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Chronicling Kullu Valley’s sacred journey

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Kullu: Starting from the sun temple at Nirath in Himachal Pradesh’s Satluj Valley that traces its origin to the Harappan era, a new book traces the sacred journey of the Kullu Valley as it concludes at the majestic Rohtang Pass, the so-called ground of the dead, after covering the Nirmand, Ani, Banjar and Kullu.

‘A Sacred Journey’ and two other books – one on traditional and popular cuisines of Kullu and the other anthology of excerpts from the accounts left by foreigners who have visited Kullu in the last 1,400 years – were released during the week-long Kullu Dussehra celebrations that began on October 24, Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwar told IANS.

‘A Sacred Journey’ and the other two books were compiled by Minakshi Chaudhry, who now has 16 works to her credit.

In an earlier book, ‘Sunshine: My Encounter With Cancer’, she narrates her innate struggle and captures the intense experience of her journey to recovery. Her books include ‘Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills’, ‘Love Stories of Shimla Hills’ and ‘Whispering Deodars: Writings from Shimla Hills’.

‘A Sacred Journey’ has not only breathtaking and captivating photographs but also interesting information and nuggets, Kanwar said. For example, Nirmand village was established by Parshuram himself who granted land to the Brahmins.

The book also contains information about the earlier travelers like Penelope Chetwode, the wife of British Poet Laureate John Betjeman and the daughter of the one-time Commander-in-chief of the British Army in India, Field Marshal Philip Chetwode, who was so captivated by the area that she made repeated visits to Ani and Kullu as a young girl.

She was finally laid to rest in these hills near Khanag in 1986.

The book has more than 250 photographs and brief descriptions about places of tourist interest, both popular and lesser-known destinations.

The second book is based on the traditional and popular cuisine available in Kullu district.

Most people know that in the last decade Siddu, the steamed and stuffed local bread, has become a hot selling item.

But there are many more delicacies that are waiting to be discovered by the tourists, said Kanwar.

These nutritious items will definitely be relished by the tourists if made available on a commercial scale. This book makes the readers aware about dishes like askalu, babru, femda and geechey.

The book also details the restaurants and hotels where international food is served.

Manali, Kasol, Tosh and other destinations in the district have several eateries that serve authentic Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, Israeli, Korean, Lebanese, Nepalese and German cuisine.

The third book is an anthology of excerpts from the accounts left by foreign travelers who have visited Kullu over the last 1,400 years.

The book starts with the description of Ku-lu-to (Kullu) by Huen Tsang, the 7th century Chinese pilgrim, and ends will a piece written by Cristina Noble in the last decades of the 20th century.

She liked Kullu so much that she married an Indian and made Kullu her home.

The centuries-old Kullu Dussehra celebrations begin on ‘Vijaya Dashami’, the day they ended in the rest of the country.

(Vishal Gulati, IANS)

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‘Long Journey for India and Champagne’

Educational tools, including e-learning like the 'Champagne Campus' app, have been developed by the Comite Champagne to educate a wide audience, both in France and abroad, about the wine-growing region of Champagne the vines, winemaking process, tasting et al.

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Glasses serve a bigger purpose than just holding liquids, say the experts at Dean Supply. Image: Dean supply

It’s been a long journey for India and champagne, going back over three centuries and in 2017, over 400,000 bottles of the bubbly were shipped to India in spite of the high taxes, says the head of a key French organisation that ensures that only the original product is served around the world.

“Champagne and India have a long story that dates back to the first shipments in the 18th century. Maharajas were the most important consumers of this new wine at that time. Since then, shipments have continued and Champagne enjoys a great recognition, which was confirmed with the registration of the Champagne appellation by India in 2008,” Vincent Perrin, Directeur General of Comite Champagne, told IANS in an email interview.

How would he describe the journey over the past decade and how have the two sides benefited?

Noting that one of the Comite Champagne’s key missions is to ensure that the name Champagne is reserved only for sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France to give “to our winegrowers and houses the best environment to sell their wines”, Perrin added: “To achieve this objective, education programmes and protection of the Champagne name are two levers that we continuously use.”

To this end, the registration of the Champagne appellation, which was renewed recently, “is a recognition of the reputation of Champagne wines on Indian territory. It’s also a guarantee for Indian consumers of the origins of the wines,” added Perrin, who joined the Comite Champagne in September 2014 after an extensive career in diplomacy and international business development.

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Speaking about the impact of the association on India-France relations, Perrin said Champagne has had a strong connect with India. Pixabay

Speaking about the impact of the association on India-France relations, Perrin said Champagne has had a strong connect with India “and it perhaps showcases best the French art de vivre. We hope that this relation will only grow and strengthen in the future”.

How does he foresee the roadmap for the future?

“As India emerges as a global economic power, Indians who are likely to consume luxury products should increase in the coming years and wines play a growing part in the drink sector. There is a strong potential, despite high taxes, for Champagne wines which have grown steadily over the years.

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Educational tools, including e-learning like the ‘Champagne Campus’ app, have been developed by the Comite Champagne t o educate a wide audience, both in France and abroad, about the wine-growing region of Champagne the vines, winemaking process, tasting et al. These will help more Indians approach champagne with more confidence. (IANS)