Guest post by Vikram and Apoorva who have curated a unique experience called Life Meets The Lens, in Kandbari, Himachal Pradesh.
Remember your Biology textbooks that you glanced hurriedly through just a few days before exams? We all remember being repulsed by the endless diagrams and the life processes explained in those textbooks. But we also remember having rejoiced in awe on spotting a mother bird feed its newborns in a nest, or when we peeled open a pea covering only to find a caterpillar, or even when we spent hours following an ant trail?
Life Meets the Lens is all about creating many such joyful moments to experience the abundance of life that our planet is gifted with. We have always been told that the number of living creatures found on our planet is so huge that it is almost beyond belief; but how many of us have stopped to observe even a tiny bit of this huge abundance?
We believe that in order to be able to understand life in all its glory, one first need to develop a strong sense of real first hand observations. One can appreciate the delicate beauty of interdependence of all living creatures on each other only when one witnesses all of this first hand. Through Life Meets the Lens, we wish to create a shared space for people to explore biodiversity and natural ecosystems. The idea is to create a community of nature enthusiasts who will come together as often as possible to explore and understand how life prospers in diverse forms even in the tiniest corners of this planet.
Daily hikes to the jungle, technical observations, specimen collections, microscope observations and many interesting group activities form the routine of these retreats. We explore and try to understand life through experiences, observations and dialogue. We also discuss many Life Sciences concepts such as creation and evolution of life, habitat, food, defense mechanisms, ecosystems etc. This unique retreat uses photography as a medium to spark conversations around Life on earth. Participants use their cameras to document and share their observations with each other.
We have also set up a small museum which is open for participants to visit and explore our collection which includes hundreds of little things from the forests around - dead insects, bones, skulls, seeds and so much more!
Our retreats happen in a beautiful hamlet called Kandbari nestled in the heart of the Dhauladhar range of Himalayas. The village is 12-14 km from the town of Palampur in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Surrounded by water streams and dense forests, the location offers a perfect spot for biodiversity explorations and is the starting point of many treks to the deep forest. The village and the surrounding areas are home to hundreds and thousands of species of flora and fauna. It is a traditional mountain village with rich cultural values.
RETREATS AND WORKSHOPS
We conduct 3-7 days retreats for people from non-scientific background who have little knowledge about the natural world but are still looking forward to get to know it better. Usually, these workshops are offered to individuals who are 15 years and above.
We also conduct workshops for schools. Most of the biology, including biodiversity, is still taught through books and series of endless diagrams. Studying Life Sciences within the four walls of the room with textbooks being your only guiding point can drain any love for the subject that could have been experienced if studying it in nature. We believe that Life Science needs to be brought to life by taking it out of the realm of the textbook and be taught in the outdoors. For this, we conduct many engaging workshops for school teachers and children.
Besides this we also offer workshops to parents who might love the idea of exploring the natural world together with their children. It gives parents and opportunity to connect closely with their children and children also get a wonderful opportunity to explore natural science as one of the viable academic options for future.
We charge Rs 5500-7000 per participant for three days which includes workshop fee, equipment -collection box, observation lens, forceps, and gloves, stay and food (3 meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner).
Well, the idea is to build a community of people who will learn to care about nature and all life forms in it. We talk a lot about conservation these days, without fully explaining the events that have lead to us talking about the need for conservation. We feel that people do not find themselves directly affected by the disappearance of different species on this planet. Nor do they understand how their own indirect actions have lead to the depletion of populations of other life forms. Before, we explain people the repercussions of their actions, it is also very important to create a love-bond between humans and other living creatures.
Life Meets The Lens is an initiative of a self-trained naturalist Vikram, and Apoorva who has always been a nature-lover at heart.
Vikram, 30, is an avid Life Sciences enthusiast and an equally passionate photographer. He has spent over a decade trying to capture the glory of life in everything from the movement of ants to the dance of the bees, from the blooming of flowers to the wings of the birds. Although he has an undergrad degree in Botany and a Masters in Human Genomics, his love affair with biodiversity began when he was a little child. Born in the Himalayan town of Palampur, Vikram spent a great deal of his time as a child in the forest collecting seeds, dead insects, stones, skulls and bones of dead animals, feathers, mushrooms and everything else that he could sneak into the house without being caught. Today his collection has grown so overwhelmingly that we have now started a museum to showcase the rich diversity of the Palampur region.
Apoorva, 27, on the other hand, has spent most of her life so far in the chaos of big cities. A new world opened up before her when she left her job as a marketer and moved to Palampur almost two years back. She experienced a new life in the mountains, and lived closer to nature than ever before. She now believes that one can learn more about life and self if one spends more time observing the invisible forces of nature. She has an undergrad degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lifemeetsthelens/
Workshop video: https://youtu.be/wp8QaiAOkA0