Kempty falls, Mussoorie: A geological prodigy

Kempty falls Mussoorie is a geological complex lying about 10 kilometres from Mussoorie, Uttarakhand towards Yamuna river. The fusion of various geological, ecological, climatic and geographical factors together contribute towards the portrayal of this geologic marvel.The name Kempty was actually derived from assemblage of two words ‘Camp and Tea’. Once used to be a preferred campsite for imperial rulers for formal picnics and campouts, this place is now famous as a picnic spot and a renowned tourist destination. The perennial water streams emerge from forests in the higher mountains at an altitude of about 4500 feet, further splits into 40 feet cascade finally culminating into a pond adding charm to the site.

Kempty falls, Mussoorie

Apart from having touristic importance Kempty fall area has long drawn geological and botanical interests also. The geology of an area helps in understanding the ecological status of forests. Geology and soil are the controlling factors in the local distribution of vegetation. The Kempty Range of Mussoorie Forest Division lies at  30027’29” to 31003’24” N latitude and 78005’08” E longitude at an altitude of about 800 to 1900 msl. The forests under Mussoorie Forest Division have mainly four distinct plant communities namely Oak, Pine, Shisham, miscellaneous plant communities and open barren land in the area. Quercus leucotrichophora (Oak); Pinus roxburghii (Pine); Dalbergia sissoo (Shisham); miscellaneous forests (Bauhinia variegata, Acacia catechu, Cassia fistula, Lannea coromandelica, Terminalia belerica, etc.)  as the dominant species.

The relationship between geology, soil and vegetation has been important for natural woodland ecosystem. Geological processes that interact with climatic elements and living organisms produce the soil in which plants grow. The difference in the structure of plant communities seems to be primarily due to altitudinal variation and varying climatic changes. Limestone is the parent material which supports all the plant communities. Quartzite is the second most common parent material, Dolomite and Slate are the only parent material which occurred only in higher altitudes that supports Oak and Pine communities.The plants supported by porous rocks charged with nutrient gradually breaks up the parent rocks and organic matter soon accumulates. Due to high rate of erosion and solubility of carbonates, the softer rocks get eroded at high rates ultimately making the watercourse steeper resulting in the formation of waterfall.

Kempty falls, Mussoorie

The thick patches of forests around Kempty falls are home to many birds and animals. The white crested Kaleej Pheasant, partridge, Blue rock pigeon, Fire tailed sun bird, Whistling thrush, White Capped Water Redstart and Red Billed Blue Magpie are some of the birds found near Kempty falls area. Leopard sighting are also common in this area. Various species of butterflies also inhabit in the forests around.

But recently this area observed many landslide hazards and flash floods. Geologists have found that dominant part of the area falls under very high and high landslide susceptible in the settlement area. As the region is covered by highly fractured Krol limestone with slope more than 60 degrees, the region is highly susceptible for landslides. The climate change is slowly impacting the rainfall pattern in the area. With erratic and high rainfalls the weathering and erosional forces cause mass wasting and surface runoff which slowly intercalates with the underneath carbonates resulting in massive landslides and flash floods. The year 2018 had massive impact on the tourists as well as the local inhabitants around Kempty falls area and many lives had to face the wrath of nature.

Much has changed around Kempty fall since I last visited in the fall of 2012. During my recent visit to the site I observed clusters of new shops, tea stalls, lodges in full bloom to cater the ever-increasing influx of tourists.  Alongwith that elevated solid  waste  generation, littering and ubiquitous dumping of solid waste materials and improper waste management practices. Besides, traffic congestion the air pollution levels also get affected during peak tourist hours. The term ‘responsible tourism’ holds  significant   implications   in   the present context  of  increasing  environmental  concerns. The world is becoming smaller with meagre wilderness. Responsible tourism is a way which can minimise the negative impact  of travel on resources, environment and local communities.

The present Covid situation has raised awareness of the importance of a healthy environment. A healthy environment is also directly connected tourism sector through tourism revenue. Nature-based solutions have potential to achieve sustainability by mitigating the environmental impacts of tourism activity for better management of natural resources such as water, both in urban and natural environments. Supporting such conservation efforts can enable a greener recovery.

Thank you!!


Picture courtesy
copyright @sumanmitraphotography

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Published by Dr. Chandrima Debi

Hi, I am Chandrima Debi. I am a Doctorate in Forestry and an independent researcher. Ever since childhood, I experienced deep-rooted connection with nature, forest and wildlife. I have written various research articles, case studies based on geology, forests, medicinal plants, biodiversity and conservation. Through this blog I share my experiences with nature and forests around us and aid towards the protection and conservation of biodiversity, wildlife and the values associated.

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