Review published on January 26, 2018.
Just on the other side of Bangladesh in the Northeast are a number of states that borders Tibet, Myanmar and Bhutan. Their remoteness means that they have never been on the tourist trail and ongoing posturing from China who dispute the borders in this mountainous region mean that they are not likely to be anytime soon.
One of these states, Arunachal Pradesh, which translates as ‘land of the dawn-lit mountains’, is probably the remotest of the lot. Travelling on a small motorbike, called Hero, it is this landscape and people that Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent wants to explore and discover about. It is a landscape that has as many surprises as it does legends and the isolation of the state has ensured that the culture there has remained distinctly different to the rest of India. Accompanied by guides and sometimes travelling alone, she finds the people warm and hospitable regardless if they are shamans or monks. She meets those that accompanied the Dali Lama as he passed through the state to safety. The remoteness of the place means that there are very few roads and while the scenery is breathtaking it can be equally dramatic especially when the monsoon hits.
This little piece of India to the East of Bangladesh can rightly claim to be one of the planets least explored regions. Overcoming her anxieties prior to a trip of this magnitude was an achievement in its own right and Bolingbroke-Kent has written a book here that is thrilling and informative in equal measure. It can, I think, be described as a book that epitomises travel writing; someone very much out of their comfort zone, yet who still manages to discover the wonders of this little-known land and write about it with keen and compassionate observation.
Paul Cheney 4/-
Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent
Simon & Schuster UK 9781471156564 pbk Jun 2017
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