Bathers in the waters of Shirahone Onsen in the Northern Japanese Alps @visitjapanau

A Japan sojourn is, in all likelihood, incomplete without a trip to one or more of its legendary onsens, or hot water springs, situated in the midst of absolutely stunning scenery.

The nation is home to more than 27,000 such springs, many of which are revered for their mystical, beneficial properties. And for centuries, it has been believed that bathing in the water of these onsens cures the body as well as the soul. As most of them are of volcanic origin, the water is rich in minerals that have many curative effects: Not only are they effective in treating aches and pains of all kinds, they have also been widely regarded as an important part of the skincare and beauty regime of the Japanese, especially Japanese women.

 

Indian art has been on an upward trajectory in the past two years. New venues such as the NMACC, Hampi Art Labs, as well as The Brij in Delhi have opened up to increase the number of available spaces for artists and the arts. At the same time, legendary Indian artists are reaching new heights the world over. Last year, Amrita Sher-Gil’s The Story Teller broke the record for an Indian artwork, selling for a whopping INR 62 crs.

With all these developments in the Indian scene, it seems to be just the time to explore and promote a new dimension in contemporary art, whether it is revisiting old masterpieces, or reinventing traditional art forms.

Old is gold

While Sher-Gil is extremely well known even outside art circles, there is a panoply of Indian artists who seem to finally be getting their dues and recognition. Rumale Chennabasaviah, one of Karnataka’s greatest modern artists (also known as India’s Van Gogh for his striking naturescapes) painted over 600 artworks in his prolific career. NGMA in Mumbai is presenting a retrospective on the artist, featuring over 80 of his best works.

Meanwhile, one of the founders of the famed Calcutta Group, Gopal Ghose, is being celebrated by DAG 2 in Mumbai through a retrospective exhibition that explores the breadth of his oeuvre. Known for his striking use of watercolours, this is an unmissable look at the evolution of contemporary Indian art. In his hometown of Calcutta, Ganesh Haloi is finally getting his first large-scale exhibition at the Birla Academy of Art & Culture, exploring a monumental 60-year-old career.

The new look

Mixing the rich storytelling traditions of India, and traditional arts, along with a smattering of eclectic styles like hand cut paper, Debjani Bhardwaj is creating an fascinating showcase that invites the audience to engage with the art as well as participate in creating it at the Threshold Art Gallery in Delhi.

At Snowball Studios in Mumbai, Milaaya Art Foundation aims to revive the art of embroidery in a modern way. By training on artworks by famed artists, the exhibition has artisans use varied embroidering techniques to create different versions of the same artwork, thereby highlighting the uniqueness of each technique.

So, where will you be headed this weekend?

 

The mokoro is the perfect place to witness South Africa’s lush canvas from, particularly in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The stillness of these traditional canoes allow you to create an intimate connection with nature, immersing you in the sights and sounds of the Delta. 

As compared to other spots in Botswana, Okavango remains largely untouched, interrupted only by the meek mokoros. For a long time, being a ‘poler’ or mokoro guide was considered to be a man’s job. This is because taking people on a tour on dug-out canoes along the glassy delta waters required a considerable amount of balance and physical strength. 

But mokoro safaris are undergoing an interesting shift. The challenge is now also taken up by female safari guides, who want to share the knowledge and culture of their land with tourists. Okavango Delta is one such place where women are getting to explore this passion by turning into mokoro guides. 

For many of these women, mokoro safari is a two-way street, helping them to not only create a fresh means of income but by also offering them something unique. The stillness helps them use all their five senses without any disturbance, transporting them into a meditative state and leaving them with indelible memories of its tranquillity.