Protima Bedi was an Indian model and dancer. She became known as Protima Gauri.Bedi had become a prominent model by late 1960s. In 1974, she came into news for streaking during the daytime near Juhu beach in Bombay. It was during her wild modelling days that she met Kabir Bedi. Within a few months of their meeting, she walked out of her parents' house to live with him. They got married in 1969 and had two children - Pooja, who took acting for a brief while and a son, Siddharth. In August 1975, at the age of 26, an Odissi dance recital completely changed her life when she ran into the Bhulabhai Memorial Institute by chance, she saw two young dancers giving an Odissi performance.
It filled Protima Bedi with a kind of passion she'd never known before, in spite of its extremely complex rhythms, patterns and sophisticated hand-and-eye gestures. She became a student of Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra from whom she learnt the art of dancing for 12 to 14 hours a day and faced a lot of hardship as a beginner. She transformed herself from being the tight trouser, halter neck, off-shoulder girl with gold streaked hair to Protima Gauri or Gauri Maa, as she was affectionately known.
To Protima Bedi dance was a way of life, she proved to be an excellent learner and later she set up Nrityagram, a dance village, on the outskirts of Bangalore. To perfect her dance, she started studying abhinaya from Guru Kalanidhi Narayan of Madras. From then on, she started giving performances all over the country. Around the same time, Protima started her own dance school at Prithvi theatre in Juhu, Mumbai. It later became the Odissi Dance Centre. After her separation from Kabir Bedi, she was looking for an anchor and she found it in her dance.
Protima Bedi wanted Nrityagram, situated on the outskirts of Bangalore, to be India's first dance village for all classical dances. There would be seven gurukuls for the seven classical dance styles. She wanted to revive the guru-shishya parampara in the right kind of environment. Nrityagram was inaugurated on May 11, 1990, by the then Prime Minister, V.P. Singh. The dance school has a small community of students from all parts of India, but with a common aim - dance. Unfortunately, due to a lack of funds, the gurukul has not been able to put many of its plans into action.
Nrityagram, created as a model dance village, was constructed by master architect, Charles Correa. It had even won the 'best rural architecture' award in 1991. To raise funds to run Nrityagram, a tourist resort Kuteeram was built in 1992. Nrityagram is also the venue of the annual dance festival Vasantahabba, which was first started in 1994. Vasantahabba has not been held for the past two years due to the advent of the tsunami and a shortage of funds.Protima Bedi disappeared after a landslide in the Himalayas while on a pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar, leaving behind her most lasting achievement — a flourishing dance village, Nrityagram, where students continue to learn the classical dance styles of India. Her remains and belongings were never found.