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Nehru compared Kashmir to a beautiful woman

Veteran photojournalist SP Sahni has Nehru's autographed sketch of Kashmir in which he has described the Valley's feminity.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2007 00:21 IST

The first Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was so fascinated with Kashmir that he would often compare it to a beautiful lady. That it was he who took the Kashmir case to the United Nations, is a different story.

"Like some supremely beautiful woman, whose beauty is almost impersonal and above human desire, such was Kashmir in all its feminine beauty of river and valley..." Nehru writes in his autographed sketch, which he had given to the veteran photojournalist SP Sahni, famously known as Sati Sahni who trailed Nehru in Jammu and Kashmir for 18 years.

Sahni was privileged to photograph him at work and when relaxing. He was allowed to have the access on the promise that no photograph of his personal life would be published or used without his express permission. The promise was kept for over 40 years even after his demise.

Jammu University's Centre for Nehru Studies is the first to display them in a special exhibition 'Nehru in Kashmir' held at the state-of-art General Zorawar Singh Auditorium in JU, constructed at the cost of more than Rs 32 crore.
Photos of Nehru's first (in May 1948) and last (October 1963) visit to Kashmir are displayed in the exhibition. The collection also includes Nehru's visit to Gopalpur, a village in central Kashmir's district of Budgam.

Apart from being a writer, scholar and amateur historian, and the patriarch of India's most influential political family, Sahni's photos depict that Nehru also loved swimming, surfboarding, horse-riding and going for a Shikara ride. Nehru is seen in conversation with a member of the United Nation Commission for India and Pakistan in an evening of 1948 spring
chatting under the shade of Chinar trees.

Sahni is also privileged to have taken a photograph of Nehru while he was driving a field tractor probably for the first and last time in his life in May 1949. Nehru presented the first field tractor that came to Kashmir to a cooperative society in the outskirts of Srinagar.

Along with the then Deputy Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad, Nehru is also seen addressing troops in Kashmir during his visit in May 1949. Some of Sahni's offbeat photos of Nehru in Kashmir include Nehru
playing with pebbles in Sindh stream at Sonamarg on August 25, 1952 contemplating before writing an important confidential note to Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on the New Delhi-State relations.

He is also seen swimming with the then J&K Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in the Nigeen Lake on September 4, 1950 and taking a breather after a dip in the Lake with just one underwear on. In another photo Nehru is seen enjoying surfboarding in Nageen Lake in September 4, 1950.

One of the rare photos of Nehru taken by Sahni include, Nehru pointing at landmarks around Dal Lake from the Cheshmashahi Guest House to Lady Edwina Mountbatten in March 1949. Nehru is also seen leading a boat procession in Jehlum River through
the Srinagar City in a special boat called 'Parinda' on July 16, 1961.

Fond of the Shikara ride in the world famous Dal Lake, Nehru is seen with Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi enjoying a ride in Shikara on placid Dal Lake in September 1958. A part of Nehru's ashes were brought to Kashmir on June 10, 1963 for
immersion in Jehlum River at Sangam, Shadipur, close to Walur Lake. Sahni's works include one of those photos also.

Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad who who is also the pro-chancellor of the Jammu university was all praise for Sahni's works and the JU Vice Chancellor Amitabh Mattoo for gifting the University with a marvelous Zorawar Singh Auditorium, which he said is the best in north India.

Speaking on the occasion, Sahni said that he was privileged to be so close to a great personality while JU Vice-Chancellor Amitabh Mattoo termed the contribution of Sahni as "unparallel". Mattoo informed that Sahni had been offered thousands of dollars for these photos by the by Time Magazine but he had rejected the offer and instead handed over the treasure to the Jammu University.

Meanwhile, CM also released a publication of the Centre for Quality Assurance 'Scaling New Heights'. Director of the Centre Meenakshi Kilam was also present on the occasion.

Email Faisul Yaseen: faisulyaseen@gmail.com