A Mostly Forgotten Treasure In The Himalayas Has Me Asking: What Makes Us Travel?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


A mostly forgotten treasure in Guler, a small town in the Punjabi state of India nestled at the foothills of the Himalayas, is home to a 250-year-old crumbling palace that has been taken over by the jungle, leaving behind remnants of a not-too-long-ago past of royal artistry in the valley. The Financial Times recently went in search of this art, and others by its creator, and found a trove of discoveries just waiting to be explored by curious travelers.

What led them there was the travel writer’s initial fascination with the 18th-century painter Nainsukh, a famed fresco artisan who, along with his brother, Manaku, and his father, were one of the time’s leading painters of the area, Pandit Seu. At the time, the family was commissioned by the royals to recreate images from their favorite religious texts — tales of woe, battle, struggle, love, lust.

What is art and how do we define it? It ranges from hands on a wall to splatters of retro-graded Technicolors — but for what purpose, and what does it show?

As the author suggests, through Nainsukh’s style, a type of “human reality” is explored by going beyond the conventions and creating “miniatures full of living and breathing individuals [where] everyone, each page, each villager, each gardener, is shown in portrait form as a real person.”

Expression of what lies beneath surfaces in many ways. We dance, we sing, we draw, we write and we yearn to communicate to the world a universal truth: How we feel and what’s going on. Some are better communicators than others, and some of us are perhaps better able to speak a more universal (popular) language. The message remains consistent with tales of woe, battle, struggle, love and lust, and it transcends hundreds of years.

It spoke to a travel writer exploring India in the present who, so happened, was compelled to see something in real life from what he had seen only in paper and on screen. He read about it, it sparked his interest, it pulled him to a place and along the way and he shares his adventure.

If you ask me, the true treasure was not only what he found, but that someone had seen something and showed the courage to follow it. It’s one of many reasons why we travel.

By Brit Weaver

[Foothills of Himalayas by Mac Dor/Flickr]


About the Author

Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisurely cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog TheBubblesAreDead.wordpress.com.

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