Sunday, August 22, 2010


  Between Sazgaari Pora and Nowshehra Srinagar lies a ziyarat popularly known as Ziyarat Syed Madni        Sahib.People over here call it as Madeen Sahib Ziyarat (  Hazrat Syed Mohammed Madni ( R A ) sahib ) as well. One can trace it to the north western side of Hari Parbat fort or exactly behind Industrial estate of    Baghe  Ali Mardaan Khan .The structure is considered to be a master piece of kashmiri Architcture  relating to king Zain Ul Abdin 's period .

As per    “Biographical Encyclopaedia of Sufis: South Asia ” a Book compiled  By N. Hanif  ( page 203 )  Saiyed Muhammed  Madni commonly known as "Madin Sahib" in kashmir was originally from Madina. He came to India along with the invading forces of Timur . From Sindh , Timur deputed Saiyed Madni to Kashmir  to be his envoy in the court of  Sultan Sikander . So Saiyed Madni came to Kashmir along with his family and settled in Rainawari .  Though a disciple of Mir Muhammed Hamdaani ,he did not show any interest in teaching or preaching in Kashmir  and lived a quiet saintly life . He also did not receive any special favours from sultan sikander whose patronage had brought him to Kashmir . However  when Sultan Zain Ul Abdin  came to power , he  became a devotee of  Saiyed  Madni and requested the saint to shift to his new capital near  Nowshera .There he built a Khaanqaah for the saint close to his own palace . Saiyed Madni died on 13th October 1445 AD and his tomb still exists at Hawal ( Nowshera ) in srinagar.

The Ceramic tiles ,  Pinjara kaari of windows( Being redone now ),  Exquisite  Wood work , the Birch roof with mud over it  , Naqsho Nigaari  and the dome of the Ziyarat are unparalleled in style and architecture.
There had been some controversy with regard to control of this shrine( Between Shia and Sunni Community ) after the death of Sultan Zain Ul Abdin  as a result of which the shrine had to be closed for  a long period..The structure also suffered some damage in a devastating fire . During sultan's time , the Ziyarat had a huge surrounding area where a Madrasa , Hamam , Khaankaah and a Langer Khaana was built . The sultan would also frequent this place . Thanx to State Archeology Department the shrine is being   restored  to its Grandeur  and glory.The walls and ceiling of this structure stand restored to original shape .The stones dating back to Sultan Zain Ul Abdin's period are also being polished . It is reported that the main door of the shrine is in British Museum. This is the only shrine in valley representing all essential features of old kashmiri architecture .

 I end this  brief post with a couplet of  my favourite poet Allama Iqbal

Woh Bandigi Khudaai  Woh Bandigi Gadhaai ,
Yaa Bandaa e  Khudaa Ban Yaa Bandaa e zamaana ..
Gaafil Naa Ho Khudee se kar Apni Paasbaani ,
Shaayad Kissi Haram Kaa Tu bhi Hai Aastaana.  

( Autar Mota )

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\\.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


“I vividly remember Miss Mehmooda Ahmed Ali shah ( The then Principal of Women college Srinagar ) coming to our house on 9th December 1973 , throwing her shawl to  the ground and sitting on the  floor with us to mourn the death of my father She wept  like a child hugging my mother for more than 15 minutes at a stretch. Wiping her tears ,she said to my mother   in chaste Kashmiri

Jaya ji Metti Chhu Dahan Dohunn Dokhuss Beuhun. Su Auss Me Boayy.

(Jaya ji I have to also sit for the 10 day mourning . He was my brother .)

I was informed by my mother that Dr Naseer Ahmed Shah , Dr Tahir Mirza , Members of Sadiq Sahib’s family ,Sh Abdul Haq Barq and my father's  childhood friend Sheikh Ghulam Mohd Frequented our house during the mourning period. Syed Mir Qasim, who was the chief Minister at that time sent a message to us that he had decided to send me to Baroda for proper Training in Art absolutely free on a  Government scholarship.Possibly my father had conveyed my interest in Art and painting to his close friends like Sadiq Sahib , Syed Mir Qasim , Poet Dina Nath Naadim and D P Dhar. Support and sympathy poured in from all quarters .We were poor and incompetent to handle this wave of support and sympathy .Consequently  My mother had to keep  the struggle continued for  survival of the family  and education of her children. We clung to her like infants for emotional and material support.” 

