Book Talk: Inner Line Pass

The book Inner Line Pass is a travel account of the author Umesh Pant who spent two unforgettable weeks in the Himalayan paradise on his trek to the Adi Kailash region located in eastern Kumaon. Occupying the easternmost wedge of Uttarakhand, the Adi Kailash range, abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, embraces the borders of Tibet and Nepal. The massif itself is bound on the west by the Darma Valley and by the Kuthi Yankti-Kali Rivers towards its east.

Also known as Chota Kailash, the Adi Kailash massif, is revered, since time immemorial, by the Hindus who consider it among their prime pilgrimage sites. Ever since the erection of a temple at Parvati Taal in 1973 and the laying of a mule track to Jolingkong at its base from the last village on the route, Kuthi, the Adi Kailash region is trekked by no less than several hundred pilgrims every year. The pilgrims undertake this arduous 100 km trek to pay their obeisance to Shiva, Parvati and the striking profile of the holy massif, which is best viewed from Parvati Taal.

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Umesh Pant hails from Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand and is a freelance journalist as well as a radio-scriptwriter. Enchanted by the Himalayas, the author seized the opportunity to trek the entire route from Dharchula on a small media junket. Giving more metage to expressing his blissful state of mind as he was mere hours away from breathing in the embrace of the Himalayas, Umesh briefly describes the preparations he made for the journey. Although he was born in the hills, this was going to be his first experience of travelling and trekking in the upper reaches of the Himalayas that requires more than just material preparation.

Written in Hindi, the story begins right from his rickety bus journey from New Delhi to Haldwani, his hitch hiking to reach the KMVN guest house at Dharchula as well as the initial hiccups faced in obtaining the mandatory Inner Line permit to get an access to the border region of Uttarakhand. The Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) has setup basic infrastructure along the entire route as it organises the Adi Kailash Yatra annually. To his advantage, the author made the best use of the available infrastructure to make his journey somewhat comfortable.

The Adi Kailash Yatra as well as the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra follows the same route up till Gunji, after which the route bifurcates in different directions. To get a clearer and photographic view of the Om Parvat – considered sacred as the snow deposition pattern over its face resembles the ‘OUM’ () – one has to follow the Kailash Mansarovar route till Nabidhang, almost a day’s journey after Gunji. Having captured the Om Parvat massif in his camera, the author returned to Gunji to continue his way up to Jolingkong for the Adi Kailash.

On his way back, as the author narrates the ordeal he faced in the jungle after incessant rains, he has not only recreated his sufferings but has dramatically underscored that come what may mother nature will always be supreme. I only wish that Umesh could put some colourful photographs and include some finer details about the route.

In about 160 pages, the author has reconstructed the charm and Himalayan pull through the conversational overtone reflected through his writing style. Although, the author has been an active writer, this is his first travelogue published in the form of a book. For someone who wishes to travel to this remote region, the book is a pure delight waiting to be read. The book is currently available at an average price of Rs 80 at most online resellers including Amazon.in

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