Book about Human History of Himalaya

Swapna Mirashi

Himalaya is full of intrigue, contest and lure to the countries it passes, to the avid mountaineers, to spiritual travelers. Since a long time ago it has also been a trading hub.

Around the Himalaya lie world’s few of the most populous countries and ancient civilizations. Multiple rivers originate from the mountain ranges and nurture the soils, vegetation and population in India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Tibet…

“(Himalaya have) performed two contrasting roles: as a place of spiritual retreat and separation from the world, but also a meeting ground where radically different cultures met and traded on a long established network of high mountain trails.”

Few interesting facts:

  • The now closed off Tibet had been a cosmopolitan trading hub for hundreds of years. In 1600s, musk – a lucrative perfume ingredient- that came from glandular secretions of Tibetan musk deer was discovered by an Armenian merchant.
  • The tallest mountain in the Himalaya was measured around 1856 by a British surveyor, George Everest (pronounced Eve-rest) sent by the East India Company.
  • Around the same time the East India Company sent tea thieves to China posing as merchants. They sneaked out thousands of tea plants to grow on the other side of Himalaya – starting the Indian tea industry.

In his book – Himalaya: A Human History – Ed Douglas explores the history of the mighty mountains from the time they were born till date.