How One Himachali Village Inspired Two Generations Of Russian Artists - Homegrown

How One Himachali Village Inspired Two Generations Of Russian Artists

India has a bad habit of idolising the world beyond its borders—the beaches of the Caribbean perhaps or the streets of la belle Paris. Yet right on our Northern boundary lies one of the most magnificent sights available on planet Earth, the mighty Himalayas. Just because we tend to underrate our country doesn’t mean that the rest of the world does the same. From The Beatles to Bob Seger, the Himachal area has inspired many artists over the years, including the legendary Russian painter, Nicholas Roerich.

A well known mystic, Roerich spent his life wandering the Himalayas until he arrived in the village of Naggar, this little hamlet seemed to capture his imagination and he made the town his home until his death in 1947. He was succeeded by his son Svetoslav, an artist in his own right, who also drew on the perfection of Naggar for inspiration.

Nicholas Roerich
Nicholas Roerich

The idyllic town is towered over by the elegant Naggar Castle. Built in the traditional Pahari style wooden carvings adorn the pillars of pine and spruce. Each corner of the castle reveals a new secret, one courtyard holds a sprawling weeping willow while the Jagtipath Temple resides in another. The most notable aspect of the temple is a stone slab which in local legend was carried there by gods who had taken the form of bees. The castle overlooks the entire breadth of the Kullu Valley and the view is testament enough to its nickname ‘Valley of the Gods’.

The Roerich estate lies 20 minutes from this regal spot and the old whitewashed house has perched high above the village and has stood unchanged since Svetoslav lived there. A path flanked by trees leads through a riotously colourful garden and up to the two-storey artist abode. Today the house is mainly an art gallery, with over 40 paintings, a small temple and a memorial to the two Roerich’s who were so devoted to this valley.

The vivid art that the two masters produced over the years all shows the heavy influence the mountains played in their lives. The shambolic colours and mystical motifs are always backed by the constant unwavering presence of the Himalayas. Though father and son had vastly different styles which can probably be attributed to their upbringing, it’s clear that they shared a passion for Naggar and their art stands testament to its timeless beauty.

Svetoslav Roerich
Svetoslav Roerich
Nicholas Roerich
Nicholas Roerich
Svetoslav Roerich
Svetoslav Roerich

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