The Himalayas are not only a conglomeration of series of snow-laden mountain ranges, lush green valleys, beautiful lakes and rivers but also a sacred land of wisdom and learning of ancient Indian art, culture and philosophy. Since time immemorial, the Himalayas have been known as the ‘Abode of God’. The Vedas, the Epics, the Puranas and the Shastras not to mention the later literary works and inscriptions, not only speak about the glory of the Himalayan ranges but also mention the physical features of the region, the inhabitants and their age-old socio-economic and cultural traditions.
Although much work has been done on the geography, geology, tourism and pilgrimage of the Himalayas during the last four decades, very little is known about the archaeology, early history and cultural heritage of the region in the context of socio-economic background.
The main objective of the present work is to understand the socio-economic and cultural aspects of the Himalayas in a historical perspective. The work also aims to identify correctly the races and peoples with their age-old customs, languages and religious ceremonies and also to bring to light the historical records which have so far not been studied thoroughly and methodically. The objective is also to document and study the development of culture in the context of trade and commerce from earliest to recent times in so far as they are reflected in the archaeological monuments and archival material, as these are being gradually lost due to commercial pursuits, negative impact of tourism and human vandalism. An attempt is also being made here to present as thorough an account as possible of the traditional society of the western Himalayas, which has changed drastically in the recent times.
It is hoped that the present work will generate interest in the readers all over the world to conduct further studies on the Himalayas and also to create awareness about its cultural and ecological preservation.