He is at once a photographer, a mountaineer, a skier, a trainer, a bee-keeper, a florist, a mushroom grower, and above all, a down-to-earth human being. Meet Padma Shri Anup Sah.
Among the 2019 Padma awardees was someone being awarded the Padma Shri for capturing the Himalayas through his photography; seldom does one find a photographer in the list of such coveted award winners. However, if one were to scan through the more than fifty years of Anup Sah’s works, one would be left wondering whether so much beauty really exists in nature as just a pair of eyes have been catching through the lenses.
The answer comes from the Padma Shri awardee himself, “One has to be a nature lover necessarily to observe the minute things of nature and once in the lap of nature one needs to dissociate himself from everything else in the world which can otherwise only distract us from enjoying the true essence of nature.”
Born on 6 August 1949 in Nainital to Chandra Lal Sah Thulgharia and Champa Thulgharia, Anup took to photography in his teens when his father presented him with an Agfa Isoly camera. A multi-faceted personality himself, the father always encouraged young Anup to pursue his likes in life without inhibitions. “If you make your hobby your profession,” he told his son, “then you will not only enjoy your work but will also have free time for other activities.”
In September 1968, Anup’s father founded the Nainital Mountaineering Club (NTMC) which also paved the way for Anup to take to mountaineering as was his growing love for nature. In 1969, Anup attended the Basic Mountaineering Course at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi where he also completed the Advance Mountaineering Course, two years later. In the intervening year, Anup was part of the All India NCC Expedition that scaled the Panchachuli Peak. During the Basic Course, Anup scaled the Rudragera Peak at an altitude of 19,090 feet and the Srikanth Peak, with an altitude over 21,000 feet, during the Advance Course.
A lover of nature, Anup opted for Botany and Zoology along with Chemistry as his graduation subjects. “Memorizing the botanical names of plants was never difficult,” says Anup. “I could memorize the names while loitering around in the lap of nature and spending time in the company of the plants whose names I was required to remember.”