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Nagadhiraj  Himalaya   A Review  of  the  Indian  Himalayan         
                                                                       by Harish Kapadia

About the auther:- Mr Harish Kapadia is a veteran Mountaineer & writer.This was one of the earliest Himalyan travel recorded in the Indian range.This article is based on 40 years of personal mountaineering experience of the auther in the indian Himalayan. Courtesy:- Yojana

                                                                                                               Though a lot has been done in the Indian Himalaya in the last Millennium, a lot remains to be done. After all what is a 100 years for the Nagadhiraj Himalaya, standing there for centuries. We must Pledge to know more about the range and protect it.

                                                                                                                                                      " In the northern direction there is a noble souled mountain called the Himalaya He is Nagadhiraj, the Lord of all mountains, with his two  extending arms fathoming the eastern and western oceans He stands unsurpassed as the measuring rod of the earth ''                                                                    Kalidas   in   Kumarsambhava


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INDIANS have always looked up to the Himalaya as the abode of snow, which literally this name means. Like the above quote by the famous Indian bard, since time immemorial the Himalayan range has been called the jewel of the world. There are Hindu shrines located here and they are visited by many. In the Hindu scriptures spiritual tranquility is always associated with these snowy mountains. The Indian Guru,  Adi Shankrachaya, is recorded to have crossed Mana Pass into from Badrinath to Guge district in Tibet in A.D. 800. From Europe the Jesuit fathers have left a long record of crossing the Mana Pass into Tibet. Father Antonio de Andrade and Brother Manuel Marques crossed this pass to Guge in Tsaparang Province in Tibet in 1624.

Many local villagers crossed the range for trade. But the exploration and climbing as we know today started with the arrival of the British. It was out of the necessities of the 'Great Game' in the Karakoram that explorers were first sent into the range. Then came the soldiers, the most famous being the Francis  Younghusband 's expedition across Sikkim to reach Lhasa. They were followed by the surveyors as the Survey of India under the British officers systematically drew maps of each area and this resulted in the discovery of the highest peak in the world  Everest. Finally came the climbers. All the pre-war Everest expeditions, attempting the peak from the north passed through Sikkim and climbed several peaks.

There are no 'Everests' to be climbed in the Indian Himalaya, for the only 8OOO meter in India is the Kanchenjunga. But if one is interested in many smaller peaks, of course many above 7000 m, out of the ordinary, difficult routes, historical perspectives and many unexplored valley, then the Indian Himalaya will be attractive. This article Covers the brief history of the Indian Himalayan range in last 100 years as seen by me and based on my travels.

The Range

The Himalayan chain is spread across the Asian continent, going southeast to northwest. Generally the Himalaya, Karakoram and the Hindu Kush are talked about as part of one chain. When we talk of the 'Indian Himalaya' we are talking of that part of the Himalayan chain which falls within Indian territory. Starting from the east, the Indian Himalaya originate from a knot between Burma-China and India, from where the Brahmaputra river enters Arunachal Pradesh. The chain   continues till the borders of Bhutan. Beyond that we have Sikkim, which is a full-fledged state of India since 1974. It has many peaks, including the world's third highest peak Kanchenjunga. The Himalayan ranges east of this are in the Nepalese area till we reach the borders of Kumaon and Garhwal. From here without a break the Indian Himalayan chain continues-Kinnaur, Spiti, Ladakh and lastly East Karakoram. The areas further west are controlled by Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Two officers were taking a stroll on the Mall below the Jakhoo hill in Shimla. From their casual talk, to help the visiting British mountaineers, the Himalayan Club was formed in 1928. Its main role was to assist mountaineering expeditions coming to climb in India. This was the beginning of the influx of more explorers and climbers. Some of the better- known early expeditions to this range were that of Hugh Ruttledge, which explored Kumaon. In 1905 and 1907 Arnold Mumm and Charles Bruce spent five months in Garhwal and climbed several peaks. Trisul, 7120 m was climbed in 1907 by Dr Longstaff and it remained the highest climbed peak in the world for several years. Frank Smythe reached the summit of Kamet in 1931 to break the record. This was soon overtaken by the climb of Nanda Devi in 1936.

After the War and Indian independence in 1947, there were serious doubts whether the sport would continue to flourish. Some of the people who 'stayed on', like Jack Gibson and John Martyn enthused Indians into climbing and the sport continued. One of their students, Gurdial Singh climbed Trisul in 1951, the first peak to be climbed by an Indian on an Indian expedition. In 1953 Everest was climbed and one of the summiteers, Tenzing was an Indian. To celebrate this event a mountaineering institute was established in Darjeeling which has trained many Indians. Now atleast three such institutes operate to full capacity and this has contributed to the growth of the sport. In 1958 the Indian Mountaineering Foundation was born and was recognized by the government to deal with the sport. With its base of Government bureaucrats and other officers it set up procedures and for 23 years was managed by H.C. Sarin. He was responsible for the growth of the Indian mountaineering achieved during these years. Today a fine building and a strong foundation of the IMF stands as testimony to his efforts.  

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