19th Century Photography

Qadam Rasul Mosque, Gaur

Built by Sultan Nusrat Shah in 1513 to house a stone representation of the footprint of the Prophet Mohammed, the Qadam Rasul Mosque is a one-domed square building located within the fort enclosure of Gaur. The relic, believed to have been originally brought by a saint from Arabia, was housed in Pandua before being brought… Read more »

Tantipara Mosque, Gaur

Tantipara, which means weavers quarters, is said to have been locally known as a mosque for Gaur’s weavers, a community essential to the city’s economy because of its location in a muslin-producing area. A brick building of uniform red and ornamented walls, the mosque is considered to have been erected in 1480. This photograph was… Read more »

Firoz Minar, Gaur

Firoz Minar is a five-storey-high structure estimated to have been built in Gaur during the late 15th century by Saifuddin Firuz Shah, the most revered of the Habshi rulers of Bengal. Much like the Qutub Minar, to which it is often compared, the structure was built to be a victory tower. Firuz Shah, known as… Read more »

Dakhil Gate. South View, Gaur

Built of small red bricks and with traces of extravagant ornamentation, the structure in this photograph was once the principal entrance gate to the Fort of Gaur from the north. Estimated to have been constructed in the early 15th century, the gateway is also known as Salami Darwaza, likely because salutes were fired from adjacent… Read more »

View of the High Court, Calcutta

This picture shows the Calcutta High Court building on West Esplanade Row, as seen from across the street. In 1726 the East India Company created the Mayor’s Court, which was a court of record, to settle civil disputes. Consequently, English criminal law was also adopted and quarterly meetings were held by the Governor and five… Read more »

Entrance To Eklakhi Mosque, Gaur

Presumably named Ekhlakhi because it is said to have cost one lakh rupees, this mausoleum in Gaur bears three tombs — considered to be those of Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah, his wife and his son. Shah was the son of Raja Ganesha, a Hindu ruler of Bengal who came to power in 1415, marking the end… Read more »

Old Court House street, Calcutta

This is a photo of the Old Court House Street in Calcutta. This street lies on the eastern side of the Dalhousie Square and in this view you can see St. Andrew’s Church on the north corner of Old Court House Street and Lal Bazaar Street. This photograph is taken by Samuel Bourne in the… Read more »

Lattan or Painted Mosque, Gaur

The Lattan Masjid or Painted Mosque of Gaur, pictured here, was once covered entirely with enameled brickwork in colours of green, yellow, blue and white. It is considered to have been built by Sultan Yusuf Shah, among the last of the Ilyas Shah rulers of Bengal in 1475, as per an inscription found in the… Read more »

Section of Bais Gaji Wall, Gaur

Named Baiz gazi possibly because it measured 22 Bengali gaz (yards) in height, these are the remains of the old palace enclosure located within the Fort of Gaur. The wall is said to have measured 700 yards in length from north to south and 230-300 yard in breadth, encircling the royal residence. The ancient city… Read more »

Esplanade and Government House, Calcutta

This photograph shows the view from the north end of Chowringhee Road, beside the carriage stand, looking north-west across the Dharmatala Tank, towards the façades of the houses along Esplanade Row. The Government House is on the extreme left. The flat-fronted building with a verandah, located behind the premises of William Coish & Co is… Read more »

Shyam Rai Temple, Bishnupur

This picture shows the Shyam Rai Temple, regarded as a structural beauty amongst the Bishnupur Temple Complex in West Bengal. It was built during the reign of Raghunath Singha (1626 – 1656), a Malla King who is recognised to be a patron of art and architecture. The temple is a pancharatha temple with one main… Read more »

The General Post Office, Calcutta

In this picture, the General Post Office of Calcutta with its conspicuous lantern topped dome and facade supported by Corinthian pillars is seen overseeing the tank square in the foreground, known as Lal Dighi today. In 1766, Robert Clive introduced a system where zamindars and landholders were held responsible for the supply of runners to… Read more »

Kotwali Gate, Gaur

The ancient city of Gaur, also known as Gauda, Lakshmanavati, Lakhnauti and Jannatabad, served as the seat of many powerful dynasties over time – the Buddhist Pala kings from the 8th century onwards, the Hindu Sena kings from the 12th century on, eventually falling into the hands of the Delhi Sultanate in 1204. It thrived… Read more »

Corridor Of Golden Mosque, Gaur

The ancient city of Gaur, also known as Gauda, Lakshmanavati, Lakhnauti and Jannatabad, served as the seat of many powerful dynasties over time – the Buddhist Pala kings from the 8th century onwards, the Hindu Sena kings from the 12th century on, eventually falling into the hands of the Delhi Sultanate in 1204. It thrived… Read more »

Imperial Museum (Indian Museum), Calcutta

The history of the Indian Museum, is deeply associated with that of the foundation of the Asiatic Society in Calcutta. When British philologist Sir William Jones formed the Asiatic Society in 1784, he did not specifically address the establishment of a museum as part of the society’s projects. But over time artefacts and specimens started… Read more »

Standing Parsi Statue and the Byculla Hotel, Bombay

The Khada Parsi statue, or the Standing Parsi Statue,  is a memorial fountain dedicated to Seth Cursetjee Manockjee Shroff (1763-1845), a Parsi businessman and educational reformer. He founded the Alexandra’s Girls English Institution which is considered to be one of the first schools dedicated to educating women in 18th century Bombay . Cursetjee’s son commissioned… Read more »

Shah Hamadan Masjid, Srinuggur

The Shah Hamadan or the ‘Khanqah-i-Moualla’ was built as a mosque and shrine to Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani (also known as Shah Hamadan) in the late 14th century. Also called the Amir-i-Kabir (the Great Commander), he was a Persian Sufi saint who played a vital role in spreading Islam in Kashmir. Shah Hamadan was constructed… Read more »

The Black Pagoda, or, Sun Temple, Konark

This photograph depicts the before-restoration ruins of the Sun temple at Konark, in Orissa. Once famous as the Black Pagoda, for the temple resembles the chariot of the Sun God, with 12 wheels and seven horses that represent the number of months in a year/zodiac signs and days in the week. It was built by… Read more »

A General view of Palitana

Built on Mount Shatrunjaya in the town of Palitana, these 863 temples receive millions of visitors each year. Of the 24 Tirthankaras in Jainism, 23 have visited this holy site. The first Tirthankara, Adinath is believed to have preached his first sermon here. The town was ruled by the Gohil family who have ruled parts… Read more »

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

The Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was as much a photographer’s muse two centuries ago as it is today. Construction on this Goan beauty began in 1594 and was completed in 1605. The main attraction inside is the incorrupt body of St Francis Xavier, a 16th-century Jesuit missionary whose work in… Read more »