The Thakur of Gondla
Roerich did a series of paintings on Lahul, which included a painting on the Rohtang Pass, the Chandra River, Koksar and Gundhla. I have come across three different paintings of his on Gundhla. Maybe the Tower of Gundhla was the thing that excited him. In all three paintings on Gundhla the Tower figures prominently. I'm posting two of his paintings from Gundhla, a part of the Lahul series. As per his own writings Roerich was astounded on seeing the ancient castle of the Thakur of Gundla. The Gondhla Fort is the only existing Fort in Lahaul today and is under ASI protection now.
The Roerichs while settled in Naggar spent a couple of their summer vacations in Lahaul. Roerich, besides a painter, was an explorer, archaeologist, medicinal botanist, mystic, a practitioner of the "occult" and a host of another things. Thye also set up something of a Himalayan Institute there to do extensive research on the local people, their lifestyle and their beliefs and their religion. Of course as a good "Occultist" he took great interest in the local healers, the soothsayers, the shamans, the witch doctors etc and I assume you get the drift. And of course in between all his pursuits he managed to paint and sketch and create the artworks that he is most renowned for.
In his search for Eastern mysticism Lahaul may have been perfect as it is the melting pot of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Both religions co-exist seemlessly into each other. The locals refer to their religion as Hindu-Bodh and it is a mixture of both great systems of belief. The two religions intertwine in a way which could be a model for any two religions to exist side by side. Lahaul is where India and Tibet meet and merge unlike at other places where one culture gives way to another.
The first time I experienced this when a close friend of mine, a Lahauli, got married in a village close to Manali. Being a part of his Baraat, when we arrived at the Bride's place, standing there to welcome the Baraat, Beau's the family, were traditional Hindu Pandits and Lamas from the local Monastery as well as from Lahaul. Both did their rituals and the Baraatis were welcomed. During the
marriage ceremony both the Pandits and the Lamas sat together doing whatever they are supposed to do. It was in short a beautiful sight. Needs to be witnessed to get that feeling of how we can all coexist in perfect harmony.
And yes, this friend of mine was getting married to the daughter of the present Thakur of, where else, but Gondla. This was almost 8 years back. More recently my friends brother in law got married. The heir apparent to the Gondla Thakurai. And I happened the meet the Thakurji himself. It was only now that my friend told me about him and his connection to Gondla. I had previously posted a picture of the Dham I had attended for the same. I wish I had time to sit down with him but he was busy. But as they say there is always a next time.
The Tower of Gondla still exists in all its glory in Lahaul.
Do have a look next time in Lahaul. If it excited the Master so much I'm sure it will be worth the effort.
And if you happen to have pics of the same please post in the comments.