By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 9 Aug: The SOHAM Himalayan Centre in Mussoorie is the result of 23 years of research, study and travel with the aim of protecting, conserving and promoting the art, culture and heritage of the Himalayas (in particular Uttarakhand). Sameer Shukl and his wife, Dr Kavita Shukla are the heart and soul behind this culturally rich centre.
The SOHAM Himalayan Centre comprises the SOHAM Hill Mart, its commercial wing which is into the design, production and sales of arts and souvenirs reflecting various aspects of the state. Also, the ‘Sri Chamunda Peeth Temple’, designed in the Himalayan and Vedic way. It is a centre for meditation and religious worship. There is, as well, SHAKTI, the social service wing. It is not an NGO, but a purely private effort for the educational uplift of the children of the underprivileged sections of society, in particular, the girls. The SOHAM Himalayan Museum forms the core and is the centre of attraction for people to visit, explore, feel and relish the treasures of Uttarakhand. All activity revolves around this Himalayan Museum.
Located in dense deodar and oak forest, the SOHAM Himalayan Museum gives a heritage walk to the visitors through various art forms like canvas paintings, murals, frescoes, sculptures, scrap art, artefacts, photographs, etc. It has an entire section especially dedicated to paintings by the Shuklas. One can visualise, in detail, the festivities, traditions, customs, rituals and folklore of the state. The museum also houses various artefacts that have been used in the state since ages. The jewellery, headgear, utensils, agricultural equipment, musical instruments, baskets, handicrafts and other household goods, present a wholesome view of the region with respect to what is and what was a part of peoples’ lives here.
Regular attempts are consistently being made to restore dying arts of the state in the museum complex. An efficient use of scrap (tiles, wood, stone, metal sheets, etc.) has helped decorate every nook and corner in the art museum.
This restoration work is also happening in the respective villages and rural areas with the aim of promoting village tourism, thus helping the youth sustain themselves well in their native places.
Apart from this, there are numerous other ways in which SOHAM Himalayan Centre has contributed to the cultural heritage of the Uttarakhand Himalayas. Foreign as well as Indian students have visited the centre to write projects as part of their higher education. More than a dozen projects have been written by groups and individuals on topics like – Anthropology, Architecture, Musicology, Heritage and Mythology.
The herbs and spices section in the Museum complex has also attracted enthusiasts. And Soham Himalayan Centre facilitates the connect between these enthusiasts and the farmers and producers of those herbs/spices. In addition, there is a team of Soham Himalayan Centre which is involved in bringing regional ingredients and authentic dishes, specific to Uttarakhand, into the mainstream menu of the country.
Also, currently, work is in progress for bringing up another new section in the premises of the Soham Himalayan Museum, which will be based on fibre – fabric – costumes. This section will have a display of all tribes – from Askot to Arakot – showcasing the differentiation through their costumes.
This museum complex has been awarded the “Certificate of Excellence” by TripAdvisor continuously for 6 years now. The Museum has also been ranking number 1 on the portal for ‘Things to do in Mussoorie’. With a nominal entry fee of Rs 100, the museum remainsg open across the week for visitors and tourists, except for Wednesday.