Stephen Alter has given back to these mountains as much as they have given him in his lifetime, by writing an immense biography of this 2500 km long, 9 km high, shining mountain range… I would (if I could!) make this book mandatory reading for anyone planning to visit the Himalaya. (There are stupendous pictures too!) Hopefully, it will help you stop demanding wifi and cable TV from your hotel and make you go out to the window, and stand and stare.
Wild Himalaya is testimony to the deep, almost encyclopaedic, familiarity that Stephen Alter possesses about the world’s greatest mountain range. But more than that, the passion and empathy with which he relates to his subject makes this book eminently readable. There is a profound mes- sage, which shines through the pages, a message that is warning and hope in equal measure.
Alter traverses (sometimes physically, sometimes through lore) the length and breadth of the Himalaya, from Nanga Parbat in Kashmir in the west to Bomphu, a remote village in Arunachal Pradesh, in the east. We see him travelling not just through the Himalayan States of India but also Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan. And then he keeps returning to the past to bring back naturalists, geologists, mountaineers, hunters, cartographers, holy men, writers, all of whom the mighty mountains have touched…Wild Himalaya holds written records and lived experience of the mountains in perfect balance.
From petroglyphs to myths, people to climate change, a fitting history of the Himalayas…Tigers with wings, man-eating birds and petrified sea shells on the heights of Everest—Stephen 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 exploring the hills and valleys of the Himalayas as they sprawl across the roof of the subcontinent.
A highly recommended read. Especially for those who love mountain magic.
A justifiably long ode to the greatest mountain range of the world, which also hosts a vast diversity of life and lifestyles.
A monumental and remarkable piece of work that traverses the mountains across Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and China. Says Stephen Alter who has spent most of his life in the Himalayas: “I wanted to tell the life story of the mountains.” And he has, elegantly braiding together on-the-ground reports with a deep understanding and study of the history, science, geology, environment, flora, fauna, myth, folklore, spirituality, climate, and people of the region.