With only four days left, we decided to stop waiting on the weather and just go. Gerard persuaded me that renting a car and driver was within our budget and after a four hour drive through some incredibly beautiful countryside following the Beas river up the Kullu Valley, we pulled into the hillside village of Naggar.
Old wooden houses, similar to those we saw in Vashsist last year, are spread out over the terraced slopes among apple orchards –the trees still partially in blossom.
Our guest house sits beside a 300 year old castle built in the traditional earthquake proof Pahari style (layers of stone bonded together with cedar logs). Built by a Raja, the castle’s has had many lives – later a school then a courthouse, now a fancy hotel. Our first morning we wake up to the noise of a film crew arriving to shoot in the castle. Fortunately they only came for one day.
Naggar is best known as the home of the early 20th C. Russian painter, philosopher, archeologist and mystic, Nicholai Roerich, who had a huge following in US and France. He came here in 1928 mainly to paint the surrounding mountains, and stayed here with his family the rest of his life.
Their house is now an art gallery of his work, with the upstairs rooms still furnished as they were when occupied. We were both very taken with his painting and the atmosphere of his house, still vibrating with the family’s presence. His wife is also known for writing numerous volumes about Agni Yoga as well as translating Madame Blavatsky’s writings from Russian to English.
After seeing Roerich’s paintings, we both look at the mountains surrounding us with a little more imagination. The house and gallery were a great place to while away the best part of a day.
After three days of looking at paintings, mountains and country walks, we try to make ourselves ready for long return to Delhivia overnight bus – and a few days with the family before returning to Boston.