Table of Contents

   Kashmiri Writers

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora in Himachal Pradesh - Shimla

By Upender Ambardar

The district Shimla comprises Shimla proper, Chopal, Rohru, Chadgaon, Dodrakwar, Theog, Narkanda, Kot-garh, Kot-Kahai, Jubal, Sunni and Rampur Bushur. Shimla, the capital of 'Dev Bhoomi' Himachal Pradesh known as the 'Queen of Hills' is one of the most frequented summer resorts of India. Situated at an altitude of 7,230 feet and spread on both sides of the Ridge, Shimla is nestled in the lap of lush green thick forests of Deodar and Pine. Shimla is remarkable for the beauty of its landscape, snowcapped mountain ranges, vast stretches of lush green foliage and above all pollution free atmosphere. Without any exaggeration, it is truly a scene from the wonderland, something out of a fairy tale. Discovered by the British officers in the year 1819 and declared as the summer capital of the British India in the year 1864, Shimla draws it's name from the Goddess Shyamla, another name for the Goddess Kali.

Shimla is also known for it's silence drenched atmosphere, cool and refreshing mountain air, enchanting panoramic view and awesome secludedness. Being about 117 kms. from Chandigarh and 96 kms. from Kalka, the first gateway to Himachal Pradesh, Shimla is well connected both by excellent roadway and an engineering marvel of narrow gauge rail link from Kalka. A travel by the hill or toy train from Kalka to Shimla makes a fascinating and always to be remembered rail journey. Moving at a gentle speed of 22 kms per hour and passing through 102 tunnels, 809 bridges, a series of sharp curves cum gradients and twenty picturesque stations of Taksal, Koti, Barog, Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghat, Tara Devi, Winding it's way through the Prospect Hill and Summer Hill, finally making it's last stop at Shimla. It takes 5 to 6 hours to reach Shimla by train, whileas it is only 4½ hrs. run by road from Chandigarh. Shimla is also famous for the Mall road and the Ridge, which are it's nerve-centres and heart-throbs. Mall road, the main shopping centre is dotted with endless rows of shops, restaurants, bars, famous Gaiety Theatre and magnificent heritage buildings, which are the architectural masterpieces of the British times.

Large crowds of all ages enjoying pop-corns or ice-creams can usually be spotted, while pacing the length of the Mall innumerable times. It lends a holiday and a fair like mood and atmosphere to the Ridge and the Mall. The majestic Christ Church and the spectacular 'Ashyana' and 'Gufa' restaurants are major attractions with the visitors on the Ridge. About 2 kms. from the Ridge atop the Jakho hills at an altitude of 8,000 feet is the ancient and most revered temple of 'Sankatmochan' Hanuman. Hanuman is believed to have stopped here for a while during his search for 'Sanjeevani Booti' for Lakshamana. About 2.4 kms. from the Ridge is Annadale, the lush-green play ground and a picnic spot of the British times and 4 kms from it is a densely forested Glen at an altitude of 6,000 feet gifted with an ice cold water stream, Glen is a delightful secluded spot for the nature lovers. Little further away on the Mall road near Ambedkar Chowk, is the Himachal Pradesh State Museum, which has a fabulous and impressive collections of art objects, Pahari paintings, antiques besides numerous bronze and wood-work sculptures.

Further away on the same route near Choura-Maidan is the famous Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, previously known as Rashtrapati Niwas or Viceregal Lodge. It is an impressive British castle set amidst calm and serene surroundings with a spacious garden and endless rows of huge pine trees. The Rashtrapati Niwas is now home to eminent scholars. A short distance ahead of it is Summer Hill, which is a lovely suburb of Shimla at an altitude of 6,500 feet. It is well known for the 220 feet Chadwick fall and the Himachal Pradesh University. Summer Hill has quiet surroundings with secluded shady walks. It is an unforgettable joy to take a walk on the Summer Hill-Advanced Studies forest route, which I myself have enjoyed umpteen times amidst forest fragrance laden fresh breeze. About five kms. from Shimla at an altitude of 8,137 feet above Boileagunj, enroute to Jatogh is the Prospect Hill, which has a temple of Kamna Devi. Mushabra, Kufir, Confer crowded Naldhera, wild flower hall (a British settlement of Lord Kitchener time), Chail and apple orchard packed Phagu are the lovely and charming outskirts of Shimla, which are ideal retreats for nature lovers'.

Sanjoli, a lovely suburb of Shimla at an altitude of 7,400 feet is about 3 kms. from the Ridge. It has a temple of Goddess Durga and a Buddhist monastery and is also approchable from lakar bazaar. The temple of Goddess Tara Devi about 11 kms. from Shimla near Shogi atop the highest mountain top, besides being a venerated spot is an unbelievable picturesque site of unspoiled charm.

Shimla, a city of antiquity and modernity is a 'Home' away from the original home for about a hundred families of Kashmiri Pandit community. They are mainly concentrated at New Shimla, Chotta Shimla, Sanjoli, Fingasu estate, Nabha Annadale and Summer Hill with a few families settled enroute Mall.

