Experiences Travelling through the scenic Tehri Garhwal region to Kumaon hill area had an impact on this group of artists. Lakshmi Venkatraman
“In ‘Sri Rudram’ Lord Rudra is seen in multiple forms - as a huge river, a small stream, as flood, as a tank, a pool, a valley and also as sound. When I was meditating inside the Vasishta Gupha on the banks of river Ganga near Rishikesh the entire landscape appeared in my mind like a reflection of ‘Sri Rudram’. The sound of the rushing river seemed to resonate ‘Sri Rudram’ itself. The sound of rushing water outside, but total silence and peace inside. The external form of Sakthi (power) goes on expanding, gaining speed and sound, while inside it was ‘Sivam’ or silence leading to peacefulness. I felt everything inside me as if I was everything”, said artist Shrenivass from Madurai, who was one of the five artists with whom I had the opportunity to travel for a week recently. Deep inside the cave a small lamp burned and mats were spread on the floor for people to sit and meditate.
About Vasishta Gupha said artist Dhinakar, “as I was meditating inside the cave I felt physically and mentally uplifted. The entire experience touched me profoundly.” It was somewhat difficult to climb up the roughly hewn steps to reach the cave, often slippery and without support and made me wonder how we would manage going down; but strangely after being inside the cave we seemed to have gained renewed energy and before we realised we were already down!
Said C. Rajasekar, who spent a while on the banks of the river sitting on the rocks and watching the lovely landscape, “it was so inspiring; I’ve got new ideas to translate on the canvas”. This view was endorsed by senior artist K. Srinivasan.
“No artist, contemporary or otherwise, can ever better the manifestations of Nature”, was how all the artists felt during the tour by road from the Tehri Garhwal region to Kumaon hill area, that is, from Rishikesh to Dehra Dun/ Mussouri to Corbett Town and Nainital.
The truth of those words were proved by a visit to a museum inside the Govt. Forest Research Department in Dehra Dun. The building with its series of arches was very impressive. The museum inside had on display varieties of wood, with information about where the trees could be found in India, their uses in the field of Ayurveda or Siddha medicines, leather or dye industry etc. But what took our breath away were the cross sections of wood, which had been eaten away by many different types of insects and worms. Their handiwork looked either like etching plates ready to be printed or resembled the work of some artist. The way they had gouged out the wood, in some cases it looked stunning and far superior to many of the contemporary sculptures that one comes across, some seemed abstract and others surrealistic. It was quite a humbling experience.
For the visit to Corbett National Park, we had to get up early in the morning and the weather was quite cold. The drive in an open jeep through the forest with gurgling steams was quite interesting and we saw a few deer, monkeys, peacocks and wild birds. We hoped to spot a tiger but all the guide did was to point out a banyan tree and a few anthills instead!
The trip uphill to Nainital had several hairpin bends. Looking up we could see snow clad peaks. Closer to the top, several men with horses were offering visitors a ride to the snow covered areas. A boat ride in the Nainital lake gave us an opportunity to observe the scenic beauty. The open area nearby had rows of shops selling winter clothing, craftwork made of wood and the inescapable cheap plastic items.
Finally artist Vijaykumar from Hyderabad had this to say at the end of the trip, “During this trip we have been free to move around, enjoy nature, interact with others, enlarge our vision and widen the spectrum; this will help the individual artists to blossom and give their best. Personally, I have benefitted for I always wanted to see the mountains at close quarters and feel their strength and moods, which will have an impact on my future work.”