The residents of Goshal village in Himachal Pradesh tell a story about the two snow-capped peaks onto which the village looks out. The peak on the left, they say, was the home of the goddess Parvati, while the one on the right was the home of the god Shiva. After Parvati married Shiva, she shifted from her mountain to her husband’s. But before she did, she extracted a promise from him – that he would bless her home with nine feet of snow every year.
The legend was believed to explain Goshal’s history of heavy snowfall. “About 20 years ago, there used to be such heavy snowfall, that it would pile up till the roofs,” said Nain Chand, a resident of Goshal. “We used to walk from roof to roof!”
In recent years, however, the tale has not resonated as before, owing to dramatic declines in snowfall in the region. “Today, we don’t even receive half of nine feet,” Chand said.
Elora Chakraborty, a doctoral candidate in glacial geomorphology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who studies glaciers in Lahaul valley, explained that snowfall levels in the region were measured only in the town of Keylong, which is the sub-division headquarter. These levels, she added, showed dramatic variance…