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gunehar shaonlee bose & saurabh ganguli

The drive to Gunehar was uneventful. We reached our destination around midday. The village is scenic like most Himalayan villages, a mix of mud and brick houses intercepted by golden fields of barley and wheat. At the end of a narrow, winding, bumpy road - deep into the heart of a village - we found the hotel we had booked for ourselves.

The Four Rooms Hotel is an unassuming, modest, white mud house that you almost miss as you drive through the village…but as you open the gates to step into it, a sense of quaint charm overtakes you.

We found ourselves smiling as we walked in, taking in the aesthetic appeal of the place. Lovingly restored, thick mud walls welcome you into a natural cavern full of happy flowering plants. Cheerful upholstery, comfortable bedding, a spacious open contemporary bathroom, and a little courtyard right outside the room replete with a canopied bed.

For me, the place stood for something far beyond a boutique hotel. Every corner of the house reminded me of my ancestral home about 30 km away from Calcutta. Part of our property is still a mud structure - my father restored it every now and then but refused to demolish it and make it into a concrete block that many others in the family had done. Desher bari as we know it, is still a mud house, with a slanting roof, thick walls that protect us from the heat outside, incredibly beautiful but a lonely specimen of indigenous architecture that is now only a shadow of its glorious past.

If it weren’t for our morbid fear of crowds, we would have missed staying at Gunehar completely. We choose this place, because it was close to Bir Billing but did not have the throng of tourists and adventure sports enthusiasts that regularly visit one of the most sought after paragliding spots of the world.

What we would have also missed is the little cafe called The Four Tables that serve the most delectable Roast Chicken and Grilled Trout. But most importantly, we would have missed entirely the groundbreaking art movement that is quietly sweeping this nondescript little village tucked away in the folds of the mighty Himalayas.

The two ventures - The 4Rooms Hotel and The 4Tables Project was started by Frank Schlichtmann - he actively manages them with a small team. What is fascinating - however -is not only that he can curate an authentic, rustic experience without compromising on the comforts of modern living, but that fact that he brings together artists from all over the country for a three-week art residency program that culminates in an art festival every three years right there in the heart of a sleepy hamlet unknown to the rest of the world.

ShopArt ArtShop (SAAS) is a unique project that brings contemporary artists from around India for a month. This edition of the program seeks to enhance collaboration with the villagers of Gunehar to create art that transcends boundaries between people. It aims to remove divides and sectarianism - much needed in the world we live in now.

We left just before the artists started flocking in - but wished we could stay longer to witness how the inclusiveness of art can transform a place into exceptional beauty.

about the authors

Some of our friends and family call us a clan of restless, wandering souls. We are always either making travel plans or living them. Sometimes we fight about the choice of destination – as each one of us has a list, and we are all vociferously arguing our case. Rarely does all our choice coincide, but we are still a buzzing happy clan when we are out on the road, all feverish and impatient to see the unseen.

Created By
Shaonlee Bose
Appreciate

Credits:

Saurabh Ganguli

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