by Umar Mukhtar

SRINAGAR: This week was the anniversary of Noor Mohammad, the pioneer of book publishing in Kashmir. The family and the J&K Cultural Academy joined hands and an impressive function took place early this week where the books published by Noor Mohammad were displayed for the public.

With the advent of the Litho press in the 19th century, the publishing of the books started in big cities of the then undivided India like in Delhi, Lahore, Kolkata. Likewise in Kashmir, ‘Ghulam Mohamad Noor Mohammad Publishing house’ was famous for publishing the books and stands witness to the evolution of the literary history of Kashmir.

Started in1890’s, the bookstore used to sell only Kashmiri, Arabic and Persian books. But later on, many other books of different genres were added to the shelves of the bookstore.

Born in 1905, in a family associated with the book business, Noor Mohammad Bhat, took the threads of the family business and formally joined the father’s business. As he took the reins, apart from bookselling, he also started publishing the books. He used to get books published from different cities of India. Earlier before 1947, it was Lahore and after the partition, it was Luckhnow.

Noor was considered as the pioneer in book publishing for many decades.

A recently released book on his death anniversary brought many facets of Noor Mohammad’s life to fore. Noor used to travel to Lahore to buy books and even print his books. “It was basically Noor’s love for his people that he wanted to educate them and make literature available,” reads a chapter of a book, published in his memory and highlighting his contributions.

Having love with the Kashmiri literature, Noor also used to go to different parts of the Valley to collect and fetch Kashmir’s literature. Noor would also collect literary material from Kashmir’s Islamic scholars and poets and later on compile them and used to give them the book shape.

Noor Mohammad with his friends

Till 1947, he used to go Lahore and bring books and also get the collected material published from there. But after the partition when going to Lahore was now travelling to another country, Delhi and Lucknow became new destinations for Noor to bring books from.

Apart from documenting the different written material, Noor had also authored several books. Tareeq- a- Kashmir, published in 1952 is considered as one of the best books he had authored. All of his books are written in the Kashmiri language.

In 1922, Noor started his own publishing house where he published the already compiled material. And in 1955, he established his own press, ‘Stream Printing Press.’ Noor is also said to be the first Kashmiri Muslim who owned the printing press.

It is also said that Noor had actively taken part in the struggle against the then Maharaja in 1931.

In the old times, Noor’s shop was very famous among the literary and intellectual persons. They often used to come to this place, sit together and had literary gatherings. “Among the renowned personalities were the Kashmiri’s revolutionary poet Abdul Ahad Azad, Mehjoor, Ahad Zargar and many others,” claims a paragraph of the book.

“The world of the books is the most remarkable creation of man, nothing else that he builds ever lasts,” probably this quote sums up the life of Noor Mohammad.


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