‘Here I feel that I have come to the place that I needed most in all the world… The hills all round seem to me like an emerald vessel brimming over with peace and sunshine. The solitude is like a flower spreading its petals of beauty and keeping its honey of wisdom at the core of its heart. My life is full.’—Rabindranath Tagore
Millions travel to the hills from the dusty plains—seeking release from heat and tedium, from afflictions of the body and the mind; or seeking, simply, a view of snow-capped mountains lit by the rising sun. And millions also live in these high places, residents who sometimes leave, but keep returning, for the hills are homes like no other.
‘What is it about the hills that draws us to them again and again?’ asks one of the editors of this collection. In these pages, over forty writers—from a daughter of the Tagore family and a British colonial officer in the 19th century, to a young poet and an Adivasi daily-wage worker in the 21st century—show us what the many reasons could be: Green hillsides glowing in the sun; the scent of pine and mist; the wind soughing in the deodars; the song of the whistling thrush; a ritual of worship; a picnic, a party, an illicit affair. They show us, too, the complex histories of hill stations built for the Raj and reshaped in free India; the hardship and squalor behind the beauty; the mixed blessings of progress.
Rich in deep experience and lyrical expression, and containing some stunning images of the hills, Between Heaven and Earth is a glorious collection put together by two of India’s finest writers, both with a lifelong connection with the hills. Among the writers you will read in it—who write on the hills in almost every region of India—are Rumer Godden, Rabindranath and Abanindranath Tagore, Emily Eden, Francis Younghusband, Jim Corbett, Jawaharlal Nehru, Khushwant Singh, Keki Daruwalla, and of course the two editors themselves. Together, they make this a book that you will keep returning to for years to come.