Saturday, May 18, 2013



                                                          (Boys of CMS  School Fatehkadal near the School Ghat )

          ( C E Tyndale Biscoe ,  a Christian Missionary,   came to  Kashmir  in 1890 AD  to  spread modern  education through CMS Schools located at  Fatehkadal  in Srinagar city , Sheikh Bagh in Srinagar city  , Anantnaag and Baramulla .  He also fought for removal of many social evils and wrong practices from the  Kashmiri society .The first bicycle that came to Kashmir was brought by CE Tyndale Biscoe  .  During those early days, whenever any   Kashmiri saw him on his bicycle , he or she   would run away calling it a Djjin. or jin.  And some years later, bicycle became a  preferred  mode of transport in Kashmir .He left Kashmir in October 1947 . )
                                          ( J M Ray Principal CMS Tyndale Biscoe School, Srinagar)

            ( Master Zinda Kaul and Shanker Kaul ( sitting on chair third from left with a stick in his hand ) with students of Kashyapa Girls School, Srinagar  ... Photo source Prof. Arvind Gigoo )


Downtown area or the most densely populated region of Srinagar city (having various historical monuments ) comprising of localities known as Alikadal , Zainakadal, Sarafkadal , Bohrikadal , Wattalkadal, Safakadal ,Dabtal, Bulbul-lanker, Nawakadal Jamalata , Khanyaar , Baba-Demb,Kawdara – Budhgair , Gurgari Mohalla, Nowhatta, Nawa Bazar ,Malchimaar ,Wazapora , Rajourikadal , Khankaah e Sokhta ,Sekidafar etc. has produced many bright and talented men in recent past who left their mark in various fields or professions . Men like Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, Durga Prasad Dhar ,Khawja Mohammad Maqbool Pandit ( Wazir e Wazarat and father of Shri Mohammad Shafi Pandit IAS Ex .Chief Secretary ), renowned Unani medicine Practitioner Hakim Ahmed Ullah ,Dr Hafiz Ullah ( died in an air crash ),Shiv Narain Fotedar , Shri J N Kaul or Papa Ji ( associated with SOS schools ), Ahmed Ullah Shahdaad ( leading Pashmina trader of the state . This Shahdaad family had their business interests in Yarkand and china) , Sufi poet Ahad Zargar ,Anand Kaul Bamzai( scholar) , R C Kak ( prime minister ) Moti Lal Misri ( communist leader ), poet Fazil Kashmiri , Shamboo Nath Gurkha ( journalist ), Jia Lal Saraf( Sanskrit scholar who translated Panchastavi to Kashmiri ),Mohammad Abdullah Tibetbaqqal ( renowned Sufiana musician ), Maulvi Abbas Ansari (Shia cleric) ,Laxman Joo Tickoo ( architect of Banihal Cart Road ), Akhtar Mohi ud Din (Kashmiri writer from Sekidafar) Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq , Jamal Siraj ( carpet exporter ) , Dr Ali Jan , Dr K L Chowdhary , Mohammad Shafi Pandit ( IAS), Ram Chand Tikoo ( cricket player ), Prof M S Want ( HOD English Kashmir, University), Prof.R N Kaul , Prof. Arvind Gigoo, Prof A N Dhar (professor emeritus English and HOD Kashmir, University) ,Prof T N Bhan and many more names come to my mind. Poets Ghulam Nabi Firaq (Bohri Kadal ) and Rehman Rahi (Wazapora ) are also from downtown Srinagar . Ghulam Mohammad Bhat and Noor Mohammad (oldest book sellers in downtown )were from Pandhaan, Nowhatta. The list is endless . But one man from this downtown area who was generously praised and appreciated by Europeans was Shanker Pandit or Shanker Kaul.