Kashmiri diaspora in Shimla also includes a significant number of Kashmiri Muslims, who number about 2500 souls. They are usually referred to as 'Khans' here. A majority of them are engaged in the laborious task of transportation of all types of household and consumer items in the inaccessible hilly terrain of Shimla. Besides Shimla, they can be spotted even in the remotest and innermost places of Palampur, Baijnath, Mandi Dharamshalla, Kullu Manali, Shogi, Solan, Kangra and Jawalaji.

Besides being roadside vendors, they own a number of vegetable and provision shops. Mr Qazi Shah hailing from Qazigund and a native of Hyderpora Srinagar own showroom cum shops in the prestigious Mall road near the Scandal Point. Both of them deal in Kashmiri handicrafts, shawls, embroidered phiran' and artifacts. In the lower bazaar of old Shimla, dozens of Kashmiri Muslim families reside collectively in the local mosque. This complex represents a microsome or mini Kashmir as inside it's complex, they own shops ranging from tailor, barber, watch-repairing in addition to salted tea and delectable 'Wazwan' shops. Besides being associated with domestic gas agencies throughout Shimla, a few among them are 'A' grade civil contractors and labour supplying contractors. Some of them are also connected with tourist trade, acting as tourist guides, tour operators and managers in private hotels. Inspite of their long stay in Shimla, Kashmiri Muslims, have zealously guarded their religious and cultural identity, retaining their traditional dress, mother tongue and food habits.

After their day's schedule, they frequently tune to Radio Srinagar to enjoy Kashmiri music broadcast from that station. Dozens of Kashmiri Muslim families are permanently settled in the village Teesa situated in the tribal area of Barmur in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, which borders Bhaderwah in Jammu and Kashmir state. They are there for more than a hundred year and to utter amazement, their mother tongue is Kashmiri.

A majority of Kashmiri Pandits have come to Shimla in the early fifties driven by the lure of better employment avenues and prospects. A significant number of them were educationists, while others have contributed their skill and expertise in various state departments. Mostly they have served as Headmasters, Principals and Professors in the state educational institutions, which speaks volumes about their resilience and determination to succeed in alien surroundings. Though physically detached from Kashmir, yet a majority of them are still mentally and emotionally attached to their moorings, though after effects of cultural displacement are also visible among them.

The second generation Pandit diaspora includes doctors, engineers, information professionals, professors, scientists, civil servants (I.A.S. and I.P.S. officers), technocrats,  teachers and Bank officers, besides serving in various state departments. A few among them also own orchards.

The well-known Kashmiri Pandits of Shimla include famous Bollywood actor Anupam Kher and his father Sh Pushkar Nath Kher, Sh M.K. Kaw, the former distinguished civil servant, Dr. Lokesh Koul, ex-Dean Academic Affairs and Professor Emeritus Himachal Pradesh University, Dr VK Mattoo, Professor Deptt. of Biosciences Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, Mr. Ravinder Nath Koul, Director Inter State Himachal Pradesh Electricity Board, Sh. Arvind Koul, ex-Chief Secretary and Chairman, Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission, Sh. PK Mattoo, (I.A.S.) retd. Chief Secretary, Sh. O.N. Channa, the first Chief Secretary, Dr C.L. Kundu, ex-Vice Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University, Dr. Pushkar Nath Thusoo, ex-Director Agriculture Department and founder Director of Central Potato Research Institute, Bambloi, Dr. Khushoo, scientist, ex-Director of Central Potato Research Institute, Sh. Kundu, I.P.S. officer, Sh. B.L. Pandit, retd. I.P.S. officer, Sh. T.N. Ganjoo, a prominent educationist and retired Headmaster, fondly known as Masterji, Sh. S.L. Koul, retired Principal, Sh. N.N. Raina, a wall known educationist, Dr. Krishna Raina, ex-Head of the Deptt. of Hindi, Himachal Pradesh University.

Dr. Prabhu Krishan Raina, ex-Reader Himachal Pradesh University and presently Reader Indian Institute of Technology Khargpur, late Professor Ravinder Kumar, ex-Head of the Department of History, Himachal Pradesh University, Sh. T.N. Wangnoo, ex-Personal Secretary to the Governor Himachal Pradesh, Sh. Shyam Lal Koul, ex-Deputy Director of Education Department and Retd. Principal, Sh. P.K. Raina, Retd. Principal, late Sh. Gobind Koul, Retd. Asstt. Post Master, Sh. D.N. Bhan, Retd. Section Officer, Himachal Pradesh A.G., Sh. Ramji Koul, ex-President of Kashmiri Pandit Association Shimla, Sh. K.N. Wali, Retd. Deputy Director, Planning Commission, Govt. of India, Sh. Surinder Nath Koul, Retd. School Principal, Sh. N.L. Raina, Deputy Director Education (Retd.), Sh. Nakhasi, Retd. Deputy Director Education Department, Sh. O.N. Dhar, Retd. Superintendent Forest Department and his son Sh. Sunil Dhar, a businessman and a political activist and Sh. Jawahar Koul, Bank officer and a host of others. (To be taken-up in subsequent issues).

Late Raja Dhyan Nath, 'one time owner of Shimlas' famous Ritz Cinema and Revoli Cinema is  also said to have been an old Kashmiri Pandit (non-Kashmiri speakings). Raja Dhyan Nath is believed to have settled here, when Shimla was a summer capital of British Indian Empire. However, with the passage of time, their ownership has now changed hands.

