19th Century Photography

Entrance to the large mosque of Jumma Masjid, Delhi

The Jama Masjid, Delhi was built between 1650 and 1658 by Shah Jahan in Shahjahanabad. The Sanctuary’s main facade consists of five arches on either side of a massive central lawn. It is built in red sandstone with decorations in white and black marble. The minarets have white marble stripes inlaid while the domes feature… Read more »

The Palace interior of the Dewan-i-Khas, Delhi

The Diwan-e-Khas is inside the Red Fort, which was built between 1639 and 1648 CE by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan at his newly minted capital, Shahjahanabad. With its white marble pavilions inlaid with precious gemstones, Diwan-e-Khas was reserved for meetings between the Emperor and courtiers, government officials and foreign dignitaries. The famous Peacock Throne… Read more »

Dancing Girl, Western India

This is a portrait of an unidentified dancer from Western India.  The dancer is photographed seated against a very peculiar wallpaper. She holds a hand-held fan in one hand and a small bowl in the other. She is dressed in a very simplistic style with a zari bordered sari and wears minimum jewellery. This photograph… Read more »

Dancer and Musicians, Bombay

This is a photograph of an unidentified nautch party in Bombay. It was taken by a French photographer Eugene Auguste Taurines who was active in Bombay from the mid-1880s to around 1901 and ran a studio in the city.  Starting around the Mughal era, entourages of dancing girls performed for rulers and chieftains, not only… Read more »

The Nautch Bungalow, Shalimar, Srinuggur

This photograph of the Nautch Bungalow at the Shalimar garden in Kashmir was taken by Samuel Bourne in the late 19th century. The Nautch Bungalow stands in Shalimar Bagh, Kashmir built by Jahangir for his beloved wife Noor Jahan in 1616. The garden is one of the few surviving Mughal gardens, based on the Persian… Read more »

General hill view, Landour

Located in the delightful mountainous region of present-day Uttarakhand, Landour in the early 19th century was a place where a long-term care facility (infirmary) was constructed for the British Indian Army. The area ultimately evolved into an important British cantonment. Thomas Rust first appears credited as a photographer in 1869 as an assistant to FW… Read more »

Panoramic view, Bombay

This is a 2-part panoramic view of Bombay (Mumbai) from the late 19th – early 20th century by and unidentified photographer. Read about the birth of commercial photography in 19th-century Bombay here.

The Gol Goomuz (Gumbad), Beejapoor (Bijapur), General View

A keen amateur photographer and a member of the Bombay Photographic Society in 1854, Colonel Thomas H Biggs actually had a pretty serious day job. He joined as an officer of the Bombay Artillery in 1841 and was later made captain. In 1855, the Bombay government commissioned him to document the architectural and archaeological sites… Read more »

Bene Israel teachers, Bombay

The subjects of this photograph belong to the historic community of Jews in India known as ‘Bene Israel’. Dressed in traditional attire, they are teachers of the Free Church of Scotland’s Mission School and the Jewish English School in Bombay, British India. This photograph was originally published between 1855-1862 in Photographs of Western India, Volume I,… Read more »

Cashmere Gate by Felice Beato

The Sarmaya collection holds an extensive range of Felice Beato’s work depicting the aftermath of the Uprising of 1857 in places like Delhi, Lucknow and Kanpur, which bore the brunt of the violence. The devastation of Kashmere Gate in Delhi was one of the landmark moments that marked the beginning of the revolution’s end. Felice… Read more »