Monday, 19 March 2018

Shimla Diary: 1st edition of Classical Dance Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

The Gaiety Theatre
After our last visit to Shimla in September last year for a seminar at Institute of Advanced Studies, when I received an invitation to attend a three day classical dance festival organized by Department of Language and Culture of Himachal Pradesh, I was delighted to accept. More so, as my confrere Leela Venkataraman was also invited and the artists from Delhi - Jaipur Gharana exponent Rajendra Gangani, Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran - and from Kolkata, Manipuri exponent Bimbavati and her troupe were to perform, we knew we would have a dance fare that would not only be enjoyable but also the company of the artists would give us opportunity to catch up with the latest.....

The Himachal Pradesh University and Art Gallery of Prof. Him ChatterjeeI had met painter Professor Him Chatterjee at Khajuraho few days ago at the dance performance. He invited Leela Venkataraman and me for breakfast on Sunday morning to visit his residence and gallery, some seven kilometers away from our hotel. 

Son of Sanat Kumar Chatterjee, the celebrated painter, disciple of legendary painter Asit Halder from Shantinketan, Him Chatterjee is a prolific painter. He is at present Dean and Professor of the Visual Arts Faculty. He has obtained two acres of land on which he has built two storey residential quarters and also his studio and a gallery which houses rare Bengal School  paintings of his father, few of Asit Haldar and a couple of rare original photographs of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. Well designed, it is a treasure trove and I recommend that visitors, dancers, must visit it......

The Dance Festival 
Shimla is on the hills and its hairpin roads would scare those who are not used to it. The experienced drivers and those who have been living here can negotiate the small roads with ease. Whenever we went to the Gaiety Theatre for performances, our hearts were in our mouths, as the driver negotiated the car. If a car came from opposite direction, he drove back to let the other car go. The plaza, the more than hundred year old Christ Church, the view from the top, the 108 feet tall statue of Hanuman, the restaurants etc., located on height, people walking and some sitting on the benches made the scene colourful. The crowds strolled in the evening. By six in the evening the lights illumined the hills. The festive mood prevailed....

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  1. Wonderful account ! Made one feel one was actually present in Shimla!

  2. We have so longed to go to Simla-and of course visit Gaity theatre. The Kendra has performed there two or three times.
    Thankyou Sunil for this review which has renewed our interest to visit Simla.