the-south-asian Life & Times               July - September 2010




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 Doon School at 75

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 - Inspiring Legacies

 - Tribute to Nandu by
   Late RL Holdsworth

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Doon’s Old Boys

Doon School has produced more politicians, writers, sportsmen, civil servants, journalists, and artists, from amongst its five thousand alumni, than any other school in India. It is not within the scope of this article to cover all the ex-Doscos who have made outstanding contributions in their chosen fields – and there are many. But there was one – who, in his brief life of 32 years, attained great heights (literally!) – and will remain a hero for all generations to come, for his rare spirit of adventure and equally rare qualities of mind, courage, generosity, physical grit, and a sense of humour. He was Narendra Jayal – known fondly as Nandu Jayal.

Narendra Dhar Jayal


1926 - 1958

By R.L.Holdsworth

Major Narendra Dhar Jayal, or Nandu Jayal, studied at the Doon School where his House Master R L Holdsworth introduced him to the surrounding ranges of the Himalaya. A naturally gifted mountaineer, skier and a writer, Nandu wrote, very early on at the age of sixteen, many articles on his various mountaineering trips that were "worthy of ranking with the best of Alpine literature."

In his short life, Nandu packed in a lifetime of mountaineering endeavour and adventure, braving extreme hazards fearlessly, and thus inspiring a whole generation of early Indian mountaineers. Nandu breathed his last at Camp I, Cho Oyu, in 1958. RL Holdsworth, his Housemaster at Doon, wrote a touching tribute in the Himalayan Journal. Following is an excerpt from the original.

In 1942, with two other boys, all three just about fifteen, Nandu accompanied me and J.A.K. Martyn to the Arwa valley glaciers above Badrinath to a camp at 19,000 feet, which had been used by the 1931 Kamet expedition. Here we met misfortune. One of the boys developed pneumonia and was evacuated with difficulty from the high camp. Nandu and the other boy and I stayed on for a day in the hope of climbing a peak of over 20,000 ft. It was monsoon weather, and conditions for what was an easy snow and rock climb were terrible. We had to turn back, and Nandu was feeling the height very badly. I felt it might quench all his ardour for mountaineering, but I was quite wrong. As soon as he was off the glacier he recovered his form, and became his usual high-spirited self. Nandu and I, after a visit to the south-east ridge of Nilkanta, returned, in pouring rain most of the way, by the Kuari Pass, were he was initiated into the delights of a leech-infested forest, to Ranikhet.

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