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Nanda Devi: A Journey to the Last Sanctuary

The fascinating story of a journey to the source of a legend – the Nanda Devi Sanctuary – which has been described by explorers as ‘more inaccessible than the North Pole’.

Until 1934 the hidden valley of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, on the border between India and Tibet, had never been entered by human beings. Surrounded by 20,000-foot peaks, which effectively seal off Mt Nanda Devi at their centre, it remains virtually impenetrable even today.

Many early explorers, drawn there by the idea of a ‘lost Eden’ in the Himalaya, could only gaze with longing at the Sanctuary – until the ‘terrible-twins’ of pre-Second World War mountaineering, Eric Shipton and Bill Tillman, solved the problem by forcing an entrance up a precipitous river gorge. Subsequent expeditions were beset by tragedy and concern that the fragile ecology of the Sanctuary might be damaged; until, for curious reasons involving the CIA- – which the first edition of this book revealed – the Indian government finally decided to ban all visitors. The Sanctuary was briefly reopened in 2000 for a special millennium expedition, of which Hugh Thomson was a part.

Thomson weaves the story of this last journey to the Sanctuary together with those who have gone before him, and gives a tantalizing account of a place described by explorers as ‘more inaccessible than the North Pole’.

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The fascinating story of a journey to the source of a legend – the Nanda Devi Sanctuary – which has been described by explorers as ‘more inaccessible than the North Pole’.

Until 1934 the hidden valley of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, on the border between India and Tibet, had never been entered by human beings. Surrounded by 20,000-foot peaks, which effectively seal off Mt Nanda Devi at their centre, it remains virtually impenetrable even today.

Many early explorers, drawn there by the idea of a ‘lost Eden’ in the Himalaya, could only gaze with longing at the Sanctuary – until the ‘terrible-twins’ of pre-Second World War mountaineering, Eric Shipton and Bill Tillman, solved the problem by forcing an entrance up a precipitous river gorge. Subsequent expeditions were beset by tragedy and concern that the fragile ecology of the Sanctuary might be damaged; until, for curious reasons involving the CIA- – which the first edition of this book revealed – the Indian government finally decided to ban all visitors. The Sanctuary was briefly reopened in 2000 for a special millennium expedition, of which Hugh Thomson was a part.

Thomson weaves the story of this last journey to the Sanctuary together with those who have gone before him, and gives a tantalizing account of a place described by explorers as ‘more inaccessible than the North Pole’.

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Hachette India

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