The other day I picked up from library this Japanese Manga influenced comic novel titled The Vanished Path by Bharath Murthy. The novel is a travelogue describing the experience of Bharath & his wife Alka on their travel plus pilgrimage to places associated with the life of Lord Buddha. I was intrigued by the book as travelogues in India are not common, and it is common to see Indian couples traveling as backpackers, a phenomena quite common in Anglo-Saxon world. The couple start their travel from Sarnath near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh (India), to Lumbini in Nepal, to Kushinagar in UP, to Bodhgaya in Bihar (India) and many places in between.
I liked their style of travel, which is done in a leisurely manner, they don’t experience any travel stress by doing elaborate pre-planning. They seem to simply land in a place, find an accommodation and move around in the available modes of transport. This helps them to observe the place, take in the surroundings, talk to the localities which are evident in the speech bubbles in every panel. Though it’s a comic novel, the quality of art work was impressive, kudos to Bharath; when depicting historic monuments few panels are photographs, the mixture too added variety.
Few full pages are on the teachings of Tathagata, which is a Pali & Sanskrit name that Gautama Buddha himself used to call himself. The book is careful not to be overly a Buddhist preaching at the same time not missing to highlight the core of Buddhism. While the travel is about Buddha, Bharath does take time to describe the state of the monument/town they are seeing, how localities treat them and he has sprinkled good dose of humour which is visible from the way he has depicted himself with 3 cat whiskers on either side as his mustache.