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Indian Art, Craft and Photography
Nicholas Roerich Studio at Naggar, Himachal Pradesh


Nicholas Roerich Studio at Naggar, Himachal Pradesh

I do not remember when I first saw the images of paintings by Nicholas Roerich. Must have been when I first visited National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi while studying engineering at Delhi. I have never forgotten those images. They were so simple yet so strong and the mountains kept calling.

It was several years later, probably in 1995, we made our first trip to Naggar. We were on a holiday at Manali and Naggar is little more than an hours drive from there. Made a trip - Roerich studio was simply fascinating. A studio any artist would would give his arm and a leg to work at. Overlooking a valley and walking distance from the old palace of the Hindu king there. The old palace is now a heritage hotel property run by Himachal Tourism. During our one week stay made two more trips to Naggar.

I wish I was around when Nicholas Roerich used to live there and paint. He was a legend and a truly multifaceted personality. He traveled extensively in Himalayas, was a writer, an archaeologist, a theosophist - all this apart from being a great artist!

Our second trip to Naggar was around 2005 with our son Aalok who must have been about six years when we went to Manali specifically to experience snow. It was a tough time in Manali with snow all over and our hotel was one of the few properties which had not shut for the winter. The large glass pane of our hotel room made sure that we saw the snow falling all the time. This was a wonderful feeling to begin with but not after few days. During this stay at Manali, we again made few trips to Naggar. Met the Russian lady who was in charge of the Roerich centre there. Bought several cards and prints of Roerich's paintings to give away to friends and artists.

When I started Indiaart Gallery, I was surprised to find that many artists from Pune and Mumbai were not aware of Roerich and his contribution to Indian art. None I met had visited Naggar. I wondered if the art history course at art schools had not taken note of this great Russian painter who made India his home. Much later I was delighted to see some of Roerich's original paintings at the permanent gallery at Chitrakala Parishath at Bangalore. It also housed paintings by Nicholas Roerich's son Svetoslav. Svetoslav married Devika Rani, an Indian movie star from the early part of twentieth century. They settled down in Bangalore. Much later I got to know Ravi Shankar whose father was the secretary of Chitrakala Parishath, Bangalore.

When I talked to Shri. Kishor Ranadiwe about Nicholas Roerich, he was excited enough to make a trip to Naggar. When he returned we planned a series of paintings on Himalays by Kishor Ranadiwe. This also resulted into a full exhibition of his canvases on Himalayas.