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Book Review: The Himalayan desert, a mosaic of cultures

July 13, 2008

Press Trust of India
July 10, 2008
        
New Delhi, July 10 (PTI) The Great Himalayan Desert is one of the
harshest regions of the world as temperatures dip below minus
degrees, icy winds howl through valleys causing rock and ice falls,
illusory sounds draw the unwary to death and water is dearer than
life but braving these adversities there is a happy mix of Indian,
Tibetan, Chinese as well as Islamic and Buddhist cultures, says a new book.
"Due to the immense height and massive topography of the Himalayas, a
rain shadow zone is created to the west. Called the Great Himalayan
Desert, this rain shadow zone extends from the Tibetan plateau and
includes the Indian districts of Ladakh, Lahul, Kinnaur and Spiti as
well as the enclave of Mustang in western Nepal. This vast desert is
made up of barren rock and sand-covered valleys," writes Delhi
University teacher Nina Rao in "Himalayan Desert".

Though the Himalayas form a gigantic east-west arc, dividing the
Indian sub-continent from the high plateau of Central Asia, the
Himalayan desert was not intended as barrier between the lands which
have given the world some of the greatest civilisations, the coffee
table work, published by Roli Books, says.

The book studies most sensitively the physical, cultural and social
life in the Himalayan Desert through eloquent prose and breathtaking
photographs by Thomas L Kelly and Hashmat Singh among others. PTI
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