The pilgrim trail

Literature on Kailash -- the mountain's complete guide
The Sacred Mountain
The Sacred Mountain

Literature on Kailash &mdash especially books like The Sacred Mountain by John Snelling, which comes close to its claim of being the mountain&rsquos complete guide &mdash is always welcome in India. Sadly, however, this first Indian edition published by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers is a camera copy (including printing glitches) of the second UK edition of 1990.

Inevitably, much of the 16-year-old information is irrelevant or outdated.

Still, the accounts of the travellers from 1715 onwards, which make up more than half the book&rsquos 450-odd pages, are brilliant evergreen stuff. Snelling has a special way of compressing voluminous travelogues into extremely readable capsules, that help paint a vivid overview of the intrigue and thrill associated with travel in Tibet. He does, though, go overboard in trying to include every visitor who&rsquos account he has been able to lay his hands on

The balance of the book examines the &lsquo...spiritual and mythological associations [of Kailash]... together with their historical, religious, political and geographical contexts&rsquo. Snelling&rsquos keen interest in eastern philosophy underpins the insight and sensitivity with which he handles these areas.

The book&rsquos visual appeal is one of its strong points a superb collection of colour pictures takes the reader on a stunning visual journey complemented by rare old images.

In the final analysis I would place this book on my shelf alongside other major Kailash reads, for its layered approach that appeals both to adventure travellers, and to those on another, more spiritual journey.

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