The Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya is a private museum founded by Dr. Yashodhar Mathpal in 1983. Dr. Mathpal is a trained pre historian and archaeologist, besides being a very well respected artist with a speciality in prehistoric cave art. Dr Mathpal is renowned for his work a done in pre-historic era and is often called in foreign universities to showcase his in-depth knowledge on the topic .
This knowledge was attained only after rigorous handwork of studying the cave paintings year after year in dark caves. His motivation as he says is the “Earlyman thousand of years ago who had no food, no light, threat of fierce animal, still he found time to scribble figures in cave”. This shows man’s dedication to ‘art’ was long before his need for survival. Artist create art because he wants some part of him to remain immortal even after he is gone. That early man lives today through his paintings.
The Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya has been established to preserve local cultures, to document oral and written traditions and folklore, to provide training on the vanishing arts and crafts of the region, and to encourage local artists and artisans. It also aims at the preservation of our pre-historic heritage, handed down to us from the hoary past of the Miocene and Paleocene epochs, when the Himalayas were still to emerge. The aim in a nutshell, is to reconstruct an unbroken cultural history of mankind in the past of our lobe.It is perhaps the only museum in the world where a single person, the founder, is working as director, curator, research scholar, public relation officer, fund raiser, artist , sculptor, guide and even sweeper.
The Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya has been fortunate in getting the support of the local folk, painter artists, artisans and other people who helped in the collection of the folk culture material. However, in spite of all the above help, a museum of this nature still needs professional help from people of divergent fields.It is possible to purchase a variety of greeting cards on folk life, art and prehistoric culture from the museum sale counter. Reprints of water colour paintings can also be bought on various sizes, as can some museum publications.
The research activities and the museum exhibits can be associated with three broad periods, namely the Prehistoric, the Protohistoric, the historic. It also encompasses the recent past and the present. The prehistoric studies include not only the research related to the physical and cultural development of mankind, but also to the study of our geological past relating to the emergence of Himalayas. The oldest items in the museum are the marine fossils dating to about 150 million years ago. The second important items are 700 stone implements 5 ranging between half a million years old and four thousand years before present.
The third outstanding items are the reproductions of stone age paintings. Being the main area of research of it’s founder, the museum has a unique collection of rock paintings, not only from the Himalayan area, but also from Vindhyas, Kaimur ranges and the Western Ghats. These reproductions were prepared on the spot, on sheets of hand made paper and are painted in exquisite water colours, showing ancient images in their original colours natural backgrounds and acute sizes. As an example, there is a life size image of a wild buffalo which exceeds four meter in length and three other paintings which are about three meter long. The museum also houses some of the original nodules of mineral colors used by the ancient rock painters.
The museum also possesses ancients bricks, pottery, eight colossal hero memorial stones and over two dozen iron implements from the Prehistoric and the Historic periods. From the recent past of today’s hill society, the museum has a rich collection of manuscripts, wodden vessels, bamboo and ring-al objects. There are dozens of daily use items made up of copper, bronze, iron, gourd, rope and fiber. Specimens of local wood carving in the form of window jams and leaves can also be seen. A sizeable collection of folk painting (locally known as Aipana, Chowki, Thapa, Patta, Barboond and Muwali) and clay ritual idols (the Dikar) adorn the museum galleries.
As precious asset, the museum has an art gallery housing over three hundred paintings and a rich library. The painting in the gallery are the feast for the eyes- beautifully and sensitively executed water colors on local folk life and the unsurpassed beauty of the surrounding Himalayas. Charts and dioramas on the tribal art and culture are important eye-catching items on display.
“Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya is a must visit to for any tourist who is visiting Kumaun Region. You could find no better guide than Dr. Mathpal to make you aware on the topic of how history shapes REality of today”
Registered under the Society Registration Act 1860, the museum is located in a picturesque valley of the Kumaon Shivaliks at an altitude of 1400 meters. The museum has a campus of some five acres, on an east facing gentle hill slope. It is enriched with varied flora of trees , shrubs, medicinal plants and flower. The Bhimtal lake, the largest among Kumaon lakes is visible from the campus.
How to reach Lok Sanskriti Sangralaya?
It is situated 3 km, to the north of Bhimtal in District Nainital, Uttarakhand State. It is 334 km from Delhi, 59 km from Pantnagar airport, 24 km from the railway station fo Kathgodam and 18 km of from Nainital, the district headquarters.
There is a small entrance fee of Rs. 10/- per adult and Rs 5/- per child. Photographing the water colour paintings is prohibited. There a charge of Rs 500/- for video cameras and Rs100/- for still cameras.
Timings are April-September: 10.00 hrs – 17.00 hrs and
October-March: 11.00 hrs- 16.00 hrs.
The Museum remains closed on Mondays and all National holidays.