The old timers recall that he would always wear a hat and carry a walking stick. He would often claim with profound sense of pride "I am also a Kashmiri Pandit." Raja Dhyan Nath owned vast stretches of orchards at New Shimla. Sh. Kahan Chand is said to be the first Kashmiri Pandit to own a shop in the lower Bazaar Shimla near the start of Sabzi Mandi street. He is believed to have settled in Shimla before 1947. His provision store shop was frequented by the community diaspora for Kashmiri spices and 'Kangri' , though his sons have now shifted to dry fruits and wholesale distribution of light eatable items. In Rampur Bushur of district Shimla, two brothers namely late Sh. Shyam Lal and late Sh. Bansi Lal would refer themselves as Shyam Lal Kashmiri and Bansi Lal Kashmiri. Their descendents have now adopted the surname of 'Kashmiri'. Both Sh. Shyam Lal Kashmiri and Sh. Bansi Lal Kashmiri were orchadists and fruit contractors. Before finally settling in Rampur Bushur, they were living in Sunder Nagar. They claim to have come-out from Kashmir centuries back. One of their descendents Sh. Raj Kumar Kashmiri is presently running a S.T.D. Shop and another one is serving in a Bank at Rampur Bushur.

My posting and consequent stay at Shimla was a voyage of discovery for me. The numerous interactions and chitchats which I had with the ‘baradari’ members settled there for decades were undeniably a refreshing throwback to the blissful yesterdays, in addition to the pleasant trips down the memory lane. Barring a few marginal exceptions, the striking approximation of geographical and salubrious climatic conditions with Kashmir are sufficient enough to make the old memories come back to haunt our hearts and minds. Driven by ambition and the urge to achieve more, in addition to a vibrant combination of the qualities of resilience, determination and adaptability have made the Kashmiri Pandits to lead meaningful lives and distinguish themselves in their respective fields in the alien conditions. The Veteran actor and famous Bollywood celebrity Sh Anupam Kher (Khar), fondly known by his pet name ‘Bittu’ is pride of Shimla and the entire Himachal Pradesh. His father Sh. Pushkar Nath Kher lives at Fingasu estate near the famous Kalibari temple on one of the divergent routes of the Mall road.

Originally, belonging to Nai Sarak, Habbakadal Srinagar, Sh. Pushkar Nath Kher migrated to Shimla in the year 1950 lured by better prospects and opportunities available there. Now retired, he has served in the administrative sections of the forest department of Himachal Pradesh in various capacities.

Sh PN Kher, himself is a familiar name and face in Shimla. I would often spot him taking strolls on the whole length of the Mall Road. Due to his endless love for Shimla, he prefers to spend most of his time at Shimla, excepting for a brief stay during winter at Mumbai with his actor son. Though distanced from the original roots for a pretty long time, Kashmir is still a name close to his heart, about which he is always warm and demonstrative in his feelings. During one of my numerous interactions with him, Sh. PN Kher reminisced in an emotional tone accompanied by a sudden rush of nostalgia: “Memories linked with snow-fall and making of ‘Sheen-Insan’ (Snow-man) during my childhood days at Srinagar are still etched in my mind. The appetizing taste of mouth watering Kashmiri dishes like ‘hogad-hak’ (sundried fish and hakhsag), ‘damalou’, ‘sochal-wangan’; inaddition to Mogyal Chai’ (kehwa) and traditional roti have still not forsaken my mind”. He alongwith his spouse speak Kashmiri with an amazing fluency. Both their sons Sh. Anupam (Bittu) and Ranjan Kher (Raju) were born, brought-up and educated at Shimla. After his initial studies at DAV School, Lakar-Bazar and SDB College, Longwood Shimla, Sh. Anupam Kher subsequently graduated from the National School of Drama, Chandigarh, Anupam’s maiden love for the theatre propelled him to travel to the tinsel town Mumbai to try his dame luck there. After his spectecular take-off with his first successful film ‘Saaransh’, made by Mahesh Bhat, Anupam Kher had a meteoric rise in the stardom carrier and since then there has been no looking back for him on the road to success and fame in the Bollywood. Happily married to Kiron Kher, a popular actress on her own, and his one-time N.S.D. classmate, they are now settled at Mumbai, where they also run a Dance and Theatre school for children. Kashmir and the ‘baradari’ matters are always close to Anupam Kher’s heart and he hardly misses a chance to espouse the related cause at the time of need. Likewise, Ranjan (Raju) Kher is also a well-known face in the TV serials and the celluloid world. The abundant love that the natives have for Anupam Kher, make them to look forward to his each and every visit to Shimla with eagerness.

Sh. Pyare Lal Kher, uncle of Sh. Anupam Kher, now a retired Central Govt. employee settled at Delhi has also adopted Shimla as his home. He was actively involved with the community affairs and has served as the secretary of the Kashmiri Pandit Sabha, Shimla for a few years.

