New Delhi(PTI): Search engine giant Google today celebrated the 187th birth anniversary of intrepid Himalayan explorer Nain Singh Rawat, the first man to survey Tibet, with a special doodle.
Born in 1830, Rawat hailed from the Johar Valley of Kumaon in present-day Uttarakhand and was one of the first Indians who explored the Himalayas for the British.
He was part of a select group of indigenous surveyors in the second half of the 19th century, also known as pandits, who explored regions to the north of India.
Due to the prevailing geo-political situation in the world, explorers vied with each other to map the vastness of Central Asia and understand its people and customs.
The British wanted to gain knowledge about the entire Indian sub-continent and began the Great Trigonometrical Survey for the purpose. As part of the project, natives from Indian border states were trained to be surveyors.
This was done as the neighbouring countries, particularly Tibet, as they did not allow the entry of westerners. These surveyors were trained rigorously and learnt to disguise themselves as traders or holy men.
Rawat also undertook the explorations disguised as a Tibetan monk and walked from Kumaon to places as far as Kathmandu, Lhasa, and Tawang.
He maintained a precisely measured pace, covering one mile in 2000 steps. He hid a compass in his prayer wheel, mercury in cowrie shells and even disguised travel records as prayers to avoid detection.
Rawat was the first man to survey Tibet and determine the exact location and altitude of Lhasa. He mapped the Tsangpo, known as Brahmaputra in India, and described in detail fabled sites such as the gold mines of Thok Jalung. He also mapped a large section of the Brahmaputra and the trade route through Nepal to Tibet.
He was first recruited in 1855 by German geographers Schlagintweit brothers. He also travelled to Lakes Manasarovar and Rakas Tal and then further to Gartok and Ladakh with them.
His last and greatest journey was from Leh in Ladhak via Lhasa to Assam in 1873 75, before his death in 1882.
He bagged a number of awards for his work from the Royal Geographic Society (RGS). The Society of Geographers of Paris awarded Rawat an inscribed watch. Government of India bestowed two villages as a land-grant to him and in 2004, a postage stamp dedicated to him was also released
The doodle, designed by paper cut artists Hari and Deepti Panicker, is a silhouette diorama illustration, depicting Rawat with a tripod stand looking over the horizon as the Sun hangs behind the majestic mountains.