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ShopArt ArtShop: An event to celebrate contemporary art and village life in Gunehar, Himachal Pradesh

Local elements available in Gunehar, Himachal Pradesh are used to create masterpieces that are displayed in the empty shops lining up the village.

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Delhi-based artist Puneet Kaushik, Gunehar's Frank Schlichtmann and British-Indian pop artist. source: www.scroll.in
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  • ShopArt ArtShop has been successful in opening up the village of Gunehar, Himachal Pradesh to the world of contemporary art
  • In 2013, by the end of the festival, the entire village had been transformed into an art gallery
  • The second edition of SA AS took place from May 14- June 14, 2016 and it involved 11 contemporary artists from India and the world

In a one of its kind art festival, or rather art celebration, ShopArt ArtShop (SA AS) is successful in opening up the village of Gunehar, Himachal Pradesh to the world of contemporary art.

Located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India, Gunehar is a small hill village populated mainly by the nomadic tribes of Gaddis and Bara Bhangalis.

According to the Indian Express report, Frank Schlichtmann- the mind behind SA AS, settled in Gunehar 8 years back. His childhood memories and love for the state of Himachal Pradesh called out to him.

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In his bid to do something for the village he loved, in 2013, he invited 13 artists from all over India and world to transform the various empty shops lining the village into art shops.

The 2013 event was a success and therefore this year the members declared ShopArt ArtShop2 that started on May 14, 2016. In the month month long festival, the artists from India as well as abroad participated in the paid residency.

In their month long stay, the artists lived with the villagers, became a part of their lifestyle and created contemporary art that was displayed in these empty shops and desolate places. The artists were able to successfully experience another culture and lifestyle.

The villagers were also equally involved in this event. By the end of the festival, the entire village had been transformed into an art gallery. Local elements had been used to create masterpieces that were displayed in the shops.

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The initiative had been a huge success. More than 6,000 people had visited the remote village which is not easily found on a tourist’s map.

A group of international artists are in residence in Gunehar — a remote hill village — in a bid to engage in ‘non-elitist’ art. Image Source: IANS
A group of international artists are in residence in Gunehar — a remote hill village — in a bid to engage in ‘non-elitist’ art. Image Source: IANS

“It is a unique conceptual arts project that brings emerging artists — alongside established artists — to a remote village for a month-long project, ending in a festival of arts, culture, exhibitions, movies, fashion shows and drama,” said SA AS curator Frank Schlichtmann to the Indian Express. “ShopArt ArtShop is first and foremost about being able to present art beyond the confines of the contemporary city-based art scene. It’s an opportunity for a group of artists to come together in a fully-funded month-long residency organised by the 4tables project,” said Schlichtmann to the Indian Express reporter.

Kaushik’s installation of the Metal Rose. souce: www.indianexpress,com
Kaushik’s installation of the Metal Rose.
souce: www.indianexpress,com

The second edition of SA AS took place in May 14- June 14, 2016. Organised in collaboration with artists Ketna Patel and Puneet Kaushik, the art celebration involved 11 contemporary artists from India and the world.

“The artists who came for the residency programme were taken around the village to choose their spaces. It turns out that for the second time running, not only were all the landlords totally accommodating, but also did not ask for rent,” said a happy Schlichtmann to the Indian Express.

The final day of the festival was a huge success complete with fashion shows, music, film screenings, and more.

The event has been able to maintain the village intact and open it up to the world of 21st century. It bridges the gap between urban art and rural setting. It also opens up the process of inception of a concept to the completion of the artwork to the public.

It is not wrong to say that ShopArt ArtShop is a one of its kind event that celebrates contemporary art, the simplicity of village life, differences among cultures and urban artists.

-by Devika Todi, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: devika_todi

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Tirthan Valley: Himachal Pradesh’s Hidden Paradise

The backdrop of Tirthan valley is the beautiful mountain range which seems to be touching the sky

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Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh is one of the lesser known travel destinations in india. Wikimedia Commons
Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh is one of the lesser known trekking destinations in india. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma 

  • Tirthan Valley is an unexplored mountain valley in Himachal Pradesh
  • It has something for everyone
  • One can do activities like trekking, birdwatching and camping, etc. at Tirthan Valley

India is full of mountains and there is no dearth of trekking destinations. However, most of the trekking destinations in India have now become highly cliche and overcrowded. Wherever you go, you will find tourists loitering around.

India has many amazing hill stations. Wikimedia Commons
India has many amazing hill stations. Wikimedia Commons

Many people go on treks in search of peace and adventure, however, most of the popular trekking spots have now become highly commercial hubs where locals are trying to capitalise on their location. But, there is this one hidden gem in Himachal Pradesh which is still hugely unexplored. the Tirthan Valley.

Also Read: Lambasingi: A Snowfall Experience Like Never Before

Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh is relatively unknown and has something for everyone. It offers activities like wildlife watching, trekking and fishing, etc.

Here is the list of few reasons as to why Tirthan Valley should be on your must-visit destinations list:

Beautiful River and Riverside Houses 

Tirthan Valley has really beautiful forests and through them flows the Tirthan River. The river is one of the reasons why Tirthan Valley looks so beautiful. Also, you can find riverside guest houses which don’t only look beautiful but are also incredibly cosy.

Tirthan River is beautifully calm and you'll find many different kinds of fishes in it. Wikimedia Commons
Tirthan River is beautifully calm and you’ll find many different kinds of fishes in it. Wikimedia Commons

Beautiful mountains surrounded by clouds

The backdrop of Tirthan valley is the beautiful mountain range which seems to be touching the sky, there are dense coniferous forests and sprawling alpine meadows which are perfect for sigh-seeing. Not only is it beautifully serene, but also it is one of the best places in Himachal Pradesh for bird watching.

Visit the Serolsar Lake

Tirthan valley doesn’t disappoint the lake-lovers either. There are two beautiful lakes which you can visit, the Serolsar Lake which is a 6 km trek from the Jalori Pass. This lake in the middle of rocks and snow is one of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see. There you can also visit a tiny temple devoted to Goddess Buddhi Nagin, the mother of the 60 Nag Devtas who are believed to reside in the lake.

Tirthan Valley is relatively unknown and that's what makes it so peaceful. Wikimedia Commons
Tirthan Valley is relatively unknown and that’s what makes it so peaceful. Wikimedia Commons

Experience the Chehni Kothi Charm 

While in Tirthan Valley, visit the charming 1500 years old castle, Chehni Kothi. It was once a 15 storeys high building but now only 10 storeys remain. Chehni Kothi is built in traditional style and is the tallest structure in the Western Himalayan region.

Hidden Waterfalls 

A hike from the Rolla village will lead you to the beautiful waterfall amidst the forested valley. The tiny waterfall is perfect for a small a picnic. Its clean and pristine water will surely make for a serene ambience.

Also Read: Rundown of 7 Mountains in India

Other than what all is mentioned above, one can camp under a starry night at the Tirthan valley. One can also witness the culture and tradition of the place. Tirthan valley is a beautiful place full of fresh energy which won’t disappoint you.