Letter, Gulam Muhammad Sultan Sahib to Captain Peacock , 1868

This is a letter written by Prince Ghulam Muhammad Sultan, the fourteenth son of Tipu Sultan (1751-1799), the ruler of Mysore. The letter, dated 21st August 1868, is addressed to a British government official, Captain Peacock. After Tipu Sultan’s defeat in Seringapatam, the British deported the Sultan’s remaining family members to Calcutta. Prince Ghulam Muhammad… 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 »

Koninkryk van Bengale (Kingdom of 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 »

Armenian Ghat on the Hoogly River, Calcutta

This image shows the Armenian Ghat by the Hooghly River. It is said to have been built in 1734 by Manvel Hazaar Maliyan, an Armenian Trade merchant. The Armenians came to Bengal in the 16th century CE, during the Mughal rule, for commercial purposes and established a settlement much before the British East India Company… Read more »

Chowringhee street, Calcutta

This view looks east from across the Maidan and the Chowringhee road with a clear landscape of the public buildings and private houses. Chowringhee Road was one of the Maidan’s major streets, and one of Calcutta’s broadest avenues. It was almost two miles in length and about eighty feet in width, with houses on one… Read more »

View of Government House, Calcutta

This view looks north-west from the Ochterlony Monument across the maidan towards the Government House and building along the Esplanade row. The image also captures other important buildings partly visible in the background, such as the General Post Office, the Writers’ Building, and St. John’s Church. In the 1760s, the establishing years of the East… Read more »

View of the Maidan, Calcutta

This picture shows the north side of the vast open space, known as the Maidan, in the centre of Calcutta, bordered by Chowringhee Road. The Maidan is surrounded by the city’s main public buildings, such as the Government House, on the far left behind the Ochterlony Monument, now called the Shahid Minar. Open spaces were… Read more »

Banyan tree at the botanical garden, Calcutta

This picture shows a view of the famous vast-spreading Banyan tree at the Botanical Garden, situated on the west bank of the Hooghly river in Calcutta. The garden was established in 1787 as “Company Bagan” by Colonel Robert Kyd, a horticulture enthusiast, who worked as the secretary of the Military Board at Fort William. Botanist… Read more »

Northern India including the Presidency of Calcutta

This is a decorative, mid-19th century map of Northern India drawn and engraved by J. Rapkin (vignettes by A. H. Wray & J. H. Kernot) and published in John Tallis’s Illustrated Atlas (London & New York: John Tallis & co, c.1851). The Illustrated Atlas, published from 1849 to 1853, was the last decorative world atlas.… 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 »

View of the Kali Ghat, Calcutta

The Kalighat area first finds its mention in the 15th century Bengali text, Manasā-Vijaya, written by poet Bipradas Pipilai. It is also mentioned in a 16th century literary work Chandimangala by Mukundaram Chakrabarti. Kalighat was also established as a pilgrimage centre after legend placed a fragment of Sati’s body here, near the Ganges and since… Read more »

Kali Ghat, Calcutta

This is an image of a bridge over Tolly Nullah at Kalighat in Calcutta  by Samuel Bourne. Warren Hastings, the Governor General of India from 1773 – 1785, had acquired permission in 1763 to build a suspension bridge over Tolly Nullah which was to connect Kalighat to his garden house in Alipore. It was later… Read more »

La Mode De Calcutta

The fashion evolution and textile legacy of Calcutta and the Bengal Presidency

Tipu Sultan Mosque, Calcutta

This photograph shows the Tipu Sultan Mosque in Calcutta.  For several years in the 18th century, Tipu Sultan fought the East India Company’s formidable imperial policies with the help of his French alliance. He died in 1799, during the fourth and final Anglo-Mysore War that resulted in the fall of Seringapatam.  After defeat in 1798,… Read more »

Temple of Bansberia, Hugli

This picture shows the temple of Bansberia, also known as the Hangseswari temple,  in the Hugli district of West Bengal.  In 1792, Raja Nrisinhadeb Rai Mahasai of Bansberia came to Varanasi for retirement. Here, he approved a significant amount of money to raise a temple dedicated to Goddess Hamsesvari, an avatar of Goddess Kali, in Bansberia.  He… Read more »

Government House south front, Calcutta

This is a photograph shows the Government House in Calcutta which became the Raj Bhavan of West Bengal after Independence. The Government House was built between 1799 and 1803 as the official residence of the Governor of Fort William, the 1st Marquess Wellesley, and remained the residence of the British Governors-General till 1911. The building’s… Read more »