TODAY -

Wintering In Dzuko

By Salam Rajesh *

Come winter and the Dzuko valley is a never-ending delight there. For then, the valley turns frosty white, the river freezes and there is ice to play with and to wonder at – despite the biting cold!

In summer and in winter, the valley affords moments of happiness and pleasure for those enthusiastic souls who find time for brief visits there. In fact, amateur trekkers find it a challenge to scale the imposing Mount Isso range (approximate maximum height is 9867 feet MSL) and to set foot in the valley beyond.

In recent years the Dzuko valley had become much prominent when trekkers started writing eloquent prose on the attractive nature of the valley. During the summer flowering season and in mid winter many trekkers visit the valley, quenching their thirst for a sight of the valley and relishing in its beauty and charm.

There can be no doubt of it. The summer experience is a breathtaking affair. The winter experience is unforgettable. That’s how one can describe Dzuko in brief.

Situated at an impressive height of 8052 feet above mean sea level, Dzuko valley experiences temperature far below freezing point in winter. Some local scientists are reported to have recorded the minimum temperature in mid winter (early January) to around minus 14 degree Celsius.

This could explain the frozen condition of river, the thick frost in early morning and the freezing water condition by late evening. In the early hours and late evenings, water contained in steel glass freezes instantly. Wow! It’s that cold.

Ice formations is an attractive feature in the valley. Icicles hang in rows from sheltered rock faces, giving off an icy, bluish effect that could turn one’s blood blue with delight.

Ice formations in river fallls, where there is huge accumulation of the ice, adds majesty to the scenery – more so as occurrence of massive ice formations in the State (Manipur) is a rare phenomenon. In fact, many in the State and elsewhere would not easily believe that snow and ice can be seen and enjoyed in Manipur.

Ice sheets covering the upper layer of the river are as thick as six inches, and may be more. This easily bears the weight of several people standing at a time in the frozen river.

More enthusiastic visitors take turns to skate on the ice sitting on large flat dishes – like so many of the youngsters from the neighboring Nagaland are good at. Others enjoy themselves caking ice blocks to make snowman, or rolling snowballs to hit at! Playing with snow and ice in Manipur – quite unthinkable!

There is however another side to the story, where all is not the picture of beauty and pleasure. This side of the story tells of the unpleasant happenings to the valley with the increased inflow of visitors here.

Like in any nature reserve where the ecosystem is of a delicate character, the fragile ecosystem of the Dzuko valley had considerably been tampered with by reasons of human intrusion.

Trekkers are often seen mindlessly setting on fire dry vegetation that happens to be in the proximity of the wild flower habitat, precariously endangering the flowerbeds of the endemic Dzuko lily, the different species of Iris, and other endemic flowering plants.

More than defacing natural rock shelters with inscriptions and graffiti, trekkers indulge in physical harm to delicate natural formations that provide interesting scope for scientific observation and study.

Trekkers also collect the dry seedpods of the endemic Dzuko lily in bundles and these are reportedly sold as dry flower décor. Massive plucking of the dry seedpods and uprooting of the lily roots has danger of gradually eliminating the plant from its natural habitat.

Then again there is danger of squashing the flowerbeds under the feet of the reckless trekkers who unmindfully wander around the lily habitat hunting for the lilies. Then there is the littering of waste material too.

There is a general feeling among naturalist that the habitat of the famed Siroy lily in Ukhrul has considerably been diminished by the uncontrolled human intrusion. It is said hardly much of the endemic lilies now bloom at Siroy peak – a pitiable loss for the State.

The colourful, attractive Dzuko valley in all its nature’s best would of course welcome people to come and appreciate it, but it cannot be said that it would tolerate people coming and destroying the very reason for which it is being favored.

This brings to one’s mind the all important question of how much of our people are aware of the need to protect and conserve nature in the interest of our land and future.

Check out "Dzuko Valley" in Gallery section here.




* Salam Rajesh wrote this article for The Sangai Express sometime in 2003. This article was "re-webcasted" on May 02, 2008.

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