The Story of Geologist Extraordinaire D. N. Wadia
Darashaw Nosherwan Wadia devoted over 7 decades of his life to the study of geological sciences and is a widely regarded name in the field of Indian geology. He was the first Indian scientist with a non-European education to be appointed to the Geological Survey of India and later went on to establish the Institute of Himalayan Geology which now known as the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology.
In 1894, eleven-year-old D. N. Wadia moved to Baroda with family and continued his education at Baroda High School. His elder brother Munchershaw had much to do with the younger brother’s love of learning. Darashaw received BSc degrees in Botany and Zoology (1903) and another in Botany and Geology (1905).
During the early years of Prof. Wadia's career very limited geological literature was available, and only in the form of records and memoirs. While there were books by H.B. Medlicot, W.T.Blandford, R.D. Oldham, they needed to keep pace with the sudden boom in geological activities.
In 1919, Prof Wadia's Geology of India, was first published with his latest studies. The book has seen 6 editions and is still taught to Geology students the world over.
Multiple research papers were published. His explanation of the knee-bend or syntaxis in the mountains around Nanga Parbat is considered among his major contributions to Indian Geology. The range of his work was unprecedented and his investigations systematic. Even to date his principal findings hold merit.
Prof. Wadia received countless awards in his profession. Some of these included the Lyell Medal from the Geological Society, London, the Back Award from the Royal Asiatic Society and the Padma Bhushan from the Government of India. Photographs of these may be seen as part of the Wadia Collection at the Wadia Institute.
At all important places geological sections were made, from the valleys to the higher regions. It was important to climb high in order to recognise connexions which could not be seen from below; and the geologist on Naga Parbat must be a climber as well as a scientist." Peter Misch for The Himalayan Journal.
Piloo Nanavutty writes of him that he was "modest and unassuming...a man of few words, with an old world courtliness rarely seen today."
Dr S.K. Parcha, Scientist at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology shows Prof. Wadia's office bag, used by him for his last 19 years and calls him a "Man of Vision."
In June 1963, Prof Wadia organised the first Summer School on Himalayan Geology in Shimla. The success of the programme led to the acceptance of his idea of setting up an Institute dedicated to Himalayan Geology. This Institute began in Delhi University in 1968, and was renamed the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology after Prof Wadia's death in 1969. It functions from its permanent headquarters in Dehradun.
Curation and Text Compilation by Kritika Mudgal for Parzor Foundation
Photography by Krish Bhalla for Parzor Foundation
Dr Shernaz Cama, Director, Parzor Foundation and the team acknowledge the contribution of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun as our Knowledge Partners. All material copyright is retained by the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology while the Intellectual Property Rights of this exhibition remain with Parzor Foundation.
We also thank the TIFR Archives for sharing Prof. Wadia's CV and a List of his Publications.
We thank Mr Rusi Sorabji of California for his guidance and inputs.
Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London
Vol. 12, No. 2 (Dec., 1957), pp. 237-241. Accessed via JSTOR.
Nanavutty, Piloo. The Parsis.