Author Archives: Jehangir

The History of Healthcare in Kashmir

Published / by Jehangir

The history of modern health care in the pre-independence era in Kashmir is synonymous with the efforts of Christian missionaries. While their motives were admittedly of a missionary nature and their attitude mostly contemptous towards local faiths and customs, yet the pioneering role of the members of the Kashmir Medical Mission cannot be denied.

The first modern hospital in Kashmir was the Mission Hospital at Drugjan. In 2017, I had the privilege to serve as the Medical Superintendent of this hospital, nowadays known as the Government Chest Diseases Hospital. During my research to establish the history of healthcare in Kashmir I came across some rare images which I am sharing here.


Dr William Jackson Elmslie (1832–72)

Dr. William J. Elmslie, the first medical missionary appointed by the Kashmir Medical Mission in 1865, was unable to obtain accommodation due to strong state opposition to the missionary component of the medical activities. However, in a display of never-say-die Scottish derring-do, he was able to treat thousands of patients in a single tent serving both as OPD and IPD.

Dr. Elmslie’s successor, Dr. Theodore Maxwell, was politically well-connected and was able to ensure that official opposition was withdrawn. Maharaja Pratap Singh granted the Kashmir Medical Mission a site for a hospital at Drugjan on the Rustam Garhi hill.


This image titled ‘Dispensary Tent of the Cashmere Medical Mission’ depicts Dr. Robert Maxwell in Kashmir in 1874. Note the sign at the left of the image.

By personal contributions and donations from friends in England, Dr. Edmund Downes erected the first buildings of the Mission Hospital at Drugjan.


Patients recuperate in the upper verandah of the ward named after Dr. Downes.

The Neve Family, notably Dr. Arthur Neve, Dr. Ernest Neve and their sister Ms Nora Neve (Superintendent of Nurses) performed stellar services at the Mission Hospital and in the field. Dr. Arthur Neve was awarded the Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal in 1901.


The caption states that ‘These extensive buildings, on a terrace 250 yards long, were erected by the Brothers Neve between 1888 and 1896, at a cost of approximately £15,000, without any Government or other grant’.


Dr Arthur Neve and hospital staff with patients at the Mission Hospital in 1882.


A field health camp being conducted by Dr. Arthur Neve. Note the dispensary table at the right of the image.


It was not uncommon for patients to be transported by boats.

The missionary zeal burned as brightly in female medical missionaries as in their male counterparts.

In May 1888, Dr. Fanny Butler, the first female medical missionary in India, started a dispensary in Srinagar city called the “Zenana Shifa Khana” under the aegis of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (CEZMS).

Nursing activities were championed by the likes of the indefatigable Irene Petrie who gave up a life of luxury in England to endure hardships in Kashmir, and Elizabeth Mary Newman who was bestowed the title of the ‘Florence Nightingale of Kashmir’ by Tyndale-Biscoe for her work at the CEZMS Hospital. She recieved a Kaisar-e-Hind Silver Medal for her services to the hospital.

The first Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (CEZMS) Hospital was established at Rainawari in 1908. This building was demolished a few years ago to build a shopping complex. (So much for heritage preservation.)


The foundation stone of CE Zenana Missionary Society Hospital at Rainawari was laid by C.E. Tyndale Biscoe on 17th October 1908.

In 1891 the Maharajah of Kashmir donated land and money for setting up a Visitors Cottage Hospital at the foot hills of the Shankaracharya Hill so white people would not have to suffer in the company of natives.

The Visitors Cottage Hospital is nowadays called the Kashmir Nursing Home and I am currently on my second stint as its Medical Superintendent since 2011.


Franciscan Missionaries of Mary treating patients at Baramulla in 1921.


Dr. Noel Fletcher examining patients at John Bishop Memorial Hospital at Anantnag in the 1950s.

One positive spin-off of the activities of the medical missionaries was that they prompted the Maharaja of Kashmir to set up the State healthcare services.

The foundation stone of the State Hospital (SMHS) was laid by the Marquess of Linlithgow, the Viceroy of India in 1940 at the estate of the Hadow Mills Carpet Factory. This is the reason why the hospital is known colloquially as Hadwun (Hadow’s) Hospital even today.

The first medical college in Jammu & Kashmir started functioning at Hazuri Bagh on the banks of the Jhelum at the site of the present Lal Ded Hospital in 1959. The Government Medical College Srinagar was inaugurated at its present day location in Karan Nagar by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, Prime Minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, in 1961.


The first batch of GMC Srinagar.


Students at GMC Srinagar in the 1970’s.

