Scared with the inclement weather on mountains, shepherds with herds of sheep and goats have started moving towards the plains. Extremely cold temperature and snowfall has driven them out of the danger zones.
Himachal’s mountains have not seen proper sunlight for last two months. It’s raining intermittently on high altitude peaks every day and sometimes it’s snowing here too. Shepherds have chosen to move toward lower regions to avoid any untoward incident. Hundreds of herds with lakhs of sheep and goats from Kangra, Chamba, Sirmaur, Mandi and other plain areas go to the mountains in search of new meadows in onset of summers. They come back to the lower regions before beginning of winters.
A shepherd from Kangra district Kashmir Singh said high altitude mountains around Chamba, Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti have been experiencing early winter snowfall and most of the shepherds have already vacated mountainous meadows. “We are habitual of light snowfall and low temperature. But we keep a sharp look on weather conditions as regular three days or even more snowfall can prove fatal for animals without roof. It’s been raining for many days, so going back to plains is the wise decision,” he said.
Saying that to and fro road journey is the most annoying part of their season, another shepherd from Mandi, Balkrishan, said hundreds of shepherds with thousands of sheep and goats are plying the national highways of the state causing frequent traffic jams. He added, “This is the time to leave mountains. All shepherds have same routes and stoppages. We try to put at least one day gap between flocks so as to minimize the traffic congestions. Everybody abuses us during this time period but this is an integral part of our life.”
About 1,300 sheep and goats were killed after they were trapped between blizzards below Baralacha-la on June 2010. This time they don’t want to take stupid decision. They want to reach safe places before the situation gets worse. All shepherds with their herds leave the mountains by September 15 every year.