Published in Telegraph  on 12th September 2021

  •  is a book review  published in the weekly journal ‘Uday India’  on 24th May 2021.  It has been authored by Shri Sanjeev Chopra, Curator of the Valley of Words Literature and Arts Festival, Uttarakhand and former Director  of Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Administration,  Mussorie.


  • A  review  published in Dispatch. It includes an excerpt from the book on Seoul – South Korea –
  • Garwhal Post :
  • A privilege to share with you this review of “On the Trail of Buddha – A Journey to the East”  by  – Shri Raj Kanwar, a ‘young’,  accomplished  gentleman, journalist, writer and much more…    Above all, a Doonite for much of the 92 years  he has been writing and inspiring subsequent generations like ours and the next one!

India and China, the two land neighbours and flourishing civilizations which constituted nearly 50 % of world GDP in the medieval world today share cold relations. The silent cold war issued between the two giants of Asia is not unknown to the world.From past 2000 years Buddhism connected these two nations. With Emperor Ashoka ( Ayuwang) sending missionaries to south east Asia and China,led Buddhism’s sporadic rise in China, Japan and south east. ‘On the trail of Buddha : A journey to the east’ is a travelogue book by a bureaucrat’s sojourn to the sites associated with the Buddha and Buddhism in China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan etc. It is a pictorial journey which the reader experiences, being immersed in the trails being transported to the religious sites discussed in the book. All credits to the exquisite pictures of the pagodas and shrines with surreal descriptions by the author. In the initial chapters, the author discusses the role of Buddhist monks from India who travelled to China and Chinese travelers in Ancient India.

The dimensions of the hardcover and the glossy pages in the book makes one feel like opening an atlas or a traveller’s diary. Travel enthusiasts would surely cherish this book. We learn so much about China, the places, and the author’s interaction with the locals which he has mentioned in the book, gives us an idea that China too is as diverse and vibrant as India. From the mountainous arid region of Xinxiang to the shimmering skyscrapers of Beijing in the east the landscape takes a 180 degree turn ! India and China despite being neighbours for centuries have never gone on wars in the past, it was only after the 1950s the two friends became adversaries. One would surely develop a great knowledge of Lord Buddha, and on the spread of Buddhism through this book.
⭐Reader rating – 5/5

  • A Review from Shri Sachin Jha: Deepankar Aron, a batchmate from college writes this ravishing travelogue. I’m late in laying my hands on a copy but then, as they say of people who’re behind schedule in waking up and smelling the coffee, ‘better latte than never.’

5 countries, 37 towns/cities, 98 locations. Arresting photographs and compelling prose. Each picture is worth a thousand words; and yet the words that append the picture invariably render it with further depth and context. The book could easily be mistaken for a device whose sole aim is to foster tourism in East Asia. But the author’s intentions run deeper. The dotted lines in the maps don’t just seek to connect geographical locations. They seek to explore – transcending space and time – the spiritual and philosophical connects between these locations. 


I guess that’s what’s common to philosophy, spirituality, and travel. The deeper we get into these pursuits, the more we see. The more we see, more the variations we are acquainted with. And more the variations we are acquainted with, more we realise the underlying oneness. In vivid colour as well as in black and white, this is precisely what Aron’s work is a testimony to. 


Philosopher Nick Bostrom has a theory for why SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) has so far failed to detect signals from alien civilisations. He says it’s not because such civilisations eventually destroy themselves in war. It’s because they prefer to spend their time in a virtual reality paradise, as soon as they are able to devise one. Hence, according to this theory, the window for sending out interstellar messages is just about 150 years, i.e., the time between the invention of radio to the development of a sufficiently realistic virtual reality. Yes, virtual reality does seem like an attractive option: indulging in new experiences while foregoing sweat, pain, and the frustrations of baggage claim.

The test of a good travelogue, then, is whether or not it prods you more and more towards Bostrom’s hypothesis. Agreed that even the best travelogue will never be a substitute to actual travel; but it can be said to have done it’s job if it transcends the arousing of the ‘wish I were there’ temptation and delivers an experience that leaves you almost sated. 


Take a bow Mr. Aron. And as Buddha would say, do so mindfully.

Pioneer  – 26th June 2022       Review  published in Pioneer on  Sunday, 26th June 2022 written by Shri Raj Kanwar.