If you love stories then read along. Let us take you to the vivid world of scroll paintings! Here you will find paintings that would have you falling in love with the art that tells you the story as much as the story itself. Welcome to the world of Cheriyal Art!

 

 Cheriyal scroll painting depicting Indian Myth

               Cheriyal scroll painting depicting Indian Myth

 

 Types of Cheriyal art scrolls depicting different types of stories.

   Types of Cheriyal art scrolls depicting different types of stories.

Originated from the village of Cheriyal, 85 km from Warangal district of Telangana, Cheriyal scroll painting is a version of Nakashi art rich in Indian mythology motifs. Painted in a narrative format like that of a comic strip, Cheriyal art depicts stories from the Puranas and Epics. While they bear some resemblance to Madhubani paintings, they are intensely infused with local flavour that creates the uniqueness in Cheriyal art of storytelling.

Each Cheriyal Scroll painting is drawn on a khadi cloth opening with a piece of Lord Ganesha, followed by Goddess Saraswati. It’s way adopted by the artists to pay respect to the deities and seeking their blessings.

The technique of cheriyal scroll painting would tell you about the sophistication level as firstly they begin with applying a paste of tamarind seed along with tree gum and white clay. After applying three coats of this paste and allowing it to dry for a day or two, the scroll is finally ready for the further procedures. Now the artist draws the outline using a squirrel haired brush. Next is the turn for the predetermined colouring system. The red colour fills the background and blue and yellow colours are used for Gods and Goddesses respectively. While brown and darker shades are used for demons and pink skin tones are used for depicting humans.

Earlier natural dyes were used which were obtained from grounded sea shells, turmeric, vegetables etc. While today natural dyes are largely replaced by organic watercolors which are mixed with tree gum before applying on the scrolls. These paints are said to last over 300 years provided they don’t come in contact with water.

 D.Vaikuntham working on Cheriyal Art

        D.Vaikuntham working on Cheriyal Art

Today D.Vaikuntham’s family is only to practice the cheriyal art form, they have continued the Cheriyal tradition since the 15th century. They are the true masters of art form in this era. Apart from making the scroll paintings, the art has got a modified version of making masks in the same colour pattern and same themes of depicting the Indian mythologies as well. Due to the trouble of fitting in the modern world, the artists are forced to modify the art form.

The modified version of Cheriyal art as a mask

    The modified version of Cheriyal art as a                                                mask

Adapting the modern global changes is a major challenge for ancient art forms. It makes it difficult for them to breathe in with so many alternatives and replacements around but Cheriyal Art continues to survive. Ergo, an ancient tradition has been preserved with passion and zeal overflowing to keep it alive today and for coming generation!


Content Research by Saif Ansari and Written by Seemab Alam

The sound of moving water, be it the waves of a sea hitting the shore or the gentle flow of a river, has always enthralled the best of us. To commemorate the essence of life, Nazariya brings you Jalatarangam, a percussion instrument that is tuned not with strings but with water!

Jalatarangam, The Instrument

Jalatarangam, The Instrument

Jalatarangam is an Indian melodic percussion instrument that involves numerous ceramic or metal bowls filled with different levels of water aligned in unique patterns. When the edges of the bowl are stroked, they produce water waves that produce a sound so melodious that one would never really want it to come to a halt.

The emergence of Jalatarangam is found in Vātsyāyana’s Kamasutra as playing on musical glasses filled with water. However today this instrument has tumbled into anonymity despite its historical prominence. Being the most traditional Indian classical music, some scholars think that in the ancient period these were in routine practice around the eastern border of India.

The medieval musical treatise of Sangeet Parijaat have accomplished this instrument under Ghan-Vadya i.e. an Idiophpnic instrument in which sound is produced by striking a surface, also called concussion idiophones. The Sangeet Saar (manuscript on classical Indian music & dance) considered one with 22 cups to be complete Jalatarangam and one with 15 cups to be of mediocre status. The cups are of varying sizes were made of either bronze or porcelain.

Jaltarang, The Instrument

                       The bowls used in Jalatarangam

Today only china bowls are preferred by artists, numbering around 16 in normal use. The number of cups depends on the melody being played, in order to play this instrument the cups are arranged in a half circle in front of the player who can reach them all easily. Water is poured into the cups and pitch is changed by adjusting the volume of water in the cup. The player then softly hits the cups with a wooden stick on the border to get the sound. However playing this instrument is not at all easy, it requires a lot of skill to produce music leading to trance. Sangeet Saar also mentions that if the player can rotate the water through a quick touch of the stick, nuances and finer variations of the note can be achieved.

