South Asia is home to more than 25% of the world's population; all of the countries in this region such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal are heavily populated. Out of that large population, a substantial number of people live in a region known as the Ganga Brahmaputra Meghna basin, the most populated river basin in the world. Ganga Brahmaputra and Meghna, all three rivers originate in the Himalayas.
For as long as I remember I was always in love with mountains. When I was 10-12 years old, my father took us to Deoghar, a tiny hill station in present-day Jharkhand, it is a Plateau with many small hills covered under thick forests. This was the first time I ever saw a mountain and without the supervision of elders, I climbed a hill, which was a few hundred meters high and without any clear path to the top. From the top, the world looks different, and I felt a sense of solitude and freedom.
But it takes another few years to truly fall in love with the mountains. When I visited the Himalayas for the first time, I chose the traditional place of all the Bangalees to start their journey in the world's largest mountain range, Darjeeling, the queen of the Hills.
Films were precious for me and I had only one roll of film for these ten days of the trip. I used it very carefully, shooting only a few snaps a day with a borrowed camera and after a lot of consideration about composition with my limited knowledge of photography. But the heartbreaking thing was that the camera was not in perfect working condition and the roll was damaged inside, which I eventually found out after it was developed.
Maybe the roll was damaged but that trip to the Himalayas was a defining moment for me. After many years after that trip, when I started working after my graduation, earning some money of my own, I brought my first camera and was able to make a trip to many places in the Indian Himalayas, my love for the mountain revived.
Since then I travelled to various parts of the Indian Himalayas every time I got time and opportunity. Photography worked as a catalyst for the whole process, it is the driving force behind all this wandering.
Over the years I have witnessed a change in travelling in the Himalayas, with the explosion of social media in the last decades, the influx of tourists increased and it has created enormous pressure on the very fragile ecosystem of the mountains. Due to increasing population, roads, bridges and other constructions mushroomed the whole Himalayas. Moreover, because of global warming, the Himalayas glaciers are melting faster than ever.
All these things are shaping our future direction and purpose of photography. Some years ago, our aim to take photos in the Himalayas was to capture the beauty and grandeur of the mountains. But I don't believe that anymore. Now our purpose of photography should be directed to the more important issue of climate change and its effect on the Himalayan ecosystem, along with creating awareness among the people about the danger we are facing because of this.
As this is going to affect all of us in South Asia, even people living in faraway places like coastal Bangladesh are also going to suffer from the rapid meltdown of the Himalayan glaciers. Because this will increase the volatility in the river systems that hold this region.