Timeline

Since time immemorial, Nanda Devi presides over the Uttarakhand Himalayas as its patron goddess and highest peak. The Nanda Devi Raj Jat pilgrimage is conducted in her honour every 12 years. Nanda Devi remains off limits to travelers and climbers. The local Bhotiya inhabitants graze their goats and sheep throughout the region, while carrying on centuries-old trade relations with Tibet.

1883 First attempts to enter the Rishi Ganga valley at the base of the Nanda Devi peaks is turned back by the precipitous gorge at the basin’s entrance.
1934 British Montaineers Eric Shipton and H.W. Tilman discover a passage into the “inner sanctuary” of the Rishi basin.
1936 Tilman returns with colleague N.E. Odell to scale Nanda Devi for the first time.
1939 The entire Rishi basin is declared a game sanctuary.
1962 India-China War closes the border indefinitely, affecting trade and migration routes of the Bhotiya peoples. With increased road access and lands near the border appropriated by the military, locals turn to trekking and tourism for their livelihood.
1965-1968 Secret Indo-American mountaineering expeditions launched to plant a nuclear-powered listening device on Nanda Devi summit. First device lost.
1974 Protests against commercial clear felling in nearby Reni village launches the famous Chipko (hug the trees) movement. Fifty-year old Gaura Devi emerges as a feminist heroine for leading village women to defend their forest. Subsequently, women participate in overwhelming numbers in Chipko actions across Uttarakhand.
In the same year, Nanda Devi is opened to Western mountaineering, providing a short boom to the local economy. Nanda Devi becomes second most popular destination in the Himalayas next to Everest. Lata village at the western entrance becomes a major departure point for expeditions.
1976 Indo-American expedition led by Willi Unsoeld meets with tragedy as 22-year-old daughter, Nanda Devi, succumbs to gastrointestinal illness.
1977 First reports of ecological damage due to tourist trade prompt concern in environmental circles.
1982 Upon the recommendation of scientists and wildlife experts, Nanda Devi Sanctuary is upgraded to the level of a National Park. All treks, expeditions, and grazing are banned in the core area.
1988 Nanda Devi National Park forms the core area of the newly designated Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme launched to mitigate losses of surrounding communities owing to the closure of the core zone.
1991 Gaura Devi dies penniless after a lifetime of service to her community. Despite misfortune towards the end of her life, she becomes enshrined in the modern mythology of Uttarakhand.
1992 NDBR is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
1993 An army-led team removes 1,000 tonnes of rubbish from the reserve left behind by previous mountaineering expeditions.
1998 Growing resentment over forest restrictions leads to a massive entry into the core area in protest against the government’s indifference. This Jhapto Cheeno (swoop and grab) movement emerges from same villages that gave birth to the Chipko movement
2000 NDBR is included in the new state of “Uttaranchal” (Uttarakhand after 2007) that places hope in ecotourism’s potential as an economic pillar.
2001 May. State government allows the Indian Mountaineering Foundation to survey NDBR’s potential for high-end tourism. Long suffering local villages force the government to backtrack on its original plan and consider community rights first.
October. The Lata Village Council in concert with its citizens, village leadership, and allied grassroots organizations convene a workshop and issue a declaration for community-based ecotourism and biocultural persity conservation.
2002 New state government elected in Uttarakhand. Local MLA and tourism minister defeated on account of dissidence in his own party on the Nanda Devi issue.
2003 New pro-people NDBR director, in consultation with community groups and activists, sets a new policy allowing regulated tourism with guaranteed community participation.
2004 January. Initiation of annual Nanda Devi Women Festival.
March. Locals celebrate the 30th anniversary of Chipko. Forest department tries to disrupt the process.
June. Nanda Devi Campaign receives runner-up Conde Nast Ecotourism Award.
October. Bali Devi attends Nairobi UNEP conference.
2006 September. Forty youth supported by fundraising and a grant obtained through the Nanda Devi Campaign graduate from mountaineering training. Nanda Devi Inaugural Women’s Trek successfully staged.
2008 Mountain Shepherds officially incorporated as a private community-owned enterprise.