Salt of the Sarkar brings Hidden History to Life

This post was written by Dominic Rai. Dominic is co-director, with Caroline Goffin, of Salt of the Sarkar.

Salt of the Sarkar brings Hidden History to life with: A Pop-up Exhibition, Public events and Mulk Raj Anand’s classic novel Across the Black Waters at Insole Court, Autumn 2018

The autumn has been an amazing period for Salt of the Sarkar project as we shared our work in Wales for the first time. We had the privilege of presenting our first exhibition in November, with our new partners Insole Court, Cardiff at their beautifully restored Edwardian house. It was a photographic exhibition of rarely seen images of the Undivided Indian Soldiers in 1914, taken by pioneer press photographer Horace Grant.

These images were first seen by the general public in the Daily Mirror over 100 years ago. They document the Indian soldiers’ arrival from India in September, their onward journey from sunny Marseilles to the wet and freezing cold of the front line in Flanders, to fight for Britain during WW1.

I’m delighted the exhibition has been so well received. I’ve had many lovely comments passed to me including on written feedback card saying: ‘The thought of these Indian soldiers bravely serving alongside my grandfather makes me very proud!’ ‘Salt of the Sarkar’ is a wonderful project, and Insole Court is proud to be a part of it. The ‘pop-up’ exhibition is an important first step in connecting our visitors to an often overlooked piece of our history while also providing a platform for telling our own stories of the Insole family. The response from visitors has been overwhelmingly positive, and as a consequence, we’ve chosen to extend its display to reach an even greater audience. We look forward to revisiting ‘Salt of the Sarkar in 2019 as the project develops.
Gray Hill, Director Insole Court

Thank you so much for a really interesting presentation today at Insole Court. I enjoyed very much both of your talks and the amazing photo’s.
Rona Couper, Audience Member at Remembrance Day event at Insole Court


Sharing the story of Indian soldiers in WW1 with young people, is one of our primary aims.

The Head Teacher of Kitchener Primary School attended our presentation hosted by Firing Line Museum at Cardiff Castle last summer. The school invited us to deliver interactive workshops with year five pupils, and together we presented the output to the whole school at their Remembrance Day assembly.

A huge thank you for your work with 5 and the Remembrance Day Assembly. The focus on the role of soldiers from India was entirely appropriate for our school and clearly resonated with our children.
I hope that we can continue our partnership in the future.

Ruth Jackson, Head Teacher

At the heart of the Salt of the Sarkar project is the novel Across the Black Waters by Mulk Raj Anand, first published in 1940. This novel is the only work of fiction by a major Indian author depicting the stories and lives of the Indian soldiers in WW1 fighting for Britain. With the re-publishing of the WW1 centenary edition, we want to reach a new generation with this story which has been forgotten, and ignored for over 100 years. The novel is as relevant today as it was when it was first published. It is an amazing story of valour and sacrifice with a vital message for our times.

Despite their differences in religion, ethnicity and language, over one million Indian soldiers fought together alongside British and allied soldiers in the First World War. The novel is written from the point of view of an ordinary Indian soldier, Lalu. We learn what it was like for a young soldier travelling 5000 miles from his home to fight in a foreign war. Through Lalu we experience his excitement, the horrors, the sadness and the fear that was the fate of all soldiers during The Great War. The WW1 centenary edition of Across the Black Waters by Mulk Raj Anand was launched at the House of Commons in October 2014. The event was chaired by John McDonnell MP and supported by cross party MPs.


The book Across the Black Waters is available for sale at the Insole Court gift shop:, or direct from the publisher Shalimar Books

To find out more contact us at: or call Dominic on 07519 634 282

Image credits:  Salt of the Sarkar