Poets of the Krishna cult have mentioned the wonders of Jalatarangam in their literature work. Many contemporary players of Carnatic music do attempt to produce Gamak (can be defined as a fast meend or spanning 2-3 notes normally delivered with deliberate force and vigour and repeated in an oscillatory manner) often in the face off sounds going skewed lacking required control. George Harrison played the Jalatarangam on the title track of his 1982 album Gone Troppo. In India, Seethalakshmi Doraiswamy, Shashikala Dani and Nemani Somayajulu are accomplished Jaltarang players. Also one of the major Jalatarangam pro is artist Kottayam TS Ajith Kumar hailing from Kerala. His appealing passion towards this instrument led to his creativity of incorporating both melody and laya (the tempo or speed of a piece), thus opening to a new style of playing the instrument. Today he performs in concerts worldwide and promoting the music Jalatarangam which has fallen into concealment today with the emergence of the extensive variety of music.

TS Ajith Kumar

                      Kottayam TS Ajith Kumar performing in a show

As being one of a unique type of music and the most soothing one as well, Jalatarangam should be highlighted and promoted so that it can take a comeback from its obscurity and can once again leave its audience with ecstasy. As of how appealing is the idea of water waves with proper techniques when laid together releases sound that is so alluring!

 


Content Research by Prateek

Not just a tribe, The Halakki are more than that. They are women who stand distinctively to sing their 400 year old story history.

A Halakki Women

Deep in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka are a caste group called Halakki Vokkaliga. Living in the foot of Western Ghats they chose to live a very simple life with the belief that if they take care of mother earth, she will in return take care of them. The word “Halakki” literally means milk (Haalu) and rice (Akki) in Kannada. Like many indigenous of tribal communities that have no documented literarure of their past, the Halakkis have stories and songs of how they were named-

Parvati trips and falls spilling rice and milk on the mud while carrying food for her husband Shiva, who is ploughing the field. Disappointed with this, she makes a male and female doll out of the wet mud and returns home. Shiva, searching for his wife finds these dolls that come to life upon his first touch. Then he tells them that they could work in the field with him and since they were born out of rice and milk, they would be called Halakki.

This is the story the women of this group believe. When we talk about Halakki, we talk about the women. The women of this group are the glue who have been holding this 400 year old ancient tradition alive. Halakki women are hardworking they make paddy fields and sing along their songs when going through the hills and forests. They drape their sarees in a distinctively beautiful way, their naked necks and shoulders are covered with the layers or beaded necklaces they wear. This attire is their identity and makes it comfortable for them to go through hard work in the fields.

halakki women Halakki women in paddy fields

The Halakki has a musical history which they have been carrying till date. Over so many years nothing else but the harvest and the songs associated with harvest makes these vibrant women so happy! The women truly believes that music can change people, so they chase this belief and sing their songs as often as possible to remind their people of their roots and sing them so that the world could never forget them.

Tragically, today there are only 4 women left in the tribe who sing. Only 4 women who remind the world of their 400 year old history. The younger generation moved out to urban areas to pursue their modern dreams but these 4 old women stay back to where they belong and they sing. They sing about fantasises, about daily lives, marriages, protest, about yesterday and about the days to come.

I read an interview where one asks Sukri Ajji (leader and one of the 4 women who sing in the tribe) that what would she speak to a large number of people from cities and other places?

Sukri Ajji replies “Come to our village. Lets sing together!”

 


How can one define culture?

Culture defiantly speaks about a lot of possible horizons. Culture is infinite. Culture is a way of living.

The current generations is living an exemplar life. With the touch of 1900’s and the modernisation of 2000’s, this generation has been familiar with culture so far. But there exists a place where people are losing their touch with their roots, they are losing the significance of their background and emerging in the tech savvy, contemporary lifestyle where we might forget that all that we might be leaving behind is what comprises our history, our painting.

Anthropologically speaking, the concept of culture is an idea of single importance, for it provides a set of principles for explaining and understanding human behaviour. And the concept of cultural space is a boost for living a life which would correlate both our modern lifestyle and our culture altogether.

Therefore, a cultural space is a space or a community which has its own culture and since India is abundant with its variant cultures, cultural spaces are a very attractive idea here.

So far India has been enriched with few amazing cultural spaces which aim to uphold the culture for the people all over the world to experience and be a part of. These cultural spaces are a tourist attraction as well as a platform for people who practice certain culture which might be fading in the world but through cultural spaces, they aren’t fading anymore.

The most successful cultural spaces of India are the following:

LAMAKAAN, HYDERABAD

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Located in Banjara hills, Hyderabad, Lamakaan (meaning the abode of homeless)has become a contemporary addition to the city’s culture. Being a non-profit cultural centre which provides space for events such as arts, literature, theatre music and debates, Lamakaaan was Established in March 2010 by Ashhar Farhan, Humera Ahmed, Biju Mathew and Elahe Hiptoola. The day to day events are managed by Subbareddy Adapala.

Lamakaan hosts concerts of local artists like Warsi Brothers, Ateeq Hussain and many other. It conducts various book releases, plays, seminars and events like Wikipedia meetups. Lamakaan  has become an important part of Hyderabad for the artists but also as an open liberal space, where under the sun people can sit and talk and enhance all that’s around.

