Zee Jaipur Literature Festival: Puffin releases Deepa Agarwal’s ‘Journey to the Forbidden City’


Jaipur Literature Festival, which every year gathers writers and book lovers, is also known for writers launching their books. Puffin released a book by popular author in the fraternity, Deepa Agarwal. The book titled Journey to the Forbidden City is about Nain Singh Rawat, an unsung Kumaoni hero.

Journey to the Forbidden City was launched on Thursday at Jaipur Literature Festival by Dr. Shekhar Pathak, former Professor of History, Kumaon University, Nainital; Senior Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library; New Delhi; Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla; and founder and editor PAHAR. Alongwith him, famous singer Shubha Mangal was also present at the release. The book is the only one on Nain Singh that was recognised by the Royal Geographical Society and Paris Geographical Society.

Speaking about her book, author Deepa Agarwal said, “This is a book I have dreamt of writing for many years. I had heard of my grandfather’s uncle Pundit Nain Singh’s achievements from childhood. Stories were told about his daring adventures, his quick intelligence and the honours he had received for his exploits. Apart from his manual of survey methods, Akshaansh Darpan, he had even written a family history Itihas Rawat Kaum.”

“There were always heated arguments about whether he should be described as a spy or not. Whatever information he might have gathered on his journeys, Nain Singh’s extraordinary contribution to the map of the world remains most important to me,” she added.

Deepa’s new book seems to have won hearts already, and not only her readers appreciated her but also her fellow writers went to praise her for her work behind the book. ‘An utterly engrossing journey with Nain Singh Rawat, one of the greatest explorers of the last century, leading us across the charged landscape of the high Himalaya in what unfolds as a compelling personal and political adventure, ” Namita Gokhale, writer, publisher and festival director of Jaipur Literature Festival and Bhutan Literature Festival, said.

Dr Shekhar Pathak also praised Deepa and said that her book touched so many aspects of the characters expeditions and spirit.

“Fascinating story of the “Pundit of Pundits” taking us to so many distant places of Asia and Tibet and touching so many aspects of his expeditions and indomitable spirit. Deepa Agarwal has done a service to young readers,” he said.

The book tells us about the Nain Singh, who dared to explore the Roof of the World in the 19th century. He trekked across the unknown country and indentified countless villages and cities. From putting Lhasa on the world map and tracking the course of the Brahmaputra, his travels led to his name being known amongst famous Indian explorers.

Author, poet and translator, Deepa Agarwal was brought up in Kumaoni region of the Himalayas. She has now published over 50 books for both children and adults. Her books have been published by publishers including Puffin Classics. To name a few, her most loved books by the readers are Chandrakanta and Listen, O King! Five-and-Twenty-Tales of Vikram and the Vetal. She is a frequent contributor to famous magazines and journals in India and elsewhere. Deepa is also a receipient of the NCERT National Award for Children’s Literature in 1993 for her picture book Ashok’s New Friends, while her historical fiction Caravan to Tibet was on the 2008 IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Honour List.

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