To quench his mental and physical thirsts, whatever artistic and utilitarian objects man has created by transforming, modifying and fashioning natural material like stone, bone and wood are all the gems of his cultural heritage . With the pace of time, man has learnt better use of natural material and also modified considerably the shapes and sizes of his creations. As population grows, man is bound to produce a large quantity of such objects to fulfill the growing needs. Due to industrialization and also due to his mundane thinking man now tries to produce the maximum quantity of day to day items with the least effort and time. Thus an artistic tradition of thousands of years nourished by human hands, is at stake. Fortunately, there is still much in folk life which is worth preserving. We cannot sit idle as our folk life is being rapidly contaminated by the socalled urban civilization. We must preserve our cultural heritage for the sake of future generations. For this noble cause the Museum of Folk Culture (Lok Sangrah) has been established in this part of Himalayas .
Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya was established in 1983 at Bhimtal (Nainital) by world renowned archeologist, artist, scholar and philosopher Padmshree Dr. Yashodhar Mathpal. The Sangrahalaya (Museum) has been fortunate enough in getting support of the local folk painters, artists, artisans and other people who helped in collection of folk cultural material. The museum was established with the main aim of preservation of local culture, documentation of oral and written traditions and provision of imparting training on vanishing arts and crafts of the region. It also aimed at the preservation of our pre-historic heritage, handed down to us from the hoary past of the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, when the Himalayas were yet to emerge . The aim in a nutshell has been to reconstruct an unbroken cultural history of mankind in this part of our globe.
Registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, the museum is located in a picturesque valley of the Kumaon Shivaliks at an altitude of 1400 meters amsl. It is situated three kilometers to the north of Bhimtal town on Bhimtal-Nainital road in district Nainital of Uttarakhand. It is 334 km from New Delhi, 49 km from Pantnagar airport, 24 km from Kathgodam railway station and 18 km from Nainital, the district headquarters. The museum has a campus of five acres on an east facing gentle hill slope. It is enriched with a varied flora of trees, shrubs, medicinal plants and flowers. The Bhimtal Lake, the largest among the Kumaon lakes is visible from the campus.
Besides rare marine fossils (dating back to 150 million years), 700 Stone Age tools (oldest among them, some 1,00,000 years old), 400 reproductions of Stone Age paintings, hero-memorial stones, manuscripts, traditional dresses, musical instruments, coins, daily use articles made up of copper, bronze, iron, stone, wood, rope and fibre, and valuable specimens of local wood carvings. The museum has a good collection of folk paintings locally known as Aipana, Chauki, Thapa, Patta, Barboond and Muwali and also ritual clay idols the Dikars. As a precious asset, the museum has an Art Gallery housing over 500 paintings and a rich library. The paintings in the Gallery are a feast for the eyes- beautifully and sensitively executed water colours on local folk life and the unsurpassed beauty of the surrounding Himalayas. Charts and dioramas on tribal art and folk culture are important eye catching items on display. The museum has now become an important source of imparting knowledge to probationers of IAS, IPS, PCS and students of all standards and ages . Nearly one dozen Ph.D scholars have done research on museum and his founder.
LOK SANSKRITI SANGRAHALAYA (LOK-SANGRAH), BHIMTAL
Dr. Yashodhar Mathpal
Dr. Suresh Mathpal
Societies Registration Act, 1860
The Museum & Art Gallery is located three kilometre towards north from Bhimtal town in District Nainital (Uttarakhand), 320 kms from National capital New Delhi and State capital Dehradun, 24 kms from the railway station of Kathgodam, 59 kms from Pantnagar airport and 18 kms from Nainital-the district headquarter.
The museum is located in the picturesque valley of Kumaon Sivaliks, at an altitude of 1400 meters from MSL.
Bhimtal is situated in Nainital district of Uttarakhand and the climate of the region is sub tropical to temperate.It is transitional zone rich in bio-diversity with a soothing climate.
The museum has a campus of some five acres, on the east facing some gentle hill slope . It is enriched with varied flora of trees, shrubs, medicinal plant and flowers . The Bhimtal Lake, the biggest among Kumaon Lake is visible from the campus.
