The newly published book titled “Walking with Laata -50 Trails through Doon Valley’s Living History & Nature” was released on the weekend in the presence of a large audience at the World Integrity Centre (WIC) in the Doon valley. It was a celebration of the book as well as the vision that has created it.
The book, published by Book World, is a narrative of the walks through fifty trails of the Doon valley which have been undertaken by the “Been There Doon That” group which was started by well-known heritage expert and conservationist Lokesh Ohri some years ago and has grown into a movement that aims at discovering and re-discovering the valley by walking through it.
“Laata” is a character which was visualised by the group to make the description of the trails more interesting and personalised.
The word “laata” is used in Uttarakhand to describe a person who is a simpleton and gullible, not worldly wise.
Speaking about this on the occasion, Ohri said that all thsse people in this group were “Laatas” and “Laatis” as they did things that made them happy, without caring for being worldly- wise and correct. He said that these walks, undertaken every Sunday, for the last five years, were an activity that did not have any visible material benefit. “That is why this activity has brought us all together to find happiness and satisfaction,” he said. He highlighted the beauty of wanderlust.
A ‘Laata’ cake, in the form of the book’s cover, was cut later to celebrate the occasion. A huge Laata cut-out was standing on the stage, looking very expressive, as if he was listening to everything that was being said.
Doonites turned up in large numbers at this book release to participate in the celebration of the BTDT group’s spirit and philosophy of enjoying oneself while learning about one’s city and making efforts to focus on saving it from the damage which so-called development brings in its wake.
Ohri said that one of the factors which were important to the group was making life simple and being engaged in activities that gave one joy.
He said that people often found it strange that they were walking so much perhaps without any visible purpose. “However, our belief in this activity proved right and today, these walks have assumed the form of a movement.”
He called his entire group to the stage to acknowledge their contribution to the book. He said it was a community effort. Sargam Mehra, Abhai Mishra, Udit Nautiyal, Shreyansh Kals,
Himmat Kohli, Gautam Talukdar and Shantum Seth are authors of the book alongwith Lokesh Ohri.
There are some others too. The foreword to the book has been penned by Ashisk Kumar Srivastava, the vice chairman of Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA).The photographs have been done by Abhishek Bishnoi alongwith Amit Uniyal, Lokesh Ohri, Vinayak Ohri, Ami Ratra and others.
Through guided walks, the book offers an in-depth look at the culture, heritage, history, nature and other hidden gems in and around the Doon valley.
Walking is not just a cultural quest but a spiritual one too, the book stresses. The book has been authored by BTDT, supported by MDDA, and has been published in association with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). The ‘Laata’ dimension has given it an Uttarakhandi colour which makes it rather special.
The chapter titles include “Hit The Trail ,Stop Not”, “ Preparing to Walk”, “Walking Etiquette”, “ Walking with Laata” , “Walks and Trails” and “Been There Doon That”. In the introduction to the book, Ohri writes, “We also invite you to embark on journeys towards natural living –walking, consuming less, going plastic –free and coming together to save heritage in order to leave this beautiful valley a better place for our children.”
Among the fifty walks described in this book are “Camp of the Guru walk”, “Garhwal Paintings Trail”, “ Khalanga Battle Walk”, “Mussoorie Ghosts Walk”, “Gun Hill walk” , “Rajpur memory walk”, “Ganga Canal Trail” “Van Gujjar walk”, “Maldevta geology walk”, “Royal Tea walk” . “Railway Station walk” and “Pahadi Wilson Trail”.
Monday, 11 March 2019 | Jaskiran Chopra | Dehradun
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