Society

Google Doodle: the birthday of Himalayan explorer Nain Singh Rawat

Google Doodle: Nain Singh Rawat, October 21, 2017

Google Doodle: Nain Singh Rawat, October 21, 2017   | Photo Credit: Instagram/harianddeepti

Rawat, born 187 years ago, was the first to survey Tibet

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 187th birth anniversary of Nain Singh Rawat, a 19th century mountaineer and one of the first to explore the Himalayas for the British. Rawat was the first to survey Tibet, determining the exact location and altitude of the Tibetan capital Lhasa, and mapping the Tsangpo river.

Created by paper cut artists Hari and Deepti Panicker, the doodle is a silhouette diorama illustration with Rawat (a tripod placed in front depicting his ‘day job’) looking out at the horizon, a majestic lake below, and the sun in all its glory behind the mountains.

Born in 1830 in Milam, a Shauka tribe village in the valley of Johar in present-day Uttarakhand, Rawat as a young man visited Tibet with his father and picked up the local language, traditions and customs, which would later come in handy.

In the early 19th century, European explorers were fascinated by the Central Asian terrain and wanted to understand the local customs. But given the challenges, they realised they needed trained locals to help them in their quest. Rawat was one among the select group of local explorers.

As Europeans were not welcome everywhere, these explorers had to go under cover. Disguised as a Tibetan monk, Rawat walked from his home in Kumaon to places such as Lhasa, Kathmandu and Tawang. He would cover one mile in 2000 steps and measured each of them using a rosary. And in order to maintain the secrecy, he hid a compass in his prayer wheel and disguised travel records as prayers.

Rawat’s first exploration trip was with the Germans between 1855 and 1857. He travelled to the Manasarovar and Rakas Tal lakes and then further to Gartok and Ladakh. He then furthered his knowledge of surveying at the Great Trignometric Survey office in Dehradun, where he trained for two years. It is said that his greatest journey was from Leh in Ladhak to Assam via Lhasa, from 1873-75.

Rawat was the recipient of awards by the Royal Geographic Society and in June 2004, a postage stamp was released dedicated to him.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 6:40:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/google-doodle-the-birthday-of-himalayan-explorer-nain-singh-rawat/article19894958.ece

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