Lamakaan being such a positive space has been through rough closure threats but so far it overcame the threats and the establishment stands with the same aura. Lamakaan is a space that inspires.

About Lamakaan

Address Near GVK One, Road 5, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.

Contact number +91 9642731329

Opening hours 10 am to 10 pm

Entry charges ticket for any events does not exceed Rs.100/

Web Address www.lamakaan.com 


SARAYA ECOSTAY, GOA

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Saraya is beautiful cultural space in Sangolda that is in the heart of Goa. Saraya is a Sanskrit word meaning “to begin, to flow.” It’s a space where creativity, art culture, food and eco living flows together in an explicit nature. It’s designed by Deeksha Thind, owner of Saraya and also serves as the chef and architect of the place.

Saraya is a confluence of artistic minds and energies. The main attraction is the 300 year old Portuguese house which holds itself as the art gallery where artists, sculptors, writers, musicians and theatre groups come to share their work and promote the local culture. Besides this Saraya also holds many workshops like workshop on Satori music and teaches various Prana movements. Also Saraya provides a stunning outdoor café with delicious meal and hostel facility which are so cheap that it makes this place a total steal away. Starting from Rs.500 to Rs.1500 depending on the rooms. Cherry on the top- They give you free Breakfast!

Ergo, Saraya is a must visit in Goa. It has an amazing energy.

About Saraya

Address House #64, Chogm Road, Sangolda, Bardez, Goa, 403511

Contact +91 8888926811, email- ria.saraya@gmail.com

Opening hours 5 pm to 11pm

Cost Rs.600 for two people approx.

Web address https://saraya.in 


 STUDIO SAFDAR, NEW DELHI

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A non-funded cultural space in the capital established in 2012 by Jana Natya  Manch (Janam)- one of India’s leading political street theatre groups. Taken care by Studio Safdar Trust, this is a place dedicated to creating an alternative and affordable space in Delhi for enactment and experimenting with art. Studio Safdar mainly supports activities which are involved with the exploration of multiple intersections of communities and politics.

Studio Safdar is platform which is perfect in order to discuss social issues and talk about the fading cultures and how they can be brought back in the society.

So far it’s new but it’s working on its pace. It’s a nice space for spending time watching drama all around and rehearsing. Studio Safdar is type of cultural space which is promoting theatre in an era where people are more inclined towards movies. Great effort by the trust is resulting in something  so good as Studio Safdar is a hope for all the theatre groups around Delhi and other places.

About Studio Safdar

Address 2254/2A Shadi Khampur, Guru Nanak Nagar, New Ranjeet Nagar, New Delhi-110008

Contact +91 9818386114| 011 2570 9456

Opening hours 11am to 8pm

Entry charges FREE

Web address   www.studiosafdar.com


SHILPARAMAM,HYDERABAD

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From Indian pottery to plethora of weaves, woodwork, jewellery, clothes and local crafts of each region of the country, Shilparamam is a fantasy of India’s colour, diversity and talent.  Established in 1992, Shilparamam is spread over 65 acres in Madhapur.

This cultural space is regarded as an never ending cycle of festivals of arts and crafts which presents ethnic art, crafts and skills of the rural folk from all parts of the country.

The most interesting part of Shilparamam is its rural museum. It’s the epitome of classic Indian village depicting rural and tribal lifestyles. It’s a window for the city dwellers and people around the world to see the rural lifestyle.

However, Shilparamam is Hyderabad’s tribute to India’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.

About Shilparamam

Address Hi Tech City Main Road, Madhapur, Near Cyber Towers, Hyderabad, Telangana 500081

Contact no +91 4064518164

Opening Hours 10:30 am to 8pm

Entry Charges For Adults INR 40 and for Children INR 20

Website www.shilparamam.in


CHOLAMANDAL ARTISTS VILLAGE

INJAMBAKKAM, CHENNAI

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10km south of the Adyar river is a bohemian artist village, spread over 10 acres is Cholamandal Artists Village- this artist village is a serene point to relax. Founded in 1966 by artists of the Madras Movement, Cholamandal is India’s largest self-supporting artist’s village and one of the most successful in Asia.

K.C.S. Paniker, painter and the visionary behind Cholamandal, gave India contemporary Indian art. Today it’s a major attraction, this beautiful village is amazingly equipped with everything which needs it to make a hub for contemporary art. Especially the open air theatre- Bharathi, which conducts many conferences, discussions and seminars.

Cholamandal Artist Village has earned massive respect and holds a great reputation all around the world. It believes in art only and is holding the responsibility of portraying contemporary art in the best way ever!

