The Nanda Devi Project
Hugh Thomson’s THE WHITE ROCK: AN EXPLORATION OF INCA HEARTLAND was acclaimed as the “long-awaited, definitive travel book on Peru”.
Now he journeys to the Himalayas and the source of a legend – the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, which has been closed to travellers for many years.
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 is virtually impenetrable. The many early explorers who were drawn there by the idea of a “lost Eden” in the Himalaya could only gaze down with longing at the Sanctuary.
But then the “terrible twins” of pre-war moutaineering, Eric Shipton and Bill Tilman, 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, so the Indian Government finally decided to ban all visitors. The Sanctuary was only opened breifly again in 2000 for a special millenium expedition, of which Hugh Thomson was a part.
As he did in THE WHITE ROCK, Thomson weaves the story of his own journey together with those who have gone before him, giving a tantalising account of a place one explorer described as “more inaccessible than the North Pole”