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.
‘GREAT MINDS ON INDIA’ is simply outstanding! I never knew that such a compilation exists and we all should be thankful to Mr. Salil Gewali! These great quotes should be embossed on plaques and displayed on the walls of our Parliament, State Assembly Halls, and at all our educational institutions. Most importantly, the material should be made a compulsory reading for all the school students.
–Dr. AV Murali, Houston (Former NASA Scientist)
The rise of the likes of Salil Gewali appears to be a real sunshine of hope. India, which was the fountainhead of the profound knowledge, has unfortunately been groping in the darkness of misinformation. Thanks to hordes of native scholars who love to undermine their own literary heritage and disseminated distorted history.
So, against this disquieting backdrop, Gewali’s exhaustive research-based book “Great minds on INDIA”, which originally published with the title named – “What is India”, is going to be a remarkable testament. The substantive document to inform one and all about the secular basis of Indian literature. The book is doubtlessly going to establish the universal essence of the Indian culture which hitherto misinterpreted by anti-nation forces.
The idea of a compilation of thoughts and opinions of the world top thinkers and writers occurred to Mr. Gewali during his late teens. His father – Krishna Prasad Gewali, who was an erudite scholar, inspired Mr. Salil Gewali and showed him the depth of the ancient literature. From early age, Mr Salil was much drawn to study Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. He reminiscence in one of his articles – “ I had encountered that a good many literary books published from the country, which deliberately undermine the ancient text and denigrate the cultural values of the home country, were held in high esteem. Those authors were only applauded, honored and awarded. Whereas, the ones who loved the country and wanted to uphold the traditional values and preserve the ancient and universal wisdom of the home country were considered as the cohort lost in the wilderness of jingoism”. Gewali could not stomach the rise of the forces which are going to be detriminantal to the nation.
Mr. Gewali made deeper studies of the ancient scriptures vis-a-vise the western intellectuals. He painstakingly picked up the pearls of gem scattered in the various books authored by western geniuses. Gewali’s prime objective was to discover what those western scholars had said about India and her wisdom. Gewali felt that only the opinions and thoughts expressed by the western intellectual can bring the Indian intellectual to the sense.
After a very long struggle, Gewali could bring out the compilation in the Xerox format in the year 1998. For his financial hardship, he could not publish the book in the print format for many years. However, after a long gap of 11 years, the first printed format was published in 2009.
This unique book immediately caught the attention of so many scholars across the world. The first edition, which was formally launched by the governor of Meghalaya – Shri Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary, the book also reached a NASA scientist – Prof. AV Murali. Later Prof. Being extremely awe-stricken by the contents of the book he remarked: “This compilation is simply outstanding! I never knew that such a compilation exists and we all should be thankful to Mr. Salil Gewali! These great quotes should be embossed on plaques and displayed on the walls of our Parliament, State Assembly Halls, and at all our educational institutions. Most importantly, the material should be made a compulsory reading for all the school students.”Prof. Murali is a former National Research Council Scientist at the Johnson Space Center in Houston of the (NASA). Murali also worked as a scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston. The book has also fascinated the NASA Chief scientist, Dr. Kamlesh Lulla of Houston, who has offered to pen down the preface for the revised edition of the book.
Prof Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, a world-acclaimed novelist, whose famous novel, ‘The Mistress of Spices’ was released as a film directed by Paul Mayeda Berges starring Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott, applauded Gewali’s book : “An inspirational read that reminds us of our amazing ancient heritage and why we need to incorporate it into our lives as modern Indians.”
Starting from 2011 till the date Gewali’s book has been translated into eleven languages, mostly by prominent literary figures, bureaucrats and scientists.
The book translated in other languages as under :
Hindi: by Vishwa Mohan Tiwari, former Vice Air Marshal, Noida, Delhi and Dr. MP Jain, Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Malayalam: by Dr. M. Pushpangadan, Kerala and Smt. Mansi PA, Mumbai.
Telugu: by Satyadeva Prasad and BS Sharma, Secunderabad, Telangana
Gujarati: by Rekha Dave and edited by Jitu Patwari
Nepali: by Dr Govinda Raj Bhattarai, Prof of Tribhuwan University, Kathmandu, Nepal
Marathi: Deepa Joshi, Thane, Mumbai, Edited by Leena Mehendale, Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai
Kannada: by Dr. Mulliya Raghavayya, former Nuclear scientist, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Karnataka, Mysore.
Tamil: Dr. Pothy C Jayapal, Chennai.
Manipuri: by Sadashiva Singh, Senapati, Manipur.
Bengali, : by Prof. R.N. Das, MD, MRCP (UK), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London), edited by Prof. Nirmal Maity.
Another scholar from California Ms. Anna Hourihan writes in her review: “Salil Gewali’s work puts a spotlight on the importance of the ancient teachings, which are imperative for our future existence in these crucial times. His book is a most worthwhile gift to all of us. But chiefly it’s for the people of India so that they may realize the importance of the role of India and Indians from early times, and which continues even today with its scientists, sages and also the Hindu Indian diaspora.”
Lastly, the efforts of a scholar like Salil Gewali should be acknowledged and appreciated in the highest terms. Government of India should take the initiative to spread this book before our children become secular and start hating not only the culture and but the country too. I would further add that ‘Great minds on INDIA’ doubtlessly shatters the limitations of mind by making it embrace the higher perceptions. It makes us rise above the false opinions of pseudo intellectuals, who believe that there is no point in looking back, particularly concerning ancient heritage. When one encounters Gewali’s testimonial work, one discovers new routes to unfold our glorious past. After all, we need a right path to arrive at the destination – the self realization. That is not possible with a flawed perspective. So, Salil’s book will be a magnificent light to show the truth in the right perspective which otherwise just undermined as old myth and fairy-tale stories.
The researcher of this detoxifying book — Salil Gewali was born in Shillong, Meghalaya. His father, (Late) Krishna Prasad Gewali was a very learned scholar and writer who was well versed in ancient scriptures. Gewali was first introduced to the ancient Indian literature by his father who also had a very in-depth knowledge of Sanskrit language. So, from an early age, Mr. Gewali was drawn to study Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.Gewali passed his School Leaving Certificate examination from ‘Mawprem Modern High School’, in 1986 and joinedSt. Anthony College, Shillong, Meghalaya for further studies. He completed his post-graduation in English Literature.