About Cholamandal Artist Village

Address E Coast Road, Cholamandal Artists Village, Injambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600115

Contact No 044 2449 0092

Opening Hours 9:30 am to 6:30 am

Entry charges Rs. 20 for Adults and Rs.5 for Children

Website www.cholamandalartistvillage.com


SMRITI NANDAN CULTURAL CENTRE, BANGALORE

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Smriti Nandan Cultural Centre is a perfect example of alliance between culture and modernity. The mainstream focus of this centre is directed towards preserving the traditions and cultures for the present as well as future generations. They’ve evolved traditions and new legends of music, art, design, theatre, craft and beauty for the people of Bangalore to experience the culture they’ve been leaving behind.

Every month Smriti Nandan conducts cultural programmes which are mainly about philosophy and spirituality, folk theatre, literary events, designing, Film making, music, craft, art, dance etc.

They move along with the modern energy and traditional motifs creating a splashing exposure to our heritage.

 

About Smriti Nandan Cultural Center

Address 15/3, Palace Rd, Vasanth Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560052

Contact No 080 2225 8091

Opening hours Monday to Friday: 9 am to 6 pm

Entry Charges Rs.150 (including one house drink)

Website www.smritinandan.org

The entire concept of having a cultural space is outstanding as our culture this way never really dies; it stays and stays until people associated with them uphold them. Cultural space not only brings responsibility for people to stay close to their roots but also brings them nostalgia with flashback to their history. The above discussed cultural spaces are so far making so much difference in India and its people as this concept is walking side by side with living the tradition and living the modern life.

As long as people loving their culture and roots exist, it might not fade but stay for numerous future generations to see what cultural extravaganza is India!


India is a nation which holds a cultural hub which is beyond comparison and it stands with its remarkable harmony and colours of different cultures and traditions. However, the history of India is one another topic which draws out attention and when it comes to preserving the history and exhibiting it, we Indians take pride in it like no other. There are numerous cultural museums in our country which attracts people from all over the world. Out of so many we present before you a few unique and exquisite cultural museums of India.

Bay Island Driftwood Museum – Kottayam

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A museum exhibiting an exclusive collection of superior quality driftwood articles of immensely high artistic value, prepared through a rare and innovative modern art form, is operating at the picturesque village of Kumarakon in Kottayam. Being the only driftwood museum in India, The Bay Island Driftwood Museum has been certified by The India Book of Records in 2013. Story goes that long ago a school teacher Raji Punnoose (curator and proprietor) picked up the habit of randomly collecting driftwood pieces brought by the sea to the shore. With each cyclone the sea brought along ancient trees and roots and left behind its loot on the shores. These pieces were gathered, cleaned and shaped to give them creative forms – birds, fish, and animals. This process of developing the plundered goods brought in by the Bay of Bengal is on display at this museum for us to see.

The Limca Book of Records has certified that Bay Island Museum as the only drift wood museum that showcases objects which have been painstakingly recovered  and collected from the Andaman seas and beaches by Raji Punnoose. The museum is today managed by a trust to ensure its perpetuity. Recognising its potential as a special interest tourist destination, the state government awarded it the ‘Most Innovative Tourism Project’ prize in 2004. Even though tourists many not exactly be making a beeline for the museum, the recent status of Kumarakom as an incubator for the state’s responsible tourism initiatives is good news. Since it opened its doors in 2001, tourists from close to 100 countries have visited the museum till date. The entry fee of Rs 50 is ploughed back into local area development as well as charity.

The government ruling that nobody can take into custody stuff brought in by the sea following the 2004 Tsunami means that the Bay Island Museum will remain one of a kind only. The museum is a perfect example of how a passion became an obsession and all those efforts given into this came out to be something which is unique and nothing in the world can match with it.

Address Chakranpadi, Vayitharamattom, Kumarakom, Kerala 686563

Contact 0481 252 6223

Opening Hours 10AM-5PM

Website http://www.bayislandmuseum.com/


Anokhi Museum of Hand Painting – Jaipur

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Critics called it ‘a little gem of a museum’; this interesting museum in a restored haveli documents the art of hand-block printing, from old traditions to contemporary design displaying a varied selection of block printed textiles alongside images, tools and related objects – all chosen to provide an in-depth look into the complexity of this ancient tradition.

Like crafts worldwide, the block printing industry faces serious challenges trying to keep pace with modern manufacturing. The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing addresses this fragile situation primarily through education. Dedicated to the art of block printing, AMHP strives to inform both textile specialists and general public alike; but more importantly, the artisans themselves are encouraged to visit and view their craft in a unique and inspirational way. Whilst block Printing and Textile heaven these two are the epitome of grabbing attention of the visitors all around the world. Apart from interpreting, preserving and collecting the Rajasthani art of block painting, one can also observe a huge variety of textiles in the three storeyed museum, complete with elaborate explanations of the make, meaning, quality and speciality of the fabric and its print. One of the biggest attractions in the museum/art gallery is the on-site demonstration of block printing, which holds a high fascination factor for adults and children alike.  

