A treasure trove than merely a book ! Devalaya (both Jharkhand & Bihar Edition) is a pictorial pilgrimage comprising various temples and worship places in the respective states. Since the texts in book are complimentary to snaps or concisely informational, its an overall decent presentation which hits high on the score. Technically a coffee table book (both bulky and heavy – even bigger than folio size), Devalaya deals with all famous holy addresses across the state with exquisite pictures and accompanied narration. It accounts for interesting known and unknown facts that are based on hearsay, urban legends, official & acknowledged descriptions related to each place or temple. Since the book doesn’t digs deep into every place, it is slightly far from an authoritative treatment (though understandable which is obvious for the given nature of the book itself). Devalaya superficially deals with each temple or shrine with good finesse underscoring the religious ecosystem of Bihar & Jharkhand. Giving a coverage to 56 sacred sites at Bihar and 67 from Jharkhand, the book hardly misses over any place that reserves a revered space among people out there. The fact that the its readership will not remain confined to a particular age group (both children & adult will find it equally engaging) is yet another virtue escalating the buy-me-please factor ! Once in hand, the book speaks for itself and takes away to a holy ride.
Rather than a review, this post of mine is a compliment to its author Sharmishtha Sharma and the whole team along with its publisher Jagran Prakashan Limited (JCTB) to have come up with a commendable piece of work.
Though the book is worth buying in every sense, I’d have been merrier if few points were (or will be) addressed. Since I presume the author or the concerned individual will be reading it, I’d like to put forth my suggestions here only (as a part of review) than a personal mail:
a. Moreover, old age persons will also be interested to go through it. And since Jagaran Group is well aware of Hindi readership in the given states (along with the age group and English literacy rate), I believe they could have kept them happy too. I’m sad that none of my parents can read the racy narration but browse the pictures only. Or is it yet another venture to please the westerners (as I find most of the literary works being published today related to Indian Pilgrimage, Spiritual Discourse, Epics coming out in English only) ? Thus, a Hindi edition of the same will be much appreciated.
b. This is merely a request. Since both the editions (Bihar & Jharkhand) have been written exceedingly well, wouldn’t it be nice to cover almost all the states of India ? And taking care of niche market, a multi-volume box set set will also meet a welcome gesture. Probably a huge affair to deal with, but that would be the last word in Armchair Pilgrimage if materialized.
c. Apologies for I’d sound like a purist. But over the pages, sponsors’ logo in the form of mini-adverts are real spoiler. I’m not reading a newspaper supplement or a weekend magazine being distributed for free where such malicious creeps are obvious. I understand that it is coming out a media house where the economy of advertisement and printing are well balanced to keep the newspaper’s cost low. But it is highly uncalled for when it takes a form of dedicated book with considerable price tag. They may be acknowledged in a dedicated page (last flip) in a consolidated manner if quite necessary, but not like this.
On a conclusive remark, Devalaya is a visual delight & something not to be missed ! And did I forget to mention that book comes coupled with a free CD with few religious & classical tracks (from SaReGaMa) ? !