About the Book:
This book is a beautiful and intimate description, with equally vivid drawings from author's sketch books, of peaks and valleys, people and places, moods and moments of one of the most enchanting mountain ranges of the world - the Himalayas. Written by a renowned artist of our times, it is a rare contribution to the world of art, travel and adventure.
Ram Nath Pasricha (b. 1926) has been traveling in the Himalayas with paints, papers and brushes for the last five decades and has painted 65 peaks from altitudes ranging between 10,000 ft and 20,500 ft.
Participant of many national and international exhibitions, he has been honoured by the Lalit Akademi as an 'Eminent Artist' and was recipient of Senior Fellowship of the Department of Culture, Government of India. His works from part of collections of foremost art galleries, museums and private collections of art connoisseurs.
There are particular kinds of journeys that are described as 'tourism' and then there are journeys that the pious ones undertake and are known as pilgrimage. However, during the last few centuries, the European initiated the scouting of the oceans and the continent, sometimes driven by a sheer wander-lust or by the more serious aim of mapping the world or sometimes driven by a sheer wander-lust or by the more serious aim of mapping the world or sometimes by the scientific accounting of life- human as well as non-human.
In which of these orders do the travels of Ram Nath Pasricha belong? Since he is no mere banal landscape painter, his particular passion for nature entitles him to be dubbed as a pilgrim of the free spirit. His adventures are not merely expressive of a healthy human curiosity, but are rather in search of such communion as would fulfill his inner being.
Quite evidently he undertakes these sometimes hazardous outing, so as to widen the space of his musing imagination. Thereby a bit of the sacral tinges his work. Were he not what he innerly is, his compositions would fail to convey that when we have surrendered that most certainly is felt when we have surrendered to the aloof majesty of the Himalayan ranges.
The painter undertakes, in his own idiosyncratic way, something which has been a part of Indian ethos- that is, souls on the flatest plains of the earth trying to reach up in spirit to the tallest peaks of the same planet. Here the adventurer is not out to conquer but, as it were, merely to be conquered. And this he does in order to realise a the cleansings of the impurities of our perception which the prolonged living in the diurnal din of the market place result in.
It is such felt experiences which the painter inscribes in his work of art. But these echoes or vibrations unlike studio-made art, are saturated with a rare presence- the one which comes out of the marriage of nature with the reason, or wisdom, in human natures itself. The chosen of the painters' works that I have personally witnessed over the long years, carry the spark of that very beauty as comes to the effect of our recognition of the mystery in which the majority of our experience of this world are steeped.
The present chronicle of a memorable passage in valuable to the reader even though it is only an outer record of what transpired between the artist and the mountains. For this, the reader could acquaint himself or herself with the cream of Pastiche's drawing and collages. These speak out to one without the aid of works.
My own thanks go out to R P in having time and again over the decades provided me with moments of fulfillment.
I have been close to Nature ever since my college days. Delhi in those days was small and it was quiet outside the city wall. The route from my home in the heart of the city to Delhi University was beautiful all along. It passed by an old Moghal Garden, near the river Yamuna and over an arm of the Aravali Ridge. It was a lovely sight to get a clear view of the meandering river Yamuna enter the city. Unlike the city of today when high rise cubicles obstruct the view, heaps of junk greet the eyes everywhere, and one breathes petrol and diesel fumes, those days one would breathe fresh air, feel as part of Nature had influenced my mind and thought deeply, and after college, I turned to sketching and painting from Nature. I would invariably sneak into the woods of Aravali Ridge and roam for hours, sketching rocks, trees and bushes. The Ridge woods were mystifying, displayed a thousand moods evenings in particular were enchanting and I enjoyed capturing those moods on paper. This continued for fifteen years.
Simultaneously, I turned to the mountains. My first few visits to popular hill station around 1950 aroused in me desire to reach the snows, live awhile with peaks and glaciers and paint them. But journeys those days were not easy. The roads did not reach far and were bad and the bus journeys were tiring. Ones had to trek a lot. But there was a gainful aspect to long walks. This ways one could see more and have a deeper involvement with Nature. The bridle paths passed through charming woods, where sunlight created a thousand patterns as it fell on conifers and bushes, and there were bird calls to delight. When I passed through villages, people liked to talk to me, offered me hospitalities, and playful children delighted. During these journey I saw ancient temples, monasteries with beautiful architecture, paintings sculptures and wood carvings- admirable works which our ancestors created living in the isolation of the Himalayan Valleys. It was rejuvenating to stop in cool shadows for a while, quench my thirst from the refreshing waters of springs, sketch and paint, and then walk off to new surroundings. In the afternoons, after a walk of 15 to 20 kms the porter would guide me to a village dharmsala for the night. Or I would pitch my tent mountains, while he prepared tea, and meals of 'alu and chapatis'. For me it was time to meet people, talk to them and sketch them. In the mornings, I would get up with the first chirpings of the birds and begin the days afresh. After several such days, the tree line and the habitations were left far behind and I reached the snowline.
My first such excursion was to Amarnath Cave in Kashmir. It was a strange world beyond the tree line, with rocks, snow-clad peaks, deep blue sky, a brilliant sun and nothing else. It bewildered me. And it left a lasting impression on my mind. My visits to the mighty Himalayas have continued since then, sometimes alone and on other occasions in the company of trekker and mountaineering expeditions. During my innumerable journeys to the Himalayas, I have walked a few thousand kilometers in Garhwal, Kumaon, Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Ladakh and Sikkim, and painted the woods water falls temples, monasteries, the people, the snow-clad peaks and glaciers and overwhelmed with a feeling of detachment. The beauty of a star spangled sky under whose faint glow peaks and glaciers were dimly lit, as if in a dream, made it an unforgettable experience.
I have also found the Himalayan people gems of humanity. They are sweet natured, refined, happy, and helpful and god- fearing. To them cold winds, snow falls and rarified atmosphere of high altitudes manifests as gods and goddesses, who guide their destinies. Each line on their faces, chiselled by winds and weather, reflects the beauty of their inner charm. They are the embodiments of faith generated by the elements of Nature. Faith in the life of a hillman imparts to him qualities of compassion, humility, tolerance and cheerfulness. Faith plays an important part in generating relationships between the painter and the mountains and he expresses himself through painting them. It elevates his sensibilities to a level where he tries to identify himself with the purity of snow, the depth of valleys and their silences. After years of my involvement with the Himalayas, I have felt assured that they are sublime - to veneration. My painting is my hymns to the Himalayas, my prayers to the Almighty. The Himalayas have taught me to strive and understand the deeper meaning of Beauty and Life.
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