International Mountains Day

Today is International Mountains Day!

While this day is celebrated and observed for awareness of how mountains impact our environment, and the ecosystem on and around it, for me, there is so much more about mountains.

Mountains and Water

Mountains capture water from the atmosphere and store it as snow and ice that water flows into streams and rivers throughout the year. Most of the world’s population depends on mountains for their drinking water and or hydroelectric power.

Rakaposhi, Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan
Rakaposhi in its full might, Gilgit Baltistan – Pakistan

Deforestation and Climate Change

Pakistan is home to 8 out of 10 world’s highest peaks. This includes k2 (Godwin Austin), Nanga Parbat, and Rakaposhi as well. Globally 1 out of 8 people live in the mountains, the rest visit them every year for tourism purposes, this leads to deforestation to make way for roads, infrastructures such as hotels, and other development works. While tourism is all good it puts immense pressure on the region and destroys its ecosystem and habitats.

Passu Cones, Hunza - Pakistan
Passu Cones, Gojal Hunza – Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan
Nanga Parbat, aka The German Killer - Northern Pakistan
Nanga Parbat aka The German Killer, Northern Pakistan

Mountains and Me

I have spent most of my life in the middle east, where we have mountains too but not where I lived (Doha, Qatar). Though my roots and ancestors came from the heart of the Mountains (Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).

My Father spent most of his childhood in this harsh region, I guess that’s why I find my true compass there too. I have always seen mountains as something of a mystery, their grandeur and sheer size of it inspire me, take my imagination to new heights, whenever I go on a trek or hike I come back afresh with new perspectives and ideas.

Arshad Hussain Mediating at Hira Cave - Makkah, KSA | Arshad Hussain Mediating at Hira Cave – Makkah, KSA

Maybe that’s why it has such significance in almost all the religions of the world, The Holy Prophet (PBUH) received the first revelation in Hira Cave, which is atop Mount Noor (Jabal al Noor) in the outskirts of Makkah.

Muskhpuri Peak in Winters, Ayubia - KPK, Pakistan | Mushkpuri Peak, Ayubia – KPK, Pakistan

The Sufis and Saints went there for mediating and zikar too, probably because the grandeur and size of the mountains uplifted their souls for connecting to the higher and divine being.

No matter where I live or where I go, there will always be a special place for mountains in my heart.

P.S. I have posted some images before as well from my trip to Skardu, and I wrote some lines last year as well, Have a look.