Sh. MK Kaw, an esteemed name in the administrative and the ‘baradari’ set-up of Shimla is even today, after his retirement from the service, remembered for the luminosity of his contributions. He has occupied honoured and exalted positions in the beaurcratic set-up of Himachal Pradesh. Son of Sh. Prem Nath Kaw, a resident of Mallapora locality situated midway between Bana-Mohalla and Chinkral Mohalla, Srinagar, Sh. MK Kaw prior to his brief stay at Jammu came straight to Delhi from Srinagar in the year 1948, where his father served as a Central government employee. Both Sh MK Kaw and his younger sister Smt. Asha Kaw Sawroop belong to the elite Indian Administrative Service Cadre, whereas Dr. PK Kaw, their youngest brother, a renowned, scientist (Padamshree) is a doctorate in Physics. Dr. PK Kaw is Director of the prestigious Institute of Plasma Research, Ahmedabad, whileas his spouse Dr. Saroj Kaw (MBBS, MD) is running a private hospital at Ahmedabad, Gujrat. Born on 10th November 1941 at Srinagar, Sh. MK Kaw had initial schooling at the Govt. School, Malapora, where his grandfather late Sh. Shivjee Kaw was Headmaster. He reminisced in an emotional tone that the afterglow of the childhood memories of Srinagar are still fresh in his mind. He remembers with haunting emotional intensity the school days spent at the Govt. ‘Jabri’ school, Malpora Srinagar and the games enjoyed by him with the fellow children at the local temple courtyard. Sh MK Kaw besides being a Law Graduate has  double Post Graduation degrees  in Hindi and Public Administration. Being a person of affable nature, he has endeared himself to one and all, both natives and the baradari members with his amiable and supportive disposition. Sh MK Kaw, a combination of bureaucratic skills and literary and scholarly tastes is also a writer in Hindi and English. Besides having authored a collection of poems in English entitled ‘An Oasis of solitude, look closely at Om and Kusha Grass, he has a number of books like ‘Kehna Aasan Hai’ (a collection of poems), Ikshvaku Sae (a long poem) and a novel ‘Aasman Nahin Girta’ etc. to his credit. Being an IAS officer of the 1964 batch, he was alloted Himachal Pradesh cadre, where he occupied different positions.

He has served as Deputy Commissioner, Kangra from 1974 to 1976 and at Solan from the year 1973 to 1974 and then moved on the become Finance Secretary (upto 1977) and Director of Industries, Himachal Pradesh upto 1978. In the year 1978, he went on deputation to the Govt. of India but returned back to Himachal Pradesh administration in 1982, when he served as Principal Secretary to the erstwhile Chief Minister Sh Ram Lal and the present Chief Minister Raj Virbhadra Singh. Afterwards upto 1990, he served as Secretary Personal for one year, Secretary Education for three years and finally as Secretary Finance for three years. In the year 1990, he again went on deputation to the Central government in the  Ministry of Defence as Joint Secretary, then served as Additional Secretary, Revenue for three years, Member Secretary of the Fifth Central Pay Commission, Secretary Ministry of Civil Aviation for one year, Principal Advisor to the Planning Commission for two and a half years and finally moving on to occupy the coveted post of Secretary, Ministry of Education, Government of India before retiring from the service in the year 2000. His is married to Dr. Raj Kaw, a Ph.D in Hindi from the Himachal Pradesh University Shimla, who is presently serving as a lecturer in Jesus and Mary College, New Delhi.

Recapping the blissful memories of the yore, Sh MK Kaw confided that as a child he was thrilled beyond words in watching the river Vitasta, both during calm flow and its fearful surge during the floods, when the anchored 'Doongas' (house-boats) would float high-up to the second-floor windows of his maternal grandfather, late Sh. Sat Lal Sadhu's house situated on the river-front. The community members of Shimla with whom I interacted revealed that Sh. MK Kaw who functioned as patron of the Kashmiri Pandit Sabha Shimla was a moving spirit of its activities. Inspite of his busy schedule, he would ensure his participation in the various socio-religious functions of the community. The community members even now fondly recollect his help and guidance rendered to the baradari members during his stay at Shimla.

Sh Ravinder Nath Koul is another distinguished personality of Shimla, with whom I had  lengthy and animated conversation at his office housed in 'Kumar House', located in the nicest surroundings amidst the natural grandeour of the forest trees and the mountain ranges backdrop. He is holding the prestigious post of the Director, Inter State Himachal Pradesh Electricity Board.  Though detached from the original roots for a pretty longtime, Sh RN Koul is still anchored in the community traditions and customs. To my astonishment he speaks Kashmiri effortlessly and with natural ease. He is a resident of 'clarendon cottage', Upper Kaithu, Shimla. An original  of Sheed-Gunj near Neelam Cinema, Srinagar, his father late Sh. Brij Lal Koul served in the office of Account General, Shimla in the year 1948-49. After having completed B.Sc. engineering in the electrical branch from Benaras University, Sh RN Koul had a brief stint as Pool-officer with the J&K Government during 1972-73 followed by subsequent service in the Nahan Foundary for a short spell in 1973. He afterwards joined the Himachal Pradesh Electricity Board in the year 1973, where he is involved with the distribution, transmission, load despatch and commissioning activities of the Electricity Board. His steep rise to the prestigious and coveted post of the Director is a recognition of his professional excellence and competence. The crusading zeal and the lightening speed with which he successfully restored the power supply in the shortest possible time during the worst snowfalls in Himachal Pradesh during the years 1980 and 1990 is acknowledge as one of his laudable contributions.

