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Hindu: A man to match his mountains

Shekhar Pathak has aptly been named `Encyclopaedia of the Himalaya’, so staggering is his knowledge of his region.

By Ramachandra Guha
The Hindu, Sunday, Aug 15, 2004

ON this, the 57th anniversary of Indian independence, I wish to write about the Indian of my acquaintance who best combines past with present. He is in his early fifties, his name is Shekhar Pathak, and he lives somewhere in the Himalaya 00 somewhere, but we do not know exactly where. For he is a gumakkad, a traveller and seeker who lives for and loves our beautiful hills — its people, its cultures, its rivers, its threatened landscape. Sometimes Shekhar Pathak is in the upper reaches of the Alakananda valley, tracing the ancient routes of the Bhotiya herders who once traded across the Himalaya with Tibet. At other times he is down in villages by the river-bed, recording the stories of women who participated in the Chipko Andolan. Occasionally he comes down to the burning plain, to speak to audiences in Delhi and Patna about the beauty and tragedy of the Himalaya. And once a year he parks for a few weeks in the hill town of Naini Tal, while he edits and prints a remarkable literary journal on the Himalaya, published in Hindi, and called, simply, Pahar. [more]