Said Ramesh Ji wiping his tears .

 I could make out his Artistic nature from his handwriting , delicate  but long fingers , facial expressions and above all his lovely handwriting . I had seen some paintings of this colleague of mine and that created my interest in his Background . And Lo !He turned out to be the son of the unsung VINCENT VAN GOGH ( 1853-1890) of Kashmir whom the Artist Fraternity still remembers as Som Nath Butt or S N Butt .
.” My father would also sing K L Saigal songs . Dilip Kumar was his favourite actor . He must have seen Dilip Kumar's  Daag 30 times.He was greatly touched by Dilip Kumar"s role as Devdass. Naadim Sahib was a frequent visitor to our house .In fact my father had designed the Sets for Naadim sahib immortal opera “Bombur Ta Yemberzal ” Apart from this ,he enjoyed listening to Sufiana Music , Lal Vaakhs and Shams Faquir ‘s compositions . My sisters Asha ji and Veena ji were quite attached to him . They are married since and live happily with their families .I can say that by thought he appeared to be a Marxist yet at heart he was a Dervesh in true sense . He was full of compassion and yes a little careless about his own self . He gave some of the priceless painting to his friends free. He would easily believe anybody and was instantly moved to see any pain and suffering forgetting his own self.” Added Ramesh ji with a sigh .

Som Nath Butt was born in  1925 at Badyar Bala Locality in Srinagar City in the neighbourhood of Naadim Sahib’s Lal Ded Girls School..He too volunteered to serve the refugees from Baramulla town who had been housed in the school building after the tribal raid of 1947 , The pain and suffering he witnessed in this camp drifted him temporarily to Marxism though he never belonged to any political party nor happened to be an atheist. I am informed by the family that in fact he would visit the shrines of Dastgeer sahib, Maqdoom Sahib and Reshi Peer as and when he found time . He always kept a photograph of Swami Ram Tirath in his pocket .

After completing his F.Sc. from S P College Srinagar som Nath Butt  went to Gulmarg (to live with his elder sister ) where his Brother in Law Pandit Radha Krishen Koul worked in a Hotel owned by a European .It was here  that the  young sensitive boy who had lost his mother in his infancy , came in direct contact with nature enabling him to express himself through a select medium using paper and pencils . .An Artist was thus born at Gulmarg only.


  ( Winter Scene in Kashmir .. A Monochrome by Som Nath Butt  Source  Kapil Kaul Austria )
        ( Som Nath Butt With Minoo Masani ... Photo Source Dr Ramesh Tamiri )
When Renowned Artist S H Raza visited Kashmir sometime around the partition of the country  and met almost all local Artists , He picked up S N Butt as his student and taught him intensely for two months . This period exposed the young Artist to basic styles and forms of Art like Cubism ,Surrealism, Impressionism, Expressionism, Abstract Art , Portrait drawing and many other Indian forms of Folk Art. Raza also introduced a variety of European artists to Butt and most significantly Vincent Van Gogh . Enough training for this genius who never looked back after this interaction.. Along with Triloke Kaul , S N Butt held a two Men Painting Exhibition at Mumbai in 1950 . Noticing his fresh style ,.Many newspapers carried a lead story under the caption:
                           “ A New Star is born on Art Horizon of the country  ”

           ('  TWO  FLOWERS' A  Monochrome.. year1950 By Som Nath Butt..This looks like  Vincent Van Gogh's   ' Flowers' )

After returning from Mumbai   he kept painting  with renewed vigour and in varied forms .He also won president’s Gold medal and a two year scholar ship for a project on Kashmir Shawl Designs.While Naadim sahib headed the Progressive writers Association , S N Butt became the founder of Progressive Artists Association in Kashmir . This Progressive movement in Kashmir was patronized by Balraj Sahni ,S H Raza and Percy Brown .Later P N Kachru another trained Artist from Rainawari joined them and the Trio as they came to be know,  heralded the modern Art movement in Kashmir.This trio later joined the School of Design opened by Jammu And Kashmir Government in different positions and capacities .