Besides this the place also organises film programs in its auditorium, where documentaries about the rare art of block printing are showcased. If you feel inspired, you can also enrol for a 2 day workshop where you work alongside the skilled artisans on your own project, learning to make blocks and printed fabrics! For those who might be unaware, Anokhi is a brand with many stores across the globe, known for reviving the arts of our past. Also, the building in which this museum is currently was painfully restored by Anokhi’s founders in 1989, for which they were awarded the UNESCO prize for ‘Cultural Conservation’.

Ergo, Anokhi holds a massive fascination among people of age and background. It is a zealous initiative in order to protect the heritage of Rajasthan’s legacy.

Address  Anokhi Haveli, Near Badrinath Temple, Kheri Gate, Amber, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302028

Contact 0141 253 0226

Opening Hours 10:30AM-5PM

Website http://www.anokhi.com/museum/home.html


Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi (IGNCA)

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A premier government-funded arts organization in India, IGNCA is an autonomous institution under the Union Ministry of Culture. It was established in the memory of Indira Gandhi, the late Indian Prime Minister. Launched on 19 November 1985 by the late Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi at a function where the symbolism of the components was clearly articulated at different levels. The elements – fire, water, earth, sky and vegetation – were brought together. Five rocks from five major rivers – Sindhu (Indus), GangaKaveri,Mahanadi and the Narmada (where the most ancient ammonite fossils are found) were composed into sculptural forms. These remain at the site as reminders of the antiquity of Indian culture and the sacredness of her rivers and rocks.

It’s a centre encompassing the study and experience of all the arts—each form with its own integrity, yet within a dimension of mutual interdependence, interrelated with nature, social structure and cosmology. The arts are here understood to comprise the fields of creative and critical literature, written and oral; the visual arts, ranging from architecture, sculpture, painting and graphics to general material culture, photography and film; the performing IGNCA; and all else in fairs, festivals and lifestyle that has an artistic dimension. In its initial stages the Centre will focus attention on India; it will later expand its horizons to other civilizations and cultures. Through diverse programmes of research, publication, training, creative activities and performance, the IGNCA seeks to place the arts within the context of the natural and human environment. The fundamental approach of the Centre is all its work will be both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary.

Since, Art is an inevitable part of human nature, and perhaps the only activity that propagates free expression of thoughts in its purest form and IGNCA exclusively sets up for the preservation and promotion of art in the country.

Address   Mansingh Road, Opposite Of Raksha Bhawan, New Delhi, Delhi 110001

Contact 098148 85236

Opening Hours 8AM-6PM

Website http://ignca.nic.in/


Purani Haveli The Nizam’s Museum – Hyderabad

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Located in the Purani Haveli, Nizam’s Museum is a place worth visiting. Boasting of a rich collection of memoirs, gifts, souvenirs from all over the world, it was created on the wish of last and the seventh Nizam, Asaf Jah VII, the museum showcases a glimpse into the lives of Nizams, who have ruled the city from 19th to 20th century, commencing a high rate of development. Nizam Museum is entailed of a wide range of rare souvenirs and intricately designed mementos. The major attraction here is the golden, wooden throne, which was used during the silver jubilee celebrations of the Last Nizam. There is also a gold model of the pavilion. Diamond inlaid gold Tiffin-box, paintings of Mir Osman Ali Khan, wooden writing box covered with mother-of-pearl, daggers studded with diamond and gold, caskets, etc., are a few popular items on display. An exclusively designed silver perfume bottles, a gift from the Raja of Palvancha is also an admirable piece of art. For car lovers, there are vintage cars such as 1930 Rolls Royce, Packard and a Jaguar Mark V on display.

Another prominent feature is the wardrobe of sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Mahbub Ali Khan. The wardrobe, an entity in itself, is 176 feet long and has two levels. It is made up of Burma teak, one of the finest. The sixth Nizam, is said to have never repeated his clothes, which were given to other after being worn once by him. Hence a section for afore mentioned has been created and another section is of the wardrobe, costumes of other men, women and children of Hyderabad have been highlighted.

Thus, the Nizam’s museum is one extraordinary museum which takes us all the way to lifestyles of the Nizams. We have so far heard the stories of their luxury and sophistication but this museum engages us into imagining the life of the people who once used to live here and were accustomed to the life the museum so far displays. I bet it must be breath-taking.

Address Purani Haveli, Hyderabad, Telangana 500002

Contact 040 2452 1029

Opening Hours 10AM-5PM

Website http://www.hehnmh.com/

 


Therefore, these cultural museums out numerous others in India showcase the history and the unique culture and lifestyles of people who have lived and done so much in the and for the country. It’s a must to visit these museums and explore all that it has to offer us. The exposure of cultures and traditions of India that these museums gives us would definitely leave us spellbound and it would generate a new love and respect in our heart for our nation.

The mega diversity of India and its culture and traditions has drawn attraction from all over the world and will keep doing so. However the job of preserving and presenting the history of some extraordinary and exquisite culture of India has been done by copious museums in India. So far the blog talks about four unique and very interesting cultural museums of India which are for sure to leave you spell bound.


