In the heart of Himachal, Queen of hills with its changing beauty in winter Snow-capped Himalayan peaks and in summer the visuals of green pastures surround Shimla- the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Equipped with Victorian-era architecture, labyrinthine bazaars and a lengthy pedestrian shopping mall. It is prestigious for being a retreat destination for Mahatma Gandhi, who frequented a Georgian mansion in Shimla’s suburbs from the mid-1930s to ’40s. As all roses have thorns too, this well-known place is famous for its tourism too, therefore, resulting in inconveniences like congestion, water scarcity, landslides, pollution of lakes and streams, destruction of scenic beauty, and visual blight for the native of Shimla. With the deteriorating condition of such a beautiful place needs awareness and a lot of clubs and organizations have taken the initiative to clean and spread the awareness. Among them “Healing Himalayas” an organization is constantly working towards the preservation of the Himalayas by cleaning it and valuing its vital traits with a motto of “working selflessly for protection and preservation of the Himalayas, from health, civic, ecological, and spiritual perspective.” Initiated by an emerging global leader within a worldwide movement dedicated to Healing Himalayas, Mr. Pradeep Sangwan-The founder and promoter of Healing Himalayas Foundation, which has taken over the numerous tasks of cleaning out trash from Prashar Lake to Aravalli along with his upcoming campaigns to clean more places with the help of selfless volunteers with the same zeal and drive.
Pradeep Sangwan in an interview with a local newspaper says “If we want, we can change our surroundings, it’s only together we can resolve climate crises. Sometimes situations instil inspiration but what’s more important is to be consistent. We as a team are a constant reminder of our habit of littering & ignorance. A simple message is to maintain what we have created. I’m a simple man trying to change the world in the simplest way and simply expecting this from everyone.” This project I have worked on with Healing Himalayas & HRTC (Sponsored by Levi’s) is situated at the old bus stand tunnel of Shimla, Himachal. We tried to transcribe a message to stop the littering and be aware of the importance of cleanliness by orienting the murals on the walls. These six wall paintings with different characters first one is of a girl wearing a neck piece solely made from the waste like discarded plastic bottles, cans and piece of electronics, with the title ‘Your Garbage is in my future’ passing a coherent message of ‘our plastic footprint of today, will impact on the generation for tomorrow’ Second mural visual depiction of a malnourished child on oxygen mask surrounded black smog, based on the theme of air pollution due to cause and effect of carbon emission including other air pollutants which will suffocate our future.
Third is a pair of birds also enacting the previous themes with masks on to articulate the hazardous air pollution we live in and they all are captured in a dark hues, which showcases the dying nature affecting humans in various harmful ways. Fourth and fifth mural are for the awareness of importance of physical and mental health necessitating the theme of fit India with a man cycling in the woods and a woman doing supta vajrasana, a yoga position which increases the oxygen flow in your respiratory system. Last mural holds a great importance as it includes my one of the signature works, a painting of archaic house ‘Kath Kuni’ with great importance due to its architectural value with a addition of a man walking with a waste collection bag of healing himalayas scattering a message- A walk towards a greener planet, manifesting more greenery and more life. In Conclusion, we can clearly see the bold depiction of the urge to breathe and let our nature breathe by these murals. The place is vicariously crowded most of the time with people, which makes it a good spot to spread social awareness as it’s visible to more people. It’s valuable to see people take more initiatives in order to maintain a healthy and peaceful environment free from pollution and hazards.
This project was made possible with Anshul Shyam and Vikas Chandel, both members of Healing Himalayas along with talented team of aspiring artists from HP University Shimla and R.K.M.V college – Susmita Rai, Kritika Dhiman, Sapna Chauhan, Muskan Kaur, Yog Raj, Hamza Belahmidi, Ruchika Roach and Komal Yadav whose contributions will be forever printed on these walls.
Project: Mural done at Shimla Old Bus Stand
Date: April 2022
Partner: Healing Himalayas
Pictures By: Hamza Belahmidi
Video Source: Vikas Chandel