PAHAR: 29 yrs of mirroring the multi-faceted Himalayas
What does one say about a man whose entire life has been devoted to documenting and highlighting the rich cultural, ecological, historical ,literary and scientific wealth of the Himalayas?
That he is a living "encyclopaedia of the Himalayas.That his knowledge of this vast mountainous region is staggering. That though he lives in the Himalayas, the Himalayas too live in him .That he is Shekhar Pathak,academic,editor and activist, traveler and writer, a wonderful story –teller and orator. Dr.Pathak, who was formerly a professor of history at the Kumaon University in Nainital, founded a non-profit organization named “PAHAR”(People’s Association for Himalayan Area Research).
Today, 29 years after its inception, PAHAR has become inseparable from Dr.Pathak’s vibrant personality and consists of a large number of like-minded team members committed to conserving and promoting the invaluable heritage of the Himalayan region.
The journal named “PAHAR” is brought out annually by this organization and is an archive of information on the mighty mountain chain.
PAHAR also brings out books and organizes journeys through the Himalayas to carry out studies on their various aspects.
Silver jubilee celebrations of PAHAR were held in 2008 -09 and many seminars, lectures and book release functions were held in various places in the hills besides New Delhi andDehra Dun.
On October 25, 2009 ,a round table was held on the relationship of the Kosi river with the life of the people of Almora. Says Ranu Bisht, a well-known publisher in the Doonvalley and a team member of PAHAR, “ There can be no better mirror of the Himalayas than this annual journal called PAHAR .Actually, it is not a journal as it runs into more than 300 pages. It is an annual archive between covers”, she adds.”It reflects the intense and multifaceted personality of
Shekhar Da”. Over the years , there have been special issues of PAHAR on the Himalaya in the 18th and 19th Centuries, on the freedom struggle in Uttarakhand and on travel writing. Other issues cover literature, geography, and ecology of theHimalaya.
In addition to these book-sized volumes, PAHAR has produced several topical pamphlets, among which is a masterly analysis of large dams by the Chipko leader Chandi Prasad Bhatt.
PAHAR also organizes the Askot-Arakot Abhiyan Yatra( in the month of March after every 10 years.This yatra is being organized since 1974 It extends over 1,100 km and covers Uttarakhand ,starting in the village of Askot on theNepal border in the east and concluding in the hamlet of Arakot, which touches Himachal Pradesh .
The first yatra took place in 1974, when the state of Uttarakhand did not exist. Four college students took part in the first "Askot-Arakat Abhiyan"; Kunwar Prasun, Pratap Shikhar, Shamsher Singh Bist and Shekhar Pathak.
All later participated in the Uttarakhand movement and have, in their own ways, stayed true to their youthful idealism. Prasun is a widely respected journalist; Shikhar, a well-known social worker; and Bist, a veteran activist of the various social movements
in the hills.Dr.Pathak is currently studying the different societies of mountain people, their culture and their language. He is focused on creating unity among the hill people so that equitable and sustainable development takes place in the hills.
“For long, the mountain people have faced alienation from policy makers for want of political intervention,” he says.
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