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Book Review: Shankara – The Mansarovar Odyssey – by Anuj Tikku

Shankara is a short fascinating account about the author’s Mansarovar journey. He took this journey in a group with Satguru Jaggi Vasudev. The book takes the readers through some countries where the pilgrims had to be routed for the complete religious journey. If you have read The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho, you would be able to relate it precisely.

Mansarovar Yatra is considered the most sacred journey for Indians. Many Indians want to get into this journey every year, but not all get the chance, since this Yatra requires physical fitness with no chronic disease and not many people are allowed to attend it due to treacherous and harsh climatic conditions.

The process of getting selected for the Yatra is rather tough, than any other nomadic journey. The author has highlighted the steps in a lucid way – quite informative for the people planning. Also, in the first chapter, he stated that UV rays get thinner because of high altitude, no sunscreen means burning skin. Secondly, he stated that while climbing a hilly path, one must not rest, rather keep moving slowly, as taking rest leads to stiffening of muscles.

The author himself is a Mahadev devotee, hence this journey meant a lot to him. What kind of struggles, he made on account of travel and accommodation and other basic amenities suggest that he is an ardent fan of the lord Shiva, and it takes more than comfort zone to take the journey.

From a cultural point of view, the author covers Spiti Valley, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and China’s cultural values and beliefs of locals through the specific chapters like Bhutan and the Ritual of Black Zambala, and The Phallus of Bhutan. To showcase the zeitgeist, the book includes two mesmerizing poems as well. 

The book has been written in simple language, easy to understand for all. Be it anything, but the book was high on information. Yes, there were a few grammatical glitches in snatches, but still, you can consider it for one-time read without much hesitation.


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