Today was the final day of our trek before heading back to Mussoorie. We discussed the temple at our campsite whose well was a water source for our time there. Akshay shared that this was majorly a Hindu temple honoring Shiva. Shiva, the god of destruction and creation, is often depicted with a snake around his neck which represents the king of serpents. Together this symbol represents fertility of humans, the land, and animals, so people come here to worship those values. When discussing the temple, we learned that it was originally made of the nearby timber and wood from trees, resources that required no transportation into the area. Since the nearby resources were used, those in charge of the temple’s construction were aware of how much destruction was done and used the materials in a way that was sustainable and minimal. However, now with the push for modernization, the temple was reconstructed out of materials from a nearby town and the wood was replaced with cement and stone with bright colored paint. Although this change made the temple more durable, it required transportation to the site and introduction of unnatural products into the ecosystem.
This highlights the issue of utilizing forest resources appropriately and transportation of resources. Since this is a relatively remote location up a steep mountain, mules and human power was needed to carry in the products. However, with the development of roads and paths as well as an increased awareness of the lay of the land in this area, this reconstruction plan became possible. In the beginning of the temple’s construction with local trees and resources, this was not a thought since access to resources was limited and trees were available so nearby. Both methods require thought in terms of health impacts. By using the trees and natural products nearby, it must be ensured that resources are not depleted and only minimal amounts of products are taken whereas the transport of products into the area requires dynamic thinking in the logistics of transport and the possible toxicity and impact of these products on the environment. Anytime a structure is built in nature there will be influences on the land itself which affects wildlife and eventually humans, so it requires a lot of consideration when it it done.