His MBBS daughter is presently serving at Delhi, while as Sh RN Koul's spouse is a teacher at Shimla Public School. Sh RN Koul is also deeply involved with the socio-cultural activity of the community. For the past seven years, he is functioning as General Secretary of the Kashmiri Pandit Sabha, Shimla. He has also been instrumental in reviving the Sabha, which had gone oblivion for many years.

Dr. Lokesh Koul, Professor emeritus and a former Dean Academic Affairs of the Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla is another illustrious member of the Kashmiri diaspora of Shimla. My inquisitiveness to meet him drove me to foot the distance from my residence at Summer Hill to his lovely flat in the 'Everest Apartments' situated in the indescribable natural charm of the majestic deodar and pine tree surroundings at the lower Summer Hill. Dr Lokesh Koul, M.Sc. (Maths), M.Ed. (Gold Medalist) and a Doctorate in education is originally resident of Bana Mohalla, Razdan Kocha near Durga Patshalla, Srinagar. He joined the Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla as an Associate Professor in the Post Graduate department of Education in the year 1975 and was promoted as a Professor in 1978. He has also functioned as member of the Executive Council, Academic Council, Finance Committee and University Court. In 1988 he was elevated to the esteemed post of Dean of Studies (Dean Academic affairs, of the said University. He remained on this post for ten years, though the stipulated term is only two years. He also functioned as Dean. Student's Welfare. On the basis of his impressive academic research work and noteworthy administrative contribution rendered to the University, he was the first Professor of Himachal Pradesh University to be selected as Professor emeritus (a life term honour). Prior to this Dr Koul had served in the J&K State education department for brief spell of one and a half yearrs. During the Kashmiri Pandit agitation following the abduction of Parmeshori in 1967, he actively participated in the subsequent Satyagraha and protest demonstrations and in consequence he was put-up in the police lock-up for two weeks. Due to the resulting uneasy and flawed atmosphere in his department, he thought it better to resign from the service only to join as a lecturer in the Regional College of Education followed by Dayanand College of education at Ajmer from 1967 to 1969. He has also served as a lecturer at Kurukshetra University prior to his joining at the HP University.

Dr. Lokesh Koul has guided 39 Ph.D scholars and published five books in addition to 187 research articles, which have appeared in various national and international academic research journals. He has also figured as a one of the prides of Shimla in a survey conducted by a leading national newspaper during his hay days at the University. He also has six major projects financed by the UGC, NCERT and HRD Ministry to his credit. In addition to it, he is a consultant with the Commonwealth Higher Management Service, London, besides being a member of IGNOU, Advisory Board of NCERT and National Council for teachers' education. During my long chit-chat with him at his residence, the outpouring of emotions and love for Kashmir and the lost 'Home' was quite evident. He recalled with sadness "My heart still beats for my beloved Kashmir and even now, its very name spreads general cheer". With the approaching evening widening its net. I decided to end my animated conversation with him only to beat a hasty retreat to my residential quarter in the Radio Colony Summer Hill, being reminded of the memorable words "All the wealth of the world can not buy a 'Home' or pay for the loss of one; for a 'Home' is raised only by hearts".

My stay at Shimla was an odyssey of familiarization with the community diaspora settled here. The inquisitiveness on my part to equip myself fully with the related information, made me to trudge the downslide hilly path leading to Indira Cottage, Summer Hill Shimla. It is the residence of Dr VK Mattoo, a Professor in the Post Graduate department of Biosciences at the Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. Dr VK Mattoo's father late Sh Amar Nath Mattoo, an inhabitant of Sona Masjid locality of Fatehkadal, Srinagar migrated to the princely state of Bilaspur in the year 1947 at the invitation of the then ruler late Raja Anand Chand. He was the ruler of the erstwhile Bilaspur state from the year 1931 to 1947. Dr VK Mattoo's father, Sh Amar Nath Mattoo had double post-graduation degrees in Hindi and Political Science besides being a B.Ed. He served in the education department of the Princely State in various capacities.

Dr VK Mattoo did his M.Sc. in Zoology in 1977 from the Himachal Pradesh University, and subsequently obtained the Doctorate degree in the year 1982 from the same University. The topic of his research work in PhD was 'Honey Bee Genetic Diversities in the Himalayn Region'.

Dr VK Mattoo's spouse Dr Neelam Mattoo is also serving in the Biosciences department of the Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. Dr Neelam Mattoo has been awarded the PhD degree on the topic of "Honey Plant Resources of Himachal Pradesh" in the year 1989. Though being a native of Himachal Pradesh, Dr Neelam Mattoo is quite familiar with the cultural and social traditions of our community. She wears the auspicious and significant marriage symbol of 'Dejhor' without any inhibitions. During one of the chitchats, Dr Neelam Matto proudly revealed that she is adept in the preparation of traditional Kashmiri cuisine. She also shared her elation for being a member of the Mattoo family. Both Dr VK Mattoo and his spouse Dr Neelam Mattoo are down to earth people, endowed with affable nature and religious disposition.

Sh. PL Tikoo residing at Anand Cottage, Sanjouli, Shimla, is an original inhabitant of Tikoo Mohalla Shalla Kadal, Srinagar. He retired as PA in the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board, Shimla.

