The Lawrence School, Sanawar

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The Lawrence School, Sanawar Solan
School motto
Kasauli Hills, Solan, Himachal Pradesh
Coordinates 30°54′07″N 76°59′38″E / 30.902°N 76.994°E / 30.902; 76.994Coordinates: 30°54′07″N 76°59′38″E / 30.902°N 76.994°E / 30.902; 76.994
Type Independent boarding school
Motto Never Give In
Established 15 April 1847
School district Solan
Staff 70
Grades Lower Three - Upper Six
Color(s) Red and White
Affiliation All India CBSE
Founder Henry Montgomery Lawrence
Houses Himalaya, Nilagiri, Siwalik, Vindhya
Headmaster Mr. Vinay Pande

The Lawrence School, Sanawar, is a private boarding school in Himachal Pradesh, established in 1847, whose history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the most prestigious schools in Asia.

It is located in the Kasauli Hills, District of Solan, Himachal Pradesh, India. Sanawar is about an hour's drive from Chandigarh and six hours from New Delhi. The school was founded by Sir Henry Lawrence and his wife Honoria, is one of the oldest surviving boarding schools.

As the school is located in Sanawar, the school is popularly called "Sanawar". It is situated at a height of 1,750 metres and spread over an area of 139 acres, heavily forested with pine, deodar and other conifer trees. The school has been ranked among the best residential schools of India. In May 2013 Sanawar created history by becoming the first school in the world to send a team of seven students to climb Mount Everest.[1] The motto of the school is "Never Give In".

Sanawar is affiliated to India's Central Board of Secondary Education.[2] Children are admitted to Sanawar in February each year, at the age of nine and ten years. Class Five (Lower III) is preferred as the entry point. Admission is based on a competitive entrance examination, held the preceding November, followed by an interview.

In the school's name, "Sanawar" is the name of the hill on which it stands.[3] The nearest railway station is now usually spelt "Sonwara".[4] Sanawar is believed to be the oldest mixed-sex boarding school anywhere in the world.[5]


The school was established by Henry Lawrence. His intent was to provide for the education of the orphans of British soldiers and other poor white children. In 1845 he outlined the creation of a boarding school in the Indian highlands for boys and girls.[6] He stated his aim as being to create Asylum from the debilitating effects of the tropical climate and the demoralizing influence of Barrack-life; wherein they may obtain the benefits of a bracing climate, a healthy moral atmosphere, and a plain, useful, and above all religious education, adapted to fit them for employment suited to their position in life.[6]

Maharaja Gulab Singh, a large contributor to the founding of the school

The school at Sanawar was established as the first such asylum on 15 April 1847,[6] when fourteen girls and boys arrived at Sanawar in the charge of Lawrence's sister-in-law Mrs George Lawrence and a superintendent Healey.[7] The school was co-educational from its beginning.[8] The site had been chosen by Lawrence, after discussions with William Hodson and others, considering that it was an "ideal location" which "afforded the necessary requisites: isolation, ample space, water, a good altitude, and all not too far from British troops".[9] The construction of the buildings was paid for by Lawrence and other British officers, with a large contribution from Gulab Singh, the first Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.[6] Hodson, who later became famous for Hodson's Horse, supervised the construction of the school's first buildings and is still commemorated by the annual Hodson's Run, a competition between the school's houses.[10] In the early days some Anglo-Indian children were admitted, but Lawrence insisted that preference should be given to those of "pure European" parentage, as he considered they were more likely to suffer from the heat of the plains.[6]

Under its first professional headmaster, the Rev. W. J. Parker, who was appointed in 1848, the school was known as "Lawrence's Asylum", reflecting its focus on orphans.[11] In 1858 it was renamed the "Lawrence Royal Military School".[8]

