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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Pandit Sri Krishna Gurtu

First Kashmiri Chief Engineer

By Dr. B.N. Sharga

SK GurtuPt. Sri Krishna Gurtu’s ancestors used to write Raina as their surname in the Kashmir Valley. They subsequently started writing Raina Gurtu as their new surname. His ancestor Pt. Narain Das Raina Gurtu was basically a resident of Habba Kadal in the Kashmir Valley. After completing his traditional education in Urdu and Persian language he came to Oudh during the rule of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula (1775- 1797) probably at the fag end of the 18th century. He built a big ‘haveli’ in Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow and started living there He got some good job in the court and became so much fascinated with the affluence of the Nawab that he started writing his own name as Nawab Narain Das. Some people say that he went to Calcutta along with the last Nawab of Oudh Wajid Ali Shah when the latter was dethroned by the British in 1856. However, there is no documentary evidence to substantiate this claim.

Pt. Narain Das Gurtu had a son Pt. Gulab Rai Gurtu and a grandson Pt. Mehtab Rai Gurtu “Miskeen”, who was an Urdu poet. It is said that this Gurtu family after the Mutiny of 1857 migrated from Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow to Delhi for better future prospects there under the British dispensation and started living in Bazaar Sita Ram. This mohalla was a big centre of the Kashmiri Pandits’ population at that time.

Pt. Mehtab Rai Gurtu “Miskeen” had four sons. They were Nand Kishore, Karta Krishna, Suraj Nath and Ayodhya Nath. Pt. Mahtab Rai Gurtu’s second son Pt. Karta Krishna Gurtu was a noted scholar of Urdu and Perisan language in Delhi. He was also a poet of repute like his father. Some of his poetic compositions have been published in Bahar-e-Gulshan-e-Kashniir. He had three Sons—Amar Krishna, Maharaj Krishna and Prem Krishna.

Pt. Karta Krishna Gurtu’s second son Pt. Maharaj Krishna Gurtu had his traditional education in Urdu and Persian language in a Delhi College. He was married to the daughter of Pt. Swaroop Narain Haksar. Pt. Maharaj Krishna Gurtu on the suggestion of his father-in-law, Pt. Swaroop Narain Haksar migrated from Delhi to Gwalior for better future prospects under the patronage of Pt. Dharam Narain Haksar there. Pt. Dharam Narain, brother of Pt. Swaroop Narain, was tutor of Maharaja Madhav Ram Scindia of Gwalior. Pt. Maharaj Krishna Gurtu  subsequently got a job in the Gwalior state service on the recommendation of Pt. Dharam Narain Haksar.

The history of the ancestors of the ruling Scindia dynasty of Gwalior is very interesting. It starts from carrying the slippers of the mighty Peshwas to become the rulers of the Gwalior state.

Pt. Maharaj Krishna Gurtu after coming to the Gwalior state started living with his family members at Morar. He had three Sons and three daughters. The names of his three sons were Sri Krishna, Hari Krishna and Raj Krishna besides three daughters Shivwanti who was married to Pt. Onkar Nath Dar of the Jaora state, Premwanti who was married Pt. Prem Narain Taimni and Jaywanti who was married to Pt. Kali Sahai Sharga of Lucknow.

