A new documentary podcast delves into disappearances in Himachal Pradesh's Parvati Valley

04 December,2022 08:39 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Jane Borges

Journalist Kunal Purohit and film director Kaizad Gustad team up for a podcast that hopes to unravel stories behind mysterious disappearances in Himachal Pradesh

Purohit with Nirmal Baba who goes to meditate at Parvati Valley each year

We first got curious about Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh after we read journalist Kunal Purohit*s piece in the South China Morning Post. One of the more cryptic lines from the piece was relayed by a mountaineer: Nothing that goes into the Parvati ever comes back.

When an online audiobook and podcast service recently released Vanished: Inside India*s Bermuda Triangle written by Purohit and Kaizad Gustad, we were amazed by how a simple piece of reportage can be meticulously broken down into a 12-episode podcast. Vanished, which is the result of a year-long reporting and research exercise, explores why and how Parvati Valley came to earn such a troubling reputation.

Since the late 1990s, millions of tourists visited this place but some, the creators say, have disappeared into thin air. Never to be seen again. It was a pattern that kept repeating. "It started off by me wanting to find answers to some of these mysterious disappearances in Parvati Valley," says Purohit. "We decided to go back, re-open some of these cases that have remained unsolved for years now and look for clues that would help us piece together any information about the people concerned."

The podcast opens with the story of 24-year-old Polish national Bruno Muschalik who went missing from the valley in 2015. "For a couple of years, there had been no reported cases of disappearances. Unfortunately, when we did go there last November, someone disappeared just hours before we landed." Purohit is talking about 32-year-old businessman Dhruv Agarwal. The podcast then took on a life of its own. "We were caught off-guard but we became invested in this journey, and decided to follow it as far as we could."

Produced by Rainshine Entertainment and narrated by Purohit, the series comes with a disclaimer: "Certain characters, locations, events, and other practices portrayed in this podcast are dramatised and creative liberty has been taken to narrate the story in an effective manner." Having said that, the show stems from real on-ground research and one cannot take away that from the work of its creators. The background score, documentary-style narration, and general ambience makes you feel like you are with the narrator experiencing this haunting story together.

Available on: Audible

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