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Face To Face with Writer Minakshi Kanwar

Minakshi Chaudhry Kanwar is one such exceptional soul who is in tune with the world beyond, who is receptive to ethereal whispers, gives credence to them, and passes them on to us. She is a teller of tales, a disseminator of stories. In the world today we need such story tellers. Not only is Minakshi the writer and compiler of ghost stories and love stories from the hills, or travel books that help you explore the difficult terrain of the Himachal, she is one who has waged a battle against a dreaded cancer, survived it, and then risen again like the phoenix to face the challenges of life afresh. She does not allow clouds of gloom to darken her world; she is full of sunshine and inspires all those who come into contact with her.This week she is face to face with nwztoday.

Nwztoday- Writing for you is passion, how you made it your profession?

Minakshi- It started gradually. I was a reporter with the Indian Express at the time of my marriage. My husband was posted in Pangi, one of the remotest parts of the state at that time. There was no road, no electricity and no telephone. I decided to leave my job and stay with him in that wilderness. There I wrote my first book Exploring Pangi Himalaya: A World Beyond Civilisation about this remote tribal valley of the state. The reasons for writing this book were:

a) there was no detailed account available about this land-locked valley which remained cut off from the rest of the world for nearly six months as all approaches to the valley across high mountain passes closed due to heavy snowfall;

b) I wanted to pen down my impressions about this beautiful valley and the life style of tribal people;

and c) as this was a factual account, it was easy to write for me given my experience as a journalist.

In Pangi I got an opportunity to hike and trek which I always wanted to do. This turned into a passion and I drifted towards travel writing. I wrote three books (Guide to Trekking in Himachal- over 65 Treks and 100 Destinations; Himachal: A Complete Guide to the Land of the Gods and Destination Himachal: Over 132 Offbeat and 12 Popular Getaways). I contributed to the Himachal section for the travel books published by the Outlook magazine and I wrote a book 30 Easy Treks in Himachal for Himachal Tourism.

While I was doing travel writing, I was intrigued by the tales of the supernatural and ghosts in the hills so I wrote Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills which became a bestseller (later I wrote the second volume More Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills as people started to approach me with so many tales saying that I had ‘missed’ the real ghost story). Then I wrote Love Stories of Shimla Hills and started to work on an anthology on Himachal which was published as Whispering Deodars: Writings from Shimla Hills. The book has articles by HH the Dalai Lama, Khushwant Singh, Satish Gujral, Pankaj Mishra, Ruskin Bond and Harish Kapadia and many more.

In 2008, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After my treatment was over I decided to pen down my experience as a cancer survivor and wrote Sunshine: My Encounter with Cancer.

At present I am working on a series of mystery, crime and adventure thrillers for young adults. This series of 19 books is set in Shimla and in this a team of youngsters solves crimes and mysteries. I have also finished a manuscript Daddy’s World, story of a man who has dementia.

So it has been a gradual drift from sociological writing to travel to storytelling to fiction. But I must say that I became a writer because of the motivation and support of my father who from school days inspired me to write articles in magazines and newspapers.

Nwztoday- Tell us about your journey in the field of journalism.

Minakshi- After completing my degree in journalism and mass communication I worked with The Indian Express as a reporter at Shimla for three years. Besides doing the standard reporting, I did human interest stories and developmental and investigative reports. I also covered Vidhan Sabha (state legislative assembly) sessions and wrote a fortnightly column, ‘Shimla Round-up’. During this time I got an opportunity to cover Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections which was a good learning experience. I was also a regular contributor to the Shimla Newsline launched by the Indian Express Group.

Nwztoday- Which is your favorite book of all which you wrote?

Minakshi- Destination Himachal: Over 132 Offbeat and 12 Popular Getaways. Himachal is a beautiful state and is full of surprises for all kinds of travellers. It has so much to offer but generally people frequent the so called known tourist destinations do not get to know the beauty of the state. This book is a detailed account of the offbeat destinations, how to reach there, where to stay and what to see. The book covers hundreds of these fascinating and breathtakingly beautiful destinations. I love every part of Himachal. I am an avid trekker so mountain tops, ridges, lakes and small hill villages tucked deep in the valleys attract me the most. I have enjoyed trekking across the mountain passes in the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal-Inderhara, Jalsu, Thamsar, Manimahesh lake- the sacred abode of lord Shiva. Trek to Chur Chandni- the mountain of silver bangle; the Gurkha fort at Dharon Ki Dhar, Seog Catchment Area walk, climb to Shali Peak, beauty of Janjheli, Pong, Chamera and Gobinsagar lakes are also my favourite. All these are part of this book.

Nwztoday- You are inspiration for women in particular; give one message to all women through NWZTODAY.

Minakshi- Be proud to be a woman, be yourself, respect your womanhood and the women around you.

Nwztoday- Any message for the budding journalists? 

Minakshi- Do your work with sincerity, honesty and dedication.


Thanks a lot for your valuable time, Nwztoday wish you all the very best.

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