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My Great Grandparents-Sh. Samsar Chand Kaul & Smt.Lachkuji Kaul

My Great Grandparents-Sh. Samsar Chand Kaul & Smt.Lachkuji Kaul


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Photo - My Great Grandparents-Sh. Samsar Chand Kaul & Smt.Lachkuji Kaul Information

Description: This photograph is quite old one.It is in Rainawari, Srinagar.Behind is our residence.
An Unsung Renaissance Man
- K. Surendra
- Aditya Raj

A leading Kashmiri Ornithologist, who gave new meaning to education in the Valley, died in oblivion in 1977. Born in 1883, Master Samsar Chand Kaul was a renowned educationist, ornithologist and environmentalist, at a time when subjects like bird-watching and natural history were unknown in J&K.

A teacher at the CMS School (Fateh Kadal) – later called the Central High School (Srinagar) – Kaul fostered an interest in natural history among his students, besides teaching them other subjects. His efforts were greatly appreciated by the then British Pricipal of the School, C. E. Tyndale Biscoe. In a foreword to Master Samsar Chand’s book A Beautiful Valley of Kashmir & Ladakh, he wrote: “ I am most grateful to Samsar Chand for having taught his boys to love birds through his teaching of natural history”.

During his 65-year teaching career, Kaul traveled to every corner of the Valley with students and colleagues. This closeness gave him the opportunity to study nature. On trekking trips, he explained the forms of fossils and their formation to students. He would also help them identify trees by looking at the shapes of their leaves and calculating their age by counting the annual tissue rings on tree trunks.

Ornithology interested Kaul the most. With the passage of time, he learned to imitate the chirping of birds. He also had a flair for studying wild flowers, plants and mountain herbs.

He also developed interest for the collection of “Natural treasure” and made visits to the remotest areas of the Valley to collect flowers, herbs, hydro-plants, nests and feathers. They were preserved in CMS School museum called Kobutarkhana, a room where he taught Geography. The room is now utilized for the study of Natural History.

He meticulously maintained some parts of his collection in albums at his residence in Motiyar, Rainawari. Impressed by his work, he was nominated as the member of the National Geographical Society (Washington), The Royal Geographical Society (Canada) and The Society of World Watchers (England) in the late 1950’s. At times, he passed on the cheques received from foreigners as gift to the school.

He presented his experience in a vivid manner in his books: Beautiful Valley of Kashmir & Ladakh, Birds of Kashmir, Srinagar and Its Environ in the 1940’s. He became an authority on birds in the valley, and was often called on Radio Kashmir, whenever any programme of birds was aired.

Another aspect of his personality was his deep involvement in spirituality. He was a scholar of Kashmir Shaivism and believed that God was within oneself. He did not feel the need to roam about on pilgrimage. In 1965, he attended Swamy Maheshyogi’s discourse on Vedanta at Rishikesh and sought his permission to recite a shloka from Utpalastutraveli, a book on Kashmir Shaivism. Hailing Kaul’s knowledge of Shaivism, Swamy elucidated the aspect of Kashmir Shaivism in detail to both Indian and foreign devotees. He was a student with a Persian-Urdu background.

Despite having achieved expertise in ornithology, he didn’t get due recognition from the government. The British honoured him with small war pension, but in J&K, where he devoted his life for spreading education, he passed away in oblivion.


Some Press Notes On The Author’s Book “Beautiful Valleys of Kashmir & Ladakh”

‘A most delightful book…it will be what the Greeks used to call… “a possession forever” because it is full of so many beautiful things.’

-Lord Bishop of Lahore

‘The author is lyrical…obviously very knowledgeable… It contains excellent photographs and coloured plates of Kashmir flowers…Legands and histories of places visited together with the translations of their names are given. Interesting contacts are recorded with the shepherds and villagers of the valley’

-The Statesman

‘… First hand description…the author wields a facile per and exposes in a beautiful manner the magic concealed in the valleys…’

-The Punjab Educational Journal

‘…The book gives lively description of the beauty spots of Kashmir. The author draws his matter from his own observations of the interior of Kashmir Valley…’

-The Amrita Bazar Patrika

‘There is no beauty spot in Kashmir which the author has not visited and which he has not described in his book… At frequent places the learned author has added to the interesting character of the book by the narration of delightful stories and description of his personal experiences…’

-The Hamdard
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Date: 30.09.2004 11:34
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