Home Photography Photofeature Art On Track

Art On Track

Art On Track

Conservationist Valmik Thapar conceives and catalyses a stunning tiger-art-themed initiative that is sure to set a new trend across India. Talented artists bring the walls of the Sawai Madhopur Heritage Railway Station alive with wildlife paintings that will delight the lakhs of visitors to the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve.

Photo: Aditya ‘Dicky’ Singh.

In March 2015, while I was in Ranthambhore, I had the interesting idea to get the Sawai Madhopur railway station (the nearest railway station to the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve) painted with images of tigers.

Photo: Aditya ‘Dicky’ Singh.

I met Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in April 2015, and he immediately approved not just this idea but also two others – painting the Bharatpur station with bird images and the entire Jan Shatabdi train with images of tigers and birds. I thought that this would play a part in increasing awareness about tigers and other wildlife.

Photo: Aditya ‘Dicky’ Singh.

When I approached master painters Gajanand Singh and Narayan Singh of the Ranthambhore School of Art, they agreed to take on the challenge. I also spoke to Ravi Singh, CEO of WWF-India, and he agreed to sponsor the painters and coordinate the plans.

Photo: Aditya ‘Dicky’ Singh.

Today, the Sawai Madhopur railway station has become one of the largest living art museums in a public space. Local villagers and travellers rub shoulders as they enjoy the paintings. Thousands of people pass the station daily and will hopefully be inspired to protect wildlife and our forests.

Photo: Aditya ‘Dicky’ Singh.

Interestingly, after a banyan tree with birds was painted over the walls and ceiling, wild birds began visiting the station and actually landing on the walls and slipping off them. The painters quickly painted some predatory birds and this helped put a stop to the bird visits. That is true magic and testimony to the amazing skill of painters from the Ranthambhore School of Art. Truly, hyper realism at its best.

Photo: Aditya ‘Dicky’ Singh.

Sawai Madhopur is now India’s first heritage railway station and I hope others will follow suit. The Chief Minister of Rajasthan is considering having eight other stations similarly painted in the state to highlight its cultural heritage.

– Valmik Thapar, wildlife conservationist and author

First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXIV No. 1, February 2016.

 
 
 

Subscribe to our Magazines

Subscribe Now!
 
Please Login to comment