Aim of the Museum
Sanskriti Sangrahalaya has been establish to prevent local culture, to document oral and written tradition, to provide training on vanishing art and crafts, and to encourage local artist and artisans . It also aim at the preservation of prehistoric heritage came down to us from the hoary past as early as the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, when the Himalayas was yet to emerge. The aim in the nutshell is to reconstruct an unbroken cultural history on mankind on this part of our globe.
Activities of the Museum
The research activities and the museum exhibits can be associated with three broad periods, namely the Pre-historic Period, the Proto-historic and Historic Periods and the Recent Past and the Present.
The Prehistoric studies include not only the research related to physical and cultural development of mankind but also the study of geological past, related to the emergence of the Himalayas. Thus the oldest study items in the museum are the marine fossils (ammonites) dating back to some 150 million years. The second important items are 700 stone implements ranging between half a million years and four thousands years before present. The third outstanding items are the reproductions of Stone Age rock paintings . Being the main area of research of its founder, the museum has a unique collection of rock paintings not only from the Himalayan area but also from the Vindhyas, Kaimur ranges and the Western Ghats . These reproductions were prepared on the spot, on hand made paper sheetswith fine quality water colours and tones with natural background. In the museum one can find the original nodules of mineral colours used by rock painters.
From the Proto-historic and Historic Periods the museum possesses ancient bricks, pottery, eight colossal Hero Memorial Stones and over two dozen iron implements. From the Recent past and today’s hill society, the museum has a rich collection of manuscripts, horoscopes, books, musical instruments, coins, daily use articles and implements made of copper, bronze, iron, stone and wood, wooden vessels, bamboo and ningal (Arundanaria sp.) objects and items made of guard, rope and fibre and valuable specimens of local wood carvings etc. The museum has a good collection of folk paintings locally known as Aipana, Chauki, Thapa, Patta, Barboond and Muwali and also ritual clay idols the Dikars.
As a precious asset, the museum has an Art Gallery housing over 500 paintings and a rich library. The paintings in the Gallery are a feast for the eyes- beautifully and sensitively executed water colours on local folk life and the unsurpassed beauty of the surrounding Himalayas. Charts and dioramas on tribal art and folk culture are important eye catching items on display. The museum has now become an important source of imparting knowledge to probationers of IAS, IPS, PCS and students of all standards and ages. Nearly one dozen Ph.D scholars have done research on museum and his founder.
Due to lack of space, only a small number of folk paintings could be displayed in the present museum. Ever increasing folk items are also waiting for their proper display. The Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya therefore needs financial support for further development and sustainability of the museum and art gallery.
Important Activities Accomplished by the Museum
- Discovery of Stone Age Tools in the Western Ramganga Valley (District Almora) and in the Khutani Nala (Nainital District).
- Discovery of Stone Age Rock Art in Almora, Pithoragarh, Nainital, Chamoli, Pauri and Uttarkashi districts of Uttarakhand.
- Recordings of Rock Art in Uttarakhand Himalayas (1994), Vindhyas (1982-2000), Western Ghat (1997) and outside India viz. France (1986), Italy (1995) and Portugal (1998).
- Study and recordings of Woodwork, art and craft of the region.
- Preperations of monographs on Kumaon Woodwork, Garhwal Woodwork, Lakhudyar Paintings, and related subjects. Over 35 books published in last 30 years.
- Touring exhibitions on rock art for students of the region besides public awareness on Rock Art and its conservation.
- Over one dozen exhibitions were arranged in different countries in France, USA, UK, Australia, Spain, Portugal etc.
- Three folk art training workshops were organised by the organization.
- Felicitation of folk artists and scholars.
- Collection of folk and tribal objects and artifacts.
- Photographic recordings of fairs, festivals, rituals and art centres.
- Preperation of dioramas and cut-outs on tribal and folk life.
- Guided a large number of IAS, IPS, PCS probationers and research scholars on archaeology, folk art and cultural aspects.
- Construction of a Tribal Art Gallery.
- Construction of Buddhist (Tibetan) Art and Culture Gallery.
- Construction of a large Rock Art Gallery.
Finally the Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya, Bhimtal acknowledges with thanks the local folk painters, artists, artisans and well wishers for their help in the collection of folk cultural material and their inspiration.