Thursday, March 27, 2014

The man with a golden heart: Ganesh Pradhan

 first published in SPARK magazine, edited by Shital Pradhan

“…..his hunger never stops.” This often repeated phrase echoed by many of his friends aptly suits the persona of Mr. Ganesh Kumar Pradhan. Known mostly among the associates as a humble and soft spoken gentleman, this grand father have so far successfully carved a niche of himself among the odds.
               His Ram Gauri Sangalaya, named after his parent’s name is a self made personal museum which has in short time capitulated him name and fame across the state and beyond. The three storey museum house has had visitors including the Governor of Sikkim Shri V. Rama Rao, numerous ministers and MLAs, Chief Secretaries, DGPs, High ranked officials from Army and others beyond the state too have been to his home. Some of the noted personalities of ‘who is who’ of nepali world that have commented on his Visitor’s Book include names like Padmashree Sanu Lama, Dr. Harka Bahadur Chettri, Dr, Shanti Chettri, Late Kamal Ashu, Late Ganga Kaptan, Late R.P.Lama, Late Jagat Chettri, Moti Prasad Sharma, Late Bhai Chandra Pradhan, Dr. Kumar Pradhan, Tulshi Ghimeray, Bharma Deo Sharma “Bhaijee” (Rastriya Sangathan Mantri), Chunnilal Ghimeray, Padam Parajuli, M.S. Khan, Vidya Bharathi, Kedar Gurung and others.  The other dignitaries included

               Meet Ganesh Kumar Pradhan. At the age of 58, when most people would like to spend time resting at the home, he has not let his enthusiasm and his desire for more go down. He is the man who has tried to capture few moments of the past in his living room. It has been his source of inspiration for years and he still lives in pursuing his dreams and promises. He is passionate about his collection of stamps, coins, paper money, antiques, books and magazine, old documents, driftwood, river stones and above all his love for the indoor and bonsai plants. His personal museum Ram Gauri Sangalaya and his nursery Ever Green Nursery is among one of the tourist point for couple of years on the occasion on Aritar - Lampokhari Lake festival.

               Born and brought up in Rhenock, Ganesh Pradhan is the youngest son of Late Ramu Pradhan and Late Gauri Maya Pradhan. The former was a vendor and an honorary magistrate of the bench court at Rhenock. Pleased by the performance of Late Ramu Pradhan, Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal, King of Sikkim honoured him with an appreciation letter on King’s birthday. Late Ramu Pradhan had another achievement when he received a handwritten appreciation letter from the then Rai Sahab D.S. Pradhan. Known for his straightforwardness and hardworking Late Pradhan is still remembered by the old folks even to this day. Ganesh Pradhan inherited his interest in flowers and the collection of old documents from his father.
               His love for plants made him establish a nursery in 1986, thou his introductions to the floras were laid by his father. He called his nursery Ever Green Nursery. And to his floriculture collection he has diverse varieties of succulent ferns, perennial plants, ornamentals and a very rare pitcher plant (nepenthes khasiana). One of his bonsai of Azelia sp. (hosokawa japonica) is approaching half century mark and he is extremely proud of it. His other bonsai collections include Ficus variety i.e. f. benjomina, f. elastic, trengula, f. australian, f. mysorensis, f. remintacia. His bonsai sells from Rs 200 to Rs 5000. The bonsai plants included in his nursery are of flowering chaamp, guava, musleri, guava, peach and others fruits and flowers including magnolia pumila and magnolia fuscata. The formation of his nursery in far off Rhenock isn’t a new idea at all. The first nursery there – Chandra Nursery- was first set up in 1910 by Rai Sahib RP Pradhan and Late D.S. Pradhan. Ganesh Pradhan never forgets to mention they were his source of encouragement to set on his own nursery. His bonsai plant collection and stag horns was highly appreciated in recently concluded International Florishow held at Suramsa Garden. His Ever Green Nursery hold collection of three types of Stag Horns;  Platycerium alcicorne, wilheminaregina, and hybrid forms.
                He has a collection of over 600-odd driftwoods and artistic stones collected from the rivers beds of Reshi, Rangpo, Rorathang, Rongli and others. He believes this nature’s gift is the most beautiful decorative item for houses, instead of other costly antique available in the market and you believe me you don’t find any other decorative items in his house. Ganesh Pradhan has also exhibited his driftwood collection at Konark, Orissa in 1992 on the occasion of Craft Mela. Ganesh Pradhan is a most popular name in Sikkim Philately today. Philately is popularly known as stamp collection wherein Ganesh Pradhan has so far represented the Sikkim State in different state and national stamp exhibition.  Winner of State Level Philatelic exhibition in 2002 Ganesh Pradhan added another feather when under his guidance his talented son Ruben Pradhan was among the 18 students selected from India to participate in an International Philately Exhibition held at Tucson, Arizonia, United States.           

