Until 1934 the Nanda Devi Sanctuary had never been visited by human beings. Surrounded by 20,000 foot peaks which effectively seal off the mountain at their centre it is virtually impenetrable. But in 1934 Eric Shipton and Bill Tilman solved the problem in the first of their great Himalayan expeditions by forcing a way up the river gorge. The onset of war meant that the Sanctuary remained un-visited for many years and it was then closed to travellers for political reasons. After a brief period in the seventies when it was opened for expeditions the Indian Government again closed the Sanctuary. In 2000 the Sanctuary was entered for one single visit. Hugh Thomson was offered a place on this unique expedition led by Eric Shipton's son, John Shipton and the great Indian mountaineer, Colonel Kumar. This journey forms the basis of the book. Woven through it are all the amazing stories that surround the mountain - a powerful blend of myths and politics.
Hugh Thomson read English at Cambridge University and worked briefly as a lecturer at Bristol University before becoming a film-maker.His films for television include the BBC's Great Journeys series about Cortez's invasion of Mexico and a series on India presented by William Dalrymple.