Under Roerich’s canopy

The Russian polymath best known for his paintings bequeathed to the Himachal town of Naggar a love and respect for the region’s abundant wealth of plant life


Cross the gurgling Chenab, pass a thicket of walnut and pine trees and a line of silver oaks. Enter the sprawling estate ahead and you are greeted with a panoramic view of the mighty Himalayas.

You could have missed it, for the Roerich Gallery in the tiny town of Naggar, a 30-minute drive from Manali, doesn’t fall on the regular tourist circuit. But this is where Russian artist Nicholas Roerich lived and worked — and where a museum pays homage to a man who wore many hats.

The estate, built at different levels down a mountainside blooms with petunias, morning glory and a host of other flowers. The apricot and walnut trees are cheerfully laden with pink and white blooms that look like snow from a distance. This is Roerich’s simple stone-and-wood house, with a first-floor balcony that goes around it, and yellow blooms cascading down to the porch. The rooms are locked, but visitors peering in from the balcony can get an idea of the painter who chose to settle in the Valley of the Gods.

Roerich was already an international name when he settled in Naggar, near Kullu. A friend of Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi, he was known and respected by the intellectuals of India, but was a stranger to the people of the region. By the time of his death at the age of 73, he was like a cult figure in the town of Naggar, where he also founded the Urusvati Himalayan Research Institute.

Roerich is best known today for his paintings, many of them depicting the Himalayas. But he was also a theosophist, philosopher, poet, botanist and a public figure, who found a confluence of thought in diverse interests, from architecture to geology.....Read more


Source web page: Business Line

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