• The retreat of glaciers and the decrease in winter snow cover are worrying effects of global warming in the Himalayas. Rapid urbanisation, anarchic industrialisation and over-exploitation of water resources are causing serious levels of pollution in Himalayan lakes and rivers. Our work cannot ignore these serious threats to the priceless treasure of Himalayan waters.

  • Water has always been an essential factor, be it when choosing where to locate a village or for the agricultural practices that determine survival. In recent decades, new challenges have emerged. Mountain people are no longer the only ones interested in Himalayan water. National and international interests make these issues more complex and conflicts are multiplying around this precious resource.

  • Studying Water is a meaningful way of understanding the geography of this huge chain, which features so many different living environments. Water is the key to understanding the relationships of these mountain people with their natural environment. It is the gateway to their social organisation and their mental, religious and imaginary worlds.

  • Our goals are to show the beauty of the world and to give a fresh view of this vital resource that is Water. Our aim is to use an aesthetic approach to help the reader become sensitive to the cause of Water. Our work is also homage to the extraordinary adaptability of humans, their courage and their determination to live in such hostile environments.

The four approaches

Taking water as a prism reveals how the Himalayan chain acts like a climatic border.

Towards the south, we find a slope which receives the monsoon rains. This is the green slope, the one where water is abundant; it is the slope of generous water.

Towards the north, on the other side of the chain, we find the dry slope, sheltered from the rains “behind” the highest peaks. Here, water is precious.

Looking through the prism of water also reveals the two ways in which men regard this resource.

On the one hand, it is sacred water. Of all the natural elements accessible to humans, it is the most revered. Water is present in all rites, all imaginations and all religions.

Humans’ other attitude is secular and pragmatic. Water is useful for survival, daily needs, and development. But it is also polluted, abused water. Water is at the centre of the greatest challenges faced today.