Sir Henry Lawrence, founder

By 1853, the school had grown to 195 pupils when it was presented with the King's Colour, one of only seven schools and colleges ever to be so honoured in the British Empire, the others being Eton, Shrewsbury, Cheltenham, the Duke of York's Royal Military School the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and the Lawrence Memorial Royal Military School, Lovedale . Sanawar has held its Colour for the longest unbroken period.[citation needed]

The tradition of military training at Sanawar has always been strong and was of such a high standard that several contingents of boys were enlisted from the school and sent straight to the battlefields of the First World War. In appreciation of this, the school was redesignated in 1920 as the "Lawrence Royal Military School" and, in 1922, the Prince of Wales presented the school with new Colours. This pattern of military service was repeated again during the Second World War and, according to a BBC Radio broadcast on 3 October 1941, more than two hundred Sanawarians had joined up. The school Colour continues to this day to be trooped at the Founders' Celebration in early October, and Sanawar pupils continue to make a major contribution to the defence of the country.

In its first two decades, the school suffered an unexpectedly high death rate, with forty children dying between 1848 and 1858, of whom thirteen were the victims of an outbreak of cholera in 1857. In the next ten years, there were seventy-two further deaths, and in 1870 a Punjab Medical Department report proposed measures to improve the school's sanitation, as well as "a separate hospital for the treatment of contagious diseases".[3] The headmaster, the Rev. John Cole, was inspired to write a book called Notes on Hygiene with Hints on Self-discipline for Young Soldiers in India (1882).[12][13]

Sanawar's centenary year (1947) was crucial to the development of the school. With Indian independence, the bulk of the staff and children at Sanawar returned to Britain. However, the then-Governor General, Lord Louis Mountbatten, presided at the centenary celebrations and read out a message from King George VI. Thereafter, control of the school passed from the Crown to the government of India's Ministry of Defence. A further transfer in 1949 brought the school under the control of the Ministry of Education. In June 1952 the Ministry resolved to administer the school through a society created under the Societies Registration Act 1860, subject to a Memorandum of Association and rules and regulations to be approved by the government. These provided that the government Secretaries in the Ministries of Education, Defence, and Finance would serve as ex-officio members of the society, with four other members appointed by the government. The employees of the school, previously government servants, lost that status.[14] The property and other assets of the school, which then had an estimated value of twenty-five lakhs of rupees, were transferred to the society with effect from June 1954.[15]

The school celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1997,[8] and India marked the occasion with a two-rupee commemorative postage stamp issued in October 1997 and inscribed "1847-1997 THE LAWRENCE SCHOOL SANAWAR".[16]

Present day[edit]

[8] In 2003, The Tribune described it as one of about half a dozen elite public schools in India, catering for "an upwardly mobile landed and commercial elite".[17] It is an international member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, based in England.[18]

Together with some other leading Indian schools, including the Doon School, Baldwin Boys High School, Mayo College, Daly College, Rajkumar College and the Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Sanawar is a member of the Round Square Conference, a worldwide association of some eighty schools which exchange students with each other. Other member schools include Aiglon College in Switzerland, Ballarat Grammar School in Australia, Deerfield Academy and Chadwick School in the United States, Wellington in England, and Gordonstoun in Scotland.[19]

The school honours its original purpose by continuing to offer a reduction in fees for the children of military families. About a quarter of the boarders are the sons and daughters of former pupils.[20] Till recently, as part of its annual Founder's Day celebrations, attended by many Old Sanawarians, the school continued to troop the Royal colours.[17] Until 1990, a significant number of school-leavers continued to join the armed forces but there has been a sharp decline in this tradition, and in 2011 one Old Sanawarian brigadier was quoted in The Times of India as saying that in his day "the main aim was to join the forces, but now hardly anyone is interested in doing so".[13]

Sanawar is divided into four houses—Himalaya, Nilagiri, Siwalik and Vindhya. The houses compete with each other at activities such as cricket, cross country running, debating and many other activities.[21][22]

A group of Sanawarians have entered the record books as they are the youngest team and the first school in the world to have conquered Mt. Everest. These teenagers ranged between the ages of 15 and 16. One of the climbers is the youngest Asian and the second-youngest person in the world to scale Mt. Everest.