Shanker Kaul was born in Kaul family that lived at Sehyar Mohalla located  opposite to Rehbab Sahib in downtown Srinagar . In 1892, he joined CMS School, Fatehkadal as a student and later rose to become Headmaster of this school. In his book ,’ Kashmir Under Sunlight And Shade’ , Tyndale Biscoe pays glowing tributes to Pandit Shanker Kaul and  writes this :-

“ I must express my thanks to my headmaster, Mr Shanker Pandit, B A , who has allowed me to draw upon his knowledge of the ancient history of Kashmir, and of the various rites and ceremonies, both of Hindus and Mohammedans, with respect to birth, death, marriage, etc. What my friend Shanker does not know concerning his country is not worth knowing. He remained headmaster for 40 years in the school. A very successful teacher in the classroom , but as a leader in all social services for the welfare of his country , he was superb .He led the boys for social service during some wild fires in Srinagar city . He again led them during the epidemics of cholera in Kashmir . He was seen with boys of our school creating embankments when Jhelum overflowed and created havoc in srinagar city .To speak of Shanker Kaul’s life and the enormous useful work and the brave deeds he performed would fill volumes .I can not count and tell you how many poor and innocent Kashmiri girls he rescued from some impure devils . He even worked among lepers .He joined our crusade against child marriage and was a pillar of support for widow remarriage movement . So much was this great soul loved by citizen of the city irrespective of religious affiliations that he was made honorable member of Municipality even when he was Head master of our school. “

 About Shanker Kaul’s role in enactment of Widow Remarriage Act ,Tyndale Biscoe writes this:-

“On a May morning in 1928 at six-thirty, Shanker Koul, Headmaster of the C.M.S. school, Srinagar, led his school staff and 100 old students, all Brahmans, to a house where two Brahman bridegrooms, who were brave enough to face the music, were ready to march to a house a mile distant, where two young Brahman widows were also prepared to face the ordeal. Shanker Koul had arranged with three Brahman priests to perform the marriage ceremonies. But their courage had failed and they bolted. So one of our school staff, a Brahman priest, a brave fellow, married them . This marriage caused a great uproar in the city. But like all storms, this one blew itself out in time. Shortly afterwards, Shanker Koul led a deputation of old school students to His Highness the Maharajah to ask him to enact a State Law, permitting the re-marriage of Hindu widows. But their request was refused. Undismayed, two years later, he tried his luck again with the help of Mr. Wakefield who was Secretary to His Highness, and this time his request was granted. The remarriage of Hindu widows became law in Kashmir, but the Brahman Sabha refused to accept it. The President, however, of the Yuvak Sabha (grandson of a late much-feared President of the Brahman Sabha who was a great enemy of the C.M S schools) persuaded his party to put an end to the persecution and cruelties perpetrated on Hindu widows, and so at long last brought victory! I never expected in my lifetime to witness this miracle. “


                                                           ( Shanker Kaul on left )

He is the person who led the first attack on Taashvaan (prostitution centre at Fatehkadal ) along with boys of his school freeing some poor and innocent girls. He was a lover of Persian poetry and a devotee of Goddess Sharika.  He would go do Hari Parbat (  on foot  everyday at 4 am )  without fail even under heavy snow falls during winter season. Apart from Hindu sacred scriptures, Shanker Kaul had thorough knowledge of Bible and Holy Quran . Peace be to his soul.I  conclude this post with lines from a Gazal of Majrooh Sultanpuri ....

Jis taraf Bhi Chal pade hum aabalaa paayaan e shauq

Khaar se gul aur gul se gulsitaan bantaa gaya

Mein akelaa hi chala thhaa Jaanib e manzil magar

Log saath aaatay gaye aur carvaan bantaa gaya


(Avtar Mota )

For this write up, I am confining down town Srinagar  to areas below Fateh kadal and excluding Rainawari .

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  1. I am Shanker Kaul's Gread Grand Daughter . It is indeed a pride for us to have his DNA. We pray and hope to be able to live to the ideas he had. Nevertheless we are grateful to you for having written about him in your blog. Regards Sakshi Kaul Dhar


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