Bringing together the best of Indian art, music and dance traditions...


Have you ever wondered what Pandit Ravi Shankar does when he is not strumming heavenly music on his sitar? Maybe, he is composing ballads, or watching movies, or writing a memoir… there could be a gazillion ways a maestro destresses with. Practising a knack that maybe the world is not privy to. A hobby he nurtures in the inner precincts of his nest. A habit that is another window to the soul of this stupendously talented man.
Back in the days when Panditji regularly visited Triveni Kala Sangam to perform and spend time with students, he used to occasionally dabble in poetry. Beautiful poems that sadly never saw the light of day. Maybe because the legendary sitar player wanted his music to resonate louder than his words…

On a chilly winter morning as students trooped in for their classes at the Triveni Kala Sangam, I sat listening to many such stories unravel. About Pandit Ravi Shankar coming to the academy, about Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra giving Odishi lessons to his Delhi students whenever he was in the city, as well those about MF Husain, the painter who needs no introduction. Even if you have no idea of what one does with a paintbrush! From who, you may ask. The amiable Amar Shridharani, whose mother founded this institution in 1950.

There is a little anecdote about how one day when Sundari Shridharani, also honorary director of Triveni Kala Sangam, (and who was great friends with Zora Sehgal), was discussing about the repairs that the building needed sitting before Husain, he noticed a chipped crack on the wall. The painter called for colour, an easel and a brush and just doodled something on the wall. There is also the painting of the Three Horses that Husain made for the lady, scribbling his initials onto them and telling her, “Sundari, this is for you. Because Triveni and you shall always be special. These horses represent what Triveni imparts knowledge in... dance, music and painting.” Time elapsed, and with it Indian cultural traditions had to bear the onslaught of western influx. But Shridharani was absolutely sure about one thing. Triveni will always nourish and nurture what is thoroughly Indian. Be in in the form of painting, sculpture, dance or music. Even the digital gallery that is one of the new features hosts shows by Indian artists on themes and issues that are relevant to the Indian society at large.
Says Amar Shridharani, the honorary general secretary of Triveni Kala Sangam, and the founder’s son, “In the age when Western influences have overtaken, and almost riddled the music, dance and art industry in India, ours is the only institution with an impassioned dedication towards the Indian traditional arts. A confluence, or sangam, of music, dance and painting, the academy holds onto the ideals and vision of its founder till date without being regressive about teaching methods and modules.” He avers that it would have been easy, and maybe even commercially viable to allow teachers to train students in the popular modern dance forms that borrow a lot from Salsa, HipHop and so on, but the very premise of his mother setting up this place was to imbibe in the students a love and respect for their country’s traditions and give everyone a scope to see how rich and intricate they are. There has to be some institution that holds on to the socio-cultural heritage, he says.

A thoroughly didactic curriculum is followed where anyone, from any strata of society is welcome to walk into Triveni Kala Sangam, inquire about the courses available and take classes from the experts and professionals who teach here. The teachers have to evaluate as per your knowledge about which course you befit. The only criteria is that you have to be serious about your passion and pursue it with all your heart.

Experts such as OP Sharma (photography), Rameshwar Broota, Sanjoy Roy, Surinder Kaur, Satish Sharma, Ustad Akram Khan and Pandit Raj Kishore Dalbehera are just some of the eminent artists teaching at the academy. There are separate classes for glassworks, sculpture and painting in the art department. The Indian Classical Music has both vocal classes and instrumentals. Students can learn Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Chhau and Odishi and Kuchipudi here. While I walked around the cultural hub, I noticed students engrossed in getting their grooves correct at a Chhau training class at the open-air theatre and some young ones taking a mini-recess from their Kuchipudi class. The sound of the dholki and chime of the ghungroo constantly cut into the serene environment. Truth to be told, the energy is tangible and, in many ways, infectious. Being around such eager enthusiastic students, the chill seemed to be dissipating from the sun-kissed air.

Devoid of the unnecessary glitzy trappings, the architecture of the institution is also earthy and organic. Designed by Joseph Allen Stein, it showcases the distinct signature of the famous architect where natural air and light are used judiciously for a more spacious feel. Plenty of greens envelop the building and a walk around the property is a welcoming proposition.
Those with an umbilical attachment to Delhi, reminisce about spending lovely afternoons sipping chai at the Triveni Kala Sangam. I wondered why their young ones do not talk about Triveni in the same vein as they would about a mall. Considering that at any given time, the five art galleries and two theatres are open to all. The Shridharani and Triveni Art Gallery hosts wonderful art shows, the café is abuzz with banter and delectable aromas wafting out, the auditoriums have interesting seminar and talks (at the time of my visit, one was being conducted on Kaifi Azmi, with Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar as guest speakers; theatre shows are not ticketed), the digital art gallery is where you can see exhibits with topical content and of course, feel the ambience resonating with the energetic murmur of art students. It is a bed of the celebration of Indian art and culture and rigidly upholds that system till date.
There are Student workshops conducted regularly at the Academy

The best part is that the institution doesn’t discriminate. “Children from families with lower per capita income should get an equal opportunity at pursuing the arts at a beautiful environment. Hence, we make the courses affordable. We are constantly upgrading the facilities and the curriculum in tandem with current requirements. The academy fosters deep learning and appreciation of the Indian traditional arts. This was a dreamchild of my mother and we as a family strongly uphold the fundamentals she set up the academy with. The world might shift gears towards fleeting trends but we shall always be rooted to our rich Indian traditions,” signs off Amar, telling us a few more interesting stories. Stories that are embedded in the walls. You just need to saunter in to discover them…

Log onto www.trivenikalasangam.org for details about exhibitions, classes, art shows and other events. The calendar is choc-a-bloc with something for everyone. Go explore…






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