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Mountain, Water, Rock, God

Understanding Kedarnath in the Twenty-First Century

Luke Whitmore


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A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program. Visit to learn more.

In Mountain, Water, Rock, God, Luke Whitmore situates the disastrous flooding that fell on the Hindu Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath in 2013 within a broader religious and ecological context. Whitmore explores the longer story of this powerful realm of the Hindu god Shiva through a holistic theoretical perspective that integrates phenomenological and systems-based approaches to the study of religion, pilgrimage, place, and ecology. He argues that close attention to places of religious significance offers a model for thinking through connections between ritual, narrative, climate destabilization, tourism, development, and disaster, and he shows how these critical components of human life in the twenty-first century intersect in the human experience of place.

Praise For Mountain, Water, Rock, God: Understanding Kedarnath in the Twenty-First Century

"This book is a very impressive contribution to the growing scholarship on the relationship between human society and nature, not only in the context of the Himalayan region and Indian society, but also more globally."
— Journal of Contemporary Religion

"Whitmore’s analysis gives readers a nuanced and informed perspective on the pilgrimage to Kedarnath. . . . highly recommended for upper-level undergraduate and graduate-level courses in religious studies, sociology of religion, eco-politics, nature and the sacred, sustainability issues, and sacred pilgrimage."
— Nova Religio

"We are indebted to Whitmore for providing a glimpse of [Kedarnath]."
— Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture

"Whitmore is the only scholar to have studied Kedarnath in such depth, and this book makes an indispensable contribution to the study of Hinduism. . . . Whitmore resists the temptation to sensationalize what defies description, providing instead a serious, sobering, and holistic analysis of the power attributed to this great Himalayan shrine."
— International Journal of Hindu Studies

University of California Press, 9780520298026, 278pp.

Publication Date: November 27, 2018

About the Author

Luke Whitmore is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.