Kashmir – the very mention takes me in an imaginary world of natural beauty. Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. Mughal emperor Jehangir said that if paradise is anywhere on the earth, it is here. Kashmir is known as one the most beautiful places in India where time stands still. The alluring and majestic sweeps of forested mountains are tempered with miles of flowering meadows. It has many breathtaking and attracting places that is beyond imagination.
There is so much of history attached to this place, and a great effort has been put forward by Shri Arjan Nath Chaku and Inder K Chaku, a father-son duo to showcase this history through their book “The story of Kashmir through the ages”.
Recently a perfect evening was hosted at Niche Lounge and Bistro, Connaught Place by Vitasta Publishing to celebrate the unveiling of this book The Story of Kashmir through the Ages. The book authored by Arjan Nath Chaku and Inder K Chaku saw esteemed panelists engrossed in a discussion on the subject Imagining Kashmir without Kashmiri Pandits.
I have also always felt very strongly about the cause of the Kashmiri Pandits. It so happened that I was present in Pahalgam in the year 1989-1990 when there was so much chaos created for political advantages. This chaos eventually led to one of the blackest phase associated with this beautiful place on earth. The public announcements made by Kashmiri muslims – threatening dire consequences if Kashmiri Pandits don’t leave the valley went on for several nights on Masjid speakers. And then we all saw the huge exodus of people belonging to Kashmiri Pandits (may be this was even bigger and emotional exodus than the partition exodus).
Renu Kaul, Managing Director – Vitasta Publishing says, “Being a Kashmiri Pandit myself, I am proud to have published The Kashmir story. The book is a comprehensive history of the State right from 3000 BC to the present. I hope this small role played by Vitasta helps start a dialogue in favour of them.”
Tarun Arora, Owner of Niche says, “We are glad to be associated with Vitasta Publishing and Leher sethi for this book launch event. At niche, we believe in reaching out to all kind of audience with the help of unique opportunities and therefore we are really looking forward to host such a renowned activist and actor Anupam Kher and other delegates for this event”.
The renowned personalities who were part of the panel were Mr Anupam Kher, Actor Activist, Major General GD Bakshi, Political Commentator, Mr Sushil Pandit, Political Commentator and Activist, Mr. Ram Madhav, National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr Amitabh Mattoo, noted academician and former advisor to the Chief Minister of J&K & Ms Shabnam Lone, Activist and Supreme Court advocate. The discussion was moderated by noted journalist Mr Rahul Shivshankar.
About the Book
The Kashmir Story (1 and 2) are a veritable encyclopedia on Kashmir. Part 1 traces the history of Kashmir beginning from the legends of Nilamatapurana to Kalhana’s Rajatarangini followed by Jonaraja’s, Srivara’s and Sukha’s historical accounts which give us a vivid account of Kings, their rule and misrule and an all-encompassing fabric of the existing political, administrative, economic and social life. It describes the rise and fall of the Gonanda, Vikramaditya, Lohara, Karkota, Utpala dynasties with the fascinating palace intrigues, romances and civil wars. It also describes the topography of Kashmir highlighting its important places and frontier regions.
The chapter on Kashmir under Mughals highlights the secular character of Akbar, Jahangir’s love for Kashmir and their contribution to the development of its beautiful lakes and gardens.The book ends with the cultural highlights of the medieval period withScholarly works of Abhinava gupta, Lall Ded and her famous vaakhs, poetry of songstress Habba Khatoon and the verses of Rupa Bhawani.
About The Authors
Arjan Nath Chaku (1917-2011) was born in the Valley of Kashmir during the reign of the Dogra rulers. The political uncertainty in India and the world in general affected the peaceful life in the Valley. In 1947, frenzy and chaos engulfed India, especially Kashmir. The partition took its toll. In view of uncertainties, Arjan Nath, in the year 1948, left the Valley and came to Delhi.
However, he kept himself updated on Kashmir’s socio-political changes. He attended, though unofficially, all the meetings of the leaders, Acharya Jivatram Bhagwandas, JB Kripalani and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who had visited Kashmir. He took up a reporter’s job in the Daily Hamdard. He was sent to Gulmarg to meet Mohammad Ali Jinnah who was there on holiday. In Delhi, he regularly wrote articles on Kashmir politics for Koshur Samachar, New Age and PressTrust of India.
Inder K Chaku shifted with his father to Delhi where he completed his schooling. He returned to Kashmir to further his education. He took up a job with the Government Media in 1996. It became the gateway for him to imbibe the theatre, music and culture of the Valley. Official engagements brought him back to Delhi from 1970 to 1990. In 1990, he was deputed to head the Media Office in Srinagar.
His dream to live in Kashmir was shattered when he had to join the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. He shifted to Jammu and then to Delhi along with other migrants and has lived there ever since. While working for the Song and Drama Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, Inder Chaku wrote plays and translated them into performance. He also directed programmes for the armed forces. He participated in fifteen International Film Festivals. He has worked with Theatre Titans of India, Shambhu Mitra and the famous dance maestro Birju Maharaj. After retirement, he worked with Bansi Kaul, the famous theatre director.