Living in the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal not only means experiencing life in a natural environment, but also being closely exposed to the elements. Here very basic things matter, and strong winds or the lack of water can become a serious problem. While modern amenities are missing, living so connected to the land actually ensures that everything is organic, it comes from the earth and eventually goes back to it. But surviving under these harsh conditions also depends on having a good spirit and maintaining a strong sense of faith. And while the elements need to be dealt with, they are also deeply appreciated. If one were to be missing, life would not be able to flourish…
The mountains of Nepal can be a tough place to be in. The location means that it gets really hot during the day, but the windy air is always freezing cold. In some areas the winds get really strong, making walking between villages only possible in the morning. During the afternoon hours, air-borne sand is blasted at everyone who tries to brave this free and fast-moving element. But the wind also does something good. It not only carries the much-needed oxygen for all living beings to breathe, it also lifts the Buddhist prayers from the waving flags and spreads their message into the air…
No life is possible without water. This becomes especially obvious in the high altitude desert of Nepal, where almost nothing grows naturally. Only during the monsoon season, or when the snow melts, the entire valley gets flooded and becomes a huge riverbed. At other times, this constantly flowing element builds little organic-looking streams that cover the plains like the branches of a tree. Right there is where people decided to settle and build small villages with irrigated fields that look like green oases in the middle of the otherwise arid landscape. All of this is only possible because of the presence of water…
There is always immense beauty in simplicity. And a lifestyle as basic and connected to the earth as people still live in northern Nepal is extremely fascinating to foreign eyes. While westerners nowadays struggle to lead a more sustainable life and reduce their carbon footprint, here everything is as natural as it gets. All building materials come from the earth, with the result that the solid-looking adobe structures blend in perfectly with their natural environment. These houses not only provide shelter from the other elements, but eventually they will return naturally to where they came from, mother earth…
Under harsh conditions people need hope. As no actual security exists when living in remote locations like the mountains of Nepal, the power of faith becomes really important. Buddhism fills this role. Like a low burning fire inside every person, Buddhism provides the warmth and comfort that people need to survive. But this fire not only smelters, it actually ignites into the full flames of passion in religious practice. The most infectious of these practices is probably the spinning of the prayer wheels since, with every rattling turn, another piece of wood is seemingly added to the internal fire…
– for enlarged views please click on the photos –
Travel Photoblogging Challenge
This post is part of the “Explore the Elements – Travel Photoblogging Challenge”, in which each element, air, water, earth and fire, need to be represented with an individual image. But rather than showing four random images, it was my personal choice to pick photos of the same area, in this case the Himalayan region of Nepal, and explore the elements within this specific context. Instead of actually submitting photos that tried to capture each element, it seemed more interesting to try to understand their significance in the lives and experiences of the people who inhabit the area.
The photo challenge ends on the March 16, 2015. All terms and conditions can be found here.
Thank you very much to Jon Look from Life Part 2 for nominating me to participate in this challenge. As everyone needs to nominate five bloggers, these are my choices:
Have you been to the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal and experienced the elements there?