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In This Ghost Village of Uttarakhand, the Past Comes Alive on Its Painted Walls

The Wise Wall Project is an initiative of Project FUEL under which entire village of Saur found its walls adorned with art inspired from the Gharwal school of painting.

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Have you heard of the ghost villages in the state of Uttarakhand?

Lack of employment resulting in excessive migration has pushed the rural regions of the state to the extent of having almost no inhabitants in its villages.

Out of 16,793 villages in Uttarakhand, a total of 1,053 villages have been emblazoned with the tag of ghost villages for not having a single person left to tell the tale.

Located in the Garhwal region of Tehri district in Uttarakhand, the 300-year-old village of Saur was declared a ghost village after only 12 families remained.

Much of the village rattles in a sad state of abandonment with old and dilapidated houses sans people.

A group of people decided to venture in a project that involved documenting the life lessons along with the folk tales from the ghost village of Saur and paint these time-tested anecdotes on the exterior of every house walls including the abandoned ones.

The Wise Wall Project is an initiative of Project FUEL in collaboration with RoundGlass. Spearheaded by Poornima Sukumar, a wall muralist, the art for the entire village was derived from the Gharwal school of painting, laced with Mughal miniature style influence.

Here’s a glimpse into the ghost village of Saur, now resplendent with yesteryear yarns interspersed with vivid hues and shades:

The first village of painted stories and life lessons. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.

Interestingly, as part of the project, a new font was crafted by Niteesh Yadav, who is a typography artist. After studying the handwriting of the remaining 12 families, he created the font using which all the life lessons were painted on the walls.

Garhwali Nath is the most famous and distinct ornament of the Garhwali culture and is a must-have for every bride. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.
Dance because a new day arrives with the opportunity to colour new homes, new faces and new lives. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.
The dance of life. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.
Recreating the most beautiful oxen in the village with their proud owner, Padam Ji. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.
The Garhwal School of Painting seeks heavy influence from the Mughal miniature style. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.
A tribute to the owner of the house, Mr. Bol Chand, who was the proud owner of a grand hukkah of bronze. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.
Every time the rains are delayed beyond comfort, the villagers would gather together to sing songs and request the Goddess Surkanda for fresh showers. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.
Alone you might be a star, but together you are a constellation. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.
Back in the day, when there used to be only one radio at the village Pradhan’s house, it was Akashvani Lucknow that made waves in Saur. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.
Sky high inspirations. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.
‘Panch patthar’ is an old folk game that was played by young village girls back in the day, involving five pebbles, a lot of balancing and a smart mind to cheat and win. Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.
Big bushes for the big white house! Courtesy: Vibhor Yadav.

Project FUEL, which was founded in 2009 by Deepak Ramola, aims at documenting the life of the people through the life lessons, and passing them on for every human to live their best, where FUEL stands for Forward the Understanding of Every Life lesson.

You can get in touch with the folks behind Project FUEL at contact@projectfuel.in.

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Written by Lekshmi Priya S

Shuttling between existentialist views and Grey’s Anatomy, Lekshmi has an insanely disturbing habit of binge reading. An ardent lover of animals and plants, she also specializes in cracking terribly sad jokes.