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Hit the Buddha circuit trail

Bharath Murthy narrates a travelogue of his experiences along India’s Buddhist pilgrimage circuit using the graphic novel format

The Vanished Path is a black-and-white graphic travelogue by comic artist Bharath Murthy. It is a detailed account of his wife and his pilgrimage through the places where Buddha lived and taught, inspired entirely from the Manga comic format. A graphic travelogue is not often seen.

The storyboard engages the reader with its easy narrative and dynamic illustrations
The storyboard engages the reader with its easy narrative and dynamic illustrations

Being one of the first of its kind, it might be up for a test to its readers. However, it can safely be said that the result would engage the curious. As an artist and a writer, Murthy has succeeded in leaving a vivid memoir of his journey in his recent endeavour. In spite of being part-fiction, the travelogue has not compromised on the facts related to his trip.

It is well detailed, to the point where for example, elements about Indian trains can be noticed without compromising on the intriguing narrative style of the author. Intriguing, because in spite of the seemingly drab religious context to which the book has been written, it turned out to be quite a page-turner.

Certain lucidity in the language seems to make the readers familiar with the mise-en-scene, urging them move ahead. Even the messages of Buddha are well placed. As the author digresses from the original storyline to put forward the Buddhist scriptures and teachings, a ‘wheel’ or Dhamma Chakra, representing Tathagata, prudently voices this approach.

Although the cover calls it ‘travelogue’, and the content is in fact greatly detailed, it’s better to not use the book as a reference material, prior to planning a trip. Further research would be necessary. As well as it has been composed; it would be an interesting account of the author’s trip for anyone over 16 years of age.

The Vanished Path, Bharath Murthy, HarperCollins India, Rs 399. Available at leading bookstores and e-stores
The Vanished Path, Bharath Murthy, HarperCollins India, Rs 399. Available at leading bookstores and e-stores

For better presentation, the book could have been in colour. Otherwise, it might prove to be a success as a light read for travellers, before visiting the said places.

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