The BEST Episodes of Himalaya with Michael Palin
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Sep 16, 2021
Network: BBC One
In his most challenging journey to date, Palin tackles the Himalayas, the greatest mountain range on earth. It is a virtually unbroken wall of rock stretching 1800 miles from the borders of Afghanistan to south-west China. Penetrated but never conquered, it remains the world's most majestic natural barrier, a magnificent wilderness that shapes the history and politics of Asia to this day. Having previously risen to the challenge of seas, poles, dhows and deserts, the highest mountains in the world were a natural target for Michael Palin. In a journey rarely, if ever, attempted before, in 6 months of hard travelling Palin takes on the full length of the Himalaya including the Khyber Pass, the hidden valleys of the Hindu Kush, ancient cities like Peshawar and Lahore, the mighty peaks of K2, Annapurna and Everest, the bleak and barren plateau of Tibet, the gorges of the Yangtze, the tribal lands of the Indo-Burmese border and the vast Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh. He also passes through political flashpoints including Pakistan's remote north-west frontier, terrorist-torn Kashmir and the mountains of Nagaland..
#1 - Bhutan to the Bay of Bengal
Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 7, 2004
We head into the small mountainous country of Bhutan which strives for Gross National Happiness rather than profit. He meets poets and attends a religious festival which includes both Archery and a 5 storey high tapestry. After Bhutan, he crosses into Bangladesh which is a low lying country built out of silt washed down from the Himalayas. He chats with local business people and visits the capital Dacca. He then takes a steamer down the delta to Mongla and ends his journey at the Bay of Bengal after 6 months of travelling.
#2 - A Passage to India
Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 10, 2004
Goes up to 14500ft by Helicopter to get his first taste of high altitude, then has to detour back to Lahore to actually cross into India after observing some truly bizarre border rituals. He visits a huge Sikh temple at Amritsar and then takes the Himalayan Queen railway to Shimla the old capital of British India. Here he visits a local theatre stuck in a time warp and then goes on to beautiful but war torn Kashmir. Here he stays on one of the famous houseboats and then visits Srinigar where the Dalai Lama now lives. He gets his astrology chart done by the Buddhist monks and then has the chance to interview the Dalai Lama.
#3 - Annapurna to Everest
Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 17, 2004
He now enters Nepal by air and hooks up with a British commander of the Gurkha regiment who is recruiting in the area. They trek to a remote village to hold a recruitment test but fall foul of the local Maoist Guerrillas. Next Michael treks up the mountains to Annapurna base camp with a sherpa and gets his first taste of high altitudes, which gives him some trouble. From there they move on to the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, where he receives the King's blessing. Tibet is the next stop but they first must cross the border into China via road. He visits the highest monastery in the world and then climbs to Everest Base Camp assisted by some Yak.
#4 - The Roof of the World
Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Oct 24, 2004
This episode focuses on the people and terrain of Tibet, which is now part of China. He visits various Buddhist temples, the Dalai Lama's old palace (now a museum), a night club and some more temples. He visits a barren lake in the middle of nowhere which is greatly revered by the Tibetan People, who go on devotional walks around the lake. These take 18 days. He also spends time with traditional Yak herders living in tents and helps with various tasks such as milking and cooking. Watch out for the teletubby! He then attends a large horse fair/festival in Yushu and turns south to follow the Yangtze River.
#5 - Leaping Tigers Naked Nagas
Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 31, 2004
Michael travels down the Yangtze by boat through the famous Tiger Leaping gorge and arrives at the eastern-most point of his journey. He visits a local singing star, a doctor recommended by Terry Jones and attends a Chinese Classical Music concert. He travels through Yunnan province and then visits Nagaland which is on the border between India and Myanmah. This area is inhabited by ex-headhunters. Next, he crosses back into India and visits a coil mine and oil well. Heading deeper into Assam he visits tea gardens, working elephants and then heads down the Brahmaputra River stopping to visit a Hindu monastery of dancing monks. He also visits a national park to see the Rhinos.
#6 - North by Northwest
Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Oct 3, 2004
The program begins in the North-West Frontier section of Pakistan. Michael goes up the Kyber Pass Railway, visits the local gun industry and dentists, interviews a local prince, attends the bull races and then sets off by bus to Chitral high in the mountains. He visits the local Kalash people who are not Moslems and attends an annual Polo Match high in the Xandoor Pass near the Hindu Kush.