Vidyadutt Sharma, 83, stands in front of his blue-tinted two storey home, looking out into a 360 panorama of the Himalayan mountains. This is Moti Bagh, Sharma’s farm in Pauri district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand.
Tall, with an aquiline nose, white hair cropped close to his scalp and rugged features, weathered by work in the farm, Sharma in kurta pyjama and vest, points to the abandoned homes and locked gates. These are the ‘ghost villages’ where inhabitants have migrated permanently.
“The mountains are dying,” says Sharma, who worked for the state government and resigned when he was 28. There is a photo of him with a fierce beard, which he grew in protest to get high school status for the village school. Now, it is an Inter College, he says proudly.
Another family photo with his wife and four children, two daughters and two sons, one who died young. His wife died in 2000. “She kept us all together and whatever status I have today is because of her,” he says.