Ghumakkar Monthly Digest – December 2013

If you are like me and stay in the northern part of India then there is a good reason that you were also trying to drive as far away as you could, to warmer confines of MP or Rajasthan or Gujrat. Winter chill is finally here and as per Met department it is not going away any sooner, so from the cosy confines of my editorial desk, comes the digest post of December, 2013. It is delayed and my alibi is that I was way too long on road during end of 2013 and way too indulged in the dry lands of Gujrat. Apologies.

First things first, wishing you and your loved ones a happy, exciting and rewarding 2014! May this year take you away from your confinements, more often, to places far and beyond. May you travel better and may your travelling tales inspire more people to be away from their homes. Happy New year 2014.

Before I refresh your memories on our travel destination of December 2013, let me first share some news around the Editorial desk. As discreetly shared in the interview post, Archana, our current Editor and my partner-in-crime, is taking a sabbatical from the active duty of desk. She would be taking a much deserved and wisely prescribed break. Archana has been with Ghumakkar, first joining as an Author, since July 2009 and her debut post was on Kolakta-Sikkim and Darjeeling. She joined the Editorial team in early 2012 and later become our Editor in Jan 2013. While Archana is taking a break from the active duties, she would be around to encourage us via her comments on our stories as well as her advice in editorial matters. We all wish you luck, Archana, and we all hope to see you soon back at the desk. While the change is constant, it is very heartening to share that Vibha, who doesn’t need a lot of introduction to our regular readers, has offered her time and help towards running the key activities of the desk. So for this month’s interview with our featured author, it would be her. Vibha has been with Ghumakkar for about 5 years. Time flies indeed. Welcome back, Vibha!

Now back to our roster on December. The month definitely belonged to Ajay Sharma who kept driving, almost every single day. If you have not been able to read his road-trip spanning thousands of kilometres then please take some time off and cherish this real road-trip. Closer to home, Avtar Singh brought two poetic and lyrical logs on Amer Fort (Rajasthan) and ‘Sabir Ali’s Dargah’ (Western Uttar Pradesh). Both the logs were tremendously liked, commented, discussed and excited among us also took well-meaning jibes at our Editorial desk. Thank you. Going further Ram finished his North-East trip with a excellent log on Majuli, a nondescript island town and treasure trove of art and culture. Before we move further, let me take a little break and take you through this snippet from the Interview post where Archana interacted with Upanshu Singhal, our outgoing Featured Author.

Ghumakkar: What was your first reaction when you learnt about this win?
Upanshu: I was thrilled! I immediately shared the news with my wife and kids!

Ghumakkar: Excellent! So, how did they react?

Upanshu: My wife was genuinely happy and the best reaction came from my kids. They first asked me what this meant and when I explained, they asked “Papa, is the Press ( as in media) going to come home for the interview?”. I laughed my heart out!

Ghumakkar: Oh wonderful! If only I knew this, would come home with a big camera and some “reporters”!
Upanshu: Oh sure, why not. You are always welcome, with or without the camera 

Upanshu with his son at Crater Lake

Upanshu with his son at Crater Lake

Ghumakkar: Thank you Upanshu. Since we live in the same city, we surely can meet!

Upanshu: Yes, at least for coffee to start of with!

Ghumakkar: Sure. So, tell us how Ghumakkar happened to you!
Upanshu: I have known Ghumakkar almost since its incubation days. Nandan and I were colleagues then when I got introduced to his travel blog at ‘Blogger’ and I began posting a couple of articles there. He gave it a more meaningful and apt name and rechristened it to “Ghumakkar”! I have continued contributing here too! Well, this is Ghumakkar’s journey and mine, along with it :)

Ghumakkar: Oh this is probably a lesser known fact to many, like me!
Upanshu: yeah? Am glad I shared it with you then.

