Thursday, November 03, 2005

Himalaya - Michael Palin

The HIMALAYA is the greatest mountain range on earth, a virtually unbroken wall of rock stretching 1800 miles from the borders of Afghanistan to southwest China. It remains the world's most majestic natural barrier, a magnificient wilderness that shapes the history and politics of Asia to this day.

Having risen to the challenge of seas, poles, dhows and deserts, the highest mountains on earth were a natural target for Michael Palin. In a journey rarely, if ever attempted before, Palin takes on the full length of the Himalaya, from the Pakistan-Afghan frontier through India, Nepal, Tibet and Yunnan in China, before re-crossing the mountains to Assam, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

The product of six months' hard travelling, Himalaya links together the Khyber Pass, the hidden valleys of the Hindukush, ancient cities like Peshawar and Lahore, the mighty peaks of K2, Annapurna and Everest, the bleak and barren plateau of Tibet, the gorges of the Yangtze, tribal lands of the Indo-Burmese border and the vast Bhrahmaputra delta in Bangladesh.

Facing altitudes as high as 17,500 feet at the Everest base camp, and treks through some of the world's deepest gorges, Palin and his team also passed through political flashpoints like Pakistan's remote northwest frontier, terrorist torn Kashmir and the mountains of Nagaland, only recently open to visitors. They had a brush with the Maoists while filming in Nepal and advice from the Dalai Lama while crossing into Tibet.

Himalaya is, for Palin, a true voyage of discovery. He had covered none of this ground before, let alone milked a yak, washed an elephant or swum at 14,000 feet.

This book, compiled from Palin's diaries, records the pleasure and pain of his most challenging journey so far and Basil Pao, the inspired photographer of Sahara, Full Circle and Pole to Pole, captures the sensational beauty of the finest mountain scenary in the world.

This is adventure at the very highest level.

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