Introduction
  Kashmir
  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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Maiden Visit
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When Aurel Stein first arrived in Lahore, India, in 1888, Kashmir appeared unchanged in many respects from its ancient past. Surrounded by lofty mountains, the land locked valley was a remote Asian destiny and not many English people preferred to visit Kashmir. They instead choose more well- known hill resorts, like Murree and Simla for holiday. But for a visitor like Stein, in search of the evidence of its past, Kashmir was an ideal ground and a rich treasure trove of history. Within a few months of his stay in Lahore, he planned to spend his first summer break from his official duties in Kashmir with the sole purpose of searching the manuscript of the Rajatarangini.

Before leaving Lahore for Kashmir, Stein obtained letters of recommendations from some of the very influential British authorities in India to facilitate the purpose of his visit there. These included the Secretary of State of Punjab, M. Trupper, the Vice - Chancellor of the Punjab University, D. William Rattigan, and the Resident of Kashmir, Mr. W. F. Prideaux.

Equipped with official sanction, Aurel Stein arrived in Srinagar on June 8, 1888 and met the Governor, Dr Suraj Kaul by the evening of the same day. He greeted Stein with the requisite and desirable courtesy in the full knowledge and understanding of his intention to acquire Sanskrit manuscripts. After the first brief opening meeting, Dr. Suraj Kaul sent an official with flowers and fruits to present them to Stein at his Chinar Bagh camp site on the bank of river Jehlum, confirming the state’s acknowledgement of his arrival in Srinagar.


Pandit Suraj Kaul Mattoo

Within the next few days the Governor arranged for Stein’s meeting with the local Pandits at his residence. Raja Ram Singh, younger brother of the ruling Maharaja, Pratap Singh, graced it with his honoured presence. Stein was introduced to the prince who knew Sanskrit. After this the most educated and learned of Kashmiri Pandits also interacted and greeted Stein in Sanskrit. This gave Pandits confidence in his intentions and were impressed with his familiarity in Sanskrit. The short meeting resulted in many Pandits later visiting Stein at his Chinar Bagh camp eager to show him their manuscripts.

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Chinar trees at Nagin Bagh, Srinagar
   

He secured three birch-bark Sanskrit manuscripts which were about three hundred years old but even after spending more than two weeks in surveying other manuscripts the Pandits brought to show them to him did not result in acquiring the desired manuscript of the Rajatarangini.

The long hours spent in his office tent were interspersed by Stein’s short excursions to the nearby Mughal Gardens and visits to many Hindu temples in and around Srinagar city.


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View of Char Chinar,
Dal, Srinagar
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