What a beautiful journey the book ”˜My Beautiful Journey   – Kashmir to Kanyakumari’

Giriyala book

A Book Review by By Dr. Shailja Chaturvedi

Reading through over 500 pages of ”˜My Beautiful Journey Kashmir to Kanyakumari’ was one of the most exciting journey for me as well. I enjoyed reading the rise of a girl next door of modest background to the elevation of a successful bureaucrat and social reformer rubbing shoulders with the highest ranking world leaders.

This is a very well written book illustrating the history, geography, anthropology, social and cultural aspect of every experience the writer had. It is one of the most inspiring and revealing account of a pioneering  female bureaucrat. In narrating her Janma  Bhoomi she gives comprehensive account of its history, the impact of rulers, the partition of INDIA in 1947 and the forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.

Dr Gariyala’s childhood and youth in Sita Ram Bazar is an interesting insight into the life of a middle class conservative though aspiring family and herself as an excitable flirtatious  teenager prophesying the path of an extrovert and confident youthful people’s princess.

The life of a commanding IAS officer has intrigued most of us. The author in this autobiography unravels the joys, the challenges, the training, the patriotism and the confidence, the National Academy provides to groom and nurture the highest ranking public servants, the administrators to lead into the future of INDIA.

What I like the most was the accompanying background history of every event she described which gives the reader hold of the reference and context to virtually create and revisit the memory lane  with more curiosity.  Being the principal secretary to Hon Chief Minister Jaya  Lalita and secretary to the three  Governers of Tamil Nadu, she is not short of anecdotes to amuse the reader.

Apart from the adventures, romance, passion, thrill, fun and high teas, Dr Gariyala’s most outstanding work was in empowering women and poverty alleviation which she studies at Oxford University and University of Sussex. Her self-help Group Movement in Tamil Nadu has almost wiped away the stark poverty. She has written 5 books on the female power. As the founder trustee of EQUITAS Development Initiative, she has been working with 40 lacs women in micro-enterprises in most of the Indian states for  support and skills training focusing mainly on marginalised widows, SC, ST and the disabled. She has been instrumental in establishing 7 modern state of art matriculation schools affordable for the children of Self-Help Group women and in micro ”“ Enterprises in Tamil Nadu. The trust conducts 400 health camps each month in 11 states of India covering 80,000 people. It conducts job placements for children and has placed 55,000 youths in job so far. With her initiative, credit has been extended to disabled and transgender persons benefitting nearly 14,000 individually.

The book is an evolving and entertaining story of Durga Shakti in a woman who lives through the terrains of adventures, misadventures and challenges to test her potential .Her charm, magnetic personality and charisma helps her win the obstacles and the people who would complement her journey .It is the story of a small town girl who grew up with love and compassion empathy and humility into a high powered successful bureaucrat with vision , enthusiasm and wisdom which continues without any change as a way of her life during her retirement.  A Kashmiri girl who made Tamil Nadu her Karmbhoomi and became proficient in Tamil language is commendable and inspiring.

”˜My Beautiful Journey Kashmir to Kanyakumari’ will prove to be an engaging and entertaining book for a serious reader who wants to experience the joys of discovering life. Dr  Gariyala lives in Newcastle with her husband  Professor Raj Kumar and  in Chennai with the rest of her family to continue working on her humanitarian projects along with enjoying her family and the  vast network of friends.


Publisher: Saraswati  Educational  Cultural and Charitable Trust

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