The Mountain of Shiva is the first book of fiction by Dr Karan Singh, scholar, philosopher, politician and author. The book is about Ashok, a passenger on a Srinagar-bound flight, who bumps into Ramesh, his best friend from college, and his bride Sheila. The book is set in the valley at a time when Kashmir was where the best Hindi film directors would go to shoot their movies, particularly the romantic scenes, in the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and tall chinar trees. This story, too, is very filmy.
But the philosophy and scholarship of Singh make the book worth reading. He describes Kashmir in a way that only someone who knows and loves the place can. He punctuates his prose with verses and his fiction with philosophy. The story is woven around the Shiva temple or the Shankaracharya temple atop the mountain of Shiva, visible from the houseboats.
At the book launch, Singh said the book was written in the 1960s. He preferred not to read out portions from the book and instead recited verses in English, Hindi and Sanskrit. For the listener, it was a sublime experience.
The Mountain of Shiva
By Karan Singh
Published by Palimpsest
Price Rs 200; pages 164