The lure of making a livelihood in Himachal Pradesh made Sh. PL Tikoo migrate to Shimla in the year 1960. He has two daughters and a son-Mr Ashwani Tikoo, who is working as a project officer in Life Insurance Corporation office Sanjouli, Shimla. One of the daughters of Sh. PL Tikoo-Ms Nimmi is married to Mr Ravinder Bakshi, while the other one-Ms Simmi is married to Sh KK Tutoo of Roop Nagar Jammu, who is working as an Agriculture Assistant in the J&K Agriculture department. Though a permanent resident of Shimla for about five decades, his long spell of absence from the birth place has not deterred Sh PL Tikoo to abandon his emotional hold on his mother-tongue as his entire family is Kashmiri speaking besides being sincerely devoted to the traditional Kashmiri moorings.

Sh JN Koul, who retired as Superintendent in the Himachal Pradesh Accountant General's Office, is settled at Jakho area of Shimla. He came to Shimla in the year 1952-53. Prior to his joining the AG'S office Shimla, Sh JN Koul has served in the Northern Railway Account's department at Shimla.

Sh. Bhola Nath Aima, an original resident of Habba Kadal, Srinagar is also one of the early settlers at Shimla. He has served in the Monitoring Service of All India Radio at Shimla and retired as Deputy Director from the said department.

He is now settled at Kaithu. One of his sons, Sh Jai Krishan, a correspondent in the Central Information Service is presently serving in the north-east region of  the country, while his other son is a representative in a pharmaceutical concern.

Sh. Bhola Nath's daughter, married to a Himachali, is serving in a bank of Shimla.

Sh Nand Lal Raina, settled at Phagli, Shimla has retired as a Superintendent from the Himachal Pradesh Secretariat, Shimla. He migrated to Shimla in the year 1952. One of his sons, Sh Roshan Lal Raina has served in the State Public Relations department and is now settled at Nabha estates, Shimla, while the other one-Sh Bushan Lal Raina has been an employee of Himachal Pradesh PWD.

Sh Shyam Lal Thathu, an erstwhile resident of Sopore came to Shimla in the year 1949-50. He joined as a stenographer in the secretariat of Himachal Pradesh and eventually retired as a Superintendent.

His brother Sh Brij Nath Thathu has served in the medical department, while the other one-Sh Omkar Nath Thathu was an employee of MES in Himachal Pradesh.

Sh KN Wali, an original resident of Rainawari, Srinagar migrated to Himachal Pradesh in the year 1956. After doing post graduation in Mathematics, he joined the department of Economics and statistics and by dint of his hard work and dedication rose to the post of the Director. Subsequently, he occupied the prestigious post of Deputy Director, Planning Commission, Government of India Delhi and was later on inducted in Indian Statistical Service, ISS. His son Mr Ashok Wali is an engineer at Delhi. The Wali family is even now wedded to Kashmiri traditions.

Sh Chander Mohan Razdan is one of the oldest Kashmiri Pandits of Shimla, having his residence in the area between Lakkar Bazar and Sanjoli. He came to Shimla sometime around the year 1935, when Shimla was the summer capital of British India. Sh AN Zalpuri, a native of Chinkral Mohalla, Srinagar migrated to Shimla in the year 1950. He has served in the Himachal Pradesh Accountant General's office. One of his sons has now moved out of Shimla to Vadodara, where he is presently managing his own business, while as his second son is working as an engineer in HCL, Delhi. Sh Pyare Lal Koul, a native of Srinagar his served in the Horticulture department of Himachal Pradesh. He has done B.Sc. in Horticulture Sciences. Now retired, he is permanently settled at Shimla.

Late Prof Ravinder Kumar, an old Kashmiri Pandit of Allahabad (UP) has served as Head of the Post Graduate department of History in the Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla from 1976 to 1982. Later on he served as Director of the Nehru Museum. Prof. Ravnider Kumar was a renowned historian and an authority on the Modern history. Late Sh. Hriday Nath Mattoo, an original inhabitant of Habbakadal, Srinagar migrated to Shimla in the year 1950.

He served in the state medical department and worked as a theatre assistant in the Rippon hospital, Shimla. A very social person of gracious nature, Late Sh HN Mattoo was actively involved in the activities of the Kashmiri Pandit Association, Shimla.

Dr. Prabhu Krishan Raina, a native of the village Wanpoh inthe district of Anantnag, first served as a lecturer and later on as a Reader in the Post-Graduate department of Physics in the Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. A brilliant student and a topper throughout his career, he was a Gold Medallist in M.Sc. Physics. Dr Raina left the Himachal Pradesh University Shimla in the year 2000 to join as a Reader in the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Khargpur. He is married in a Himachali family. His father has also served in the state education department and retired as Headmaster. He is now settled at Upper Shimla.

