Aurel Stein
  The Sanskritist
  Manuscript Treasures
  Kashmiri Scholarship
  Interface of Scholarship
  The Adopted Home
  Unfinished Tasks
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Supported by:
  Heritage Lottery Fund, Cambridge.
  Bodelian Library, Oxford.
  Nityanand Shastri Library Collection, Delhi.
  Kashmir Bhavan Centre, Luton.
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Antiquarian Tours
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From the first, when engaged in preparing the critical edition of Rajatarangini, Aurel Stein realized that an exact identification of very numerous localities mentioned in it was indispensable for correct understanding of the narrative. This conviction forced itself even more strongly upon him in the course of the labours he devoted to the preparation of the commentated translation of the work. Many of the questions thus raised were so detailed and intricate that it would have been manifestly impossible to attempt their solutions without carefully studying on the spot, those topographical facts which alone could elucidate them. It was therefore important for Stein, to make a series of antiquarian tours in Kashmir. The tours referred to, occupied the greatest part of the summer vacations in 1889, 1891, 1892, 1894 and were supplemented by shorter visits to particular sites during the summers of 1895 and 1896.

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Temple and Mosque, Srinagar

The detailed account of these travels find mention in Ancient Geography of Kashmir, published in 1899 by Asiatic Society of Bengal. The accounts of few adventures and some aesthetic sojourns of these peregrinations indicate the inner orientation of Stein’s mind.

August 13, 1888. “Right after our departure at 6 A.M., we climbed a steep mountain with large glittering snowfields below the highest peak. As we moved along the ridge, the wind which in the morning blows up the valley and in the afternoon down the valley drove patches of heavy fog towards the peak. They soon overtook us and shrouded everything. Towards the east, Alatopa valley along with everything else was hung with clouds; while to the left of the ridge we could look to the Chand valley and hear the roaring of the Hillen brook some 2000 feet below. Luckily the fog around the ridge was not too dense. Otherwise it would have been difficult to keep the narrow trail. I estimated the altitude by points given on my map: 11500 feet. The flowers still grow abundantly. The scent from the masses of mint was almost overpowering. There are only gnarled trees and dwarf firs and a low creeping bush. Pir Baksh the guide, Piru for short, is an interesting companion who as a hunter in the retinue of officers has seen large parts of the alpine world. He has been in Astor, a garrison town in the Northern Kashmir and Ladakh where the valleys are over 10000 feet high. He knows Gujrat and has admired the railroad there. But by and large he has remained a simple hunter. He knows the valleys and the mountains around Barrangalla like the inside of his pocket and points out many places where years ago he spent with his sahibs months in tents surrounded by ice and snow. Hunting is only possible here in spring and winter.

“Piru and others can only imagine Europeans as English officers. Indeed they are the only ones who visit Kashmir; the country is so difficult to access that civil servants limited in their furloughs prefer Simla or Murree. All military matters are well known to these people - the first question addressed to me by my bearers, by the buffalo hunters we meet usually concern the length of my furlough or whether I am a Captain or Lieutenant sahib. All distances deceive in the fog and thus the march that brought me to this quiet place at 1.30 P.M. seemed doubly long. The area is covered, by short scanty- grass. There is penetrating cold. My tent, which I took the precaution to surround with the stone wall, is very comfortable. I hear the gay chatter of the bearers sitting around the camp fire. Nothing reminds me of the fact that I am living in the clouds, tired and full of expectation for tomorrow’s march. I turn in early”.

In August 1891 Aurel Stein visited Khandabavan, a locality situated between Nawakadal the sixth bridge and Idgah in Srinagar . Here stood on the left of the road the Ziyarat of Mulla Muhammad Basur. According to Stein “It contains within a walled enclosure, partly built of old carved stones, a number of tombs for the construction of which also materials from some Hindu shrine seem to have been utilised. The old Brahman shopkeepers residing in the vicinity whom I examined gave interesting information regarding the traditions attaching to the site. It is popularly held to be a temple of Kumara or Skanda which was adjoined by a spring or Naga"

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Jehlum, down town
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