New edition of M. S. Gill's ‘ Himalayan Wonderland' released
NEW DELHI: Union Sports Minister and seasoned administrator M. S. Gill stepped into the shoes of an author with the release of a new edition of his book “ Himalayan Wonderland”here on Friday.
The book is an account of his travels to the farthest reaches of the Himalayas -- into the Lahaul and Spiti valleys -- and captures the scenic beauty of the natural landscape as well as the social life and rich culture of its inhabitants. First published in 1970 with a foreword by Indira Gandhi, the new edition released by Penguin Books India is a revised one and includes a second foreword written by Sonia Gandhi.
The book release at Teen Murti Bhavan was followed by a panel discussion with the author. Eminent journalist Malvika Singh, reputed mountaineer Harish Kapadia, Outlookgroup Editor-in-Chief Vinod Mehta and Mr. Gill's friend and companion on these journeys Tshering Dorje were part of the panel.
They recounted their interactions with Mr. Gill and spoke of his versatile acumen as a mountaineer and nature enthusiast with a keen eye for flora and fauna and his interest in learning about local life and culture, all of which enriches his book that is part-memoir, part-travel book and part-anthropology.
“It's a delightful book,” said Ms. Singh, “it beckons even a non-mountain person like me.”
Mr. Gill's lifelong affair with the Lahaul-Spiti valleys began in the summer of 1962 when he was posted there as Deputy Commissioner. He spent a year there living and working with the people, and even after he was transferred he kept his relationship with these mountains alive and still visits them regularly.
The book captures the unique blend of the practice of administration and the joys of working with people amid the breathtaking beauty of these valleys. Illustrated with more than 40 photographs taken by Mr. Gill himself, “ Himalayan Wonderland”contains everything from information on trekking routes to detailed accounts of the flora and fauna of the place, enriched by the personal touch provided by Mr. Gill.
Mr. Gill recounted his own experiences in these valleys, from the joys of discovering a pair of wooden skis in the cottage where he was staying to his meeting with two British girls, one of whom would go on to be a pioneering Buddhist nun now better known as Tenzin Palmo. He also said that while the beauty of these serene valleys was unsurpassed, more needs to be done to develop the region and promote and protect its rich culture and heritage.
Lamenting the environmental degradation that has occurred over the years, Mr. Gill said: “The glaciers on the Chandra river have retreated significantly. We must try our best to preserve the beauty of the mountains.”