'Yeh hai Mumbai meri jaan': 30 vintage, black and white photos of Bombay from the last 100 years you need to see as the city goes to polls today
Posted on: 09:56 AM IST Apr 24, 2014
Sculptures of Hindu deities in the Elephanta Caves on Elephanta Island, Bombay (now Mumbai) Harbour, circa 1890. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A view over south Bombay (now Mumbai) from Cumbala Hill, circa 1890. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A Hanuman temple on the Kalbadevi Road in Bombay (now Mumbai), circa 1890. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A view of Rampart Row, Bombay (now Mumbai), with Watson’s Hotel on the right, circa 1890. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Hornby Road in Bombay, circa 1930. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A view of Victoria Station, Mumbai (Bombay), circa 1900. Built in 1888 to a design by Frederick William Stevens, it is now known as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A view of The Municipal Hall in Mumbai (Bombay), circa 1900. Designed by Frederick William Stevens, the building was completed in 1893. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
11th May 1931: L to R, P P Nazir and T H Dastur from Bombay are in the cockpit of a Moth ‘Spirit of St Christopher’ at Brooklands School of Flying. (Photo by A. Hudson/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
21st August 1947: Crowds in the streets of Bombay to see illuminations and fireworks to celebrate the handing over of power in India. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
Circa 1955: A policeman from Guam on Marine Drive, checking a traffic list in front of his Public Works truck, provided by the US Navy Government. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Circa 1955: A poster advertising the film ‘Patat Pawan’ on a street in Bombay. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Circa 1955: A group of children having a ride on a camel in Bombay. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Circa 1955: A man sleeping outside the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Circa 1970: Customers queue outside a dry food shop in Bombay, India. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Police charge demonstrators at the Esplanade Maidan in Bombay with lathis. The protest was organised by the National Congress Party. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
1891: An illustration of Anglo-Indian life on the steps of a Bombay hotel. (Photo by HultonArchive/Illustrated London News/Getty Images)
Circa 1935: Borah Bazaar, Bombay, India. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
14th August 1939: Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion of Royal Ulster Rifles disembarking from a Bristol Bombay aircraft at RAF Yatesbury during one of the largest aerial troop-carrying movements in Britain. The men are bound for manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
16th May 1960: On May 17th, 1960, the performances of the famous Passion plays start again in Oberammergau. Each performance in which 1400 people of Oberammergau take part, lasts for seven hours. Sochiko Nozaki a music student of Tokyo (left) and Gauri Isvaran of Bombay who studies languages, attended the last rehearsal on May 15th. Here, policeman Rudolf Ludwig shows the two students the sights of Oberammergau. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
August 1955: A fisherman, knee deep in water, casting his net just off the shore at the fishing colony of Arnala, about 40 miles from Bombay. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
1910: The Maduraroyal toll-gate at the 8th mile point on the Madras to Bombay trunk road. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1947: The presentation of colours to the Bombay Home Guard, part of the celebrations of Indian Independence Day at Bombay. B G Kher, Bombay Premier, salutes the flag. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
1930: A crowd of demonstrators in conflict with the police during elections at Bombay, India. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1933: Indian cricketers Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu, left (known as C K Nayudu, 1895 – 1967) and Nanik Amarnath Bharadwaj (known as Lala Bharadwaj 1911 – 2000) coming out to bat during the First Test Match against England in Bombay. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
Circa 1915: Trams passing the grand facade of Victoria Railway Station in Bombay. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
Circa 1912: A sea angling festival in progress on Marine Drive, Scarborough. (Photo by Alfred Hind Robinson/A H Robinson/Getty Images)
1st May 1963: A little girl balancing on a fellow beggar’s hand on a street in Bombay. (Photo by Mike Geary/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Circa 1930: A Bombay shopkeeper snatches a rest. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
Sex workers kept behind bars in a red light district of Bombay. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
Indian statesmen Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1869 – 1948) and Jawaharlal Nehru (1869 – 1964) (left), known as Pandit Nehru, in conversation at the All-India Congress committee meeting at Bombay. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
Days of the Raj: Huge collection of photographs depicting life in India a century ago are found in a shoebox
- 178 plate-glass negatives discovered inside a size-nine Peter Lord box in Edinburgh
- Some images were taken in 1912, archivists confirm
- Unknown photographer may have been British civil servant in Calcutta
This is just one of many photographs showing life in India at least a century ago - and they were all found in a shoebox.
One image shows buildings in the city of Calcutta lit up over the Lal Dighi body of water, commemorating a British royal visit, while another depicts ships arriving at the Chandpal Ghat, the main landing site for visitors to the city along the Hooghly River.
All 178 of the plate-glass negatives were found inside a size-nine Peter Lord shoebox by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) in Edinburgh.
A tennis party poses (one, far right, with a pipe) among tea trolleys in this photo taken in India around a century ago
Two men stick dance in front of a crowd in Maidan, Calcutta. The dance represents a mock fight between legendary warrior Durga and the mighty demon king Mahishasura
Buildings on the south-east side of Lal Dighi, Calcutta, lit at night for the 1912 British royal visit by King George V and Queen Mary. All 178 images were found in a Peter Lord shoebox in Edinburgh and are about 100 years old
Archivists have confirmed some of the images were definitely taken in 1912, when the royals visited. It was the only trip by a British monarch to India as Emperor of the subcontinent
King George V and the Queen arrive in Delhi in 1911
Archivists at RCAHMS have already confirmed that some of the images were definitely taken in 1912, when King George V and Queen Mary visited Calcutta. It was the only visit by a British monarch to India as Emperor of the subcontinent.
Some of the photographs show the city's buildings lit up at night in tribute to the royal visit.
Little else is known about the images and the photographer, prompting a search for clues as to his or her identity.
One theory is that the photographer was a British civil servant in Calcutta, or was connected to the jute trade, as many Scots were said to be at the time.
There is a Scottish cemetery in the city that dates back to the time of the British Raj, which has recently been cleaned up and recorded.
RCAHMS hopes that members of the public and photography enthusiasts might be able to shed more light on this discovery.
An unknown man and woman pose for the camera. The images - all plate-glass negatives - were discovered by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland in Edinburgh
A crowded riverside with bathers at Chandpal Ghat in Calcutta, the main landing site for visitors to the city along the Hooghly River
A street scene in an unknown location, capturing life in India at least a century ago
Claire Sorensen, RCAHMS architectural historian, said: 'We don't know for sure how they came to be in our collection because we receive archive material from countless different sources, ranging from the archives kept by architectural practices to generous public donations.
'Sometimes we take in large amounts of material at once, and often documentation for historical deposits does not exist.
Ships arriving at Chandpal Ghat, while crowds gather by the docks
A Jain temple complex in Calcutta. RCAHMS hopes that members of the public and photography enthusiasts might be able to shed more light on the photographic discovery
A street hairdresser giving a 'Hindustani haircut' (pudding bowl) in Strand Road South, Calcutta
Celebrations for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Calcutta in 1912
'It's fantastic that a small shoe box contained such a treasure-trove of photographic imagery, but in some ways it's not unusual.
'Our experience as an archive has shown us that some of the most interesting discoveries can be made in the most unlikely of places.'
A Muhurram (sacred month) procession through a crowded Calcutta street with tazieh theatre performance in the background. Tazieh drama re-enacts heroic tales of love and sacrifice
Calcutta is lit up for the royal visit; right, a group seated in two ferry canoes moored in a stream at an unknown location