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Its the season to be jolly!


Dateline Mussoorie: It’s the season to be jolly! And what better way to ring it in than a Christmas cake mixing against the backdrop of the Queen of Hills, Mussoorie sprawled across nineteen square kilometers.

A day after Advent Sunday, Jaypee Residency Manor Mussoorie turned out in all its festive revelry to keep its date with tradition. With the winter sun in all its glory, the customary cake mixing party was held in the terrace.

Executive Chef Tanuj Nayyar guided the guests to mix ingredients including black currant, apricot, rum soaked figs, drunk raisins, dates, candied orange peel, candied ginger, dry cherries, tutti frutti and candied pumpkin, spices along with, “organic apple-based wine which made its way all the way from Mukteshwar,” he says.

Also present were students from class 6-8th of Nirmala High School who had just got a well-deserved break from their school exams. Dipping their hands into the cake-mix, for most of them this was an enriching experience. Shanu from class 7th who had just finished her science exam tells us, “it was very exciting and fun mixing dry fruits with the wine,’ Anushka adds, “for us this was a much needed outing with our friends. It is nice to learn traditional recipes.

For the last fourteen years, Anil Sharma, VP, Jaypee Residency Manor, Mussoorie has kept the magic of the Christmas cake-mixing alive. He ensures that the school children carry on the baton and add to the festive spirit, “We want the children to see and learn. We want them to carry this tradition forward.

Hill-stations and cake-mixing towards the end of November have become synonymous with winter. Here is a ritual that ushers in the festive season, good tidings and ends on a high note with New year eve celebrations, attracting tourists from home and abroad.

Three day literary bonanza in Dehradun


Dateline Dehradun: After a two-month stimulating pan-India event from New Delhi to Baroda to Kolkata onto Hyderabad, the Valley of Word, 2021, Lit fest returns to its karm-janam bhoomi for a three-day literary bonanza.

In its last leg, i.e. 19th-21st of November the festival will bring in a bit of Science, throw in a bit of technology and add the magic of written word. The team will also be announcing its eight winners under the eight categories:

English Fiction and non-fiction, Hindi fiction and non-fiction, Writings for Young Adults, Writings for Children, Translations into English and Hindi from Indian Languages.

While the 19th of November will be dedicated to the world of Science and Technology at UCOST,  with session revolving around the Astronomy in Ancient India, History of Medicine, History of Information Technology and the History of S & T of Indian Glass.

On the 20th of November there will be an interesting line-up of young students from the Doon valley namely, Oceanic School, Doon International School Riverside, Mountford Academy, Greenwood hills along with students from the Latika Roy Foundation bring alive shortlisted books under the Writing for Children Vertical.  Authors showcasing their shortlisted translated books from regional literature such as Assamese, Gujarati, Urdu into Hindi will be in conversation with esteemed panelists from Delhi and Dehradun.

The 21st of November is dedicated to carrying forward the Valley of Word legacy of promoting a healthy culture of debate, discussion and critical appreciation through debates on topical issues via the VoW Mantrana Debate and the VoW National Debate Competition involving nation-wide schools. The finals for both the competitions will be held virtually on the 21st with judges joining us physically from Dehradun’s literary circuit.

Interspersed with the two debates is The Valley of Words, VOX Populi – The Parliamentarians Debate.” In this session eight parliamentarians from different parties will engage in a discussion on a politically contested issue and put forward their standpoint and perspectives supported by facts and figures.

Summing up the pan-India Valley of Word, 2021 Festival Director Sanjeev Chopra says, “The Valley of Words,2021 has grown both in terms of temporal and spatial reach. Vow, 2021 is a major landmark which has seen a significant increment over the past editions. Along with an addition to five cities, the range and diversity of our discussant and panelists and participants has been unique. Valley of Words, lit fest, is perhaps amongst the only lit fest which connects all generations, genres, Indian languages and region.




Ishaan Shaurya Chamoli honoured with Global Top 10 award by Intel

Ishaan Shaurya Chamoli winner of Intel Award

Dateline Mussoorie: Sixteen year old Ishaan Shaurya Chamoli,  representing India from Uttarakhand has been honoured with the AI Enthusiast Global Top 10 award by Intel.

Speaking to Newspost, an enthusiastic Ishaan says, “It was exciting as well as humbling to know that I won this award for a concept that will be very beneficial given present day world scenario. The award has given me the impetus to pursue it even further.’ Adding, “The project i.e. using Artificial intelligence to relocate millions of refugees across the world  is very close to my heart. I am trying to develop the project and put it to practical use in the near future. I want to transform it from paper to reality.”

