The Shocking Truth That Media is Not Telling You about Shimla Floods:An Exclusive Conversation with SUMIT RAJ

by Suresh Nair 


Amidst the cacophony of sensationalized headlines and frantic news updates, there exist moments when the voice of reason, experience, and deep-rooted understanding emerges to illuminate the truth. In the heart of Shimla, a town nestled among the majestic Himalayas, such a voice resonates - that of Mr. Sumit Raj, the Founder of Shimla Walks. As the recent flood situation in Shimla took center stage in media narratives, Mr. Raj's insights cut through the noise, providing a profound understanding grounded in years of firsthand experience.

In a world where breaking news often vies for attention with clickbait and exaggeration, it is a rare privilege to engage in a conversation with someone who embodies authenticity, humility, and a genuine connection to the land they call home. Mr. Raj's words are not just a collection of information; they are a testament to a life lived in symbiotic harmony with the ever-evolving terrain of the Himalayas.

Join us as we step into Mr. Raj's world, where the mountains speak, the rivers run, and the trees whisper tales of resilience and adaptation. Through his eyes, we gain not only a clearer perspective of Shimla's recent challenges but also an invitation to explore the intertwined relationship between human existence and the magnificent landscape that cradles it.

With the eloquence of someone who has witnessed the ebb and flow of life in these mountains, Sumit Raj takes us on a journey of understanding. As you read his insights, you'll find a refreshing counterpoint to sensationalism, a reminder that nature's rhythm is both powerful and delicate, that resilience is forged through generations, and that the path to coexistence is paved with respect, wisdom, and a deep connection to the world around us.

In a world clamoring for attention, Mr. Raj's words remind us to listen - not just to the news, but to the wisdom of those who have immersed themselves in the very essence of the land. Join us as we delve into Shimla's recent situation through the eyes and words of a true local expert, whose insights serve as a bridge between the stories we hear and the truths that lie beneath.

The following is an interview conducted exclusively by Senior Sub Editor Suresh Nair of The Holistic Pine with Mr. Sumit Raj.

Sumit Ji,

Thank you so much for taking my call. We have all been reading and watching the coverage by mainstream media regarding the flood situation in Shimla.

As a prominent citizen of Shimla who knows the city well, your posts have indicated that the media has done a gross exaggeration of the situation.

We,at Holistic Pine would like to share your opinion regarding the situation  with our readers.

Dear Suresh,

Greetings from the hills!

Thanks for getting in touch. I am keen to answer all your questions:


So what is your opinion about the recent 'calamity' that has struck Shimla? Is it a calamity?:

First of all, it is not a calamity. It is just a natural incident that happens almost every year. Yes, I agree that this year it has happened slightly in a swollen mode. Landslides and tree uprooting are a part of the Himalayan region. Devdar and Pine trees do not have very deep roots. Generally, they grow straight and they are slander. And the soil in the Himalayas above 6000 feet is not very strong. Before saying anything, we need to understand that we are living in the foothills of the youngest mountains in the world. Himalaya has yet not reached even its teen age. It is still growing and the process is of millions of years. The sedimentary rock formation of the Himalayas is not strong enough to take pressure beyond its capacity and also because it is slate stone so it leaves its place easily, primarily due to seepage of water. I have travelled to the interior most parts of the Himalayas, not only in Himachal Pradesh but in Uttrakhand and in Ladakh regions also. In Shimla, and in the other parts of the hills we have been seeing these problems right from the beginning. In the past also the buildings were lost due to heavy rains. I remember in the nineties a building of a hotel tumbled down from the cliff and a number of people died. In 2007 the whole building of Koti railway station rolled down to the road. Koti is the third station after the toy train leaves Kalka in the foothills. The ridge of Shimla is sinking to its Northern slope. The Market in Lakkar Bazaar had to be moved to the other side of the road because the road was sinking. I remember in 2007 when I was returning from Spiti Valley and the torrential rains washed the entire road for 110 km along river Satluj. I reached home at 11.30 pm driving on the same road and the next morning at 5.30 got the news of the road got damaged. I have a number of similar incidents which I have gone through in my tourism life of thirty years. I don’t know how many times I got stuck in the interiors due to rain and snow because the roads got blocked. So, these slips are a part of our life in the hills and we have to accept it.


