why it is under the threat of vanishing completely from the face of the Earth is global warming. They say, in a matter of 2 – 3 years, the route would cease to exist and travellers wouldn’t be allowed here anymore.
The Chadar route was primarily used by the natives to get their basic supplies and do some business by selling local wares like copper utensils, goatskin, and yak butter that would get them to earn their living during bone-chilling winters.
The bitter cold temperatures that the local dreaded, made for a great 105-km-long trek for adventure-seekers. As a result, many travellers started visiting the region for day treks and overnight camping that eventually resulted in disturbing the ecology and peace in the valley. With as many as hundreds of thousands of people making it to Zanskar for trek every year, a lot of human excreta, litter and plastic waste has been found on the frozen Zanskar river.
To salvage the peace and sanctity of the place, Chadar Trek will be closed for travellers in the coming years. This will perhaps act as a wake-up call for trekkers visiting India’s Himalayan region; making them aware of undertaking sustainable practices for maintaining cleanliness of the destination.
There are many ways of doing that: from carrying stainless steel water bottles to carrying disposable bags to keep all your litter, these are some new useful practices to embrace. Remember the time when the court banned camping on Kheerganga in Himachal Pradesh? The increased commercialisation and deterioration of the environment called for that kind of action. And it helped and how!