Skip to main content

N L Char Papers

Identifier: MS-015

Content Description

The NL Char Collection is a small donation consisting of a handful of letters, certificates, official documents, newspaper clippings, an essay, ephemera and artefacts that are arranged into the following series:

Series 1: Personal

Series 2: Administration

Series 3: Correspondence

Series 4: Writings

Series 5: Media coverage

Series 6: Ephemera

Series 7: Artefacts

Personal contains records of Char’s school and college education, as well as some information about subsequent training. It also includes a brief biodata prepared by Char as well as a detailed personnel form for the IAEA which includes details of Char’s roles and specific projects that he worked on in the course of his career. Given the limited amount of material in this collection and about NL Char generally in the public domain, this personnel form provides an interesting snapshot of Char’s work life. This series also includes ephemera such as a business card, id card and pension booklet. This series has no sub-series.

Correspondence contains letters exchanged about promotion, retirement, and invitations to the anniversary of the reactor he helped build at Kalpakkam. This series has no sub-series.

Administration contains memoranda related to appointment, promotion, and retirement. This series has no sub-series.

Writings contains an essay authored by Char about his role in India’s nuclear programme; it offers a broad view of the early years of India’s nuclear programme, mentioning colleagues and key figures. This series has no sub-series.

Media coverage contains two newspaper clippings in which Char is mentioned. This series has no sub-series.

Ephemera contains published material created by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam about the different aspects of the fast breeder test reactor (that Char played a pivotal role in building and operating), some of it commemorating anniversaries of the reactor’s commissioning. It also includes a 2006 paper about the functioning of the reactor authored by engineers at IGCAR. This series has no sub-series.

Artefacts contains two pewter medals commemorating 10 years of the Phénix reactor in the Rhone Valley, France. This series has no sub-series.


  • Creation: 1943 - 2010


Nandyal Lakshmana Char was a nuclear engineer who headed the construction of India’s first fast breeder test reactor at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu, and went on to head the Nuclear Power Division of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

Born on 4 September 1928, in Pavagada, Tumkur district, in the erstwhile state of Mysore, he attended school in Kurnool in the erstwhile state of Madras. He obtained a Bachelor of Science (Physics) degree in 1948, and a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) degree in 1952, both from the University of Madras. In 1955, he was appointed to the Department of Atomic Energy and worked as part of an engineering team under Homi J Bhabha that designed and constructed APSARA, India’s first nuclear reactor, in Trombay.

Char was also involved in the installation and commissioning of ZERLINA, a zero energy experimental reactor, and in the mechanical design of an experimental organic cooled heavy water moderated natural uranium reactor, both at Trombay. During the course of his career, he went through training stints at the Argonne National Laboratory in the US and at the CANDU reactor at Douglas Point in Canada and spent time at Cadarache in France to understand the operation of the Rapsodie and Phénix reactors. In the 1970s he was involved in the construction of the fast breeder test reactor at the Reactor Research Centre (RRC – in 1985 renamed the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research) in Kalpakkam. In 1983 he was appointed Group Director for Engineering Projects at RRC, including the fast breeder test reactor – for which he was in-charge of commissioning and operating – and the Kalpakkam Reprocessing Plant. In 1985, he proceeded on foreign service to join the IAEA as head of its Nuclear Power Division. In 1988, he retired from both the DAE and the IAEA.

NL Char passed away in Mysore on 13 October 2021.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 Hollinger-style box)

Language of Materials



NL Char’s papers were organised by his family after his death in 2021. The original order cannot be found, hence the Archives has applied an order, and folders within series are arranged in chronological order. See Scope and Content section for further details on the series and subseries.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was given to Deepika S by Maya Iyengar, NL Char’s daughter, on her behalf as well as that of her brother Raghunandan L. Char, on 30 January 2023. The material was handed over at the home of their relative in Indiranagar, Bangalore.

Condition Description

The collection is mostly in good condition. Some letters and certificates appear to be fragile and in need of conservation.

Deepika S
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives at NCBS Repository

National Centre for Biological Sciences - Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Bangalore Karnataka 560065 India
+9180 6717 6010
+9180 6717 6011