Lambodhar Zutshi: First generation KP icon of science

He lived for most of his life in the West but his heart lay always in his beloved Kashmir.
Lambodhar Zutshi: First generation KP icon of science
GK Photo

Ancestry and Family

Everyone during the intervening dimly lit night of 16th November 1896 was tense, passing moments of anxiety in the house of Late Pandit Mukund Ram Zutshi, a joint undivided family situated at Chinkral Mohalla Srinagar. Legend has it that Chin means China and Kral means a potter, thereby named as Chinkral Mohalla. Haba Kadal, named after the legendary Kashmiri poetess Habba Khatun, Kadal means the bridge in Kashmiri. That night everyone in the family and in the neighbourhood were praying for the relief of Vishmal Dar, fondly called Kisser Ded, wife of Pandit Mukand Ram Zutshi , from the labour pains by way of a safe delivery.With the last cry, a male child was born who reportedly was said to be the the only surviving child and was named Lambodhar after Lord Ganesha.

GK Photo

The family astrologer Pandit Nila Kanth Razdan drew the horoscope and predicted that the child was blessed with a bright and illustrious life and career but added that he will hardly stay at his birthplace. The prophecy proved true as for most of his life Lambodhar lived in England and breathed his last there in London on January 14, 1964.

Pandit Mukund Ram Zutshi was son of Pandit Amar Chand Zutshi and was fondly called Mukund Joo. He along with his elder brother Pandit Tota Ram served in the police department. While the elder brother had proficiency in drafting the mercy petitions for the criminals on death rows who could be saved from gallows. The younger one Pandit Mukund Ram was a Taftishi, the investigator, effective and efficient at his job of crime detection and investigation. Their eldest brother Tota Ram Zutshi was also in service of state police as a sergeant who was known for his good command and skills in crime detection. In those days the legend had it that between the two brothers no criminal could escape from the clutches of law. Mukund Ram kept a hard watch both at home and around in the neighborhood of both the Muslims and the Pandits alike.

During autumn of 1840 AD, the great Srinagar fire destroyed the family completely and had to start afresh.

Lambodhar was born in the new house, a four story roadside house which finally met the ground being gutted down in 1992. Three of his cousins, junior in age were, Shamlal, Balbadhar and Motilal. All lived under the same roof. Pandit Shamlal married Gunwati Shangloo, became Manager at Port Salvage Depot in 1945 at Bombay. Balbadar left for the UK in 1936 to join Lambodhar Zutshi, in the real estate business. Pandit Motilal, in 1918, a first class in Bachelor in Arts with Math, started meagrely but slowly rose to the head the Karam Chand Thapper and Brothers group and finally by direct executive orders of Smt Indra Gandhi as Prime Minister was appointed as Managing Director and Chairman of Hindustan Paper Corporation that time a 400 crore Government of India enterprises.

On one occasion Balbadhar Zutshi, on visit to Jagannath Puri Temple was refused entry as he looked a non Indian because he was of fair complexion despite his recitation of mantras and even as a temple officer told him that non Hindus can recite mantras better than the Hindus.

The family believed that the name Zutshi, is an English version of Zitish or Zitshoo, for the convenience of postal address. It wonders if Zitish had any connection with the Jyotishi clan, The Zutshi family ‘Zitish’ tree starts from one Gulab Rai Zutshi which dates back to around 400 years. For last 100 years tree has not been updated as Zutshis have since spread all over the world. In marriages in the olden times, not all families could afford maharen (bride) Pheran and Maharaj (groom), Achkan and Gond. Friends and relatives in need of such paraphernalia could borrow it from Zutshi's including cooking vessels, furnishings including samovar of one hundred cup capacity was often borrowed on such occasions.

Education.and Training

Lambodhar showed streaks of intelligence right from a young age. He passed his Primary School Examination from Babapora Middle School, standing first in the merit list. In 1911, he passed his matriculation from the State High School at Dilawar Khan Bagh Fateh Kadal and stood first in Kashmir Province. He was helped to remain awake, during most part of night to study and repeatedly awakened by the family elder Haldar Kak, a cousin of Amar Chand Zutshi. It involved the simplified process, a novel method prevalent those days. A chord, one end of which was nailed to the ceiling and other tied to Lamodhar's Chog to ward off dozing the moment his neck slumped due to sleep. As a result it caused the jerk to arrest and ward off the sleep of the young scholar. To sharpen his memory, he was administered Brahmi in powder form along with a cup of molten Ghee , while standing in Vitasta, neck deep, facing the rising sun.

