Grotesque Lands: What Earlier Visitors Saw

Before it became "Shangri-La" to the world, Hill it seems, the Himalaya was the land of the grotesque. The earliest Western descriptions of the Himalayan region are, to say the least, unsatisfactory from an ethnographic point of view. Herodotus, the Greek historian of 5th Century B.C., thus described the goings-on in the Tibetan desert:

"Great ants in size somewhat less than dogs, but bigger than foxes throw up sand heaps full of gold as they burrow. A warlike tribe north of all other Indians tries to steal it by filling their bags with sand and riding away at their best speed. Then the ants rush forth in pursuit…if it were -not that the Indians get a start while the ants are mustering, not a single gold gatherer would escape."

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