Footloose in the Himalaya

Footloose in the Himalaya

Product ID: 7650

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Author: Bill Aitken
Publisher: Permanent Black
Year: 2003
Language: English
Pages: 258
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8178240521


Having left his native Scotland in his twenties to circumnavigate the world, Aitken reached the Himalaya and stopped, enraptured. Bill Aitken’s intimate knowledge of the Himalaya, absorbed through a lifetime, makes this more a native’s account than a traveler's.

Away from over-used tourist trails and trekking routs, Bill Aitken wanders through the Himalaya.
His inclination is to enter disused colonial dak bungalows and ruined temples, meander in wild glades above the tree line carpeted with wild flowers, filling his water bottle from mountain springs and waterfalls.

He began wandering through these mountains then, and has only stopped on and off in the last forty years to do more mundane things-like traveling the Deccan on his motorbike or chasing the last steam locomotive in India. His journeys in the mountains have ranged from Arunachal to Kashmir, from the icy heights of Zanskar and the Nanda Devi to the small towns of Mussoorie and Ranikhet.

For Aitken, travel in the Himalaya is as much about the spirit as about landscapes, leeches, and aching knees. This sets him on a lively trail of holy men, both saintly and fraudulent, across all the pilgrim centers of the Himalaya. He travels in bulging buses to Rishikesh and Badrinath, Kedarnath and Gangotri. He seeks out tiny disused temples to little-known deities like Anasuiya, and discovers a village with temples dedicated to Duryodhana. He spends seven ascetic years in an ashram at Mirtola. All along he gropes for an answer to the question; what power does the Himalaya possess that has drawn generations of seekers to it?

If anything distinguishes Aitken from the regular travel writer, it is his inspired craziness. With his wide-ranging, sometimes eccentric, interests, this book is replete with literature, geology, philosophy, and folklore. There are detours into hill gossip, stories of local ghosts, accounts of local customs, and exasperated asides about political ineptitude.



The Call of the Mountains

Finding Your Level

A Bend in the Road

First Footsteps

Binsar and Beyond

Time by the Village Clock

Union of Continents and the Birth of Eternity

Burha Pinnath

Chhota Binsar

Uttar Brindaban

Bala Hissar

Gateway to God

Dev Bhumi

Ganga Maharani

The Best Little Trek

A Dare with Pokhu

Choor Chandni

A Night on the Tiles

A Clean Pair of Heels

The Void Manifest

The Coppery Kingdom

Wild Rivers and a Rainbow

The Greatest Show on Earth

Cliff-Hanging Gompa

The King Over the Water

The Taste of Vintage Chang

East of the Devi