Ladakh is a remote mountainous area of Northern India that is located high up in the Himalayan Range. The area, known for its pristine beauty and challenging terrain, is marked by far-flung, sparsely populated villages—a majority of which have inadequate or no energy supply as the terrain makes drawing grid lines a daunting task.
This October, Earth Day Network Coordinator Prerna Raturi and other women trekkers of the Global Himalayan Expedition took up the challenge to gift solar lighting to the Markha monastery in Ladakh. Nestled on top of a hill, the sheer drop of the hillside rules out the set-up of a power grid. Although some houses around the monastery did have solar panels, these ran for very short spells after which the area was plunged into darkness for the rest of the long-drawn dark nights.
The group undertook a 10-day expedition, trekking to as high as 13,000 feet to transport the solar energy equipment and set it up in the Markha monastery. Prerna says that the locals were overjoyed when the new solar set-up of 250 Watts clicked on. This would power 10 light bulbs and a street lighting system.
Prerna says, “There were whoops and cheers on knowing that eight hours of light every day was now assured”, this means that even on days with overcast skies and rain, there would be light. Inside the monastery, the centuries-old frescoes were clearly visible, “It is now easier for the monks to read their books, pray, and chant”, says the head abbot. The street light on the hilltop floods the lanes and alleys in the village. “Early mornings, days of snow and sleet meant there was hardly any light in the monastery during the annual festival that draws in people from far and near”, says Sonam Norbu, area councillor. “Now with this light, the festival is going to be a grand success”, he said.
The monks thanked Prerna, and the organization she represented, Earth Day Network for this wonderful gift. This act of green was even more heartening as the expedition offset tonnes of carbon from the environment as the carbon-emitting fuel kerosene so far used in lamps in the monastery was now done away with.
A small celebrity in her own rights, Prerna uses every opportunity to speak about the work she does as a consultant for EDN and encourages the wide section of people she meets to come forward to support Earth Day’s 50th anniversary.
Here is a brief video of her expedition to install solar panels in the monastery:
Earth Day Network-India Consultant Prerna Raturi went on a 6 day expedition to Leh, India to install solar panels in Markha village through crowd sourcing. Altitude: Between 11,500 to 13,800Temperature: -6 degree C to 7 degree C A carbon-negative expedition: Leh-Skyu-Sara-Markha-Skyu-Leh. Two-hour journey by road between Leh and Skyu. Twenty km — 37,500 footsteps — between Skyu and MarkhaShe was part of a dream team of six to install a 250W solar panel, twenty 3W bulbs and a 18W street light, complete with holders, wiring and switches in a 600-year-old monastery, the most significant one in Markha Valley. Note: The flex banner will either be used as a tablecloth for Lamas, or serve as a sheet to dry grains.
Posted by Earth Day Network-India on Monday, October 14, 2019