The school motto, "Never give in"
  • 1848—1863: Rev. W. J. Parker[11]
  • 1864—1886: Rev. J. Cole[12]
  • 1886—1912: Rev. A. H. Hildersley[23]
  • 1912—1932: Rev. G. D. Barne, later Bishop of Lahore[24][25]
  • 1932—1947: Mrs Violet May Tilley[citation needed]
  • 1947—1956: E. G. Carter, MA (Cantab.)[26]
  • 1956—1970: Major Ravi Somdutt[27]
  • 1970  : Trevor C Kemp (acting)
  • 1970—1973: B. R. Pasricha
  • 1973—1974: Bhupendra Singh (acting)
  • 1974—1988: Shomie Ranjan Das, economist[28]
  • 1988—1995: Sumer B. Singh[citation needed]
  • 1995—1999: Dr Harish Dhillon OS[29]
  • 1999—2000: Mrs Rene A. Solomon (acting)[30]
  • 2000—2003: Andrew Gray[17]
  • 2003 (May to September): Derek Mountford (acting)[30]
  • 2003—2004: Professor Gautam Chatterjee[30][31]
  • 2005—2014: Praveen Vasisht OS
  • 2014 - 2016: Ms. Shonu Mukherjee (Offg.)
  • 2016–Present: Mr. Vinay Pande[21]

Notable alumni[edit]

Sanawar's former pupils are known as "Old Sanawarians", "OS" for short

Shubham Kaushik(17) on the summit of Mt.Everest

Public life[edit]

Armed services[edit]

Law and Justice[edit]



Performing arts[edit]


Sukhmani Tiwana IPS officer

In fiction[edit]

In Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim (1901), a priest called Father Victor proposes that the central character, the boy Kim, should be sent to Sanawar, of which he says "It's miraculous beyond all whooping" and adds "We'll make a man of you at Sanawar - even at the price o' making you a Protestant".[17][65]

Further reading[edit]

  • H. M. Lawrence, The Lawrence Military Asylum: being a brief account of the past ten years of the existence and progress of the institution established in the Himalayas by the late Sir H. M. Lawrence for the orphan and other children of European soldiers (1858; reissued by Kessinger Publishing, 2010)
  • Harish Dhillon, Rathin Mitra, Sanawar: the Lawrence School sesquicentenary, 1847-1997 (Lawrence School, Sanawar, 1997), 120 pp.
  • Manju Khan, K. J. Parel, Sanawar: a Legacy (Lawrence School, Sanawar, 1997) 248 pp.


