Last few weeks has been unbearably cold for me. After a couple of years in the coastal belt of India and now in the opposite temperature . From hot and humid, its now cold and dry. My smart phone camera was just so inappropriate for this journey, but it did allow me to document a glimpse of the fresh snow on the hills on this early morning drive.
Indian Miniature Art is treasured all over the world because of its beauty and inherent delicacy. Of all the north Indian styles, Kangra school of Painting has a great deal of detail and depth by which it is executed. Above are some pictures of a documentation at a time when I did not have a suitable camera to record this beautiful art, but nevertheless you can appreciate the painstaking ways the artists use. A few bristles of a special brush to create exquisite paintings. Sometimes the work is so minute that a high powered lens is used. Presently this art is in languishing stage with only a handful of artists surviving to take ahead this historic legacy.
There are some places when you visit, that you simply feel that you would be visiting again. Dharamshala seemed to be that place for me. (Now that its proven after I visited it for the second time last month.) On that bright sunny day , almost 5 years back, In McLeodganj the shops were few and life looked simpler. We found a wonderful rooftop place for having breakfast with a magnificent view of the street below. When we took this snap of what appeared like a dilapidated intercity bus, It seemed that those inside the bus, probably a tourist group also had the same thing in mind with us as the subjects! Wonder whether we’ll ever be able to cross paths again. Its also very coincidental that this bus was traveling to Pathankot, which is where destiny has brought me over last few months.
Pulla are handwoven shoes made from bark of trees or grass for treading on the snow. They are worn by local people mainly in hilly village areas. Bright weaves on top of its shoe makes it a striking bedroom slipper. These were originally made from hemp, marijuana stem fibers, but after the ban on cultivation, alternative material is being used. But with the jute base, its impossible to even walk on water and takes days to dry off, if wet.
It is a monolithic temple complex, situated in the Kangra District of Himachal, India. Our timing to visit it was perfect, just as the sun’s first rays kissed the top of the structure. While the exact origin of the structure is not definite, it has depictions of gods and goddesses and symbolic engravings as diverse as Hindu to the Buddhist. Just like the other fort at Nurpur, this structure too houses a school near its compound, but is very well maintained, maybe because of its height and location.
Last week, we looked at the ruins of the fort at Nurpur, this week, the culture of Co-existence in Dharamshala.
Dharamshala, is a town adopted as a capital by the Tibetian Government in exile . The Dalai Lama’s Palace is situated on top of a hill here, in a place called McLeodGanj. Although I have visited the monastery before, this time a chance visit to nearby Kangra, made it possible, but only for a short while in the evening. By then the monastery seemed closed and only a few Lama’s were around in the tourist marketplace, which was shutting down as well. A cold wave had enveloped Himachal last few days and it was evident with the thin tourist count here. A different culture seemed to have evolved on the periphery of this famed institution. It was colourful, well lit and lively. Almost reminiscent of the Beach culture of Goa, strangely coexisting with the serene calmness of the monastery.
This Lama was all smiles for my camera and the environment was friendly and warm.
This Lama was walking opposite to the direction of a rooftop cafe on the chowk.
McLo’s fame as a cafe was a visit of Pierce Brosnan (remember James Bond?), and it boasted of the visit through its wall photographs. But yes, the food was excellent.