Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Majrooh's Paradise

Continuing with the theme of Kashmir as Paradise...

Aye Cheshmay Tamasha Jhoom Zara
Ab Waqt e nazara aa pohcha
Kashmir may do din jeenay ko
Kashmir ka mara Aa pohcha
Firdaus kay ghum ho  janay ka
Kuch gham na karey 
Adam say kaho
Akhir ko tumhari jannat may
Farzand tumhara aa pohcha

Line of Majrooh Sultanpuri (1919 − 2000) delivered (in a bombastic manner) by Dev Anand in Teen Devian (1965). The scene has a mushaira held on a houseboat in Srinagar. Majrooh was last of the great urdu poets claimed by film world as a lyricist.

Poplar Avenue
From Francis Frith's album. Around 1850s to 1870s.
via: Victoria and Albert Museum.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Dal Lake Where the Lotus Lilies Grow

The Dal Lake Where the Lotus Lilies Grow
'Wild flowers of Kashmir' by B. O. Coventry (1923) 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kashmir 75-76

Back waters of Dal Lake by Bill Strong. October 1975

'On road to Gulmarg' by Bill Strong. January 1976
'View from Shankaracharya Hill ' by Bill Strong. January 1976

Checkout his complete Kashmir Album over at Flickr here


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Kashmir by Robert Baden-Powell, 1915


Background, Fort Hari Parbat, Srinagar

Beaters at lunch during a hunt

Kashmiri Carriers

Kashmiri Children


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Harwan Reservoir, 1930s

The flip side of reads:

"near the Dal lake banks close to the garden of shalamar"
Readers were easily able to identify the place as old Harwan Reservoir. The structure still stands.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mahmud Gami's Azme

from a book published in 1959

The following song by Mahmud Gami [1750-1855] may be given as an example of a real love song, though even this can be interpreted in Sufi wise. The story goes that Gami wrote the song about a girl of Kutahar (a village in the Maraz pargana of Kashmir) named Azme, and that it became the occasion of trouble for its author. Complaints were made about Gami, and his father reported the matter to the Tahsildar of the district; but the poet explained that Azme meant 'to-day' and that the whole song had only a Sufi significance.


'Azme lil am vuchh-haet vare
'Azme hawih di dare, lo lo, 'Azme…

Azme, love of thee came to me, fortunate vision!
Azme, show me thy face, O darling. Azme love of thee...

Shangas augam van kati prare
Badnam gos kutahare, lo lo, 'Azme…

Say where shall I wait, in Shangas or Naugam?
An ill name I got in Kutahar!  Azme love of thee...

Achhavala neb am brang kutahare
Lachha baedi laegim kola tare, lo lo, 'Azme…

I sought thee in Achhaval, Brang, Kutahar -
Lakh of hardships I suffered, my darling! Azme love of thee...

Rokh chon sazaposh guli anare
Chashma chani kya chhi ab, dare lo lo, 'Azme…

Pomegranate thy cheeks, or saza-posh-
How dark are thine eyes, my darling! Azme love of thee...

Guma hatsa bomba chani kya chhi moj dare
Nasti chani kari mare, lo lo, 'Azme…

Shining thy brows as though with sweat-
How many a one thy nose has slain, my darling! Azme love of thee...

bar taq bhit kong-posh tsaran
Melum chhum na kanhzi ra'e, lo lo, Azme…

Sitting by the door, choosing saffron flowers,
I know not for whom, my darling! Azme love of thee...

Kolagam indrah kya chhi nam dare
Tsakra chhas bedare, lo lo, 'Azme…

What a famous spinning wheel is there in Kolgam,
Matchless its handle, Azme love of thee...

Indarad chonis rapa sanza tare
Vucch-vaen ta ga'e bemare lo lo, 'Azme…

Silver are the strings of thy spinning wheel,
Those who see it fall ill with wonder, my darling! Azme love of thee...

Zovilis tumalas dogdivare
'Azme Hund sarvi qad rutiye lo lo, 'Azme...

Skilfully pounding the rice so fine,
The good shape of the cypress has Azme my darling! Azme love of thee...

Nol kya chhuy tse lalan trotiye
'Azme Hund van kapan tsotiye lo lo , 'Azme…

Bright is her dress as a pearl,
Short are the plaits of Azme, my darling! Azme love of thee...

Zovilis mastas Kaugan fidivare
Vankan karay shumare lo lo. 'Azme...

Slowly combing her hair so fine -
I will count up thy plaits, my darling! Azme love of thee...

Sor lok yem ga'e avare lo lo, 'Azme…
[Probably a missing line]

Kamadev has passed through Kutahar,
All folk must yield (?), my darling! Azme love of thee...

Mahmud Miskina ha Van prare
Badnam gos kutahare lo lo, 'Azme...

Hapless Mahmud, where shall he wait for thee?
An ill name I won in Kutahar, my darling! Azme love of thee...

