India is a land of diverse cultures, landscapes, and heritage. But some of the most beautiful and unique places in the country are facing the threat of extinction due to various factors such as climate change, urbanization, pollution, and human interference. Here are some of the endangered places in India that you should visit before they vanish forever.
Jaisalmer Fort: The living fort in peril
Jaisalmer Fort, also known as Sonar Quila or the Golden Fort, is one of the world’s largest living forts. It is located in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan and was built in the 12th century by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal. The fort houses several palaces, temples, havelis, and shops within its walls, and is home to about 4,000 people.
However, the fort is in a precarious condition due to overpopulation, modern plumbing, and water seepage. The excess water has weakened the foundation and structure of the fort, causing cracks and collapses. The fort is also vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. It has been listed as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world by the World Monuments Fund (WMF).
Lakshadweep Coral Reef: The colourful underwater paradise
Lakshadweep is a group of islands in the Arabian Sea, known for its pristine beaches, lagoons, and coral reefs. The coral reefs are home to a rich variety of marine life, including fish, turtles, dolphins, and sharks. They also provide protection and livelihood to the local people.
But the coral reefs are under severe stress due to various factors such as blast fishing, coral mining, tourism, and climate change. The rise in sea temperature and acidity has caused coral bleaching, which is the loss of colour and life of the corals. The coral reefs are also threatened by diseases, invasive species, and pollution. If the current trends continue, the coral reefs may disappear in the next few decades.
Balpakram Forest: The sacred land of the Garos
Balpakram National Park is a forested area in the Garo Hills of Meghalaya. It is considered as a sacred land by the Garo tribe, who believe that it is the abode of the spirits of their ancestors. The park is rich in biodiversity, with several endemic and endangered species of flora and fauna. It is also known for its natural wonders such as the Balpakram Canyon, the Matchu Cave, and the Areng Valley.
But the park is facing the danger of deforestation and degradation due to coal mining, hydroelectric projects, and encroachment. The mining activities have polluted the water sources, eroded the soil, and destroyed the habitat of the wildlife. The dams and reservoirs have submerged the forest land and displaced the local people. The park is also vulnerable to poaching, hunting, and illegal logging.
Majuli Island: The shrinking cultural hub
Majuli is the world’s largest river island, located in the Brahmaputra River in Assam. It is famous for its cultural and religious heritage, as it is the seat of the neo-Vaishnavite movement initiated by the saint Srimanta Sankardeva in the 15th century. The island has several satras or monasteries, where the monks practice and preserve the art, music, dance, and literature of the Vaishnavite tradition.
But the island is shrinking rapidly due to erosion and flooding caused by the Brahmaputra River. The island has lost more than half of its area in the last century, and is expected to disappear in the next 20 years. The erosion and flooding have also affected the lives and livelihoods of the people, as well as the cultural and ecological heritage of the island.
Sunderbans Mangroves: The home of the Royal Bengal Tigers
Sunderbans is a vast mangrove forest that spans across India and Bangladesh, at the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a biosphere reserve. It is the home of the Royal Bengal Tigers, as well as many other species of animals, birds, reptiles, and plants. It also supports the livelihood of millions of people who depend on fishing, honey collection, and ecotourism.
But the mangrove forest is in danger of being submerged underwater due to sea level rise, land subsidence, and coastal erosion. The climate change has also increased the frequency and intensity of cyclones, storms, and salinity intrusion, which have damaged the mangroves and the wildlife. The forest is also threatened by human activities such as poaching, logging, and development.