We were on a boring journey, back to home (Kullu) from Sundarnagar in Himachal Pradesh. I expanded in the backseat of our car, while mom stole a nap in the front one as papa drove through the serpent roads. We crossed the crowded town of Mandi and headed towards Pandoh.
Ending the silence, suddenly papa asked, “Would you like to visit that Himachal Museum?”
The photo gallery cum museum of Himachal culture was very famous in our area and everytime we crossed it, we desired to visit it. But most of the times we were in a hurry and have to leave our visit for the next time. And when once again he asked, I spontaneously exclaimed, “Yes, a big Yes! Let’s go!”. Usually after asking our opinion, he drives away without stopping but that day luckily he stopped.
As he parked the car, a very artistically created series of rock carvings engraved near the entrance, attracted my sight, and I already knew that the place was perfect treat for my photographer soul.
I decided to entour the photo gallery firstly and then return back to outside. As we entered the hall, the receptionist switched on his radio, on which a beautiful melody of 60s or 70s was being played. The song elevated a mood that switched us to a period when most of the photos of that gallery were taken, that period of time when coloured photography has just arrived and instantly has became popular .
Before moving further, let me briefly sketch an outline about Mr. Birbal Sharma who is the owner and creator of that photo gallery cum museum. He was born in Hamirpur Distt of H.P in 1956. He chose to click photographs for spreading awareness about the conservation of ancient cultural heritage and environmental beauty of the nature, the archaeological and cultural heritage of the people of H.P. He has got many awards by Govt. of H.P and many of his photographs have been displyed in regional and state level photo exhibitions. Also his photographs were displayed by Rashtriye Latit Kala Academy Delhi. After getting so many awards by various state and national level organisations he finally opened his own photo gallery cun museum where he had showcased the most beautiful photographs he has clicked and the antique pieces he has collected ever since.
His photo gallery was divided into many columns, the first just along the entrance exhibited various historical sites like Govind Sagar Lake, Trilokinath Temple, Hidimba temple, Tabo, Hateshwari temple and various others.
In the next column he had arranged the photographs of festivals, traditional dacnces and celebrations. The photographs are no doubt rare and one of their kind.
The next column displayed people in their traditional dresses and ornamnets. The displays were definitely a treat for the eyes.
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We then moved to the museum part which had a huge collection of local and traditional artifects, ornamnets, utensils, paintings and everything else. The most unique of them all was his collection of cameras and video recorders. It was amazing to see a heirarchy of cameras and I think he owned almost every kind of them.
Finally I moved out of the gallery to that stone clusters that had various carvings of lives of gods, kings and other folklores. Many of them broken or shattered as they belonged to some ancient time, and in between which many undesired events happened that destroyed many archaelogical artifects.
That day’s visit to the Photo Gallery ‘Himachal Darshan’ proved out to be a qualitative excursion and I believe that everyone should visit the place atleast once. The heritage and memories that Mr. Birbal has collected is one of its kind and well done to his efforts to display them to one and all.
And lastly, my favourite photo of them all –