Pt. Maharaj Krishna Gurtu’s eldest son Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu was born May on May 1872 in Morar in the Gwalior state during the rule of Jayaji Rao Scindia. He had his traditional education in Urdu and Persian in the Gwalior state under the supervision and guidance of learned Maulvis there. He did his matriculation from the Victoria College around 1890. Then the went to Delhi from Gwalior for higher studies and took admission in St. Stephens College which was affiliated with the Punjab University of Lahore then. He did his F.A. in 1892 and B.A. in 1894 from this institution.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu was a keen sportsman during his college days. He used to make very good drawings and sketches. He made a beautiful drawing of a parrot and got the job of a drawing master in a college in Indore on Rs. 60/- per month. He later on put up the painting of that parrot in his house “La Makan” which he built in Gwalior with the words “Anna Data” inscribed below that painting. He did this job of a drawing Master for about a year.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu then started some business in Indore which he continued for about two to three years and simultaneously studied for the M.A. examination . He did his M.A. in English literature as a private candidate from Indore in 1897. He had some god gifted qualities. Although he was never a science student but he wrote some original books on engineering which took every one by surprise. He passed the engineering examination of the Punjab University, Lahore as a private candidate in 1899 without going to any college or attending any class and obtained M.I.C. degree from it.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu then went to Gwalior, where he got a job in the Gwalior state service. He had his practical training under Khan Bahadur Syed Jaffar Hussain who was the divisional engineer of the irrigation department then for about two years from 1900 to 1901. Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu after completing the training period was made a member of board of revenue. Due to his hard work and devotion to duty he got quick promotions in service and became a right hand man of Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia. Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu then succeeded Sidney Preston C.I.E., C.B.E., M.I.C. to become the chief engineer and member board of revenue for irrigation around 1908.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu executed a number of important civil engineering projects in the Gwalior state. He performed many engineering feats and constructed the Water Works of Gwalior, Lashkar and Morar. He built a number of roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. He executed the project of laying the railway line in the state. His main expertise was in the field of Dam construction and developing flood protection schemes and in taming the rivers for irrigation and hydro electric projects to generate power.

In 1917 Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu published an original research paper on the theory of flood absorption in tanks which was widely appreciated by the experts in this field. He high lighted how the big dams were built by the ancient rulers for the proper management of natural water resources without any knowledge of hydraulic engineering. The builders of that period tried their “prentice” hand in the construction of canals.

Being highly impressed by the original theory propounded by Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu regarding the flood absorption technique, F.C. Rose, a British expert proposed the name of Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu on 3rd March, 1919 for the membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London. This was duly accepted by the executive body and Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu got that honour to become its member.

Prior to this in 1916 Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu took up the Parbati river project which was originally taken up in 1906 by his predecessor Sidney Preston, a British engineer but later on abandoned by him due to difficult terrain. Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu’s main contention was that this river which flows near Mohna if tamed properly could  increase the prospects of irrigation tremendously besides generating the electricity for the state, though it would involve a heavy expenditure. The river could be carried straight to Karaira through the hills, where reservoirs could be built to generate electricity. He mentioned in his note that “if this scheme is carried out properly then it will be possible to supply water, power and light to Lashkar, Morar and Gwalior in the 6th year after starting the work”.

But later on some differences cropped up between him and Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia over the implementation of this scheme. Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu was a man of principles.  In utter disgust he submitted his resignation and left  in 1920. He then went to Madras from Gwalior and was made an engineer by the British on Rs. 1200/- per month He was subsequently promoted as Chief Engineer with a salary of Rs. 2000/- per month.

In 1924 Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu went to Ratlam from Madras to execute the Ratlam Water Supply and Irrigation Scheme there. He submitted his report on the feasibility of Gin river hydro-electric and irrigation project for Sinnoor state of Punjab in 1924 and executed this work.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu made a thorough inspection of the working of the Water Works of Bombay, Poona, Delhi, Kanpur and Madras to acquire first hand knowledge of their functioning. Around 1926 he became the Chief Engineer of P.W.D. in the Baroda state where he used to live in Anand Villa with his family members. In Baroda he developed the scheme for collecting run off water and its storage for proper utilization apart from other important civil engineering works.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu at the fag end of his life was serving in the Kutch Riyasat in Gujrat as the Chief Engineer where he fixed the marriage of his third son Pt. Ram Krishna Gurtu to Bulbul, the daughter of Pt. Arjun Nath Takru, a leading businessman of Agra in 1934. In April 1935 he went to Agra along with his family members from Kutch to perform the marriage of his son. The Barat party stayed there in a big bungalow which had a haunted room. The caretaker of the premises advised Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu not to open that room to avoid the ill effect of the evil spirit. But Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu turned down his request and got that room opened. He occupied it and said that he did not believe in such superstitions and ghost stories.