Author: Seemab Alam

To the ups and downs of numerous Ghats, to the survival of the crowd and passing by the majestic cows around the streets, comes the beautiful haveli’s, temples and houses who amidst the chattering women and wandering local vendors stand with their walls being canvases to the bright coloured parrots, elephants, gods and goddesses, all adding up a supreme uniqueness and charm to the lanes of Varanasi.

These wall painting art is known as “Bhitti Chitrakala”, a folk art of Varanasi. However with the growing modernisation this folk art is finding itself difficult to breathe. The paintings showcasing mythological and colonial stories, Rajasthani and Mughal art at Jangambadi Muth, Bhonslaghat, Bageshwari Temple have already lost their gleaming look while others are on the way to extinction.

The main reason for the dying of this art is ignorance and unawareness. However the existence of this art goes back to the 16th century. Today most of the people around the houses who hold these fine wall paintings do not know about them at all. While there once was a time when the same art was valued and people took pride in expressing them on their houses. While today people find doing the same a waste of time and money.

Dr. Sudhir Keshri, assistant professor from the faculty of visual art, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) says that “The paintings in the city are now hardly visible, main reason being the witlessness of the people and no willingness to take any action against it by the authority.”

The paintings however can still be seen by a hair’s breadth around the old houses at Assi, Bageshwari Temple in Jaitpura, Laxmi Narayan Temple, Dasaswamedh Ghat, Devki Nandan Ki Haveli, Sankat Mochan Mandir and few more places.

Dr. Keshri adds, “The paintings depicts mythological stories from Durga Saptashati, Ramayan, Samudra manthan and Dashavtar on the walls of ashrams and temples. Also the elite class families used to paint their Havelis with certain designs. During marriages etc. people used to make paintings of Lord Ganesha, traditional sainiks, elephants, horses, parrots and peacocks. However today the ones who do paint their houses are all confined to the paintings of Lord Ganesha. ”

Concluding up Dr. Keshri says that “With the basic idea of considering wall paintings a waste of time and money and also with other advancements this art is hardly surviving. Topped with negligence, there rarely aren’t any artists into this profession anymore as most of them have shifted to other jobs due to no work availability.”

Around 2 years ago the students of Banaras Hindu University took the initiative to revive this art by painting the house walls of people who were willing to, for free. It was an excellent step to connect this intangible art with tangibility. Also a non-profit organisation- Jnana Pravaha, has put in efforts and collected the drawings of all the paintings that were made on temples, ashrams and other haveli’s and houses of the city as these drawings will be stored in museums.

Thus, a city like Varanasi which portrays a beautiful picture for people all around the world to know what gold this old city holds, would start losing something like Bhitti Chitrakala, it may somehow lead to start loosing up our traditions and folk art gradually.

I remember an old man talking at the ghats that “civilisation have come and gone, people have lived here and have been cremated here, days and years have passed but our benaras and it’s magic is still the same.”

I wonder if he would ever realize that things are not the same. I wonder if we, the young generations can uphold these traditions for the coming many generations to see all the gold this old city has been holding since forever.

All Picture Courtesy Belongs to Mohit Khetrapal (Student, Sunbeam School, Varanasi)


Author: Seemab Alam

Image Source: http://www.desipaintings.com/images/Chamba-miniature-painting.jpg

The romantic ambience of the monsoon season in the heart of Himalayan Mountains was once loved by a princess named Champavati, daughter of Raja Sahila Varman around 920 A.D. While Raja’s daughter took fancy to the site and asked her father to build a town upon it. As the Raja agreed with his beloved daughter and the town was given its name Chamba from the princess’s name Champavati.

Ravi River

Image Source: http://www.indiamike.com/files/images/07/95/31/chamba-1.jpg

The Chamba district is in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India. Located at the altitude of 996 meters (3.268 ft) above mean sea level, situated beside the bank of Ravi river and has the population of 20,312 people.

While Chamba is noted for its miniature Pahari Paintings  where Basohli style of paintings took roots with Nikku, the artist of Basohli migrating from Guler to Chamba in the 18th century. However Basohli paintings are considered the first school of Pahari paintings and during the reign of Raja Udai Singh and Raja Jai Singh, patronizing of this art form was conducted. In its continuation Raja Charhat Singh developed this folk art at another huge scale which had a long lasting effect on the local artists.