Sh. Sanjay Raina, one of the cousins of Dr Prabhu Krishan Raina is running his own computer related business at Shimla and is permanently settled at Vikas Nagar, Shimla. Dr. Krishna Raina, an original resident of Bana Mohalla, Srinagar joined as a faculty member in the department of Hindi in the Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla and later on became the Head of the department in the same University. Sh Arvind Koul after serving as the Chief Secretary in the government of Himachal Pradesh became the chairman of the Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission in the year 2004. Mr Vipin Koul, a civil engineer by profession is working in the Himachal Pradesh Housing Board, Shimla as an Assistant Engineer. He is permanently settled at Sanjouli, Shimla. His spouse is employed in MES, Shimla. His father, Sh ML Koul after serving the state education department retired as the Principal, Govt. Higher Secondary School, Lalpanu, Shimla. Sh Vipin Koul is deeply attached to the traditional values and is intimately involved with the various socio-cultural activities of the Kashmiri Pandit Association, Shimla.

My urge and impulsive desire to acquire the Kashmiri Pandit diaspora related information made me to venture out towards Annadale area of Shimla. A divergent downslide walk on the famous Mall Road near the Kennedy House heritage building leads to the sleepy spot of Annadale. It has nicest and captivating surroundings lined by huge and majestic Pine and Deodar trees. Annadale has a cluster of houses, a few houses among them being the residences of Kashmiri Pandits. Sh. Omkar Nath Koul, an original resident of Bagh Jogilankar, Rainawari, Srinagar resides at 'Long-field', Annadale. His father late Sh. Gobind Koul, who served in the Postal Department came to Shimla in the year 1956 consquent upon his transfer from Srinagar. He eventually retired as Asstt. Post Master, Postal Department Shimla in the year 1959. After his retirement, Sh Gobind Koul returned back to his native place Srinagar.

The lure of better employment opportunities available here made his son Sh. Omkar Nath Koul to return back to Shimla from Srinagar. He joined the Himachal Pradesh State Government in the year 1958 and eventually retired as Deputy Director in the Department of Planning in the year 1996. He has now constructed his own house at the Housing Colony, Sanjoli-Dalli Bypass, a lovely suburb of Shimla. His eldest son Sh. Sudhir Koul is serving in the Himachal Pradesh Electronics Development Corporation but is presently on deputation to the State Transport Department, Shimla. He is married to Mrs. Kiran Pandita of Khayar, Anantnag Kashmir. His younger brother Sh. Sanjeev Koul is an employee of Prasar Bharati and is married to Mrs. Ragini Koul, who is serving in NABARD, Jammu. The Koul family continues to adhere to their traditional customs and rituals and have not forsaken their mother-tongue Kashmiri, notwithstanding their long absence from Kashmir. The birth place still continues to be the haunt of childhood memories of Sh. Omkar Nath Koul, who in a delightful Chitchat with the author recounted and shared his reminiscences and nostalgic emotions.

Sh. DN Bhan, hailing from Gurgari mohalla, Zainakadal Srinagar is residing in the 'Silvert on' building at Annadale. He migrated to Shimla in the year 1949 and has retired as a sectional officer from the Accountant General's Office, Shimla. His son Sh. Manmohan Bhan, married in a Himachali family is serving as senior manager in the State Bank of India and is presently posted at Mumbai. One of the daughter's of Sh. DN Bhan named Mrs. Dolly Chauhan married in a Himachali family is employed in Oberoi Clarke's hotel situated in the Mall road near the lift, whileas his second daughter Mrs. Dahlia is married to Sh. Sohan Lal Bhat, who is a manager in the famous Cecil hotel situated at Choura Maidan Shimla. Late Sh. Srikant Koul, who after his retirement from the Excise and Taxation department of the J&K Government migrated to Shimla in the year 1953 and settled at lower Katheo, Shimla. He was a resident of Chattabal, Srinagar. His son late Sh. Ramji Koul, retired as a Block Development Officer in the Rural Development Department of the Himachal Pradesh Government. Sh. Ramji Koul was closely associated with the activities of the Kashmiri Pandit Sabha, Shimla and even today he is remembered for his services to the community cause.

He also functioned as President of the Kashmiri Sabha in the year 1960. His eldest son Sh. Kuldeep Koul is a senior executive in Hero Cycles, Chandigarh. He is married in a Panjabi family and his spouse Prof. Madhu, daughter of Retd. Vice Chancellor of Punjab University is herself a Professor in Punjab University Chandigarh. Late Sh. Ramji Koul's youngest son Sh. Jawahar Koul is a manager in the UCO Bank Shimla. He is married to Mrs. Alka, belonging to old Kashmiri family of UP. Mrs. Alka Koul, having M.Sc. degree to her credit is serving in DAV School Shimla. The daughter Mrs. Nirmala is married to elder brother of Sh. Upender Khashoo, a broadcaster, and an old resident of Wazapora Alikadal/Sanatnagar, Srinagar and is now settled at London, where her spouse is a hotelier . Both Sh. Kuldeep Koul and his brother Sh. Jawahar Koul have been active in the student politics during their student days in Himachal Pradesh University and Sh. Kuldeep Koul even functioned as President of the Himachal Pradesh University Student's Union.

Sh. Jawahar Koul, a talented person with artistic tastes is intimately involved with the functioning of the Kashmiri Pandit Sabha, Shimla. During one of his conversations with the author, Sh. Jawahar Koul reaffirmed his unshakable adherence and reverence for the time tested community traditions and values. He is now permanently settled at New Shimla.