Lambodhar passed his Bsc Hons. in 1919 from the Prince of Wales College Jammu, now called Gandhi Memorial College of Science, Jammu, standing first in Physics, in the university, those days it was Punjab University Lahore. Dr Vidya Sagar Puri, Dr Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar were his teachers who, later, also became his friends. While at Jammu, Lambodhar founded Dogri Youngman’s Association for fight for the rights of the State Subjects. Among his classmates who rose and later became luminaries and famous as Dr Gashalal Kaul, the well known physician, Dr Govind Ji Vaishnavi, Director General Medical Services and Mr Vasu Dev Zadoo, the first Kashmiri Pandit Chief Engineer of Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1921, an English mining Engineer of J&K State Mr Middlemiss, in an open competition awarded him a scholarship to study Mining Engineering in England. Later Lambodhar after the successful completion of the course received A.R.S.M Mining ,A.R.S.M, Geology. A.M.I.M.M, F.G.S at Royal School of Mining, Imperial College of Sciences. London. He returned to Kashmir in 1923, but did not find any suitable opening and returned back to England in 1925. Love for Kashmir and its development brought him back to Kashmir in 1927, when he was appointed Engineer with a salary of Rs 600/- per month. It was sometime about 1929 that Lambodhar gave up his state job for the reason which he described in his own words that “neither my proposal for mineral development was considered nor was earning an adequate salary"

Marriage and Children

Before passing his matriculations, at the age of 15, in 1911, he was married to Radha Mal Khazanchi, Pitter Ded, from Sathu, Srinagar, the daughter of Suraj Ram Khazanchi. Her mother's name was Kudmal Khazanchi. Long afterwards, it followed with the birth of a son on the night of August 20 in 1929, on the auspicious occasion of Janamashtmi, the day Krishna was born so the child was named Nandlal. He later came to be known as Dr Nandlal Zutshi, President. Kashmiri Pandit Association Mumbai, President All India Kashmiri Samaj. He married Sheila in 1957, the daughter of Nila Kanth and Prabhawati Kachru. From this wedlock, three children, all male, were born. They were named Anup, Aroop, and Ajoy, who have since married and settled in the USA to the daughters of Girdhari Lal Matto, Autar Kaul and Pran Tiku, respectively.

After leaving Kashmir, Lambodhar remarried Eileen Lord in England. From this marriage he had two children who were both medical doctors named Dr. Derek Hariram, and Dr Tevor Shankerlal. In 1944 Eileen died at Bombay. While Dr Derek had no children and Dr Trevor has a son Simon and two daughters, Eileen and Elison. Derek was married to Mauray Write, and Dr Tevour married Anne.

In 1948 Lambodhar again married Molly Mancrief, who was a woman of letters and a practicing occultist. They had a daughter Mavis Zutshi married to Chris Miller. Mavis has two daughters, Megan andLaurie. All in all Lambodhar has three sons, a daughter and 6 grandchildren. All carry the Zutshi family name.

Interests of developing mining in Kashmir.

On return from England in 1925, Lambodhar prepared a scheme for the development of copper desposits in Gariti, Reasi with no prospect of a job in sight. He returned to England in December 1926. In 1927 he was offered a job of mining engineer at a salary of Rs 600 per month. He worked on the excavation of Sapphire mine, Neelam, in high abode tree line terrain, which was inaccessible due to lack of transportation.The mineral ore had to be carried on mule backs and would take three days to reach the processing unit. His own report stated that 'There were 200 men working as miners to support these, 200 carried food, 200 men carried water to feed this as encampment. a police inspector, a sergeant and a dozen constables enough to guard the mines. At the end of the day police used to search all the workers, the sergeant searched the constables and the inspector searched the mining engineer and in turn the Mining Engineer searched the inspector.

In 1938 at the initiation of Prime Minister of J&K State Sh Gopala Swamy Ayyengar, asked him to come and submit a scheme for the manufacture of portland cement. On arrival in Srinagar, Kashmiri Pandits, accorded a warm and rousing reception to him, in Partap Park. People were hopeful that with his arrival some unemployment problem of Kashmir shall get solved.

