“WOW, what a nice picture”.
This is the first response that comes to my mind when I see beautiful pictures of different landscapes and various aspects of the topographical image of Gojal. The digital photography skills of the talented photographers and use of advanced camera settings provide us the everlasting images of the region. The digital display of the mesmerizing nature makes it easy to see the beauties of nature in short span of time which was harder to grasp in travelling books of stories in older times. The display of mountains, changing weathers and seasons, Karakoram Highway memorials of visiting tourists and cultural events. Many people like to share the pictures on various social media platforms. The digital world makes it quick to spread to the other parts of the world and thus promotes the previously unknown region to the world of tourism. I feel proud to see these beautiful images of my region on media and appreciate the efforts of all kinds of contributing photographers in this regard.
As it’s said “there is always the other side of the picture” which is mostly not seen or kept hidden under the effect of the front view. Gojal valley is small populated region with vast mountainous terrain that is covered majorly by glaciers and high meadows. The region is prone to harsh winter season with lack of basic necessities of life. These critical situations are usually not observable during the comfortable summer days when most of the people visit this area. The aspects of daily life is harsh for the residents who have to survive all the seasons of the year. Now comes the other side of the pictures where the beautiful green villages are replaced by dry barren lands and the colorful trees are standing with their branches left alone to face the winter chills and roaring winds. The busy market places and hotels are either closed or randomly visited by the people. Long dark nights with power failure for many days and sometimes for weeks are common in winters which is “normal” even during summer season for the public. The energetic “Youth” has returned back to the warm cities for their studies and jobs while the true locals are left alone to face all the problems of winter season. The musical events are replaced with long periods of silence around the fire places. The undisposed solid waste is left over for the winds to spread over the beautiful landscape. Uncontrolled deforestation for making firewood is not in pictures and the next generation trees are not in people minds yet. Political talks take the arena of tea shops and community gatherings with no real visualization of the true picture. Children roam the empty fields and gardens all day playing their innocent games until next summer when it will be restricted again. And the authorities forget the region until the next family trip time.
The photographers have closed their cameras for the next beautiful season and went into hibernation for the current time of taking pictures.