SHIMLA- Have you ever thought of living your entire life in wild, without electricity and electronics, and even a clock? How about the Great National Himalayan Park that is recognized by UNESCO for its incredibly rich bio-diversity? The 754 square kilometer National Park houses 31 mammal species including leopards, the Himalayan black and brown bear, and the ghost cat – snow leopards. There are over 300 bird species, reptiles, hundreds of insect species amid rich Himalayan flora and fauna. It sounds more like a Hollywood adventure movie. Is it possible to live in such a harmony with nature?
There is no habitation for miles as all natives were removed to a separate buffer –zone when the area was declared as a National Park. However, there was a woman, who refused to depart from the nature. She has been sharing the forest with wild animals for decades now.
So it’s not entirely true that there is no habitation inside the park. An 83-years-old lady, Chatri Devi, still lives in her clay-house, all alone. She doesn’t have electricity or a phone. She doesn’t even possess a clock and calculate time by following sun. This seclusion, complete isolation and wild animals do not scare her at all.
“Leopards and black bears do come near to my house, even with their cubs, but they never attacked me as I am not their prey. Why should I be afraid of them? They go on their way (pointing towards a thick forest adjoining her house),”
It’s not that she doesn’t have a family or is bound to live here. Rather, she has a big family comprising of three married sons, their wives, and nine grandchildren, who live in a village outside the park. It takes about one and half hour walk uphill to reach her from their place.
The only reason for her to choose this life in the park is that she loves it as she has a strong emotional attachment to the house she had build with her husband decades ago and small-piece of farmland where the couple grew wheat, barely, potato, corn and rajmah. She is the only one person who refused to relocate when the the area was declared as the GHNP in 1999.
Her death is the only way to separate her from the house, she said.
When asked if she ever gets bored, she replies,
These birds and animals are also part of my family. Every winter ‘jujuranas’ or western tragopans and gorals descend here. So I ejoy watching them.
These days, as she is very old now, one of the family members come to visit her everyday after taking that hours long uphill walk to ensure she is doing fine and returns by evening.
She makes a remarkable example of complete harmony with nature and its creature, away from modernised and way far complex, stressful urban life.
About The Himalayan National Park
Top Image: IANS