Click this link for a primer on the History of Healthcare in Kashmir [PDF]

Post-Flood Plant Guide [Repost]

Published / by Jehangir

The floods of 2014 completely devastated my garden. A year later I uploaded the status of my garden hoping that the knowledge about flood-hardy and vulnerable plants could be useful to someone. The topic came up a couple of days ago and I was pleasantly surprised when a couple of folks mentioned that they had found the info quite handy while rebuilding their own gardens.

On the off chance that it may still be useful here is the complete list:

acer/maple crushed in wall collapse
agapanthus/ survived and bloomed
ageratum/ perished
almond tree/ perished
alstroemaria/ perished
alyssum/ perished
amaranth/ all varieties perished
amaryllis/ survived but did not bloom
anemone/ perished
apple tree/all varieties survived
apricot tree/ perished
aralia/tree ivy/ perished
asiatic lily/ survived
azalea/ all varieties perished
begonia/ all varieties perished
belladonna lily/ survived
black-eyed susan/ crushed in wall collapse
bleeding heart(potted)/ perished
blue pine/ survived
bluebells/ perished
bottlebrush tree/ perished
box shrub/ perished
buddleia/ perished
cactii/ all varieties perished
calla lilies/ survived & bloomed
camellia/ perished
canna lilies/ survived & bloomed
carnation/ perished
celosia/ survived
cherry laurel shrub/ survived
cherry tree/ perished
chinar/ survived
chinese climber/ crushed in wall collapse
christmas cactus/ perished
christmas rose/ perished
clematis blue/ survived
clematis pink/ survived
clematis white/ survived
coleus/ perished
columbine (bedded)/ rebloomed from seed
columbine (potted)/ perished
cone flower/ perished
coreopsis/ perished
crocosmia/ survived
crocus/ crushed in wall collapse
crown-imperial/ perished
crytomeria tree/ survived
cupress/ perished
cyclamen/ perished
cypress/ perished
daffodils/ survived and bloomed
dahlias/ all varieties perished
day lily/ survived
deodar/ perished
deutzia/ perished
dianthus/ perished
ferns/ all varieties perished
fig/ survived
fir/ perished
football lily/ survived but did not bloom
forysthia/ crushed in wall collapse
freesia/ perished
fuchsia/ all varieties perished
gallardia/ perished
gazania/ perished
geranium/ all varieties perished
gerbera (bedded)/ perished
gerbera (potted)/ perished
gingko tree/ crushed in wall collapse
gladioli/ some varieties survived
gold dust shrub/ perished
grape hyacinth/ perished
grapevive/ survived
hazel/ crushed in wall collapse
hibiscus exotic/hybrid/ perished
himalayan cherry/ survived
hippeastrum/ survived but did not bloom
holly/ crushed in wall collapse
hollyhock/ perished
honesty/ survived
honeysuckle hybrid/exotic/ perished
honeysuckle native/ survived
hosta lily/ survived & bloomed
hyacinth exotic/hybrid/ perished
hyacinth native/ perished
hydrangea lace-cap/ survived
hydrangea/ perished
ice plant/ perished
icicle plant/ perished
iris/all varieties perished
ivy exotic/hybrid/ perished
ivy native/ survived
jade tree/ perished
jasmine/ crushed in wall collapse
judas tree/ perished
juniper creeping/ survived
juniper erect/ perished
justicia/ perished
kiwi fruit/ perished
laburnum tree/ perished
lagerstroemia/ crepe myrtle/ survived
lavender/ perished
lawrence tree/ perished
lilac/ crushed in wall collapse
lilac/ perished
lily-of-the-valley/ survived
lisianthus/ perished
lupin/ perished
lycoris/ survived
mahonia shrub/ survived
morning glory exotic/hybrid/ perished
morning glory native/ survived
mulberry tree/ survived
nandina bush/ perished
narcissus/ survived but did not bloom
nectarine tree/ perished
oak tree/ survived
oleander/ perished
oriental lily/ survived
ornamental cabbage/ perished
ornamental grass/ some varieties survived
ornamental m. grandiflora/ perished
ornamental m. lilyflora/ perished
ornamental m. stellata/ perished
ornamental peach/survived but did not bloom
ornamental pear/ perished
ornamental plum/ survived & bloomed
ornithogalum/ perished
osmanthus tree/ perished
osteospermum/ perished
palm trees/all varieties perished
passion flower/ perished
peach/ perished
pear/ survived
pentsemon/ perished
peony shrub/ survived
peony tree (stick peony)/ perished
peppermint/ survived
perennial daisy/ perished
periwinkle/ survived
phlox/ perished
plum/ perished
plum/ perished
pomegranate tree/ crushed in wall collapse
poppy/ perished
primrose/ perished
purple hosta/ survived & bloomed
quince rose/ survived & bloomed
ranunculus/ perished
roses/all varieties survived & bloomed
rudbeckia/ perished
saffron/ crushed in wall collapse
salvia/perished
santolina/ perished
scented geranium/ perished
sedum/ perished
silver dust/ perished
snapdragon /rebloomed from seed
snowdrops/ survived
sparaxis/ perished
spearmint/ survived
spider lily/ survived & bloomed
spireaea shrub/ survived
spruce/ all varieties perished
strawberry/ survived
succulents/ all varieties perished
sweet pea/ survived
thornless rose climber/ survived
tiger lily/ survived but did not bloom
torch lily/ survived
tradescantia/ perished
trumpet vine/ crushed in wall collapse
tuberose/ perished
tulips/all varieties perished
umbrella tree/ perished
viburnum/ crushed in wall collapse
vinca/ perished
virginia creeper/ survived
walnut trees/ some varieties survived
water lily/ survived
wegelia/ perished
willow tree/ all varieties survived
wintersweet tree/ perished
wisteria purple/ survived
wisteria white/ survived
xiphium/ survived
yew/ perished

