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JAMMU: As I have seen him, he was not only an intellectual but inherited the skills of journalism also from his father Sh. Mulak Raj Saraf, the founder of Journalism in the state of J&K. He had a keen sense and aptitude to write on various aspects of Art, Culture and Heritage of the Region. He wrote on the artists, writers, performers and intellectuals of the state along with the writing articles/ columns and books on art, craft, archeology, tourism and heritage with great details and research.

This article is to mark the concern to record his contribution as a journalist, photographer and writer who contributed a lot in these fields. Remembering Sh. Suraj Saraf is to acknowledge his sense and concern for the upliftment of art, artists, culture, heritage and tourism through his pen. The list of artists of visual, literary and performing art forms on whom he has written is quite long.

Born on 24th June, 1924 in the family of Sh. Mulak Raj Saraf, a veteran journalist and founder of journalism in the state of J&K, Sh. Suraj Saraf is known for his humble and kind nature with high intellectual thinking. After completing his B Sc.; LLB, Sh. Suraj Saraf started his career as correspondent with Times of India and later for Hindu and The Tribune. After 1977 he represented several local and national dailies till he breathed his last.

Along with his aptitude for journalism which he did for reporting in local and national dailies, he had an aptitude also to write on various aspects of art, culture, archeology, tourism and heritage of the region. He proved to be a chronicle recorder of his times. He has penned down about the life and works of the artists, writers and other such personalities. The list of these personalities include the names of the followings Master Sansar Chand Baru (Painter), Vidya Rattan Khajuria (Sculptor), Vijay Gupta (Painter), Vachaspati Sharma (Sitarist), K L Verma (Tabla Meastro), T K Jalali (Violinist), N D Jamwal (Writer & Artist), Dev Dass (Portrait Painter), Prof. Lalit Magotra (Writer and Scientist), Padamshree (Prof.) Ram Nath Shastri (Literature), Padamshree Balwant Thakur (Theatre), Padamshree Rajinder Tiku (Sculptor), Prof. Champa Sharma (Writer), Gobind Kaur (Sculptor), Vijay Saraaf Meenaghe (Painter), Jang S. Verman (Multi- Media Artist), Ravinder Jamwal (Sculptor), Deepak Kumar (Theatre) to mention a few here (though the list may be quite long).

The culture and other historical data about the region was his target for writing which he investigated with intensity and put it in the shape of his book-‘Jammu Heritage’. Hinting on the traces of antiquity of Jammu, he argues ‘….setting up of the fort, facing Jammu on the other side of river Tawi, is also inscribed by Vanasabali to Bahu Lochan, elder brother of Jambo Lochan, which must have been before Mahabharata as Jambu, …. The fort still stands imposingly, though obviously it must have been repaired, renovated and undergone changes several times. It is also significant that Bahu fort is also mentioned in about 1st century A. D. at the times of invasions from Sialkot and Kanauj.  Later it was also mentioned in late fourteenth century at the time of Timur’s invasion’.

In his book titled ‘Jammu Heritage, he has written articles on- Jammu City, Raghunath Temple, Mubarak Mandi a unique Heritage Complex, Shiva Cave Temple of Jammu City, Bahu Fort, Raade- unique Vana Mahotsav Festival, Jhiri Fair, Parmandal-Utter Behani, Mansar- Saruinsar, Babor, Krimchi Temples, Akhnur, Billawar, Mahor Garh, Basoli, Ramnagar, Shud Mahadev, Sukrala Devi, Vaishno Devi, Sanasar, Poonch, Kishtwar, Bhadarwah, Dogra Folk Dances, Mega Art Treasures of Mini Sculptures, Arts and Crafts, Other Important Tourist Places and Fairs and Festivals etc.

He also wrote books on art, craft, archeology, tourism, faith and heritage with great details and research. These books have been among his fine contribution in the field of documentation of the ideas and ideals behind faith, creativity and varied approaches of development in the field of crafts in the region as well as mythological value in the expression of people. He has done photography at stretch to record all of it and depict his aesthetical sensitivity to the scenes in the beauty around in this part of land. Among other publications, the followings are the outstanding contributions by him.

These books include the titles as – ‘Jammu Glimpses’, ‘Babor’, ‘Jammu Darshan’, ‘Jammu Heritage’ and ‘Vaishno Devi’. This form of art has been able to provide basic details and pictorial view of different aspects of art and craft in the right perspective as seen by a journalist, writer, photographer and a visualizer. His photographs were well received by the writers and publishers and were also included in the book ‘Arts & Crafts of Jammu & Kashmir’ written by Sh. D N Saraf.

His contribution was honoured with ‘Dogra Rattan Award’ by Dogri Sanstha, Jammu. His photography was declared first by Illustrated Weekly of India during the year 1972. ‘Neo- Images’- a group of photographers established in Jammu also honoured him during 1992 for his contribution in the field of photography.

Jenab G M Sadiq, the then Chief Minister, J&K Government, in his message published in the book titled- ‘Jammu Darshan’, wrote: ‘Guide to Jammu was a much needed Publication… the guide is being compiled by a journalist of the standing of Shri Suraj Saraf is a matter of all the more satisfaction to me…..’


Whereas his contribution to highlight cultural heritage of Jammu region at local and national level deserves appreciation and commendation, to remember such saintly and devoted person, by organizing befitting events in his memory, will be a real return for his honour and a true tribute to a pious soul.