  1. ^
  2. ^ main page of (official school website). Retrieved 6 March 2012
  3. ^ a b A. C. C. DeRenzy, 'Report on the Lawrence Military Asylum', Appendix III to Report on the sanitary administration of the Punjab (Punjab Medical Department, 1870), paragraphs 6 to 10 at pp. 46A & 47A: "His Honour will be surprised to hear that the children are subject to a very high sickness and death-rate, but such is the fact ...a considerable part of the drainage from south aspect of the Sanawar hill flows within a few paces of the place where the spring emerges... The spring is about two miles, from the Asylum... a separate hospital for the treatment of contagious diseases is indispensable."
  4. ^ Sonwara SWO Indian Railway Station Code at Retrieved 14 March 2012
  5. ^ Rahul Singh, Sanawar headmaster sacks bursar The Times of India dated 23 June 2004, The Times of India. Retrieved 22 March 2012
  6. ^ a b c d e Dane Keith Kennedy, The Magic Mountains: hill stations and the British raj (1996), p. 136
  7. ^ Edward Backhouse Eastwick, ed., Handbook of the Punjab, western Rajputana, Kashmir, and upper Sindh (John Murray, 1883), p. 172: "In April, 1847, Mrs. George Lawrence arrived at Sanawar with 14 girls and boys, and Surgeon Healy acted as superintendent."
  8. ^ a b c d Outlook (Hathway Investments Pvt Ltd, 1997), p. 98
  9. ^ Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research vol. 81 (issues 325-328) (London: Society for Army Historical Research, 2003), p. : "After discussing the merits of a suitable site with Hodson and others it was decided that the school would be established on the hill of Sanawar, near Kasauli. This ideal location afforded the necessary requisites: isolation, ample space, water, a good altitude, and all not too far from British troops."
  10. ^ Hodson of Hodson's Horse in The Sanawar News Letter, 1 May 1997 edition. Retrieved 22 March 2012
  11. ^ a b 'Photocopies and transcripts of extracts from diaries and papers of Maj-Gen William Clive Justice (1835-1908): 11: Copy of letter from Sir Henry Lawrence to Rev W. J. Parker' at India Office select materials Mss Photo Eur 433, web site of the British Library. Retrieved 10 March 2012
  12. ^ a b Mark Harrison, Public Health in British India: Anglo-Indian Preventive Medicine (1994), p. 263
  13. ^ a b c d e f Ajay Sura, Few Sanawarians want to join Army from The Times of India dated 4 December 2011, online at Retrieved 25 April 2012
  14. ^ Mohinder Singh vs Union Of India (15 May, 1968); AIR 1969 Delhi 170 at Retrieved 15 March 2012
  15. ^ Letter No. F. 19-51/53-H 3, dated 18 June 1954, from the Under Secretary to the Government, Ministry of Education, stated that the President of the Republic of India had been pleased to transfer to the Society's Board, at no charge, the movable and immovable properties of the School, as at 1 October 1952.
  16. ^ Issue date 04/10/1997, Serial Number 1738
  17. ^ a b c d Baljit Malik, Sanawar: a school at odds with itself in The Tribune dated 1 May 2003, The Tribune. Retrieved 22 March 2012
  18. ^ HMC Schools: International Members Archived 15 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine. at Retrieved 18 March 2012
  19. ^ Global Member Schools Archived 18 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine. at Retrieved 14 March 2012
  20. ^ a b Salaried class shying away, The Times of India, 4 July 2004. Retrieved 10 March 2012
  21. ^ a b Sanawar celebrates Founder's Day from The Tribune dated 5 October 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2012
  22. ^ The Sanawar News Letter dated 1 May 1997, online edition at Retrieved 22 March 2012
  23. ^ Oakden Papers Archived 25 November 2001 at the Library of Congress Web Archives at University of Cambridge's Centre of South Asian Studies web site Retrieved 11 March 2012
  24. ^ A. J. Appasamy, Sundar Singh (2002), p. 225
  25. ^ Calcutta Review (University of Calcutta, 1936) p. 214: "G. D. Barne, Bishop of Lahore, to succeed the late Dr. A. C. Woolner as Vice-Chancellor of the Punjab University. From 1912 until his selection as Bishop in 1932, he was Principal of the Lawrence Royal Military School, Sanawar."
  26. ^ India Today, vol. 17 (Thomson Living Media India Ltd, 1992) p. 27
