Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A different travelogue

The legendary Himalayas and the rivers originating from them have been an irresistible attraction for travellers from within India and abroad since ancient times. There are innumerable books recording the serenity and the ethereal beauty of this hallowed mountain range — for instance German philosopher Hermann Keyserling's The Travel diary of a Philosopher and Tapovana Swami's Himagiri Viharam (Malayalam). This book is a Tamil translation of another notable book in this genre, which transfuses the ennobling experience of the onlooker into the veins of the reader.

What set this book apart from the rest are: the delightful and detailed description of the mythological and historical background; the wealth of geographical information; the interesting stories drawn from the folklore linking the past and the present; and the author's personal accounts of his interaction with the common folk in the places he visited. It is to the author's credit that he has not allowed his devotional faith to stand in the way of highlighting the large-scale pollution and dumping of wastes taking place there, the severe damage caused to the eco-system as a consequence, and the harmful effects of globalisation. The tour, starting from Delhi, takes Veerendra Kumar and his team to holy places such as Rishikesh, Haridwar, Gangothri, Yamunothri, Kedarnath and Badrinath before terminating at Gandhiji's Anasakti Ashram in Kausani. While speaking about Karna Prayag, the author strikes the emotional chord by the way he narrates the story of Karna (of the Mahabharata).

Velli Panimalaiyin Meedhu (Tamil): Translation of M. P. Veerendrakumar's ‘Haimavathabhuvil' by Sirpi Balasubramaniam; Kavitha Publications, Rs 600

Full report here Hindu

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