75 years of partition: Sobha Singh remembered the pain, always missed at Lahore art school : The Tribune India
Dharamsala, August 8
He always remembered the pain of the score and missed out on art school in Lahore, says Hirday Paul Singh, grandson of Sobha Singh, the legendary artist who moved from Lahore to Andretta, a small hamlet of Kangra district, in 1947. Kangra district was then a part of Punjab but was merged into Himachal in 1966.
Speaking to The Tribune, Hirday Pal said Sobha Singh remembers the turbulent time when he was forced to leave Lahore empty-handed. “I decided to leave Lahore in March (1947) and had planned to reach Andretta but a shopkeeper asked me to wait a week as my package of paints and brushes was on the way. I stayed a week but things took a bad turn near our home in Krishna Nagar, Lahore Muslim dominated Mochi Darwaja was the worst hit due to community frenzy Many houses were burnt down and Hindus and locals Sikhs were killed. Finally, I left my home for Lahore station with my student in a tonga. Three Sikh friends escorted us, holding drawn swords. Near Mochi Darwaja and Ram Gali, we were followed by cries of ‘Ali Ali’ but seeing us in the company of Sikhs with swords, no one dared approach us. My friends stayed until the train left after three hours from the station. We we felt safe when the train passed through Attari,” says Sobha Singh to his wife while memorizing the pain of the score, says Hirday Paul Singh.
He said Sobha Singh came to Andretta. This small hamlet is on the international art map thanks to the paintings of Sobha Singh. The artist created some of the most famous paintings in his studio in Andretta, now popularly known as Kalagram (art village). Initially, the artist owned a small grass-covered thatched hut, but gradually developed it into a full-fledged art gallery. The design of the house was done by Sobha Singh and he kept improving and modifying it from 1949 to 1986.
Many bureaucrats knew him well from his paintings and visited him regularly. In one of the letters, RN Luthra, Deputy Commissioner of Kangra, wrote to him on February 18, 1952: “Your production of Sohni Mahiwal on canvas will remain as immortal as Fazal Shah’s version of this memorable story.”
When the construction of his house was underway, Dr. MS Randhawa, the first Chief Commissioner of Chandigarh, along with Dr. Mulk Raj Anand, a prominent writer, and Dr. WG Archer, the United States Ambassador to India, returned to him. visit in late 1952 to ‘enjoy the natural beauty of Kangra valley and research material on Kangra paintings. Dr. Randhawa visited Sobha Singh frequently and with his help wrote a book, “Kangre De Lokgeet (Folk Songs of Kangra) in Punjabi. X