Image Source:                                http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_sFCue8XC5cI/TP4RcZPg5ZI/AAAAAAAAAl0/TBHMXxSAP2M/s1600/PACF016.JPG                                  http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_sFCue8XC5cI/TP4RAAio8wI/AAAAAAAAAlk/FBURg_0DCSE/s1600/PACF019.JPG                                        http://www.indiamike.com/files/images/17/95/31/chamba-2.jpg                             http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_sFCue8XC5cI/TP4RQtZZemI/AAAAAAAAAls/GbcQAMRgABQ/s1600/PACF008.JPG

Chamba paintings bear a resemblance to Mughal style of paintings including strong influences of Deccan and Gujarat style of paintings. Chamba paintings being very realistic and revealing social documents of history of those times also inspire from the natural surroundings and combine in the depictions of Hindu Mythology particularly the legends of Radha Krishna, Shiva-Parvati, Rama Darbar, Yashoda and Krishna, Gopis Love scenes, deer, birds and women.

Art has two different aspects of presentations, traditional and innovative. The art of Chamba, presented via Pahari painting school is basically traditional. The composition of this art is based on the old form. The main reason for this is the arcade for traditional style paintings. As very few artists have strength and courage to create their own idioms and independent styles that are really different from old forms. Many artists create copies from other paintings in a general manner, however they may enlarge and change the figures but the set form has a very hard grip on their psyche.

The major reason for the extinction of this art form is that it failed to evolve itself with the changing time and adapt itself into the contemporary world. There has been a visible stagnation in Chamba painting in creative demeanour when compared to the work of other artists with vibrant innovations we find in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and other cities in the world of contemporary artists.

Tradition needs to be preserved but the same preservation would cause the loss of any other substantial tradition is not appreciated. Therefore similar is the case with Chamba Painting. Chamba is a town with rich cultural tradition with many national award winners but altogether the town lacks the “art-world” coordination. The basic synchronization between the artists and politics either narrow or wide, demand of the market and changing perspective due to modernisation lacks in Chamba which somehow is responsible for the crumbling position of this wonderful art form. Also this has also prevented the artists of Chamba from a pure and delightful experience of interaction and sharing.

However the tangible connection to this intangible heritage survives with the preservation of many traditional paintings being showcased in many museums at Chamba, Shimla and Dharamshala and these museums also hold the distinguished work of artists like Lehru, Durga and Miyan Jara Singh.

Also with proper attention to this art form and by covering missing coordination of the art and changing world and fixing any other remaining loopholes we may preserve this art form from dying forever.

Its important for us to uphold what our ancestors have left us behind. Be it the beautiful stories, the massive mahals or the eye-catching art like the Chamba Painting. Our roots lie in them and binding our roots with such tempting traditions defines who we are.     


Author: Seemab Alam

Image Sources: 

http://i1.tribune.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/481629-DastangoiPhotoPublicity- 1355931408-393-640×480.JPG                       http://ste.india.com/sites/default/files/2015/12/18/442871-d1.jpg

“Woh Dastan aisi thi ki na palke chapke na kadam dagmagate,

Woh Dastan aisi thi ki hum wahi tham se gaye the..

Us Dastango ki awaaz aur uske andaaz me thi kuch aisi baat ki jaha jaha woh hume lete gaya.. waha waha hum bas chalte gaye aur khote gaye..”

The medieval romances, the tales of travails and lovers, stories of adventure, magic and warfare. All of these epics narrated orally in nature, The Dastan and the adjoin art we scarcely know about is Dastangoi: The lost art form of Urdu storytelling. Coming all the way from 16th century, Iran, dastangoi is the compound of two Persian words Dastan meaning story and Goi which means to tell a Dastan.

The origin of dastangoi goes back to the pre-islamic Arabia and with it the spread of Islam dastangoi came all the way to Iran and to Delhi in India. From Delhi dastangoi toured its way to Lucknow by the 18th century. All this happened during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 when many artists, writers and dastangos moved from Delhi to Lucknow.

When dastangoi gained popularity and started its regular performances at various locations of the cities, there was a time when it became very popular among the opium addicts and it became one the most vital part of their gatherings at opium houses. The early dastangos told the tales of magic, war and adventure and borrowed spontaneously from other stories like the Arabian nights, stories written by Rumi and in India, they also narrated the stories from Panchatantra and later own the tales of freedom fighters and other major events.

By all this time dastangoi was attaining its fame but during 1920’s era of sound and cinema’s revolution in India things started getting different as in 1928 Mir Baqar Ali died, who was the last famous dastango of India. With that this classic art form started losing its charm.

By now people started seeing dastangoi as a dying art form but Ankit Chadha, the very young and among the only 12 professional dastango of India and the founder of Heptullha a ‘heptular’ company that conducts storytelling sessions for adults and children alike has a very different opinion regarding the same. When asked if he considers dastangoi as a dying art form? He says, “I do not. But, my opinion does not make it alive or dying. Also, the question is whether we see Dastangoi as simply a performance art form, or as a living culture of storytelling which it once was. As a performing arts form, in May 2016, we complete 11 years of Dastangoi as it was reinvented by Mahmood Farooqui. He has led this journey with great success – from no traditional proponents to more than a thousand shows by 25 performers trained by him. We have created dozens of modern dastans – as varied as biographies of Manto and Kabir to Dastan-e-Sedition on the trial of Dr. Binayak Sen to Dastan Alice Ki, the adaptation of Carroll’s children’s classic. All this, however, its still the beginning. While our audience is growing (and not dying at all), Dastangoi is still seen as something exotic by many of them. I want to see these listeners perceive Dastangoi as a part of their everyday culture as much as I see it as my way of life.”

