The untamed beauty of the Himalayas immediately captures our collective imagination
with visions of serenity, natural splendour and mysticism. But these mountains also
dictate the lives of those who live by its laws-the resilient hill dwellers, or paharis,
whose work and lives are shaped by their surroundings.
In the Shadow of the Devi: Kumaon details the legacy of a land, a people and a craft
deeply intertwined with its environment. Manju Kak looks at this enigmatic land of Kumaon
through the prism of woodcraft, unique in its aesthetic in this part of India, documenting
the styles, influences and techniques used by the craftsmen of Uttarakhand, as well as
Kumaoni artisans' worldview and beliefs. In addition, this book is an important document
of the life of paharis, as it also discusses communities, forest policy and the status of
women, analysing and unraveling facets of hill life that made the claim for statehood so
The book is beautifully complemented with photographs by award-winning Kumaoni
photographer Anup Sah, among others. It is also a visual delight for those who have an
interest in the region. It adds to the existing knowledge on Uttarakhand, emblematic of
other Indian hill states though its focus is on Kumaon, the land that lies in the majestic
mountain Nanda Devi's shadow, as the title suggests.