Sunday, April 29, 2018

The decade that changed Delhi - Hindustan Times
In the wake of India's hellish Partition, thousands of Muslims fled, while Hindu and Sikh refugees poured in. Delhi took in nearly half a million ... Even Lodhi Colony, the last residential area to be built by the British, wasn't on the map yet because it was only completed in the 1940s. By the middle of the 1950s, refugees moved ...


The decade that changed Delhi

Delhi, the brash, bustling Indian capital of today, was, in effect, born in 1947. In the wake of India’s hellish Partition, thousands of Muslims fled, while Hindu and Sikh refugees poured in. Delhi took in nearly half a million refugees from Pakistan in those heady but brutal months before and after August, 1947. Large parts of today’s Delhi grew out of the refugee camps that sprung up along its limits 69 years ago.


Delhi University
Model Town
Kingsway Camp
Vijay Nagar
Delhi University
In 1942, little existed beyond Civil Lines, a British-era neighborhood known for its “European-style hotels,” including the famous Maidens Hotel. North of that was a vast tract of empty land on “Kingsway.” This was earmarked for the Viceroy’s house (which later became the Rashtrapati Bhavan), which was eventually built on Raisina Hill. Kingsway itself would become home to the Kingsway Camp, Delhi’s largest refugee camp.
By 1956, Delhi’s northern limits expanded. The Indian government had allotted 2,000 acres of land to the Ministry of Relief and Rehabilitation to permanently resettle refugees, according to the 1951 Delhi Census. One of the earliest such colonies to come up was Vijay Nagar, west of Civil Lines. Model Town, further up, and to the west, was also on the map by then. Kingsway Camp, which is still on the map, would eventually become Guru Teg Bahadur or GTB Nagar.


Humayun’s Tomb
Lodi Road
Humayun’s Tomb
Lodi Road
Jor Bagh
In the early 1940s, Lodhi Road could have been South Delhi. There were hardly any roads, let alone neighborhoods, beyond it. Even Lodhi Colony, the last residential area to be built by the British, wasn’t on the map yet because it was only completed in the 1940s.
By the middle of the 1950s, refugees moved into empty flats in Lodhi Colony and built homes around the villages in Nizamuddin and Jangpura: all of it on what was once the deserted south side of Lodhi Road. Change was also afoot deeper in Lutyens’ Delhi. In 1951, Khan Market opened. The shops on the ground floor, and the flats above, were all owned by refugees.


Lodi Colony
Defence Colony
Lajpat Nagar
Kidwai Nagar
The South Delhi of today was agricultural land in the 1940s, until the government started buying land there to permanently resettle refugees. Officials from the Ministry of Relief and Rehabilitation drove through these parts, and even rode through on horseback, inspecting land for refugee colonies.
By 1956, southern Delhi began to take shape with the appearance of Lajpat Nagar and Defence Colony. But the rest of what forms South Delhi today was not on the map yet. Barring Malviya Nagar in the far south, where land had been allocated for industries, the South Delhi of 1956 was still largely made up of villages and splendid, ghostly tombs.


Moti Nagar
West Patel Nagar
Kirti Nagar
Rajouri Garden
Before 1947, Karol Bagh was Delhi’s western limit. West of that was an expanse of empty land heavily dotted with trees in parts. That is where all of West Delhi lies today.
Land in western Delhi was allotted to refugees after 1947. These refugee colonies, U-shaped with a park in the middle, became the template for subsequent neighborhoods, partly because they were built by the same urban planners who shaped Delhi through the 50s and 60s. But this was the beginning of Rajinder Nagar, West Patel Nagar, Moti Nagar, Rajouri Gardens: overwhelmingly Punjabi neighborhoods that are today quintessentially Delhi.
A decade from independence, Delhi was a different city. Wilderness and agricultural fields began to give way to residential suburbs, commercial markets and industrial zones. The population doubled: a spurt that hasn’t been seen since, according to the Census. But the Muslim share of the population plunged from 33 percent to less than 6 percent.
“The city that was once a Mughal city, then a British city, had by the 1950s emphatically become a Punjabi city,” according to historian V.N. Dutta. The adjectives for Delhi also changed: what was once stately, languid and literary became boisterous, hearty and enterprising. And its map was transformed.
Click on a year to switch the maps
  • 1942
  • 1956
  • Civil Lines
    Karol Bagh
    Connaught Place
    Delhi Cantonment
    Map Source: Delhi Archives / Survey of India.

    When we look six decades back, we're filled with an unparalleled sense of pride at the epic movements of history that brought us to this stage.

    India in the 1940s: The way we were

    Memory is a powerful thing. When we look six decades back, we're filled with an unparalleled sense of pride at the epic movements of history that brought us to this stage. But what about the little details?

    brunch Updated: Aug 10, 2013 17:03 IST
    Team Brunch
    Memory is a powerful thing. When we look six decades back, we're filled with an unparalleled sense of pride at the epic movements of history that brought us to this stage. But what about the little details?
    We gathered fragments - stories from people's lives, clippings from old newspapers and photographs from dusty albums and strung them together to bring you an essence of how we lived from 1940-49...

