Our Snowy Guardian
Outlook|September 16, 2019
From Petroglyphs To Myths, People To Climate Change—A Fitting History Of The Himalayas.
Anjana Basu

TIGERS with wings, man­eating birds and petrified sea shells on the heights of Everest— Step hen Alter has delved into the wilds of the Himalayas from top to bottom, covering every aspect. His is a natural history of the world’s greatest mountain range and the perfect extension of all his other mountain books. Living in Landour, at the hilltop town of the great mountains, Stephen Alter has dedicated much of his time to explor­ ing the hills and valleys of the Himalayas as they sprawl across the roof of the subcontinent.

His quest to find what lies beneath the myths and the geology takes him across Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, India and Tibet, the regions traversed by the mountains. At one point, he writes that Raja Himalaya was compared to a man in the ancient texts, bathing, spreading his shoulders and arms out on either side. The comparison seems quite fitting, because the Himalayas were pushed up as the earth’s crust moved so that the peaks have whorled rocks with spiral shell imprints.

Through eight sections, Alter covers the different aspects of the Himalayas, from the rocks with their petroglyphs to the clouds and the fauna. In the cen­tre is a clutch of photographs showing peaks at sunset and flowers and wildlife that provide a frame of reference.

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