 Another Artist Mohan Raina , residing in Badyar Bala locality   joined the School of Design later. While in Kashmir , M F Hussain  would  invariably come  to meet S N Butt  and other artists many times in this School of Design only. G R Santosh who was also trained at Baroda joined this group but  shifted his base to New Delhi to work as full time painter .In fact prior to his formal training at Baroda,  G R Santosh learnt Art from S N Butt only . So did he teach Kishori Kaul another renowned artist from Kashmir.
Though most of the paintings of S N Butt have disappeared and are in private possession yet a few still decorate the walls of prominent Art Galleries of the country . Some  were also on display at Tourist  Reception Centre Srinagar before being suddenly removed and shifted to some unknown destination . I am also informed by the family that some Paintings were in possession of Sadiq Sahib’s family .The artist's  family has none   with them.

 Influence of Dutch Painter VAN GOGH is starkly visible in his form and style. Through colour schemes , Powerful fusion of form and content , he created his own style in Figurative Abstract .

This artist was able to explain either his struggle against the system and circumstances or his comprehension of the spiritual essence of man and nature .
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ( A painting by S N Butt )

 Prof. jaya Parimu Adds :

 “ The above  painting of S.N.Buttt was hanging in the auditorium of Women's college for some time. Sadiq Sahib was requested to arrange the sale through the office of Cultural Academy of his works when Butt Sahib was in a precarious condition.He had to have some money for his sustenance. Alcoholism had spoiled his health and his precious pieces of art were lying for want of recognition and sale.Several paintings of his got distributed in different institutions.

His main forte was figurative abstract and Alleys,homes ,Roofs,Attics was mainly shown whatever pieces I had chance to see.He was a great artist of the century. Had received Praise  from British Art connoisseurs. A known colourist.Unsung and now unheard in the World of Art .” 

Prof Arvind  Gigoo Adds :

“S N Butt's two paintings were hanging on the wall of the staff room of Amar Singh College. One painting was with Agha Ashraf Ali. One painting was neglected in the library of Kashmir University. I don't know what happened to those  paintings.”

Stalwart Artist   Triloke kaul adds :

“ Balraj Sahni was our common friend .He had a special liking for people from Kashmir valley.Always helpful. He was a great admirer of S N Butt’s Art. In fact S N Butt was quite close to Balraj Sahni .  They would have their drinks together . “
His addiction to liquor cut short his life and his productive years ,forcing him to remain in Hospital for long periods . Yet  he continued to paint till his last days . His family informs me that 1970 , 1971 and 1972 were liquor free years for him .He held Many Exhibitions . In 1971 he held a one man exhibition inaugurated by  G M Sadiq  ( CM ). Late Bhagwan Sahay the then governor of the state , who was bed ridden   came with his  plastered leg supported by his daughter to see his favourite Artist’s work. He was also elevated to membership of Lalit Kala Academy New Delhi. When Sadiq Sahib was admitted to  PGI Chandigarh , he would call his friend S N Butt frequently   or keep writing to him regularly confiding even some intimate  family secrets to  this Artist .
Something went wrong somewhere and Bobuji ( as he was called affectionately by his family ) again started drinking heavily after his visit to jammu  in 1973 to attend an Artist  conference.. He fell sick and had to be admitted to hospital in Jammu.The family shifted him to Srinagar where he was Again admitted to SMHS hospital for about two months. On a wintry morning of 9th Dec 1973 this great Artist and human being bade good bye to this world ..Like modern Punjabi Poet Shiv Kumar Batalavi, he too died at a young age leaving friends weeping and his own family in grave crisis.


 I have also uploaded a view of Jhelum Ghat near  Lal Ded Girls School Badyar Bala  Srinagar.The artist lived  in this locality .

I end this post with lines from a poem of my favourite  Bulgarian poet Nikola Vaptsarov ( 1909 -1942 ).In early 1941 Nazi forces were allowed to enter Bulgaria and take control of the country as a prelude to the attack on the USSR.Vaptsarov joined the armed resistance movement. Arrested by Nazi forces  in 1942 and subjected to inhuman torture, he was  finally executed on 23rd July, 1942.

‘History, will you mention us

In your faded scroll?’
For the hardship and affliction

We do not seek rewards,
Nor do we want our pictures
In the calendar of years.
Just tell our story simply
To those we shall not see,
Tell those who will replace us –
We fought courageously.

( Autar Mota )

 Creative Commons License

CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\\.