Sh. Omkar Nath Dhar, an original resident of Chotta-Bazar Kanya Kadal, Srinagar shifted to Shimla in the year 1951-52 and immediately after that he got employed in the Himachal Pradesh Forest department. During his service career, Sh. Dhar has put-in maximum service at Shimla excepting for a brief stay at Solan and Kotgarh. The hard work and expertise put in by him contributed to his elevation to the prestigious post of Superintendent Grade I in the forest department. A social and supportive person invested with a caring attitude, Sh ON Dhar was actively involved with the Kashmiri Pandit Sabha Shimla. All those attributes are evident in his son Sh. Sunil Dhar, who along with Sh. Jawahar Koul are the main moving spirits behind the special occasioned community get togethers and functions at Shimal. Sh. Sunil Dhar, settled at Lower Katheo being a social and political activist also dabbles in cable network related business at Summer-Hill and Katheo.

Married in a Kashmiri family of Jammu, the Dhar family is wedded deeply to the Kashmiri traditions. Though having been born and brought-up in Shimla, it has not deterred Sh. Sunil Dhar and his family to abandon mother tongue in the adopted land. His elder brother Sh. Jaikrishan Dhar working as a senior officer in the State Bank of India is now settled at Ponta Sahib, Himachal Pradesh. Late Dr. Pushkar Nath Thusoo, Ph.D in Botany from Lucknow University initially served as Director of Agriculture Department, Himachal Pradesh Government and lateron took-over as the first founder director of the prestigious Central Potato Research Institute, Khilini, Shimla. It is a prime institute of national fame involved with the potato seed related research cum breeding work. Dr. PN Thsuoo has contributed his expertise in the production of improved and better yielding potato varieties and his valuable contribution in this field has widely been recognised. Dr Thusoo hailing from Daddikadal Tankipora area of Srinagar set his foot in Shimla in the year 1960. He was also a holder of the prestigious Humboldt fellowship of Germany. His son Dr. Iqbal Thusoo is a specialist in the field of Cardiology and hypertension and is presently serving at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, United States of America. Dr. Iqbal Thusoo is regarded as a specialist of global fame in the field of hyptertension.

The daughter of Dr. PN Thusoo having a Doctorate in Home Sciences has served as a Dietician in the Safdurjung Hospital, New Delhi. Late Sh. TN Ganjoo, an original inhabitant of Chinkral Mohalla Srinagar came to Shimla in search of livelihood in the year in 1949. Besides being a post-graduate in history, he had also done B.Sc. B.T. from Punjab University in the year 1948. After landing in Shimla, Sh. Ganjoo did not join the government service but started his service career as a science teacher in the D.A.V. School, Shimla. He then shifted to the S.D. School, Shimla wherefrom he eventually retired as a Principal. He also served as a principal of Convent School, Hanault, Chotta Shimla, which is adjacent to the government secretariat. Widely remembered and addressed as 'Masterji', Late Sh. TN Ganjoo  enjoyed wide spread respect both along the native Himachalis and the Kashmiri community. His distinguished and meritorious services in the field of education won him the expected recognition and he in lieu of it was awarded the Best Teacher's award by the Himachal Pradesh Government.

Though initially he lived at the lower bazaar Shimla, he latter-on shifted to his own house at Sanjoli. His eldest son Sh. B.L. Ganjoo, who was a Superintending Engineer in the State Electricity Board died in an air creash in 1993 in Kallu. He has two sons, namely Sh. Sameer Ganjoo, an Engineer who is presently posted at Kallu and second one Sh. Vineet Ganjoo, who is also an engineer at Vadodara. Late Sh. T.N. Ganjoo's second son Sh. Jaikishan Ganjoo is presently settled at Vadodara. Both his two daughters, Shivani and Shipra are married in Kashmiri families and are presently at Vadodara. Sh. Surinder Ganjoo, the third son of Late Sh. T.N  Ganjoo is a senior officer in the Bank of India and is presently posted at Mumbai. Sh. T.N. Ganjoo's daughter Mrs. Lalita is married to Sh. Satish Koul, an engineer by profession having his own business is presently settled at Chatha, Jammu.

Sh. Satish Koul's father Sh. Jagar Nath Koul, who retired from the Himachal Pradesh Secretariat is residing at lower Jakhu area near the famous Ridge Shimla. Late Sh. S.N. Ganjoo, the brother of Sh. TN Ganjoo was a librarian in the Himachal Pradesh Government. One of his daughters Mrs. Aneeta is married to the son of Prof. O.N Duloo of Solan and her husband is an officer in the Punjab National Bank at Solan, while as the second one Mrs. Nalni Bali is married in a Himachali family.

Late Sh. S.N. Ganjoo's son Dr. Neeraj Ganjoo is married to Dr. Sunitee Ganjoo (Ambardar) of Rainawari Srinagar and the couple are serving in the Rippon Hospital, Shimla, now rechristened as Deen Dayal Upadhaya Hospital.

As usual after every Chitchat, in tune with the pedestrian walk culture in vogue here; I would foot the whole length of the Mall Road to return to my residential quarter in the Radio Colony Summer Hill. The serenity of the enroute surroundings away from the din of the town would bestow a sort of pastoral solace and peace reminding me of the memorable words of J.H. Payne,

"Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,

A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest".

Source: Kashmir Sentinel



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