Pokhara– A photo exhibition titled, “A journey through time: Dirgha Man Chitrakar’s expedition to western Nepal in 1920s” is undergoing in touristy city Pokhara. The exhibition is being organized on the occasion of Pokhara Street Festival.
According to foundation Managing Director Kiran Man Chitrakar, the Foundation aims to make an impact on the thousands of visitors who are coming to the Lakeside in Pokhara to be a part of the festivities through the series of forty two photographs of Western Nepal that were taken a century ago. Dirgha Man Chitrakar (1877-1951) was the Court Painter and Photographer for the Rana Prime Ministers from the early 1900s to mid 1940s. In the early 1920s, during Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher’s reign, Dirgha Man traveled to western Nepal as part of an expedition to document the landscape and the people. These historic travel photographs showcase some of the earliest glimpses into Western Nepal largely unseen to the world.Traveling from Kathmandu to Butwal, Dirgha Man followed the southward course of the Bagmati river, passing Khokana and Pharping. He then moved in a western direction towards Narayani where he crossed the Devghat bridge.
Continuing in the same direction, he reached Butwal on the edge of the Terai, which was an important trading site. From the Terai, he travelled into the hills in the northerly direction through Palpa and Ridi, documenting important towns and religious sites. Traveling further north to Baglung and returning in an eastward direction to Pokhara, Dirgha Man recorded some of the most interesting images of the streets of Pokhara and the Phewa Lake. He also trekked to Muktinath and captured views of the snowcapped mountains. Then traveling to Lamjung and Gurkha, he visited the palaces of the Kings. He returned to Kathmandu via Nuwakot, which used to be the western gate to enter the Kathmandu Valley.
In these unexplored terrains, where proper roads were absent, Dirgha Man had to carry or cart all his equipment, which included a large sized camera, tripod, glass plates, plate holders, a tent like portable darkroom, chemicals, tanks, and water containers. These photographs were taken for the purpose of documentation; however, now the breathtaking photographic records of places that were once pristine and of the ways people once live d, inspire and restore memories and imaginations. What we now know as bustling towns with cars, people, shops and modern buildings show sprawling farmlands devoid of humans. These early images are a visual testament to the changing landscape, many almost unrecognizable when compared to their contemporary iterations.
Talking about foundation, established in 2014, Dirghaman and Ganeshman Chitrakar Art Foundation is a non-profit organization that is committed to preserve and promote the art, specifically, paintings, negatives and photographs of Nepal from the family’s collection through engaging both local and global audiences. The Foundation’s collection derives from a legacy of painters and photographers.
Moreover, the collection is expanding with additions from the third generation photographer, Kiran Man and fourth generation photographers Cristeena and Swaraj Man Chitrakar. Nepal has witnessed changes historically, politically and culturally and the photographs capture key moments in Nepal’s history. The photographs range from portraits, diplomatic visits, landscapes, historic structures and festivals. They capture images of urbanization, change in the lifestyle and infrastructural transformation in Nepal.
The collection is not only one family’s patrimony but also an account of Nepal’s history. The exhibition is organized and curated by Dirghaman and Ganeshman Chitrakar Art Foundation. It is supported by Nepal Tourism Board, Pokhara Metropolitan City and Restaurant and Bar Association Nepal.