BENGALURU: It took Ishita Seth one trip to Spiti to fall in love with the cold desert mountain valley. So much so that when she heard about the locals there being in need of help, the 24-year-old Bengaluru resident donated a part of her savings for the cause. Driven to do more, she has now kickstarted an initiative – Saving Spiti – to raise funds for the locals of Spiti Valley. “Spiti Ecosphere, which is an eco tour agency in Himachal Pradesh, brought out the news that the Spiti locals need help. I felt that since Spiti is cut off from the mainland, I needed to spread awareness and raise money. So, I tapped into my talent of drawing to help me do this,” says Seth, who is a communications researcher and freelance writer.
In order to raise funds, she is selling bookmarks, postcards and greeting cards, at prices that are between `100 and `300. All proceeds collected will be given to Spiti Ecosphere. In the three days since Seth started the initiative, she has already received orders worth `20,000. “I deeply feel that the people there deserve our support. Like Ladakh, it’s a cold desert, however, the terrain is tougher hence vegetation other than barley and potatoes is difficult and slow to grow,” explains Seth, who made her first trip to the place in 2016. Reaching Kaza, at 3,800 metres, she explains, takes a nine-hour journey from Manali and two days from Shimla (if there are no landslides or flooding of roads).
“Since the winter is almost upon us, it is impossible and life-threatening to reach Spiti, so the community stocks up for six months. However, Covid has made this stocking up more expensive and dangerous as they don’t have a lot of medical facilities. It’s important that we raise money and send it before winter closes access,” says Seth, who is hoping to raise a lakh by December end.
Though the main idea is to raise money, Seth also hopes to give back to the valley that spurred her love for travel. “The added benefit is that get to use my talent which was hidden away in a book till now,” she says of her designs, which take a week to make.
While Seth is involved in the printing, cutting and shipping her creations, her sister, Arkita Seth, has been keeping track of orders and logistics. Other friends like, Anshuman Gupta, Anisa Sheikh and Piya Doshi, also stepped in to aid in digitalising the products and creating marketing material for it. “You could say it’s a combined effort of multiple people who believe in the cause and want to raise money for the beautiful people of the mountains.”