For the past two years, since pandemic hit, Ishaan Shaurya Chamoli has been in Mussoorie with his grandparents pursuing his online classes. It is here in early October that he learnt about the California-based American Multinational Company and largest global computer chip manufacturer, Intel corporation organising the AI Global Impact Festival.  Intel was celebrating Artificial Intelligence innovations in order to encourage young students to participate in an enriching global experience.  A number of sessions on diverse topics by Intel®️ and industry experts were organised to encourage young-minds.

Taking part in the global fest , Ishaan Shaurya Chamoli represented India at the International level and went on to win the National AI Enthusiast Award bringing laurels to his alma matar, Ridge Valley School and family back home.

After a national selection round, global voting, followed by an interview with an Intel panel, Ishaan’s project was selected as Global Top 10 and India’s number 1 idea (Under 13-18 Years age category). His brilliant and noble innovation on using Artificial Intelligence to relocate millions of refugees across the world has won Ishaan USD 1500 and a certificate by Intel.

For someone who has been fascinated with Artificial Intelligence Ishaan dreams of using it to the benefit of the human race.

Car rally beauties come calling

Marking history

Dateline Mussoorie: A hotel in the hill-station of Mussoorie is reliving history.  Welcomhotel By ITC Hotels, The Savoy, is gearing up to play the perfect host to those associated with ‘The Nazir Hoosein Memorial Drive,’ which is retracing the Himalayan Car Rally route of 1981, in the memory of the legendary motor sport enthusiast Nazir Hoosein.

A hotel with a history spanning over a hundred years, Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels, the Savoy has always been a regular pitstop for the Himalayan Car Rally circuit until the early 1980s. The otherwise sleepy town of Mussoorie would wake up to the roar of vintage beauties on wheels winding their way to or from Mussoorie.

Turning back the clock, the Savoy Mussoorie will welcome over a hundred car rally drivers, enthusiasts, volunteers and try to recreate a part of history for those who congregate  at the hotel on the 9th of November.  Gautam Valli, General Manager Welcomhotel The Savoy describes the event as, “indeed an honour and a moment of great pride for Welcomhotel The Savoy Mussoorie is hosting this remarkable turnout of Himalayan Rally ex-members, volunteers and dignitaries for the Gala Evening on 9th November 2021 to honour Indian motorsport legend, Nazir Hoosein.”

The cavalcade of rally cars will hit the town running on the evening of 9th of November, just as the ethereal Winterline will spread its magic across the horizon. It marks yet another page in the annals of history of not only just Welcomhotel The Savoy but also the Queen of Hills, Mussoorie too.

Next day, on the 10th of November, the convoy will be flagged off from the hotel by a line-up of state dignitaries as they set off on their way to Kufri in Himanchal Pradesh before arriving at the finishing line in New Delhi, four days later i.e. 14th of November.

Pandavaas, ‘Riding up to the Stars’

Royal Enfield

Dateline Srinagar: The latest Royal Enfield movie, ‘Riding Upto the Stars/Astral ride’ launched on YouTube is anything short of being an audio-visual treat.

The close to three-minutes, the AV takes the audience on a ride across the breath-taking splendour of Zanskar and Changthang Valley of Ladakh with the soulful voice of local artist Kunzes Dolma in the background accompanied by the music of Rigzen Sangdrup, Angdu Khigu and Pracheer Devli of Dehradun.

What makes this movie even more endearing is the fact that it has been put together by the efforts of the multi-talented Pandavaas group, based out of Srinagar, Garhwal.

Post the success of their ‘Looms of Ladakh’ episode, the Royal Enfield team reached out to the Pandavaas to take on the role of a creative team with the Royal Enfield riders. Shot in the month of September and October when the Milky way galaxy is seen in all its splendour, the team spent a little over a month to shoot the starlit formation in the dry, arid and light-free desert of Zanskar and Changthang.

The team of Royal enflied

Ladakh is a pilgrimage for every Royal Enfield rider and the company wanted to  promote responsible tourism with its motto, ‘leave every place better.’  This was reason enough for the Pandavaas i.e. the three brother team of Ishaan, Kunal and Salil Dobhal along with Shashank Nawani from Haridwar to come on board.

Talking about the project Kunal Dobhal the videographer of the shoot adds, “We have many such picturesque towns and valleys, similar in beauty, if not more in Uttarakhand as well and we wish these will be projected in brands such as these, in the near future.”

We handpicked local singers and musicians and stitched together a promo which has turned out as magical as ever, ” says Ishaan who did the music for the shoot. While Salil Dobhal who captured the essence of Zanskar and Changthang valley and the Milky way in all its glory says, “we have tried to change the image of a biker into a gentleman rider and that is what comes across in our joint endeavour.

