SUBJECT: 3.5/5

My Musings

I love to travel. I am not essentially an adventure-seeking traveller but I do enjoy cultural and historical oriented travelling; nature is one of my weaknesses too. So, its quite obvious that I get easily excited about travel books. I picked up The Land Of Flying Lamas & Other Real Travel Stories From The Indian Himalaya because of its tempting title and alluring cover. I had recently read a book on Ladakh – Battlefields and Paradise by Sabir Hussain and wanted to know as much as possible about the Himalayas.

What is the book all about?

The Land Of Flying Lamas, which on the outset looks like a general travel story-telling kind of book, is more of an exhaustive read on the various treks of the Himalayas. Gaurav Punj has penned down 10 chapters which cover 10 distinct and off-beat travel treks where travellers can go and explore a very unadulterated part of the Himalayas which is not yet commercialized and definitely unconventional as far as normal travel goes.

The Writing Style of the Author

The Land Of Flying Lamas which technically is more of a travel guide than travel writing has been written in a way which makes the reading part more fun than an average travel guide. There is a strong effort on the part of the author to complement the “Travel Gyan” with interesting anecdotes, comical guide tips and a “reality check” section by the various people who themselves were a part of the trek. Further, the author writes in an easy to comprehend manner and provides a lot of information on the treks that he has covered including a suggested reading list.

What I liked

I liked the way Gaurav has managed to incorporate local experiences, legends, folk cultures and tales in all the chapters. This provided for a delightful reading experience augmented by the exhaustive information provided by the author. As a result, I found myself googling about a lot of interesting topics like – Yarsagumba (aka The Himalayan Viagra), Nanda Devi CIA mission, and Pandits of Johar Valley. Needless to state, the additional reading was an unexpected bonus.

What I did not like

The fact that the title can be considered as a bit misleading is something which I did not like about this book. Not that the content isn’t great, but it isn’t the same as what is shown on the cover.

Final Verdict

Overall, The Land Of Flying Lamas provides for a delightful and very informative read. For somebody who is planning to go to the Himalayas, the book sure counts as a must read. The main reason that I will recommend it is – it will acquaint you with the unexplored 90% of the Himalayas that only 10% of the tourists go to. Yes, a fact that the author has managed to drive into my mind is that 90% of the tourists going to the Himalayas are repeatedly going to only 10% of the places. As a result, there is overcrowding, excessive commercialization and hardly any solace.

Pick it up if

Pick The Land Of Flying Lamas if you enjoy writings on travel and if you are looking for entertaining and non-academic travel guides to the Himalayas.

Skip the book if

I suggest you avoid the book if what you are looking at is just travel stories. This book is more of a guide than travel writing.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy at the link below!