Himalaya, Not Himalayas

Soli S. Mehta

I Have been meaning to write about this for some time now, but a recent paragraph by Prof. Ram Rahul in his book “The Himalayan Borderland" places the subject in its proper prospective.

I quote :

"I have used the collective name Himalaya (Him, snow, plus alaya, home) in place of the commonly used Himalayas, which is a double plural and a grammatical monstrosity. Indeed, to use the word Himalayas is as absurd as referring to Englishmen as the Englishes or using the word alphabets for two or more letters and characters of an alphabet. Moreover, Himalayas jars on ears accustomed to the euphony of Sanskrit words and phrases. It is curious that it is only in English that the name suffers a corruption. In all the other languages of the world, including other Western languages like French and Russian, it is what we in India have called it from time immemorial."

The editor would welcome articles on subjects concerned with the Himalaya, Karakoram and the Hindu Kush other than just climbing—glaciology, botany, and a whole host of other sciences.

Some concern has belatedly been shown on the topic of environment and the devastating effects of man's encroachment into the wilderness—disappearing wild life, increase in pests, denudation of vegetation and the consequent erosion and effect on rain (weather) are a few of the results of so-called development. Yet conservation can be planned as easily as the "development" of the countryside. It is indeed ironic that in Persia (for instance) large areas of barren hillside have been planted with trees and the effect of this has been magical—the schemes have been planned and executed under Indian advisors and experts—and yet in India the reverse is allowed to be perpetrated -by a mixture of official indifference and political skullduggery, aided and abetted by ignorance and apathy on the part of those who should know better. Readers may find the beginning of a movement amongst the mountaineers, wild lifers and scientists who have recently started to make their small voices heard—some aspects were covered during the International Mountaineers Meet in Darjeeling during May 1973 and in a seminar in Delhi that followed soon after.

The present issue has been late in coming (again, I am afraid to say) but a long term action-plan has been set in motion to make its appearance not only more regular but to make the articles more readable and interesting. The advice of senior members of the Club has been taken in right earnest and steps are in hand to implement as many as possible of their valuable suggestions.

Soli S. Mehta



  1. Factual:
    1. Page 119—footnote—5 new Pence is equal to 1 old shilling and not 2 old shillings as stated.
    2. Page 122—footnote 2 should be omitted altogether— the author has written to say that the remark on poor attempts at farming do not relate to any particular year but to a general comparison with 'Western' farming.
    3. Page 358—Kun (23,250 ft. - 7,087 m.) was climbed by the 121 Mountain Brigade of the Kargil area and not by the N.D.A. Expedition from Khadakvasla.
    4. Page 359—Item 1 in Garhwal should read Black Peak (c. 21,000 ft.) instead of Banderpunch (20,720 ft.); Indian Military Academy instead of the Army Mountaineering Assoc. ; and Major Mallia instead of Gurdial Singh (who actually went as an adviser).
    5. Page 360—Srikanta (20,120 ft.-6,133 m.) —instead of 1st ascent, correct as attempted, reached about 5,400 m.
    6. Page 370—Under Club News—It has been stated 'the next windfall came from the IMF who offered us space and supervisory facilities at the Central Secretariate Library, New Delhi'. Actually the arrangements were made by the Education Ministry under whose control the Central Secretariate Library works. The error is regretted.
    7. The names of the Office Bearers and the Committee printed behind the title page needs correction as per pasteup-slip attached.
  2. Typographical:
    1. Page 103, third name - read Matsuura for Matsura
    2. Page 105; - read Matsuura for Matsura
    3. Page 106; last para - read Matsuura for Matsura
    4. Page 163; first line read way for day.
    5. Page 183/185 title read peak for face.
    6. Page 210/212 title read Rabbi for Rabb.
    7. Photo No. 3 facing page 216 read Khanni for Kanni.
    8. Page 308. Reference 3 (b) read French ascent of Shakhaur, 1969 instead of 1669.
    9. Page 343. Last but one para read revels for reveals.


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