Kashmir vs Cashmere

Published / by Jehangir

Kashmir is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Cashmere is one of the most expensive fabrics in the world.

Kashmire, Cashmeer, Cashmere, Cashmire, Kashmeer and Kashmir have all been used throughout the past few centuries to describe the Vale of Kashmir.

Writing about the travels of Francois Bernier, George Forster used the spelling ‘Kashmire’ for the valley in 1783. He also used ‘Kashmire’ in the title of his 1798 book ‘A Journey from Bengal to England – through the Northern part of India, Kashmire, Afghanistan, and Persia, and into Russia by the Caspian Sea.’

With the advent of the nineteenth century, the term ‘Cashmeer’ to denote the valley seems to have gained popularity while ‘Kashmire’ just disappeared. ‘Cashmeer’ was used in books like ‘The Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients in the Indian Ocean‘ published in 1807 and ‘The Arabian Nights‘ published in 1811.

In subsequent decades ‘Cashmeer’ was used interchangeably with ‘Cashmere’ till it fell out of favour and the latter became increasingly frequent by the 1840s. A few instances of ‘Cashmeer’ can be found in the 1850s and the 1860s, before bowing out in 1871 in an inexplicable blaze of glory having being brought centre-stage by Robert Shaw, an old Kashmir hand writing about his exploits in ‘Visits to High Tartary, Yarkand and Kashgar.’

I say inexplicable because the gentleman responsible for the last mainstream use of the term ‘Cashmeer’ served as the British Commissioner in Leh and must have been well aware that the official name of the kingdom by the 1870s was ‘Kashmir’ – even ‘Cashmere’ having been officially relegated by that time.

Strangely enough around the same time a pamphlet written in defence of the Maharaja of Kashmir in 1870 was titled ‘The Maharaja of Kashmeer and his Calumniators‘, marking a rare use of the term ‘Kashmeer.’ The pamphlet sought to counter western authors severely castigating the misrule of the Dogra ruler in ‘The Wrongs Of Cashmere‘ (1868) by Arthur Brinckman and ‘Cashmere Misgovernment‘ by Robert Thorpe published posthumously in 1870.

‘Cashmire’ was intermittently used over the years, primarily in literary works, and while writing in or translating from French, with ‘Kaschmir’ being the German equivalent.

One of the earliest uses of the modern name ‘Kashmir’ is found in the ‘Historical and Descriptive account of British India‘ published in 1832 by a group of British experts led by Hugh Murray. The valley is described as the ‘little kingdom of Kashmir’ and extolled as a ‘terrestrial paradise’.

Baron Charles von Hugel used the term in scientific papers published in 1835 and 1836 and his books – ‘Kaschmir und das Reich der Siek‘ (1840) and ‘Travels in Kashmir and the Punjab‘ (1845).

Over the course of the nineteenth century, ‘Cashmere’ and ‘Kashmir’ kept jostling for prominence. Official acceptance of ‘Kashmir’ over ‘Cashmere’ was an important factor and by the 20th century it was ‘Kashmir’ that had become the accepted term for the valley with ‘cashmere’ being reserved for an exquisite fabric made from the soft undercoat of Himalayan goats.

Incidentally the valley is called ‘Kasheer’ in the native Kashmiri language.

P.S Boring Scientific Explanation from the internet:
the British Raj standardized on the Hunterian system in 1872, and from the article, it looks to me like ‘Kashmir’ would be the proper Hunterian transliteration. Prior to 1872, the Raj (and before that, the East India Co.) appear to have haphazardly used either the Wilkins system or the “Dowler” system‘.