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Bhutia Mask displayed in Urusvati Himalayan Folk Art Museum and Research Institute

Where to travel

Enthralled by the Himalayas, the world-renowned Russian artists Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich, Helena Ivanovna Roerich and Svetoslav Nikolaievich Roerich explored and settled in the range. They used different media to record their observations and interpretations, and some of their valuable works and collections are displayed at Hall Estate in Naggar (about 1,760 meters / 5,808 feet), a picturesque village nestled on pine and cedar covered slopes of the Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. The valley, swept by the Beas River, is dotted with contemporary and traditional secular and religious structures, and surrounded by bare and / or green precipitous peaks.  The estate lends itself to panoramic views of the range that inspired many of the works. 

Who will enjoy this short adventure trip idea? 

Art and beauty lovers

What to do & see: physical, cultural 

Hall Estate 

The estate features Roerich Memorial House, Urusvati Himalayan Folk Art Museum and Research Institute, a theater stage, a pure vegetarian restaurant and workers’ quarters. A well-defined walking path connects all parts of the estate with each other. A route from the estate also leads to a popular trekking destination, Chanderkhani Pass, via Rumsu. 

Roerich Memorial House

Three small rooms of the house comprise Nicholas Roerich Art Gallery where complimentary shoe covers are available to ensure cleanliness without causing inconvenience to the visitors. Unparalleled grandeur and various moods of the Himalayas are meticulously captured into small frames adorning the gallery walls. Prints of many of these works that would not only remind and fill you with its sweet smell but also inspire to rise to the big and small challenges can be bought. Flawless portraits of Devika Rani, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Nicholas Roerich and local people can even give a seasoned photographer boasting to have a sophisticated camera a complex. The mugs and paperweights with Roerich painting impressions are available for sale, making the art more functional. Books on Roerichs in English and Hindi are also sold within the Estate.

The remaining part of the house is closed but visitors can glimpse cozy and warm interior through glass and iron mesh windows. The warning- “only 20 people can slowly walk at the first floor at-a-time, otherwise the building may collapse”- is worth everyone’s attention for one’s own security. Plucking flowers from the manicured garden is prohibited (Fine: INR 500.00). Green Dodge car of Roerichs is also on display near the gallery. A stony path from the gallery goes to samadhis (cemeteries) of Roerichs.

Urusvati Himalayan Folk Art Museum and Research Institute  

From the house, a 100-meter steep climb punctuated with steps leads to the 2-level museum. On the right side of the first flight of the steps, a theater stage, covered with conical slate roof, is built for cultural programs and other social events. Visitors need not measure all steps in one breath. They can sit on green iron benches, installed on both sides of the steps; watch the scenery; enjoy fresh fragrant mountain air; sip water; and catch their breath before entering the museum. For added convenience, two clean gender-specific washrooms are located within the museum premises.

A diverse range of artifacts is exhibited at the ground level. Highlights include a Bhutia mask, textile piece from Uzbekistan, wooden juicer, glove puppets, metal art from Himachal Pradesh, carved brackets, mannequins in Jammu and Chamba costumes, sculptures, wooden doorjambs and panels, water containers and teapots. The Kumaoni aipan, a floor painting made by women, is drawn with rice paste to worship and celebrate auspicious moments. Patterns and motifs used in aipan represent different stages of life and good omens.

Paintings made at the Himalayas by the Indian and Russian artists; wooden cutlery; mannequins in national dress of Russia; and the Russian dolls share space with Roerichs’ works at the first floor.

The Estate, an erstwhile home to artists of note, is not just a building housing valuable artifacts. It is a place to be with nature and absorb Himalayan energy and essence. The Himalayas is one of the main inspirational sources for the artists who lived and are enjoying the last sleep in its solitude.

 

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When to go

You can go anytime.

Summer: March to June

Rainy: July to September

Winter: October to February

How to reach 

Delhi-Kullu:  approximately 570 Kilometers

Kullu-Naggar:  about 27 Kilometers

Nearest Airport: Kullu-Manali (Bhuntar) Airport

Nearest Bus Stand: Naggar, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

Hotel Castle (Naggar) to Hall Estate

One-kilometer long moderately steep motor-able road links the Castle, a heritage hotel run by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (H.P.T.D.C.), and the estate. You can walk this and browse through the shops, stocking traditional Kullu shawls and woolen accessories; temporary food stalls, selling chat, juices and fruit wines; and low-end gift, jewelry and sculpture vendors’ inventory.

Entry Fee 

Colorful glossy entry tickets feature N. Roerich’s famous quote- “In beauty we are united. Through beauty we pray. With beauty we conquer.”

Ticket price: INR 30.00 per person

 

Photography: Allowed

Camera ticket: INR 25.00

Accommodation 

H.P.T.D.C.’s Hotel Castle

The hotel houses seventeen different types of suites. The tariff ranges from INR 4,300 per night for a 4-bed Royal Suite to INR 1,400 per night for a double bedroom Court Yard Suite. The tariff is exclusive of luxury and service taxes. The corporation is offering special discount of 30% until March 31, 2013. Book the accommodation now.

You can try Painters’ Delight Package I by H.P.T.D.C. The 2 nights 3 days package covers Naggar-Manali-Naggar route. The package starts from INR 5,200 for two persons.  It includes cab, taxi, vegetarian food and accommodation on twin sharing basis. This offer is also valid until March 31, 2013. Get more information about the travel package.

Field notes

We visited the Estate in September-October 2009.

 

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