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Hindu Deities in Central Asia: A Forgotten Chapter of History

Modern Indians don’t realize what a formidable border the Great Himalayas are for India. For most of our history, the Himalayas have divided Asia into two very different but very dominant cultural spheres: Indic and Sinic. This does not mean that Tibet was a part of China but the impassability of the Himalayas extended to the formidable cold plateau of Tibet and this massive combine of the mountains and the cold plateau separated two great civilizations: India and China.

The Himalayas run in a continuous line from Afghanistan and the Pamirs to modern India’s boundary with Myanmar in the South. While in the north and the mountain ranges are the highest, in the east, there are gorges so deep that sunlight remains in the valley for only one hour a day. Just outside the boundary of Arunachal Pradesh, the three great rivers of Asia, the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Salween flow in these deep gorges that are just fifty kilometers apart at some places but it is impossible to cross them. Coming down into Myanmar once again the mountain ranges follow and then some of the densest jungles in Asia – the tropical rain forests of South-East Asia kept up the barrier between the two civilizational spheres.

This boundary becomes even more formidable as the Tibet is topped in the North by the Kunlun Mountains and then the Taklamakan desert, one of the most formidable and unforgiving deserts in the world. This desert is framed on three sides by the mountains: in the south by the Kunlun, in the north by Tien Shan and in the west by the Pamirs. But the fourth side is not hospitable either and there are two successive deserts called the Lop Nor desert and the great Gobi desert of Mongolia running all the way up to Siberia.

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