Door to Hell

By Anupum Pant

For more than 40 years now, a 250 feet hole in the ground in Turkmenistan has remained glowing with a yellow-orange flame. They call it the door to hell.

It started in the year 1971 when soviet scientists set up a rig to extract natural gas at that place, and the rig collapsed. When that happened, the scientists feared the spread of huge amounts of methane gas, and set the place on fire. They estimated that the fire would go out in a couple of hours. But it lasted, and has lasted for more than 40 years. The fire in it is still burning strong.

The hole is in a very isolated place and it’s hard to find directions to reach it. It is still a tourist place and locals do know how to reach it.

The huge blasts of hot air, and the pungent gases that emanate from the pit make it hard to stand at the edge, but mesmerized by its view people still do it.

The Highest Unclimbed Mountain

By Anupum Pant

Gangkhar Puensum, meaning three mountain siblings, is the tallest mountain in Bhutan with an elevation of 7,570 meters. Since the 80s several attempts have been made to climb this mountain – a part of which lies in Bhutan and the other part in Tibet. None of the attempts have ever been successful.

However in the year 1999, a team of climbers from Japan, after a protracted attempt to get a permit, were able to reach the top of one of the three peaks – Liankang Kangri – from the Chinese side of the mountain. Later, protests from local people in Bhutan made them stop.

So technically, the highest peak has never been climbed by anyone till date. Gangkhar Puensum remains the highest unclimbed mountain. The reason mostly is because obtaining a permit to climb it is almost impossible. It is prohibited by the government of Bhutan.

The prohibition by the government has mostly to do with the lack of rescue services at that place, and due to the local belief which considers the peak sacred – a home to holy spirits.

Gangkhar Puensum is certainly one of the uncharted mysterious places in the world where no one has gone and probably never will.

An 8000 km Long African Man-Made Forest

By Anupum Pant

The only desert larger than Sahara is a whole continent which is a desert – Antarctica. But Antarctica, unlike Africa’s desert, isn’t becoming bigger every year. It’s only the Sahara among these two which grows as time passes.

So, the expanding Sahara desert poses a great problem for the future generations of the southern nations (Sahel region) towards which it comes creeping. At least the ones just south of the Sahara desert, as the UN suggests, must be ready to face a hard life in the future.

Unless, an extremely ambitious and selfless plan being pushed for the good life of future generations, by a group of eleven African nations becomes a success.

The eleven nations across the African continent which stand to face the peril with a solid plan in place are Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.

They have all come together and decided to create a massive Great Green Wall of Africa – a 15 km (9 miles) wide wall of man-made forest home to millions of drought resistant trees, stretching across the continent for about 8000 km (~5000 miles)! If complete, this is what it will look like.

The great green wall of africa

Since 2008, after spending about 6 million dollars, the enterprising leaders of Senegal, were able to finish a 330 mile long man-made forest. However in other nations where “short-termism” (to feed the present families) has taken priority over long-term good (of the future generations), the project faces a problem. Other problems like rebel groups, drought and famine doesn’t let this happen very easily.

The world bank has pledged 2 billion dollars for this massive project. If this great African dream does succeed, it will carry a huge lesson for all humans across the world to learn.

I earnestly hope it does succeed.

via [AtlasObscura]