It’s a view that locals say they haven’t seen for years, but as parts of the world remain in lockdown, and air traffic remains at an all time low, a natural wonder has made a long awaited comeback in the sky.
Pollution levels across the globe seem to have come down, and for the first time in many years, Mt Everest has become visible once again from Kathmandu Valley, even though it is 200km away.
The stunning image taken by photographer Abhushan Gautam for Nepali Times, showed the stunning Kathmandu Valley during dusk. The image, which has gone viral, shows a clear view of the white Himalayan ranges in the background of the photograph with an arrow pointing out the famous peak.
Many said the photo showed how well nature was healing amid the pandemic, while others never thought they’d see this view again.
“At least there’s something positive coming out of this terrible pandemic,” one person wrote under the image.
“Was always fascinated by the view of the Himalayas from Kathmandu, but I have no recollection of actually seeing #Everest from the valley,” another added.
Earlier this month, some residents in northern India claimed the lockdown measures across the country gave locals a view many had not seen in at least 30 years.
During India’s 21-day lockdown, ground and air traffic entered a standstill, while most industries shut down. As a result, the country enjoyed significant improvement in air quality.
“We can see the snow-covered mountains clearly from our roofs,” Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal said in an interview with SBS.
“And not just that, stars are visible at night. I have never seen anything like this in recent times.”
According to the SBS, the air quality index in April improved by 33 per cent in the country due to a reduction in particle matter.
In India, the total number of COVID-19 cases has passed the 101,000 mark, with more than 3160 people recorded dead.
But while the environment is benefiting from the shutdown, the livelihood of the famed local sherpas in the Himalayan hill town of Khumjung are under threat.
At this time of year, the town should be bustling for Everest’s climbing season, which has been closed by the global shutdown of borders and air travel.
Nepal suspended permits for all mountain expeditions on March 12, effectively closing its peaks.
Sherpas and other guides, who are often the sole breadwinners for their families, face the desperate problem of not making an income this season.
Normally, climbing season spans from early April to the end of May and the tours will often feed a family for the whole year.
“We don’t go to the mountains because we want to, it is our only option for work,” one sherpa told AFP.
A record 885 people reached the Everest summit during last year’s spring season, 644 from the Nepal side.
But the coronavirus has left base camps deserted. Namche Bazaar, the last town before it, is also empty.
The guides, porters, cooks and other support staff have had to walk home down the slopes empty-handed.
“With the season cancelled, no one gets a job. From flights to shops to porters, there is no work,” he said.