Sarla Thakral: Brave and Valiant Lady

OV Digital Desk
3 Min Read
Sarla Thakral

At his point in time, women are standing tall and on par with the male; however, in the past women have fought vehemently to seek the right of respect and dignity. At moment, women are in the sky, women are in the defence, women are in space. Almost a century ago, the reality was very different and someone, who were capable to challenge the zenith of the challenges were looked upon with an eye of amazement. Sarla Thakral was one of the legends who touched the sky in 1936.

Early life

She was born on 8 August 1914 in New Delhi, India. She married P D Sharma at an age of 16. Sarla Thakral was the first Indian woman to fly. She received her license to fly in 1936. At that time, she was 21 and also taking care of her four-year-old daughter. With encouragement from her husband, P D Sharma, and her father-in-law she pursued the flying license. Her husband’s family had nine pilots and the situation has given encouragement to pursue the same.  In one of her interviews, she said,

“In fact, it wasn’t so much my husband. My father-in-law was even more enthusiastic and got me enrolled in the flying club,” says Sarla and adds,” I knew I was breaching a strictly male bastion, but I must say the men, they never made me feel out of place.”

She received her “A” license once she accumulated the expertise of flying for more than 1000 hours. Sarla was the first Indian woman to get an “A” license and airmail pilot’s license.

She continued her pursuit for a “B” license that could authorise her to fly as a commercial pilot. While in the training, in 1939, her husband died in a crash. The tragedy shook her to the core, and she has to abandon the idea of flying and getting a license in the future.


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Change in course

She had been consistently looking ahead in the future despite all kind of difficulties. She returned to Lahore and enrolled in Mayo School of Art where she learned the Bengal School of Painting and took a diploma in fine arts. Along with paintings she also began designing clothes and costume jewellery.

Thukral was an ardent follower of the Arya Samaj, a spiritual community dedicated to following the teachings of the Vedas. After Partition, Sarla moved to New Delhi with her children and later she married R.P Thakral in 1948.


She supplied her jewellery designs to several cottage industries for over 20 years. She had also started textile printing and her sari prints were a rage with the fashionable crowd.

He died on She died on 15 March 2008.

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