Exploring Pangi Himalayas – A World Beyond Civilization
Author: Minakshi Chaudhary
Publisher: Indus Publications | Buy at Flipkart
Price: INR 550
If you want to avenge someone politically send them to the Pangi Valley.
An old saying in Himachal Pradesh that stands valid even today. This fearful feeling comes out of reluctance. Who wants to live in a snow-bound region, cut-off from the external world for more than six months? Moreover a family man from outside world has no business in the Pangi Valley.
But there are exceptions always. Minakshi Chaudhary, a student of journalism got married to an HAS Officer and that landed her in the God forbidden land of Pangi Valley. While others would have thought of running away from this snow-bound land, she took the challenge of understanding the culture and traditions of this remote area, hitherto unknown to the outside world.
A newly recruited HAS Officer has to spend three years in a remote region for the first three years of their service. Minakshi and her husband got Pangi. And Minakshi made the best of it. She wrote a book.
The storytelling is lucid and every segment is a compendium of essays and short-notes recording everything ranging from marriages to trek routes in the valley. Although this book is not fast paced but then it is not an exclusive trekking book.
As I have already said not much is known to the outside world about the Pangi Valley even today. And that’s the void Minakshi has tried to bridge through this book. History of Pangwals is shrouded in mystery and she has made a subtle attempt to uncover all the hidden secrets. For instance, she has told three different versions about the history of Pangwals and each one of them is an eye opener.
Next is the Inhabitants segment which appears to be the primary focus of the book. As she had been a journalist herself, her enthusiasm for historical aspects of the valley is quite natural. From food habits to death rites, she leaves no aspect of the lives of Pangwals untouched.
Before she takes the reader into the higher Himalayas she does provide an insight into the valleys and sub-valleys of the Pangi Region so that the reader doesn’t feels lost. As she takes you for trekking in the Pangi Himalayas, one would expect her to be witty. She explains her trekking expeditions in a subdued tone which is a major turn-off. A major part of this segment appears to be rephrased from the gazetteers and other sarkari documents.
But that doesn’t make this segment less interesting. You will get all the information you need for trekking in the Pangi Himalayas through this book. Stopovers, staying options, weather conditions and anything else that one expects to find in a trekking travelogue has been explained. Just that she couldn’t spice it up with humor and thrilling narratives that we expect while one describes her journeys in the Himalayas.
Those who wish to work with the State Government or have served in the valley already would relate to the book easily. One chapter exclusively deals with the life of outsiders in the valley. Its difficult not only for the Pangwals but for the govt. officials too. ‘The Changing Scenario’ brings forth the development works being carried out in the valley and that sounds like a perfect ending to the book.
As I have said before, this book is not an exclusive trekking book but more of an encyclopedia. If you wish to learn about Pangi culture and its history you should read this book. Even if you intend to trek in the valley, this book will come handy. Information gathered by Minakshi in three years about Pangi is an exhaustive field work.
P.S. Our government and PWD in particular are not that bad. One must read this book to understand the hardships faced by people in Pangi Valley. Still better, travel on the Sansari-Killar-Thirot Road!