And here is the complete interview –

Going further, we were able to re-publish a few of the old gems, (Rome, Sikkim, Seattle) and after a long time Vipin Bhai came out with another gem of a story, his trek to Kareri Lake (Himachal Pradesh) while Professor Bawa showed us more of Kankaria Lake (Gujrat). If this was not enough, Nirdesh ensured that Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh) lessons are revised and this time in full HD (soon he would be moving to 4K displays). The month ended in Lugano (Switzerland) and a brief stint at Milano (Rome). Thank you Roopesh for taking us there and we do hope to read more from you.

So after this roundup, time to celebrate the ‘Featured Story’ and am very happy to share with all of you that for December 2013, the ‘Featured Story of the Month’ is “Majuli – The island of dancing monks“ by Ram Dhall. Congratulations Ram.

Here is a small snippet from the story:

“Pradeep took us to a virtual dreamland, Samaguri Satra, the mask making satra of Majuli. The satra is renowned for the traditional masks that are made here. It is one of the most important pilgrimage centers of Majuli. The satra is renowned as a core for classical and cultural studies. .We were welcomed by a young man in his twenties and he told us about the ancient art of mask making and its importance in the devotional heritage of Majuli. The mask makers of Majuli usually make masks with the bamboo spilt covered with cotton cloth, clay and cow dung. The craftsman who has to work with a stone or a wooden log has to make the mask within the size of the material. The Satradhikar, the head of the Satra, joined us for a couple of minutes and explained to us the different characters using the masks. There were masks of different sizes; some to be worn on the face and the others to cover the entire body. The monk showed us the facial of masks of Lord Hanuman, Lord Rama, Ravana, Kansa, Kaalia, Hirankashyapa and various other mythological characters. The whole body mask was to portray, Garuda. Our granddaughters, Pihu and Kuhu (3) were almost terrified to see the act of mask bearing Demon King, Ravana.”

Explaining the working of a mask

Explaining the working of a mask

And here is the link of the story –

And time to announce the ‘Featured Author of January – 2014’ and that is none other than our own loving doc, Dr. Taher. After all, we have not interviewed any doctor (Sorry, DC, you are not the stethoscopically ornated doc) so far. Dr. Taher started his Ghumakkar journey in October 2011 with this beautiful story on Ovalekar Butterfly Park and has been guiding us all through. Congratulations Taher and we look forward to interact with you later this month. We would be publishing the interview on Jan 15 and we would also be republishing Taher’s older posts to continue the celebration over the month.

So that was my ‘Saptahiki’ version of the month. I hope to put together at least one more, if not three, post summarising 2013 travels. Before I close, one more round of Thank You to Archana for holding the desk, welcome aboard Vibha one more time and Congratulations Ram and Taher.


  • Avtar Singh says:

    Hi Nandan

    Wish you and your loved ones a very happy 2014. ( & of course all the readers and writers of Ghumakkar family too!!!)

    Thanx for the nice and refreshing editorial.

    Congrats Mr. Ram and Dr Taher for their respective achievements.

    Wishing luck for Archana and Vibha in their endeavours.

    Ajay ji, Nirdesh ji and Vipin made December memorable for all of us through their logs and I sincerely wish this year too they make us jaelous through their excellent posts.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Thank you Mr. Singh. Januray is seeing some good stories from new debuts as well as old warhorses.

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Nandan,

    First of all I wish a Very Happy New Year to you and through this post to all the Ghumakkars. May you all get to see more places, meet more people and have more stories to share out here…….Compliments for the interesting ‘saptahiki’.

    Congrats to Mr Ram Dhall and Dr Taher, well deserving travellers, certainly.

    Archana – we will miss you and your great contribution here. Enjoy your break and wishing to see you back with new stories/memories.

    Vibha – welcome home! Delighted to see you back…hope to read your interviews/edits/posts soon.

    And Nandan, as an aside, ‘way too indulged in the dry lands of Gujrat’ – if the dryness you mention is the same that I think of; won’t the terms ‘indulgence’ and ‘dryness’ qualify as oxymoron :-)



  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    Happy New Year Nandan Ji.

