The hug of life

A look back at Sunderlal Bahuguna’s journey on the path of social activismand the beginnings of the Chipko movement.

Sunderlal Bahuguna with his wife, Vimla.


Sunderlal Bahuguna’s lifelong campaign was against deforestation in the Himalaya.

Sunderlal Bahuguna insisted on conserving the entire Himalayan landscape.

In 1978 and 1979, local people led by Sunderlal Bahuguna did not allow trees to be cut in Adwani (in picture), Badiyargarh, Kangad, Lasi and Khurat, part of the sustained agitation that led to the banning of commercial felling for 15 years in this part of the Himalaya.

Chandi Prasad Bhatt (right) and the folk singer Ghanshyam Sailani, who came up with the name Chipko for the movement through a song he wrote.

A hydroelectric project in Reni, Uttarakhand, one of many causing devastation across the hills.

Surviving members of the women of Reni village who stopped contractors from cutting down trees in the community forest, at the 30th anniversary of the Chipko movement in March 2004.

April 22, 1992: Sunderlal Bahuguna with a group of schoolboys participating in a cycle rally from Mahendergarh (Haryana) to Madhogarh (Uttar Pradesh).

Sunderlal Bahuguna addressing a gathering at Ambuthirtha in Shimoga district, Karnataka, on January 20, 2005, before flagging off a padayatra by environmental activists in the Sharavati river valley.

Tehri, September 1991: The Ganga Sagar to Gangotri cycle rally, which Sunderlal Bahuguna undertook to raise awareness about the protests against the construction of the Tehri dam on the Bhagirathi.

February 1974: On the Ram Jhula (iron suspension bridge) near Rishikesh, at the end of Sunderlal Bahuguna’s 120-day march to spread the message of the Chipko movement across Uttarakhand.

1957: Sunderlal Bahuguna and others outside the hut he built in Silyara village. The Parvatiya Navjeevan Mandal Ashram that started in the hut became the centre of Gandhiji’s principle of non-violence.

During his travels, Sunderlal Bahuguna came to understand the consequences of forest destruction and the benefits of conservation.

Circa March 1981: Sunderlal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt.

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Sunderlal Bahuguna with his wife, Vimla.
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