Illustrator Rohan Chakravarty’s visit to Himkhola, a remote village in Uttarakhand, was his first encounter of a community where birds outnumbered humans. He spotted over a thousand rock buntings, tiny brown birds that resemble sparrows, in a village of 250 residents. Himkhola finds a place on the map that Chakravarty took 90 days to create—an illustrated representation of the biodiversity of parts of northern India, Nepal, and the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China.
The map covers the Kailash Sacred Landscape, a term coined by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) for the region around Mount Kailash, located in TAR and revered by many religions. The towering, snow-capped mountain, is believed to be the abode of the god Shiva, and is popular with pilgrims.
Map by Rohan Chakravarty, courtesy ICIMOD
ICIMOD hopes the new map will help travellers appreciate the magnitude of its flora, fauna, and cultural heritage, and highlight areas important for conservation in India, Nepal, and TAR. The organisation works with remote mountain communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan, to help them adapt to the repercussions of globalisation and climate change.
As part of his research, Chakravarty embarked on a week-long trek along the western Indo-Nepal border, visiting villages like Nakot in Uttarakhand, where he saw bearded vultures roosting. His map is full of glorious details—bar-headed geese floating on TAR’s Lake Mansarovar, cheeky langurs in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in Uttarakhand, yellow-billed blue magpies in Nepal’s Simikot hills, and trekkers near Milarepa’s Rock in TAR.
Also read about Rohan Chakravarty’s misadventures as a lovesick birder in this illustrated story about tracking down the elusive hornbill. More here.
was formerly a member of National Geographic Traveller India's digital team. Since then, her words have featured in The Hindu, Mint Lounge, Roads & Kingdoms, The Goya Journal, and Condé Nast Traveller India. She tweets as @thefabmonteiro and is on Instagram @fabiolamonteiro.
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