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For every cake has a story to tell


Dateline Mussoorie: While the rest of the country begins to ring in Diwali festivities, exactly a week apart.  In Mussoorie, Welcomhotel The Savoy Mussoorie is bringing in the spirit of Christmas, that too, two months early.

In its sprawling Central Lawn, keeping in tune with the Christmas theme of Red and Gold, the hotel picked the ideal spot, on a sunny autumn afternoon to hold its customary cake-mixing ceremony followed by a traditional English high-tea.

Year after year, following the age-old custom the hotel staff, hotel guests along with dignitaries from the community turn out in large numbers towards the end of October to do their bit in keeping this 17th century tradition alive. They gather around a customised eighteen feet cake-mixing table to kick-off the festivities with fun and laughter.

And here we go…

During the half hour ceremony, Head Chef Rajeev Badola explained how, “Cake-mixing preparation begin months in advance. The customary mixing of an array of fruits, black currant, apricot, ginger peels, prunes, figs, resins, dates, tutti-frutti, grounded spices, mace, soaked in choicest of spirits such as wine, dark and white rum and brandy give that well-blended flavour to the Christmas cake, and of course, it brings the community together and enhances the festive mood.”

Due to Covid, the last year cake-mixing was an intimate affair. What makes this year’s cake-mixing even more special, keeping covid protocol in place, is the five and a half feet long, locally procured hand-made spatulas that will ensure the highest standard of hygiene, safety and physical distancing, along with customised face masks stitched in-sync with the occasion.

After being soaked for weeks on end, this perfect blended fruity mixture will then be baked into traditional festive indulgences in the month of December, setting the tone for the onset of Christmas in the hill-station of Mussoorie.

Gautam Valli, General Manager Welcomhotel The Savoy tells us, “ This aint all! This is just the beginning, we have a whole lot of events lined-up until the end of the year. ”

Watch out for this space for more.

‘Songs of the River Ganga’ being shot in Uttarakhand

Shantanu Moitra and Mohit Chauhan

Dateline Harsil: A documentary titled, ‘Songs of the River Ganga’ is being shot on location in the scenic town of Harsil, Uttarkashi.

Talented Music Director Shantanu Moitra who has given charter buster music in films like Three Idiots, Munna Bhai MBBS; Parineeti and PK is heading the six-episode documentary unit.

The documentary travels along the river Ganga from its place of origin in Gaumukh and culminates in Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh. Its first episode begins in Harsil, Uttarkashi with local folk artists dancing to the soulful voice of Bollywood singer Mohit Chauhan.

To take in the essence of what makes Uttarakhand unique, Shantanu Moitra cycled from Gangotri to Harsil capturing the beauty of the hill state.

Over the next two months, the unit will move along the holy river and shoot in towns like Devprayag, Rishikesh where Ganga debouches into the great plains of India. Enroute, renowned singers, from the Hindi film industry will join in to be part of ‘Songs of the River Ganga.’

Smitten by the beauty of Harsil, singer Mohit Chauhan had this to say, “It is very important that places like Harsil should be highlighted and put on the map. Mediums such as these help in propagating the pahadi culture and tradition far and wide. Efforts like these should be encouraged.”

“Songs of the River Ganga” will be released sometime early next year on OTT channels such as YouTube, HotStar, Amazon Prime etc.

Film-maker JP Dutta felicitated by VoW

Gen Cardozo felicitating JP Dutta Pic Courtesy: Themoodylens

Dateline New Delhi: Ending Producer, Director and Film-maker JP Dutta’s birthday week on a high note, the Valley of Words, International Literature and Art festival felicitated Shri JP Dutta for his sterling contribution to the world of cinema.

At their Military History and Strategy vertical held at the USI, New Delhi, JP Dutta in the presence of his family, was presented with a marigold pin and appreciation certificate by none other than the mentor of Valley of Words, General Ian Cardozo himself.

The ‘Marigold flower or gendaa, holds a special reverence in the armed forces as a Flower of Remembrance.  General Ian Cardozo, composed a poem on this floral tribute on 28th March, 2016 which reads…

 ‘So, pause a moment all who care

and offer up in silent prayer

this sacred flower for a soldier’s death

to remember that last most precious breath.’

In his valedictory speech at the function, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said, “JP Dutta saheb is an icon in the way he has been projecting wars through media and the films he has made.”

Pic Courtesy: Themoodylens

For decades JP Dutta has beautifully woven the Fauj onto the celluloid screen. His cinematic blockbusters like Paltan, Border and many others have inspired a whole generation of Indians to appreciate and celebrate the contribution of our valiant sentinels.



Talking about Shri Dutta ji’s contribution, Festival Director, Dr. Sanjeev Chopra said, “JP Dutta has infused patriotic spirit in Indian youth and brought the sacrifices of soldiers in the 1971 war to the forefront of our cultural imagination.”

