The busy Kalka Devi Marg near the Kailash Colony metro leads you to the interiors as the swanky metropolis gradually disappears and you increasingly get the feel of a provincial town, still busy but far less shiny and polished and far more congested and squalid. This is not surprising as all the urban “villages” within Delhi are the same. But there’s something that makes Kalka Garhi different. It’s a small park well protected by walls from all sides and inside those walls, you’ll find one of the most important art studios of the country, one of the 6 regional centres maintained by the Lalit Kala Academy, the apex institution of fine arts.
The artist studio at Garhi was established in 1976 to meet the requirements of practising artists. The studio is located on a heritage site that was once known as Garhi Zharia Maria. Around four acres of land has been allotted for this purpose. The sign of the glorious past can be seen on the main entrance where an age old building is located. Inside, there is a well maintained garden surrounded by buildings that serve as workshops and quarters for the artists. The Centre organizes various art activities and caters to the artists of neighbouring regions of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, J&K and of course those in Delhi.
The centre is equipped with facilities required for various artistic disciplines. It is aimed to help the artists who cannot afford such equipment themselves and to encourage graphic arts, sculpting, ceramics and painting. The studio has quality equipment for printing, metal casting, welding as well as pottery and also stocks raw materials needed for these activities. It operates as a non-profit institution and charges only a basic amount for its facilities to keep functioning.
The studio also acts as a major facilitator for art related activities and organizes various events such as exhibitions, seminars, symposiums, demonstrations and discussions related to various events. The complex also houses a restaurant and the pathways around the garden are lined with artefacts like statues and sculptures created by the artists working there.
Outsiders can also visit it but they must be careful. It generally remains closed during weekends and public holidays. Also photography inside the premises requires prior permission. Besides, the artists are secretive about their artwork. So you need to be careful before taking out your camera. There is no entry fee.
Reaching the studio is not difficult but it may be tricky. You need to keep walking straight through the Kalka Devi Road from Kailash Colony as stated earlier. Eventually the road will come to an end and you will see the signboard for Kalka Garhi Village on the right side. At the same point you will also notice high walls of the Studio. If you go a few yards inside the village, you will locate the main entrance.