The Valley of Kashmir | Sir Walter Roper Lawrence | Part 1
This report, which is written on the lines of the Punjab Gazetters, deals with Kashmir proper. Though our Settlement operations have extended to Gilgit and to Jammu territory, it has been necessary to exclude information gathered in those countries, even though connected with Kashmir.
It has been difficult to decide what facts should be recorded and what discarded, but as far as it has been possible, I have avoided the repetition of inform already presented to the State in the fifteen Assessment Reports of Kashmir which have been written by me. In them will be found the rates of assessment, the mode of classifying and valuing soils, and many facts bearing on the past revenue administration of Kashmir. In this report I shall deal with subjects of general interest. It has been written at odd hours, in the midst of much interruption, and I regret that I have not the leisure to use one half of the notes made by me during this six seasons, I have worked in Kashmir.
In this opening chapter I allude to matter which may help to elucidate points incidentally mentioned in other parts of the report, and I offer suggestions which may help the future administration of the country. Kashmir, as possessing a distinct nationality, character, language, dress, and body of customs, affords much that is interesting, while its unique history and curious administration are worth careful study. The beautiful valley has been for many years a pleasure resort of Europeans, and many books have been written on the subject of Kashmir.
But even the best of these, Drew’s Jammu and Kashmir, says little about the valley or its people, and most works which I have read do not add much to the information gathered by Vigne. Strange and hazy ideas have prevailed regarding the wealth of the country, the character of the people, and the system of administration ideas which can only be confirmed or refuted by one whose life and work have brought him into close contact with the villagers and officials. From the first I have found the villagers communicative as they sat by the camp fire, while the officials are often well informed, excellent talkers, by no means reticent.
Kashmir in 1887, when the Settlement commenced, may be described as an absolute monarchy. If an aristocracy of power ever existed, the tall poppies were cut down years ago, and the people looked to the Maharaja as their direct lord and master. They yearn for personal rule centred in one man, and they are bewildered and disgusted when rule and power filter into many channels. In Kashmir the Maharaja is represented by a Governor (Hakim-i-Ala), and it is of the highest important that this official be a man of energy and experience, and that all departments, whether revenue, police, forest, etc., should be absolutely under his control. If this be borne in mind, the admiration of Kashmir will be very easy. It is a small country, and an energetic Governor could visit any village in the valley in a day’s ride
About the Author
Sir Walter Roper Lawrence (9th February 1857 – 25th May, 1940) was a member of the British Council of India and an English author who served in the Indian Civil Service in British India and wrote travelogues based on his experiences of travelling around the Indian Subcontinent.
He was appointed as the Settlement Commissioner for Jammu and Kashmir between 1889–1894, during the rule of Maharaja Pratap Singh. While travelling in Kashmir, he recorded and produced a brief history on account of the geography, the culture of the people and the Dogra rule over Kashmir.
Over the course of his travels, he developed a close affinity with the Indian and Kashmiri people, who figure prominently in his work. His best-known books are ‘The Valley Kashmir‘ (1895) and ‘The India we Served’ (1929).
Book Details : London Henery Frowade, Oxford University Press Warehouse, AMEN Corner, E.C
Print Date: 1895