After the lunch when the members of the marriage party were having a nice time and were busy in chatting in the verandah they saw an English lady with a parasole on the road coming towards the bungalow. They thought her to be the land lady of the bungalow. But instead of entering through the gate she came inside the compound through the wall with out any obstruction as if the wall was not there for her. This phenomenon stunned everybody present there. That lady then quietly entered into the room in which Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu was relaxing. The people then heard aloud noise of gun fire, but when they entered into the room they found Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu in a terrible condition, who subsequently died after vomiting blood before any medical aid could be given to him at the age of 63 years.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu was married in 1888 to Brijpati, who was the daughter of Pt. Bishambhar Nath Bakaya of Multan. He had five sons Kunwar Krishna, Praduman Krishna, Ram Krishna, Pratap Krishna and Brij Krishna besides four daughters Kishanpati (b. 1901) who was married to Pt. Trijugi Narain Sapru of Allahabad, Bishanpati (b. 1907) who was married to Dewan Sumer Nath Madan of Lahore, Dhanrajpati (b. 1909) who was married to Pt. Gyan Nath Raina at Kanpur and Munishwari (b. 1915) whose marriage was arranged to Pt. Kishan Mohan Nath Raina but who died before her marriage could be performed.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu’s eldest son Pt. Kunwar Krishna Gurtu was born in 1893. He did his B.Sc. LL.B. and became a lawyer. He used to do his legal practice in Kanpur. He was married to Janak Dulari who was the daughter of Rai Bahadur Pt. Shyam Manohar Nath Sharga of Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow. He had three Sons Swaroop Krishna, Tej Krishna and Autar Krishna.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu’s second son Pt. Praduman Krishna Gurtu was born around 1895. He died quite young. He was married to Kishan who was the daughter of Pt. Sangam La! Chak of Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow. He had a daughter Swaroop Kumari who was married to Pt. Parmeshwar Nath Tikku of Ajmer.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu’s third son Pt. Ram Krishna Gurtu was born in 1905. He was a qualified engineer in Bombay. He was married to Bolbul who was the daughter of Pt. Arjun Nath Takru of Agra. He has seven sons Narendra Krishna, Ravindra Krishna, Virendra Krishna, Surendra Krishna, Bhupendra Krishna, Jeetendra Krishna and Shri Krishna besides a daughter Rita who is married to Mohan Razdan.

Pt Sri Krishna Gurtu’s fourth son Pt. Pratap Krishna Gurtu was born in 1911. He married an Anglo Indian lady who was then named as Indira. He has a son Kuldeep Gurtu.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu’s fifth and youngest son Pt. Pratap Krishna Gurtu was born in 1913. He did B.Sc. (Agr.) and got employment in, the Agriculture department of the U.P. government at Kanpur. He was married to Shyama who is the daughter of Pt. Kishori Lal Takru of Lahore. He has a son Mahendra Krishna. Pt. Maharaj Krishna Gurtu’s second son Pt. Hari Krishna Gurtu was married to Shivanti (b. 1885) who was the daughter of Pt. Kanhaiyya Lal Munshi. He had a son Pt. Autar Krishna Gurtu, who was born in 1905. He was a divisional engineer in the revenue department of the Gwalior state posted at Ujjain. He was married Jwala, the daughter of Pt. Suraj Krishna Ganju.

Pt. Maharaj Krishna Gurtu’s third son Pt. Raj Krishna Gurtu was married. Leelawati who was the daughter of Pt. Behari Lal Nehru of Allahabad.

Pt. Sri Krishna Gurtu had English temperament. He was a great disciplinarian and a hard task master. He was true to his words and never believed in loose-talk. He was a veiy good tennis player and fond of hunting. He used to love classical Indian music and was a good Sitar player. His great passion was photography. He had a lab in his house for developing, printing and colour painting of photographs. He was a widely travelled person. He was quite social and frank in his dealings with others. He always commanded great respect and regard from his junior officers for his originality and for his deep knowledge about his subject. Some of his original research papers are well preserved in the archives of Institution of Civil Engineers on Great George Street, Westminister, London. He was a man of firm convictions and never compromised with his set principles even under adverse circumstances.   

Kashmiri Writers B.N. Sharga


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