    Thanks for the monthly post and congrats to Mr. Ram & Dr. Taher. I was expecting for the yearly digest. Due to some reason I am not available here but definitely missing the post but shortly I will be back……….

    & welcome Vibha on the desk………………

  • Amitava Chatterjee says:

    Hi Nandan,

    Wishing you and everyone in the family and all my dear friends here at Ghumakkars a very Happy New Year (…and my sincere apologies for so late…).

    I do wish all of you to travel more this year, share your stories and there are plenty of options throughout 2014…

    Congratulations to all…Upanshu, Ram Sir, Ajay, Vipin, Avtar, Dr. Taher. Congratulations Vibha and Archana.

    ‘Saptahiki’ is good and comes out really well. So, were you towards Rann…

    it’s all my loss and I missed you all.

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Wish you and all fellow Ghumakkars a happy and prosperous new year. Thank you very much Nandan for this interesting and always awaited editorial.

    Congratulations to Ram Sir and Dr. Taher for their achievements. Best of luck to archana for her recess and a warm welcome to Vibha………….


  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Nandan!

    Thanks for the update!

    May 2014 turn out to be a great Ghumakkari Year!

    Welcome back Vibha!

    And Congratulations to Ram Sir and Dr Taher!

  • Thanks Nandan for sharing this Sapathiki with us.
    I was waiting for your editorial to wish all my Ghumakkars friends a very happy new year. As the Captain is late so is the all team. Will not waste more time now..I wish all readers and writers on Ghumakkar a happy and prosperous new year.
    Congratulations to Ram Sir and Dr Taher.
    Warm welcome to Vibha.

    Thanks.. again..

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Auro – Thank you. You are 100% right but that was the best way I could have put, after all every Gujrati whom I met was very nice to me.

    @ Saurabh – Happy New Year Saurabh. Take your time, we would wait for you.

    @ Amitava – Dont worry mate, we are all around and look forward to see more of you. Wishes.

    @ Mukesh – Mukes Bhai (just this time, I promise) , I wait for your comment and look forward to another rewarding year of travel with you.

    @ Nirdesh – Amen

    @ Naresh – Sorry to make you wait. But I guess we need to now up our strike rate to compensate for the time lost.

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Dear Nandan,
    A very-very happy and great New Year to all Ghumakkars. May plenty of new ghumakkars share their ghumakkari here this year.
    Many congratulations to Dr. Taher, Ram Sir and Vibha for their respective achievements and assignments.
    Very precise but well written digest, thanks for all the supports by the team and fellow writers and readers to make me fond of writing besides traveling.
    Archana we miss your candid and prudent remarks and your humble supports that boosted me in writing more and more. Come back soooon.

    Keep traveling

  • Thanks all, for the warm welcome! :)

    @Archana: All the best for your well-deserved vacation…stay blessed and hope to speak to you soon.

    @Mr. Dhall: Many congratulations, sir! You have been an inspiration to all of us.

    @Dr. Taher: Congratulations doc! Will speak to you soon…

    @Ajay: To be honest, I have been very lazy in the past few months. But I can’t wait to read your stories. Nandan’s post has filled me with curiosity.

    @Upanshu: Belated congratulations. Your contributions to Ghumakkar have been very valuable…

    @Nandan: Time indeed flies…It doesn’t seem like I have been away for one whole year. Thanks for the generous introduction… :)

  • Another great write up Nandan. Truly delighted to read it!!
    Thanks all for the wishes. I am very much around reading almost all articles :)

    To all the winners, my hearty congratulations! You all deserve this appreciation and it is a timely recognition, IMO.

    Vibha, I can see how excited all our folks are to see you back here onboard. I am excited too and looking forward to your contributions here. We should talk, sometime soon !

    Cheers all.

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