Seasons in the Lidder landscape

The mountains and meadows through which the river Lidder flows are camping grounds for the Gujjar and Bakarwal communities. These vistas are spectacular all year round with each season distinctly different from the next.

Here is a small collection of handwoven Pashminas we have developed celebrating the various hues each season brings to the landscape around the river Lidder.

Spring brings with it bright blue skies and a sea of white clouds, endless mustard fields and snow capped mountains.

spring-lidder

The deep blue skies in summer with the evergreen pine and gray river. People camp in bright tents all along the river bed, enjoying the short lived warm days.

summer-lidder

Autumn comes with its rusts, flaming oranges, ochre and olive; as if the land is celebrating the last burst of sunshine before the cold, grey winter sets in.

autumn-lidder

winter-lidder

The cold, snow clad landscape with grey skies and a dark, sluggish river where even the evergreens seem black lasts all winter

The Bakarwal Migration in August 2014

We were fortunate to witness an early migration this year. The Bakarwal usually migrate southwards from their camps high up near the Kolahoi glacier with the first fall of snow. That’s usually early in October. But this year was an exception. When we asked some of them why they were leaving and where were they headed, they replied the weather was sure to change in the coming week and they are not heading towards their winter homes near Rajouri but to camp elsewhere till the weather improves.

goat migrate3 goat migrate1

It was bright and sunny so we wondered what they were talking about, hardly expecting snow as Pahalgam was seeing 30 degrees Celsius and it was unbearable hot.

By the 31st of August, the last of the herds with the men guiding them left the high mountains near Pahalgam and it started to rain that afternoon onwards. It rained continuously for the next week and Kashmir witnessed the worst floods in living history barely a week later.

pony migrate

Could it be just a coincidence that these shepherds migrated away from the floods? Would they have known? Were there natural signs that our technology dependent senses failed to notice?

Many conversations with the Bakarwal families and many photographs later, we still have no clue. But what was palpable in every tent was their joy at greeting visitors (us) and their happy lives inside tents. We shared many stories, many laughs and not one rue about anything. Unlike conversations with most others in the valley, there was no mention of politics or terror or strife.

woman tent1 woman tent woman tea

inside bride tent

 

Here are some images of the people on the move. The ruggedly handsome men, the beautiful women and the adorable children were really happy to show off their decked up ponies, share their tents with us, their meals and tea too!

bakarwal kid and sack hunk hunk2 kid1 kid2