               Ganesh Pradhan has around 5,000 world wide commemorative stamps; couple of hundreds of first day covers, over 2000 coins and paper money from different part of the world.  His museum also has place for now rare two types of Sikkim coins - Chepte and Doli paisa. It is to be mentioned that Sikkim state had its individual coinage system that only lasted for couple of years. The year then was 1881-1883. We can find rare Mughal period, Gupta period coins, Tibet coins and many valuable more to be followed. His paper currencies include different old Indian paper notes, error notes. Polymer notes i.e. the plastic notes that are now commonly issued in different countries are the other highlight of his collection. Pradhan added it was an encouragement from Rajeev Shankar Shrestha, from Gangtok that has helped him divulge his interest in Stamps and coins.

               It is hard to believe how this gentleman manages his time for each of his hobby. And this is not yet end, his other collection include 400 to 500 books and magazines in nepali and English language, which included a few volumes of Sikkim’s first news magazine ‘’Kanchenjunga’’ and the first issue of Sikkim Herald (1959) where one of its issue dating 16th February 1967 was handwritten. He has documents as old as 1913s. His rich collection holds volumes of Nepali literary magazines that consist of Diyalo, Bharati, Dharti, Sarda, Nava Jyoti, Udai, Gorkha, Deepak, complete set of Sarstha and many more. Some of his rare documents include hand written copy of the original Ramayana written by Bhanu Bhakta. Age old nepali manuscripts on Chandi, Rudri, Bibah Pradati,Satyanarayan Katha and others,not common

               Documents of old khasra (1916), old khatian (1916), old land records (1913), notification of Sikkim State- both nepali and english (1916), price lists of Chandra Nursery exported flora (1937), old ration card (1952), bank receipts (1956), Durbar Gazettes (1966), letters of Rai Sahab Ratna Bhadhur Pradhan and Shri D.S. Pradhan and other old exceptional papers hold fascination among many peoples that does not find these resources else where. His nepali newspaper collection from the first issue is another item that people flock to watch. Those newspapers consist of Himalchuli, Himalayan Observer, Abh, Dainik Awaaz, Sunchgari, Aaja Bholi, Samay Danik, Hamro Prajashakti, Himalai Bela and others. His other obsession lies in collecting antiques, be they cooking utensils, locks, old cameras, telegraph machines, lanterns from Germany and America, bangles, newari items, gramophone, etc. He has exhibited his collection in many places and had also won prizes.

               Speaking on his accomplishment Ganesh Pradhan considers his effort as a way to educate the coming generation about the artifacts of yester years. Pradhan believes if we are to make progress we also need to carry on our past too. We shall never know our future if we do not know our past, he added. Those materials are the source of future study that will be of assistance the moment in time of those days. And the long forgotten past which he had tried to bring together is a tribute to the works of our ancestors. Ganesh Pradhan never fails to help people understand the beauty of a collecting every bits and pieces.

               He has been felicitated by Karunadevi Smarak Dharmatma Guthi (Rhenock), Yuva Sahitya Pratisthan (Sikkim), Akhil Sikkim Newar Sangathan, Himali Prakashan (Dentam), Youth Development Society of Sikkim and Sagar Prakashan Takehang, East Sikkim. His work had found appreciation letters from the Governor Shri V. Rama Rao, Army Official Lt. Gen Ashok Chaki and others.

               Married to Kamala Pradhan, he has a daughter Bobbina (a grand son from her) and two sons, Ruben and Deepen. His family is very supportive in pursuing his passion and helps him in every step. His self – made museum is open for anyone to visit. If you show interest in his plants and driftwood he may even sell you some but……… you need to have the heart of a collector.

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