~ From 'Thirty Songs from the Panjab and Kashmir' (1913) by Ratan Devi and Ananda Coomaraswamy.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kshemendra's Smayamatrika by Edward Powys Mathers

Although Edward Powys Mathers is more famous for 'Bilhana: Black Marigolds' (1919), which was later used by John Steinbeck for dramatic purposes in his American novel 'Cannery Row' (1945), Edward Powys Mathers was also one of the first translators of Kshemendra's Smayamatrika.

His english version came out as 'Harlot's Breviary' in volume 2  of book 'Easter Love' (1927).

The book was available at Digital library of India but the reading method provided there is not too easy. So I have recompiled and uploaded the book to

Cashmerian Dancers, 1926

This postcard came with no date and only description: 'cashmerian dancers'.

This is probably from the coronation ceremony in 1926.

Bath-Houses along Vitasta

John Burke, 1868-69

By Geoffroy Millias.
from 'Irene Petrie : Missionary to Kashmir' (1903)

At Shah Hamadan
By Brian Brake, 1957

by Douglas Waugh (late 1950s, early 1960s)

From the book
"Tikkus' tourist & shopping guide of Kashmir covering Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh " (1970) by Bharat Tikku.

"In the upper part of the city the banks are lined with houseboats in which the visitors live. But lower down these banks, which are sometimes twenty and thirty feet high, have a very interesting and varied life at the water's edge, where you find laundrymen and laundrywomen at intervals all the way along, and bathers, sometimes composed of groups of men, others of groups of women, and again men and women together. As a rule this bathing takes place at the foot of some of the wide stone steps that lead up from the water to the upper level of the bank, and frequently in the vicinity of a temple or mosque. There are also a number of small bath-houses, without roofs, and divided into very tiny little cabinets that are hardly large enough for a single person. These are indulged in by the more fortunate, or the better-to- do classes, who constitute but a very small percentage of the total bathing population.

This bathing, too, is a very interesting process to witness, especially the dressing, for, while the men are rather indifferent as to how much or how little clothing they may have on, the women are exceedingly modest and rarely, if ever, is there the least exposure of any portion of the body besides the arms, and head and feet. They go into the river with one dress on and when they have bathed they have not only washed their bodies but the garments they have been wearing, and when they come out they have on the bank, or steps, another garment which they put on, and so skillful are they in making this change that it is almost impossible to tell how it is done. One moment they are clad in the wet, clinging clothes which they have worn in the river, and the next by a rapid sleight- of-hand transformation they are dressed in dry garments of most pleasing hue."
~ 'Our summer in the vale of Kashmir' (1915) by Frederick Ward Denys


Friday, February 7, 2014

Kashmir on Bollywood Walls

Manchali (1973)
In the background: view of Kashmir

Hera Pheri (1976)
In the background: Char Chinari

Can't be sure but both look like works of D.N. Walli.

Wall from Junglee (1961)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tourist Guide, 1960

Video: A travel guide for Kashmir published in September 1960 by Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity,, Ministry of I&B., for the Deptt. Tourism, Govt. of India, New Delhi. Printed in Bombay.

Audio: Kashmiri music from film 'Magic of the Mountains' (1955) by Mushir Ahmed for Film Division. The first song is the famous lament of Habba Khatoon (16th century).


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

SearchKashmir Free Books Project

Over the years, like a famished beast, I have devoured books listed at The Kashmir image archive was built primarily out of material from there. But often, while searching for some subject, I ran into books that were still not digitalised or not publicly available outside of foreign libraries. So, not too often, I ending up buying a rare book. Now, I want to give a little back to the project.

The idea is simple. Every month I will be uploading one rare and out-of-print book about Kashmir to, so that others can read it for free.

January: A test run. Something that I had shared previously via images only. With, now the book is also available in easy to search text format

February: A book by Pandit Anand Koul that provides interesting information of industries of the state.

March: After 'Beyond the Pir Panjal life and missionary enterprise in Kashmir' by Ernest F. Neve (1914, first published in 1912, here) went out of print, in 1931 he came up with a small concise and updated version in 1931 and titled it 'Things Seen in Kashmir'.

Things Seen in Kashmir (1931) by  Ernest F. Neve

The Mallinson School Recipes

A book shared by reader from his personal collection. Now complied and uploaded to the archive.[Details] Probable date mid-1960s.

April: A photo book published by Publication Division in November 1956. This is the second edition that came out in May 1962.
Kashmir, 1956

May: An anthology of photographs, verse, and description, mainly of India including Kashmir, Delhi and now Af-Pak region published by a British soldier towards the end of World War 2. [Details]

Of Hills (1944)  by Tom Ashley Lakeman

June: A travel guide by a former student of Biscoe.[Details]

Holidaying and Trekking in Kashmir (1969) by N. L. Bakaya

July: A School report for C.M.S. School from year 1926 [Details]

Lake and River Scouts in Kashmir

August: A rare trekking guide written by a woman and meant for women. [Details]

Trekking in Kashmir, with a family, or without one" (1930) by Barbara Earl.

