Thesiger in Kashmir

Sir Wilfred Thesiger (1910–2003) was a British explorer and travel writer best known for two travel books recounting his adventures in Arabian deserts and the marshes of Iraq.

Arabian Sands (1959) chronicled the vanishing way of life of the Bedouins, while The Marsh Arabs (1964) described the people of the marshes of southern Iraq.

Many people regard him as the last of the great traveller/explorers who wandered wildernesses across the globe. However, unlike his colonial predecessors, Thesiger's USP was his absolute empathy with the communities he encountered in his travels.

At the end of 'A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush', Eric Newby, no mean traveller himself, relates how during a chance meeting in the of the mountain ranges of Asia, Thesiger reacted to Newby and his friend attempting to inlate their air beds by exclaiming "God, you must be a couple of pansies."

Thesiger had also explored the Hindu Kush, the Karakorams and the Pamirs and described his travels amongst tribes like the Kafir Kalash, but I was unaware that he had visited and photographed Kashmir in 1983.

Exhibit: This single tantalising photograph entitled 'Dal Lake at Srinagar'

Thesiger took tens of thousands of photographs during eight decades of travels throughout Africa and Asia. However not many details are available of his Kashmir visit. Which begs the question – would Thesiger visit Kashmir and restrict himself to just one photo?

Thesiger's photographs were famed for their clarity and expressiveness and I hope we can access more of his Kashmir portfolio sometime.