Legend had it that on mere tasting a pinch of earth could identify the mineral composition of the underneath materials unearthed. In absence of an assurance for the development of all weather roads for transportation, the plant was not considered a feasible proposition.

Before leaving for England he met Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and told him that the problems of Kashmir are due to its small size, which could be compensated by a large scale industrialization.

In 1959 Kashmir government wanted him to submit a comprehensive scheme for the industrial development of the State. However, no headway could be made in the scheme.

In the intervening years, Lambodhar had following engagements. In 1921, was in France on extraction of Aluminium mineral in South. 1926 formed an exploration company with Col Sir Augustus Fitzgcorge as Chairman and himself as a Mining Engineer doing consultancy work in England. In 1931 he worked as Private mining consultant and also tried his hand in property business. In the year 1936, he set up a property owning Zutshi Park Properties Ltd. In 1942, Lambodhar took over as Director Non-Ferrous, Metals Bombay. During the time he was in England. Lambodhar again in 1944 joined Hussein and Co as a Director and started Dungerpur Mining Syndicate with Maharaja Dungerpur to mine Soapstone and Asbestos. This enterprise gave an opportunity to jobs for half a dozen Kashmiri boys who at the time could not afford a living accommodation were provided in his home Aden, in Bombay.

Lambodhar in 1962 submitted a project on mining and recovery of gold from auriferous alluvial terraces in river beds in Ladakh, prepared a report for Financing of Mineral and other industries of Kashmir. In July 1959 he prepared a note on the Mineral Development of Kashmir, appointment of a panel of experts based on Jammu province, raw material for Portland cement, Sulphuric acid, Rock Salt, Coal reserves, iron ore, Talc, pyrite and magnesium clay, Gypsum Gold alluvial deposits of borax, sulphur and salt between Kargil and Drass. He wrote extremely in press, pleading for construction of Railways in Kashmir, better means of transport and connectivity essential for economic development of the state. In England he helped Indians to establish homes and business and even helped financially.

Overseas Engagements and Development Focus on Kashmir

In 1950 Lambodhar started the Kashmir Association for Great Britain, and Europe, worked for the consolidation of various Indian organizations and foundations. In 1962 with the help of Dr K.D.Kumaria, Sh. P. Zamaria, and Sh. K.K.Singh, established a Hindu Centre in London, and became its Patron. He also founded an Indian Defence Committee in London, after the war between India and China started. He Met Pt. Nehru, apprised him of the strategic importance of Aksai Chin, as a source of mineral wealth, the area Pandit Nehru declared as the area where not a blade of grass grew. In 1955 organized the public opinion in favour of India as against the propaganda by Pakistan and China.

He took keen interest in the political affairs and the industrial development of Kashmir. Maintained a link with Sh Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Gulam Mohammad Bakshi, Dr Karan Singh, Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, Mrs Vijayalakshmi Pandit, M. C. Chagla, Shiv Narayan Fotedar and others who mattered. On occasions, some of them were his personal guests at his London residence, called Gulmarg.

Other interests

Lambodhar also wrote in a high Urdu using typical expressions, with a good calligraphic hand. On the occasion of Deshra, as a gazetted officer he presented a Nazarana of one pound to the Maharaja Hari Singh, at the Darbar ceremony. There are plenty of events and anecdotes connected with Lambodhar Zutshi. In 1928, fresh from England, he joined his father on Amarnath Yatra. Makund Ram was on official duty, on bandobast duty. They were also accompanied by a Sanyasi known to the family. At Chandanwari, camping for night, he was told by a Sanyasi that science had a method of converting base metal into gold. Sanyasi replied that it was known to Indians for centuries. However the use of that knowledge was not allowed to be exploited for personal gain.

While on stroll, accompanied by Syanyasi, through the jungle, who plucked a few leaves from the plant, which later he could not spot, which one. Sanyasi crumbled the leaves with his palm, back at camp, and asked for a copper coin. covered the coin with leaves and enclosed it in mud from the river bed left in Dhoni to bake. After a few hours of baking opened the hot mass, lo a gold coin emerged.

Labhodhar Zutshi lived for most of his life in the West but his heart lay always in his beloved Kashmir.

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