  27. ^ a b Prabhsharan Singh Kang, Leadership through Initiative and Innovation A Case Study on Sanawar at Retrieved 7 March 2012
  28. ^ Rajendra Pal Singh, Educating the Indian elite (Sterling Publishers, 1989), p. 110 & Appendix VII
  29. ^ Harish Dhillon Retrieved 22 March 2012
  30. ^ a b c Amit Chaudhry, New principal in, Lawrence shuts out controversy The Indian Express. Retrieved 22 March 2012
  31. ^ Geetanjali Gayatri, Sanawar school to re-assess all Gautam's appointments in The Tribune dated 16 December 2004. Retrieved 22 March 2012
  32. ^ a b c Lawrence School founders day from Retrieved 7 March 2012
  33. ^ Vipin Pubby, Badal vs Badal at Retrieved 6 March 2012
  34. ^ a b c d Hemal Ashar, 'Ragging a reflection of our brutal world' at Retrieved 7 March 2012
  35. ^ Lawrence School, Sanawar alumni The Times of India. Retrieved 26 March 2012
  36. ^ Chief Election Commissioner of India Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. at Retrieved 14 March 2012
  37. ^ Anand Bodh, Bhutan king to wed Sanawar girl dated 22 May 2011, from Times of India at Retrieved 14 March 2012
  38. ^ a b Himachal Pradesh Residential schools: Smart learning The Tribune. Retrieved 11 March 2012
  39. ^ Arun Khetarpal Archived 31 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine. on Indian army's site,
  40. ^ Manjeet Sehgal Warrior, Omar given school crown dated 8 October 2004 in The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 April 2012
  41. ^ "Genenral".  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  42. ^ M. Prabha, The waffle of the toffs: a sociocultural critique of Indian writing in English (Oxford & IBH Publishing, 2000), p. 130
  43. ^ 'TALWAR, Rana Gurvirendra Singh, born 22 March 1948' in Who's Who 2012 (London: A. & C. Black, 2011)
  44. ^ Wadia Family Retrieved 11 March 2012
  45. ^ Preity Zinta, Ness Wadia, Karan Paul, Mohit Burman from The Times of India dated 2 April 2008, at Retrieved 6 March 2012
  46. ^ Geetanjali Kirloskar at Sanawar's Alumni meet on Sunday, February 3, 2008 at dated 10 February 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2012
  47. ^ Mandeep Sodhi, president and CEO of IT staffing company Select Source International, MEDA's Entrepreneur of the Year, has pursued learning and helping others through multiple ventures Archived 18 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine. June 10, 2012 at Retrieved 26 June 2014
  48. ^ Ajeet Bajaj says the school motto kept him going The Indian Express
  49. ^ Shiva Keshavan Archived 24 February 2001 at the Wayback Machine. at
  50. ^ Profile of Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Indian Shooter in CWG 2010 Archived 13 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 13 March 2012
  51. ^ "Axe on Everest: Sanawar boys on top of the world". The Tribune. May 22, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  52. ^ Sanjay's Life at Retrieved 18 March 2012
  53. ^ Anshul Chaturvedi, My father was the last of his kind: Saif Ali Khan dated 8 November 2011 at Retrieved 6 March 2012
  54. ^ Nisheeth Sharan’s "Grillopollis" hosts Sanawar’s reunion over its first preview dated 23 October 2010 at Retrieved 11 March 2012
  55. ^ Anubha Sawhney, Pooja Bedi: The siege within from The Times of India, 1 June 2003. Retrieved 6 March 2012
  56. ^ Priya Gill, Who's Who dated 6 July 2009, at Retrieved 13 March 2012
  57. ^ Geetika Sasan Bhandari, Where the hills come alive dated 16 July 2010 at Retrieved 11 March 2012
  58. ^ Iqbal Khan The King Khan of Indian Television Industry studied in Lawrence School Sanwar
  59. ^ Sanawarians in the film industry
  60. ^ Daily Open Forums Retrieved 14 March 2012
  61. ^ Geetika Sasan Bhandari, Sanawarians, they never gave in! dated 6 October 2001, The Times of India. Retrieved 13 March 2012
  62. ^ Baba Gurinder Singh Ji at Retrieved 14 March 2012
  63. ^ N. D., This sohni kurhi is going places from The Tribune at Retrieved 25 March 2012
  64. ^ New principal takes charge at Mayo College dated 11 April 2010 from The Times of India. Retrieved 25 March 2012
  65. ^ Rudyard Kipling, Kim (1901; reprinted by Wildside Press, 2010), p. 81

External links[edit]