Museum of Geology Inside Heritage College is More than a Hidden Treasure Trove

The Museum of Geology, housed in an archaic building of the erstwhile Prince of Wales College rechristened as Government Gandhi Memorial(GGM) Science College in Jammu, is considered the Mecca of Geology sciences by students and scholars. The museum was founded by the doyen of Indian Geology and institution builder Dr DN Wadia after he joined the Prince of Wales College in 1907.

It not only houses the longest fossil tusk of an elephantine mammal ‘Stegodon Ganesha’ measuring 10 feet 9 inches ( believed to the ancestor of the true elephants and mammoths) but have rich geological wealth of different periods of earth’s history.

The fossil tusk which till date remains the main attraction geology students in Jammu University was discovered by Dr Wadia during one of his investigative trips in the Siwalik hills of the Jammu region.

Fossil Tusk of Elephant at GGM Science College
Fossil tusk of an Elephantine mammal ‘Stegodon Ganesha’ measuring 10ft 9in at Museum, GGM Science College

According to caretakers of museum: “The fossil tusk measuring 10.9 feet was discovered by Dr Wadia from near Nagrota in the Jagti forest area in Jammu.” It is believed that Dr Wadia had to hire the services of an elephant to transport this precious fossil to the Museum in Jammu. “The fossil tusk of Stegodon Ganesha kept in our museum is the longest in the world. National Museum of London houses a similar fossil tusk but its length is 10.5 feet”.

The fossil tusk in London was also believed to be discovered by British geologists in the same area and was trans-shipped by Britishers to their land.

Samples of minerals, rocks and fossils collected by Dr Wadia during his 14 year long stay in Prince of Wales College to aid his teaching at the college and also to solve problems that emerged from his field trips are also housed in the same museum.

The museum offers a rich source of study material to the students of Geology in Jammu University and is second biggest museum in India.

A stamp showing picture of Stegodon Ganesha, the first postage stamp in the world to have featured a pre-historic animal on it was also issued in the year 1951. Till date, it is treasured by philatelists in their favourite collection.

Stamp depicts the picture of Stegodon Ganesha
Stamp depicts the picture of Stegodon Ganesha, issued in 1951

 

Tracking down Dr Wadia’s journey from 1883 when he was born in Surat to 1907 in Jammu, caretaker of the museum said, “One of the

Dr DN Wadia, GGM Science college
Dr. DN Wadia

British friends of Maharaja Pratap Singh had suggested to Maharaja sahib that his princely State is rich in geological wealth and he should do something to preserve it. The British friend of Maharaj, himself a geologist, had donated a personal collection to Maharaja to be kept in the Museum of Geology.” Singh immediately appointed Dr Wadia as lecturer in the department of Geology at the Prince of Wales College in Jammu.

The college founded in 1905 extended all possible help and resources to Dr Wadia to set up a separate department. Dr Wadia, for some time also taught English and in his pastime took students on adventure trekking and conducted investigative trips to unravel the mystery of the Himalayas.

He pursued his personal research on stratigraphy, structure and palaeontology of the Kashmir Himalaya. After serving in the Prince of Wales College for 14 years, he moved on to join the Geological Survey of India in 1921.

In his career, Dr Wadia rose to the level of becoming Geological Advisor to Former Prime Minister Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru and received several prestigious awards including Padma Bhushan, the position of National Professor of Geology, the Meghnad Saha Medal and several other citations.

Initially, the State Government had also thought of a plan to bring the Museum of Geology on to the tourist map but nothing concrete has happened in this regard.

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