Offering a fun, trivia-saturated peek into the…well, peaks and mountains of India, is this children’s book that takes us all (adults included!) vicariously on a memorable trek across the country’s eight major ranges.

Twenty-seven is the percentage of Earth that mountains roughly cover. 1.1 billion is just how many people call the mountains their home. But more importantly, 10 out of 14 mountains in the world that are over 8,000 meters tall are part of our very own Great Himalayan Range.

Looming Large!

In numbers, our mountains seem just as majestic and awe-inspiring as they very much are in reality. Some, like the majestic Aravallis, were created 3.2 billion years ago. While the relatively ‘young’ Satpuras came into being a mere 60 million years ago.

Speaking of which, did you know that the formation of mountains is called orogeny? Or that people who are obsessed with mountains are called orophiles? Well, that’s one more adjective to describe me, then!

It is factoids like these, and a whole load more that form the core of this super-fascinating book. Thus producing a definitive guide to introduce kids (and yes, even adults like this reviewer, alike!) to India’s best known mountain ranges. It is safe to say that author Mala Kumar, who has penned over 40 picture books for children, has her finger placed firmly on the pulse of what makes for an engrossing, age-agnostic read.

One Step at a Time

The Himalayas, the Trans-Himalayas, the Aravallis, the Vindhyas, the Satpuras, the North-East mountains, the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats. Each of India’s great mountain ranges get their very own place in the sun via this book. And rightly so.

This, as the reader finds out how each range was formed. What sort of topography and animal life it is an ecosystem for. And why one must be conscientious eco warriors and stealthy stewards of our environment by doing our bit to save Planet Earth from getting destroyed.

In light of this, we are taken to meet some truly amazing communities who live in harmony with nature even now. Like the Pardhis of Madhya Pradesh’s Panna National Park who pivoted from being ruthless tiger hunters to conservation ambassadors in a matter of years. Thanks to whose collective efforts, within a decade the number of tigers in Panna — nestled in the shadow of the Vindhyas — had gone up from 0 to an astounding 59.

Easy Does It

Banishing all fears that I had about children’s books of such a genre being either too technical and boring or patronisingly infantile, I found this book balancing that fine line perfectly.

The language of the narrative employed is both informative and authoritative. Never once making me feel as though what I had in front of me, was, for all other purposes, a children’s book. Almost every page is written in easy prose, with plenty of visual stimulation in the form of illustrations, pictures and diagrams. From brilliantly conceived ice stupas and battles in the snow to floating schools and Titanosaurus eggs, from wool gatherers and medicine makers, to the fastest diving bird…which incidentally, is the peregrine falcon, I’ll have you know now!

(A wearer of many hats in the food and travel space, Mumbai-based Raul Dias is a food-travel writer, a restaurant reviewer and a food consultant)

About the book

Hachette India

232 pages; Rs 499

Check out the book on Amazon here

Published on May 10, 2022