Himmat Shah was born in Lothal, Gujarat in 1933 and grew up in surrounded by the remnants of a prominent port city of Indus Valley Civilisation. He moved to Bhavnagar as a young boy and studied at Gharshala, a school affiliated to Dakshinamurti, the intellectual and cultural centre of the nationalist renaissance in Gujarat. At Gharshala, Himmat found his initiation into an-practice through artist-educator Jagubhai Shah even before joining the J J School of Art in Bombay, and then moving on to Baroda on a government cultural scholarship from 1956 to 1960.
As a young artist at Baroda Himmat Shah learnt avidly from N.S. Bendre in whom he saw the image of a modern artist, and from K.G. Subramanyan whose quest for language and appraisal of folk art stimulated him.
Himmat Shah was a member of Group 1890, a short-lived artists' collective founded by J. Swaminathan. The then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, opened the group's first and only show in 1963. The group dispersed soon after, and each of its members, including Himmat Shah, continued their artistic practices. Himmat Shah then received a French Government scholarship on the recommendation of Octavio Paz, the poet diplomat. He went on to study etching at Atelier 17 under under SW Hayeter and Krishna Reddy in Paris in 1967.
On his return, from 1967 to 1971, Himmat Shah designed and executed monumental murals in brick, cement and concrete at St. Xavier's School Ahmedabad. Since then, he started working on relief in plaster in a series called silver paintings and soon sculptures – in terracotta as well as bronze. He shifted to Delhi and subsequently to a studio at Garhi started that became an artist's laboratory, where he would experiment with clays and slips to develop a unique vocabulary in terracotta. In 2004 – 2005, Himmat Shah worked on his bronze sculptures, getting them cast at a foundry in London. His best known work remains the heads in terracotta and bronze.
Even today, Himmat Shah continues to extend his search for his own medium and craft, pushing boundaries in sculpture as well as drawing, out of his studio in Jaipur, established in the year 2000.