Humbled by the gesture, JP Dutta who turned 72 last Sunday said, “Emotions bring history and I transformed emotions into a small tribute to the Indian Army through Border.” He further added, “The Indian Army has not only the arms and ammunition but also character as it’s strength.”

The pan-India Lit fest will now move onto Vadodara, Kolkata and Hyderabad before its three day finale in Dehradun towards the end of November.

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2021: Valley of Words goes pan-India

VoW, 2021

Dateline Dehradun: The fifth edition of the Valley of Words, International Literature and Art Festival, 2021 a.k.a VoW as it is popularly known is all set to flag off their pan-India presence with their first vertical Military History and Strategy dedicated to the 1971 War, to be held in New Delhi from 9-10th of October.

Telling us more about the Festival, Dr. Sanjeev Chopra, Director of VoW, states, “Over a period of two months, the pan-India festival will move to II and III tier cities such Vadodara, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Dehradun. This year the focus of the Military History and Strategy vertical is the War of 1971, that has re-shaped the sub-continent and will be held at the United Services Institution of India, New Delhi.”

This cerebral outpour will continue over the next two months over five cities and will include authors/panelists/moderators/guests attending virtual and physical session from across India and abroad. The Lit fest, like last year, will be both physical and virtual due the pandemic, ensuring that the written word is spread beyond geographical boundaries.

Tailor-made for readers of every age group this literary extravaganza incorporates many, if not all genre of creativity from literature in English, Hindi, regional languages, sessions curated for people from the defence forces, translators, poets, research scholars, policy makers, regional writers, young adults, children, debate enthusiasts, photographers, book launches, science and technology, art and culture all brought under one banner: Valley of Words.

Dr. Sanjeev Chopra further adds, “The last leg of the Lit Fest will be held in Dehradun. It will be a three day event towards the end of November. The festival has its roots in the Doon valley which has been our karam and janmbhoomi, and as always we hope to end it on a high note.”

During the festival, many firsts from the world of cinema, the defence forces and environmentalists will be felicitated for their extraordinary contribution to their respective fields.

The Valley of Words a.k.a VoW has gained popularity with each passing year as it celebrates creative expression across all genres, and beyond with a galaxy of eminent scholars joining in, year after year.

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The Himalaya Cafe, Scotland has a Mussoorie connect


Dateline Mussoorie: In the beginning the Scots came to Mussoorie. Two hundred years down-the-road, Mussoorie has moved to the Scottish Highlands.

Making headlines with His Holiness the Dalai Lama supporting a GoFundMe in Scotland has a Mussoorie connect. Reka Gawa, the proud owner of Himalaya Cafe was all of thirteen years old when she left her home in Mussoorie to settle in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Answering my Whatsapp messages she kept to her promise. She writes: “I have vivid memories of Mussoorie and my home there. We would then walk all over the place from the Mall, talking to locals, sipping on sweet Mussoorie chai to enjoy the magical sunsets of Landour. It is all etched in my mind forever.”

Reka spent her childhood in Radha Bhawan and finished her schooling here before moving to Denmark for her further studies. She reminiscences, “I would often visit Edinburg as I had a friend there. The place slowly grew on me and I fell in love with it. It reminded me so much of my home in Mussoorie. And I sprouted roots here.

As luck would have it, Reka started working in the hospitality department of the Scottish Parliament. It was exactly where, in 2004 that she was destined to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who was on an official visit to Scotland. And that meeting was to change her life forever.  He advised her to join in the effort to ‘promote Tibetan culture.’

Being a skilled cook, she thought the best way to take the message of HH Dalai Lama forward would be to open a café. In 2017, Himalaya Tibetan Café came into existence. 14 years later, the café brings a little piece of Tibet, with its vibrant colours, incense, Tibetan artefacts and it own meditation room filled with books lending it a flavour of home.

Today the Himalaya Tibetan Café is an oasis in itself. Situated in the heart of Edinburg, its doors are open to one and all. The Café specializes in Asian and Tibetan cuisine, with vegetarian friendly, vegan options and also gluten free meals on its menu, not forgetting the good-old Mussoorie chai.

The café’s ‘pass it forward’ scheme to give food away to the homeless has won many hearts.

Recently Gawa ran a GoFundMe fundraiser to buy her rented Café. She found support by none other than His Holiness Dalai Lama himself, and within weeks, exceeded the target.

At the outset of the fund raiser appeal, Reka Gawa stated: ‘The Café is run on the Buddhist principle of compassion. After all, it was the words of His Holiness which inspired me to open a café in the first place.”

And compassion it is that has moved mountains!