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The People

The people of the Himalayas are different to the Indians of the plains and are much simpler and conservative. They are very much in touch with the elements without being aware of it. They understand the changing of the seasons and patterns of nature as it forms the backbone of their lives. In winter the snows can leave houses stranded and wood and supplies must be gathered long in advance. The apple and charas crops must be carefully tended and the monsoon rains regularly wash out the roads. They know all the wild mushrooms and vegetables and are in excellent physical condition after a lifetime of climbing these slopes.

The Himalayan people are quite tribal and differences of caste and character vary greatly from village to village. They all dress alike though with the men in brown suits, jerkins and round caps and the women in countless earthy skirts and petticoats. They have their own animistic pantheon of local spirits and gods who have made peace with Hinduism and they are fiercely superstitious. We heard of one girl living at the top of a mountain who hung the skull of a cow on her house so that she’d be left in peace – everyone suspected witchcraft.