Image Source: http://d152j5tfobgaot.cloudfront.net/wpcontent/uploads/2015/05/Yourstory_ankit_chadha_dastangoi.jpg

There seems to be a tangible connection to this intangible heritage. Intangible as the very existence of this art form has got a vague approach of people. But noticing the encounter of Ankit with this classic art form which shares a very low limelight these days proves that yet being immaterial, dastangoi has got a very solid connection to the people of India with the efforts of artists like Ankit making it possible. Upon this Ankit says, “While Dastangoi is a classic art form, it has still not become established in the eyes of state or society like music, theatre and dance are. We are still building the ground and I feel fortunate to be a key player in this process. And as far as the limelight is concerned, the inner journey means much more to me personally than the perception of the media and others.”

Passion plays a key role in upholding the art forms that tend to be dying. Also the responsibility of not letting go of what was ours is another thing. Apart from Dastangoi being performed around festivals like Jashan e Rekhta and others, Jamia Millia Islamia – a central university in New Delhi inculcates among its students to uphold these art forms. Through this the youngsters of the nation are connecting to this art form and appreciating their inclination towards the same.

It’s said that when Dastangos perform a Dastan they present it very lively. Like moving pictures and sometimes they themselves became pictures. Sometimes they speak like old women sometimes like kids and sometimes like ghosts or whatever the Dastan demands them to be. Although considered a fading art form of Urdu storytelling, Dastangoi is being recognised more and more among people of all ages. It emerges as a phoenix and is ready for all the pleasure of being born again and being loved again.


Author: Seemab Alam

The art of stories, the art of spirituality and an art believed to bring good luck, Gond Art is the reflection of India’s largest adivasi community called Gonds who are of Dravidian origin and can be traced to the pre-Aryan era. The word Gond is derived from the word kond which means green mountains. The Gonds are a diverse group spreading over large areas from the Godavari valleys in the south to the Vindhya Mountains in the north. Also in Madhya Pradesh, they are settled in the dense forests of the Vindhyas, Satpura and Mandla in the Narmada region of the Amarkantak range for centuries.

The Gonds are traditionally believed to be storytellers, the Pradhan Gonds used to narrate the stories glorifying the king and this was mainly the source of their livelihood. While with the emergence of British, their downfall began. But it was during early 1980’s when Gond Art found its way back.

The Gond cultural tradition captures different aspects of Gond life- their deities, dance customs, bond with nature, myths, sagas and wisdom. In the early days the Gonds painted their walls with lively portrayals of local flora and fauna and gods. The mystical art form is created by putting together dots and lines and the artists used colours developed by charcoal, plants sap, cow dung and leaves in the early days, today mostly acrylic are used. Most of the paintings when perceived carefully impart a sense of movement to the still images.

While all these paintings are a tribute to nature, the Gonds belief upon the supernatural power is rather interesting. When interviewed Padmaja Srivastava (founder of the organisation-Gond Tribal Art) she says “It’s interesting to know that the Gonds do not believe in idol worship. While they stongly believe in Ramaini which is the mixture of Ramayan and Mahabharat.”

Also she talks about the same very passionately, quoting “I believe that Gond Art is a contemporary art. From paintings on the mud walls to paintings on the canvases, this art relates to many superstitions and belief. Every piece of art they paint portrays a story or a belief. They say these paintings bring good luck for them and protect them from evil spirits.”


BANA PAINTING

Image Source:- http://folkpaintingsindia.com/all-art/gond-art/bana.html

The above Gond Art is a creation by Mansingh Vyam, a Gond artist. This is a painting of the Bana which is also regarded as Bada Dev by the Gondi. Bada Dev (Great God) is invoked under a Saja tree by a Gond Pardhan.The Pardhans being the musicians, story-tellers, and genealogists of the Gonds, invokes Bada Dev by sitting under a Saja tree and playing a musical instrument called Bana. On listening to the melodious sound of the Bana, and the song sung by the Pardhan, Bada Dev awakens from his slumber and comes down the Saja tree. As very well illustrated in the painting.

Isn’t it beautiful to fancy how Gond art from paintings on the mud walls became so alluring on the canvases? Well, it was Jangarh Singh Shyam who first offered this art on the canvases using poster colours in the 1980’s and since then Gond Art has never looked back but only developed.

The entire concept of being rooted to the culture of their ancestors and believing in the ideology their forefathers believed, strengthens the Gond culture in an incredible way.

The exquisiteness of their culture and tales shall forever be cherished. The illusions of their art shall forever be hailed.