18th century

The City of Kochi located on the coast of Malabar

This map, whose title translates to The City of Kochi located on the coast of Malabar, was created in the early 1700s to help sea-traders travelling from other regions to Coetsjien (Kochi). The map was a hand-coloured copper engraving by Francois Valentijn, an explorer and naturalist from the Netherlands who wrote about the history of… Read more »

India (Northern Part)

This map titled ‘India (northern Part)’ highlights the northern divisions of territory into presidencies and native states. The Bengal Presidency is marked in red including the lieutenant-governorships of the North-West provinces, Oudh, Punjab and Central Provinces; Bombay Presidency is marked in green, Madras in Yellow and native states in orange. After significant territorial acquisitions were… Read more »

Bengal

This map by Dutch publisher Pieter van der Aa is from his book, Royaumma de Grand Mogol, published in Paris in 1729. It is based on William Baffin’s map, ‘INDOISTANI A Description of East India, conteyninge th’ Empire of The Great Mogoll,’ that was published in 1619. Baffin’s map was the first modern map of… Read more »

Carte Du Bengale (Map of Bengal)

This map, Carte Du Bengale, is attributed to Arkstée & Merkus, but it is based on a map by French geographer Loui Brion de la Tour, who also made the Atlas Géneral, Civil et Ecclésiastique’, 1766, and ‘Atlas Général’, 1790-98. The eighteenth century was a time of conflict between the English and French in both… Read more »

Vorder Indien

This map, Vorder Indien, depicts the various European territories in India in 1857. British territories are marked in light red and French and Portugese territories in white. Colour is important in communicating ideas on a map, but the use of it is more recent. For long, maps were made in black ink and printed on… Read more »

The Costume of Hindostan

East India Company was a highly influential force in Britain by the end of the 18th century. It was fabulously wealthy, and the British leaders were among its stockholders. Naturally, then, there was curiosity among the ordinary Britons about the people in a faraway land whose politics and culture was suddenly part of the national… Read more »

Illustrations to Oriental Memoirs

The first wave of European immigrants included sailors, emissaries, merchants, and the armed forces, people who could seize the land; the next wave included physicians, cartographers, botanists, and naturalists, people who could research it. In the hope of finding new medicines and new sources of revenue, they studied Indian plants, and created or commissioned thousands… Read more »

The Oriental Annual, or, Scenes in India

It’s a word that makes us cringe today, but the ‘Orient’ was a place of infinite charm for artists of Victorian England. To them, the British colonies of the East were exotic regions of smouldering intrigue, where dark-eyed, inscrutable people went about their mysterious ways. Of course, now we know this attitude to be ignorant—at… Read more »

Clock Tower and Town Hall, Chandni Chowk, Delhi

The Town Hall building was built around 1863 and, until the end of the British Raj, it also served as museum, durbar room and library for the European residents. This classic Edwardian structure continued to serve as the seat of Delhi’s Municipal Corporation until 2009, after which it was relocated to a new civic centre.… Read more »

Sunehri Masjid, Delhi

The Sunheri Masjid in Chandni Chowk was built in 1721 by Mughal nobleman Roshan-ud-Daula Zafar Khan. In 1739, Persian king Nader Shah invaded Delhi leaving the city in ruins. It is said that he arrived at Sunheri Masjid on the morning of 22 March 1739, stood on its roof, drew his sword and holding it… Read more »

Silver 2 Royalin (Fanon) of Pondicherry Mint

The French period in Pondicherry began in 1673 with the establishment of the French Trading Centre. From then on Pondicherry became the chief Indian settlement for the French, who stayed here for 138 years. It was captured by the Dutch and British for short periods of time, but the French always took it back. As… Read more »

Muhammad Shah, Silver Rupee of Kolhapur Mint

In the years following Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, the lustre of the Mughal empire began to dull. Territories shrunk as three emperors came and went, dispatched speedily by enemies and influential noblemen. But even in these uncertain times, one managed stay on and reign for 29 years. Roshan Akhtar Muhammad Shah, popularly known as Rangeela,… Read more »

A Plan of The Country Near Tritchinapoly

In 18th-century warfare, before you sent in the soldiers, you had to send for the cartographer. This military map by Thomas Kitchin, for instance, served as a tool not only to orient troops to an alien landscape, but also as a journal of sorts with a wealth of information on camp locations, dates and strategic routes. This is not a document you want getting into enemy hands.

Les Indes Orientales

Gilles Robert de Vaugondy, along with his son Didier, were map publishers, engravers and cartographers active in the Paris of mid-18th century. They are well-known today for the detail and accuracy of their maps, where they excellently used all material and resources available to produce the most “fantasy-free” maps possible..

Map of the Coasts of Malabar, Coromandel and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)

Johann Baptist Homann was a German cartographer, geographer, publisher and engraver of the mid-17th century. His family business was perhaps the most famous German map publishing firm in the world at the time. Their company, Homann Heirs, was functional till the late 1800s. Homann was also appointed Imperial Geographer by the emperor, Charles VI.

Srirangapatna; Palace of Tipu Sultan

This is a Johnson and Henderson image showing the Dariya Daulat Bagh built by Tipu Sultan in his capital city of Seringapatnam, Karnataka. It is a low wooden structure with a collonaded porch around it, and was used by Tipu Sultan as his summer palace.

Srirangapatam; The Mosque of Tipu Sultan

This is the Jami Masjid built in 1728 by Tipu Sultan in his capital of Seringapatnam. The mosque is characterised by two octagonal minarets that are double storied and crowned by domes.

Poona (now Pune), The Joona Warra

This photograph taken in the 1860s shows the imposing walls of Shaniwar Wada, which was once the royal residence of the Peshwas. In 1828 a great fire started inside the palace complex tarnished most of the fort, leaving only the heavy granite ramparts, teak gateways and some building ruins. The view looks towards the entrance… Read more »

Map of the Mughal Empire

This map of Mughal India created by Matthew Seuter in 1745 is titled Imperii Magni Mogolis. The map charts out the extent of the Mughal Empire, extending to Persia and Kandahar (In the west) and Burma and Thailand (In the east). To the south it extends to the Malabar coasts and also points out the… Read more »

Farrukhsiyar, Gold Fanam

The great-grandson of Aurangzeb is best known for setting a series of unfortunate events in motion. Thanks to Muhammed Farrukhsiyar’s tenuous hold on the throne of the empire, his reign (1713 to 1719 CE) marked a crucial shift in power from the emperor to the court ministers or kingmakers. The ones in question here were… Read more »