September: A school booklet from year 1944 published by Church Mission School, Srinagar.

Tackling The Impossible

October: A book on first Kashmir war of 1947-48

Defending Kashmir (1949)

November: A travelogue by a British woman about her visit to Ladakh in 1926

Magic Mountain (1945)

December: A book on farmers of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh

Farmers Of Jammu, Kashmir And Ladakh (1959)


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Illustrated Kashmir, 1945

From personal collection

Kashmir cover of
'The Illustrated Weekly of India', April 22, 1945
Photograph by A. K. Syed
This is from a time when painting over the photographs was the norm.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bandobast Sahib's Nightmare

Kashmir was my paradise, for the work was a constant pleasure. But in a way it unfitted me for the life outside paradise, and though I have had the happiest chances and the most delightful experiences since I left the happy valley, I always compare my life now with my life then, and nothing has rivalled Kashmir. When the Kashmiris weave their lovely carpets they always leave one thing undone, for their religion teaches them that nothing done by man must be perfect. I finished my work in the valley, but there was a tract of beautiful country not belonging to the State which I had promised to "settle," and when the end came I left this unsettled. And now year by year I have a vivid dream that the boat is ready and that all my plans are made. I have chosen my best men for this last piece of work, have sent on my tents and supplies, and am going to make no mistake this time, and the map and the settlement of the land shall be perfect. But I always wake before my boatmen shout "Yo pir" and make the boat tremble with the strong stroke of the heart-shaped paddles, and I know that if the boat ever does start, it is "finis," or as the Moslems write on their tombs, "Khatm".

~ 'The India We Served' (1928), Walter Rooper Lawrence.


By a singular coincidence, this chance halting-place under the chinars of Panzin, brought me also across the foot-prints of another man whose name is engraved upon the history of Kashmir. For as the evening grew the Village Headman came and sat by the brook, and conversed about his fields.

"Sir," he said, "since Laren we have had great peace. He came walking along this very road on his way to Wangat, and I stood before him, thus, with folded hands, and said :

'"Huzoor, here is great zulm; yon field is mine, but another from the next village, who has friends at court, has stolen it from me.'

 "And Laren said, 'What is your name ? ' and I said Sobhana, the son of Futto and he put it down in his note book ; and then he said:

"'What is the name of your field ? '"

"and I laughed and said, ' Huzoor, they call my field Bamjoo.'"

"And he put that also in his book, but said no more and took his way ; and lo ! in the fullness of days when the Settlement was accomplished, my field was given back to me, and Justice was done."

" And who was Laren ? " I enquired —

" Laren," he replied, " was the great Sahib who made the Settlement ; the friend of all Zemindars. Since his time a deep confidence has settled upon our hearts. It was he who said ' O Wise Ones do not part with your lands for they will one day become gold.'

~ The Charm of Kashmir' (1920) by V.C. Scott O'connor


"I saw the Mullah step with great dignity into the ferry boat: I saw the boatman prostrate himself, as had the crowd bowed down as he passed along. He was a man of about fifty, clad in white, and when we met by my tent I noticed that, though his face was austere and ascetic, his eyes had a twinkle in them. We sat down for some time in absolute silence, and without any order on my part everyone went to a respectful distance. Then he spoke in good clear Hindustani. He had heard from his people of my work, and though I and my officials through our ignorance had made many mistakes, and though at first he had thought we should fail, he now had some hope that we should succeed. He had been told of my collision with Colonel Natha, and that I had vowed that if he remained in the State service I would resign. He was pleased that I had kept my vow, and it was for this that he and his people trusted me. "But," he added, "you must be careful. Careful of the hate of the city and the officials, and careful not to free my people too quickly. They are under the curse and are well called the worshippers of oppression. For if they become absolutely free and careless of their rulers, they will be lazy and improvident. And one other matter you have taken on yourself affairs that do not belong to you."

~  'The India We Served' (1928), Walter Rooper Lawrence, the Land settlement officer in Kashmir from 1889 to 1895.


Map of Jammu and Kashmir State, 1925

Map of
Jammu and Kashmir State
'Geography of The Jammu and Kashmir State' (1925) by Pandit Anand Koul
[scanned and uploaded here]

Sunday, February 2, 2014

'River valleys in Kashmir' (1890) by Frederick William John Shore

'River valleys in Kashmir' (1890) by Frederick William John Shore, 4th Baron Teignmouth (British, 1844-1916).
via: bonhams


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Panoramic Painting of Dal, 19th century

The Dal Lake, Srinagar.
Watercolour, English School, (late 19th century) .
Via bonhams.

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