What are the reasons for the flood situation in Himachal?:

Again, I would say that floods come every year. Himalaya has its own natural drainage system which it has to follow. There are regular streams which keep flowing from the springs and brooks and there are perennial falls which sprout during the rains. The glaciers melt and form streams. All of them flow down and form rivulets. When they join each other, they form big rivers, and this way water from all the valleys either flows towards the Arabian Sea or towards the Bay of Bengal. During the monsoon end number of perennial falls sprout and join the regular streams which cause floods. The river beds in the hills are not very wide and so, during the monsoon when excess water comes and the rivers get swollen, the level goes higher. At some places where the river bed is wide, the water is shallow. Now the problem is that in the valleys like Manali people have built their residential places and their commercial places right at the banks of the river. The land next to the water is theirs but they extend and encroach their land towards the river bed and make extra rooms. So, the river gets angry and takes it back to its land. That is what they call a flood. If there are no houses along the river and still the water takes up the land nobody will call it a flood or a calamity. The whole blame goes to those who tried to encroach on the riverbed and suffered.  

The another is unplanned construction. Not only along the rivers but on the hilltops and slopes also there are houses next to each other. The Suez water goes down in the ground and makes it week. With time the erosion increases and the land adjusts itself.

The other type of flood is the cloud burst. Well, we never heard of cloud bursts when we were kids. It started happening now, in the last thirty years or so. I think it is because of the increasing volume of pollution in the air. Sometimes the cloud carrying extra water is not able to manage and bursts at one particular place. I am a live witness of the cloud burst in Ladakh in 2010. Ladakh is a desert area and it hardly rains there. But in 2010 there was a cloud burst in Ladakh and I was right there on a trekking tour with my German group. A 95-year-old man was surprised on seeing the amount of rain in Ladakh. He said, ‘It is due to increasing pollution’.


What is your view about the portrayal of the reasons for the calamities in Shimla by the media?:

Media is busy increasing its Television Rating. I don’t know who their researchers and advisors are, who give them the data and those anchors start shouting in front of the camera, from their air-conditioned studios. They have no idea about the natural system of the hills and the lifestyle of the people living in the hilly area. So they just need a topic to highlight with masala so that they have more viewers. A few days ago Shweta Singh from AjjTak was here and talked about the Chakki Mod landslide on Kalka Shimla Road. She had no idea why the debris is rolling down and who did the first survey of this hill and forbade to touch it ever.

The media people have to sit here for a few years and then report. Their local reporters and representatives are not educated enough to send the proper and positive report. They also make it hipper because they have to save their jobs.


Do you think the media has falsified facts?

Not really but they just talk what they hear from locals. It is very important to study the fact before you say anything.


Does it mean that the media exaggerates certain events?

Yes certainly. I have already said that in some matters they shout without any evidence. What was the need of highlighting this incident and making it a national issue? Shimla and many other parts of Himachal earn a lot of economy through tourism. If we spread negative news who would come here?


What would you like to tell our audience/readers?

Be positive and trust the almighty. Everything is in his hand and we are controlled remotely by our zodiac. Accept it and live your life King Size.  


When will life return to normalcy in Shimla?

Life is at its pace. These types of problems come every year during monsoon and snowfall. So life is normal and the town is going with time.

Your message to tourists around the world who are planning to visit Shimla in the future?

They are welcome anytime, at their convenience. Shimla is a very neat and clean town and it has certain norms that everyone has to follow. A few to name are as follows;

           i.      Driving in a single lane.

          ii.      Smoking is not allowed in the public area.

          iii.      No littering.

          iv.      Avoid Touts.

           v.      Park your car in a proper parking place.

          vi.      Book your accommodation well in advance.

            vii.      Toy Train journey is slow. Learn to enjoy it and you must do it once in your life.


Is Shimla a safe place to visit these days?

Absolutely. It is easily accessible. All Hotels are open. All sightseeing and Walking tours that we conduct at Shimla Walks, are operational. The situation is as normal as at any other time. Please check the weather online and plan accordingly.

Hope the above is enough. Please let me know in case you have any more questions.

 Thanks and God bless you.


Sumit Raj



Himalayan Walks


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