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If the hills have always been very touristy for you without much room to experiment, then these 300 pages will change your mind. They give a glimpse into a world filled with nature, hidden spots and trails, delicious food and so much more.
When asked to review this book, I was a bit hesitant. But once I got past the initial 30-odd pages, the book grew on me. It goes through the history of the Doon valley right from 273 BCE to the Mughal era and, finally, the present. It mentions the special bond between Aurangzeb and Guru Ram Rai, in whose honour the Guru Ram Rai Durbar still stands, and how the famous Dehradun basmati rice grain came to be.
Writers such as Ruskin Bond, George Everest, and Pahadi Wilson made this valley their home. There is an interesting quote from Bond in the earlier pages that caught my eye. “Though everyone else has stopped walking, I am not about to stop it now... So why should we not continue together as before?” he asks.
If, ‘democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people’ this book is, ‘of the walkers, by the walkers and for the walkers.’ The group of walkers who authored this book, Been There Doon That, need to be given due credit for helping piece together 50 walks around the valley.
And if you are wondering who is ‘Laata’, don’t worry, it had me in a fix too. Laata is a common pahadi or mountain dweller. He is a simpleton, unaffected by worldly guile, and is in love with nature and history. He loves to interact with people, take them on walks. Though it is easy to dupe him and his mother often worries about him, he always follows the simple ways of life.
So, the next time you go to the hills, leave the technology behind and instead, take a walk.
Maybe you will end up bumping into Laata.
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