    [Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter]

    People see Gandhi as the Father of the Nation, but I knew him as a doting grandfather. As kids, we looked forward to his evening prayers with a sense of enthusiasm and entertainment. Every moment of being with Gandhi was an adventure.

    He was often travelling through Delhi and since papa [Devdas Gandhi] edited a nationalist daily (The Hindustan Times) in Delhi, Bapuji and Ba stayed with us.
    Initially, we lived at Kingsway Camp and subsequently moved into a big house at Connaught Circus, in the same premises as the newspaper's printing press. The roaring press machines were like lullaby music for us.

    Bapu liked to stay in Harijan bastis, ashrams or prisons. That's where our holidays were spent. We used to visit him in a prison, or at a station if his train would pass by.
    Once we visited him at Pune's Aga Khan Palace, where he was kept under house arrest. Kasturba was ill and looked frail. I must have been 10. Ba looked at me and said, "I have a gift for you." When I saw the khadi sari, the first of my life, with its embroidered border, I was so thrilled I wanted to run away with it. Bapu didn't encourage gifting among family. "You won't ask me to give it to anybody else?" I asked. At that time Bapu was spinning the charkha and he nodded. It meant the world to me.

    My father was fond of eating out. We'd go to the Old Delhi Railway Station, buy a platform ticket and eat in the dining hall. Those were the best meals I've ever had.
    My first lessons in etiquette were courtesy Bapuji. Sir Stafford Cripps, a member of the Labour Party, was in India with the Cripps mission. Bapu introduced me to him and said, "Please meet my granddaughter, she is the daughter of my youngest son." I was proud to be shaking hands with an Englishman for the first time. I thought it was an opportune moment to display my English-speaking skills. So, when Sir Cripps asked, "How do you do?" I broke into a long story about how I had fever the previous day and how I couldn't go to school. Bapu took me aside and said in Hindi, "When someone says 'How do you do', never give them so many details about your health." I was shattered. Not only had I failed in English, the man who placed such emphasis on health had asked me not to give out such detail. Every letter Gandhi wrote, whether to Lala Lajpat Rai, or Leo Tolstoy, or Nehru, started with a line enquiring about their well-being.

    I remember January 30, 1948 clearly. I was in class 8 and was busy with homework. Then the phone first rang and someone said: 'Bapuji par goli chal gayi'. The person called again. The third time I realised he was serious. My parents rushed to Birla House and there I saw my father sobbing and Nehruji sitting quietly. My father, in tears, came up to me and said, "Taru, Bapuji ko pranam karo". Then the entire world seemed to have gone into mourning.
    (as told to Aasheesh Sharma)
    15th August 1947, Independence Day celebrations at Rajpath, New Delhi. Photo: Nehru memorial museum and library


    [Former professor of English and dean (Culture) at Delhi University]

    Ours is a fifth-generation Delhi family. My father's family moved to the Walled City area in 1909, two years before the Delhi Durbar was established.

    My father was employed with the Pune Rifles. We lived in what was Delhi's most culture-rich and education-rich square mile. It had the Civil Lines, Hamilton Road, Tees Hazari and Kashmere Gate. It is in Kashmere Gate that the setting up of Delhi University was proposed by Viceroy Daniel Isaacs, which the British opposed. The Dara Shikoh library and the district courts were here. The Delhi Polytechnic (which later became the Delhi College of Art) was also in the area, so was Hindu College and the new St. Stephen's building.

    We stayed in a building called Rahman Manzil. Our neighbour and family friend was the author Nirad C Chaudhuri, who at that time worked as a clerk with All India Radio located on Alipur Road, where the Clarks Maidens Hotel used to stand.

    I was born in 1942, the year of the Quit India Movement. In 1946, there was talk about India breaking free from the shackles of the British. The Anglo-Indians were caught in a unique situation. The general public perceived us to be close to the British because of our European lifestyle. But we were not entirely accepted by the British. I used to say Anglo-Indians were the most thoroughbred half-castes in civilisation. Well, we have managed beautifully, producing a Cliff Richard and a Ruskin Bond.

    Our family chose to stay back. In 1940, my mom was appointed the first postmistress of India and my father got a deputation with the Delhi Improvement Trust which would carve out the New Delhi district and go on to become the DDA. Mom, referred to as 'dak khane ki memsaab' by colleagues, stood out when just one per cent of India's workforce was female.

    Established in the 1930s, the Gidney Club in Connaught Circus was where the Anglo-Indian community met and celebrated Christmas and anniversaries and attended the May Queen Ball. Ritz Cinema was next door to us. I remember watching The Adventures of Captain Marvel here. The Hindi cinemas in our neighbourhood were Novelty and Minerva and I was a big Dev Anand fan. Kashmiri Gate also had the Carlton Restaurant. It is here that the famous Rudy Cotton band, led by one of as one of India's greatest jazz saxophonists, performed live.

    On 15th August, 1947, there was electricity in the air. We attended a special service at St James (Delhi's oldest church set up in 1836). After a meal at Carlton, we bought a tricolour and proudly displayed it from our window. Rahman Manzil was lit up with hundreds of lamps and people burst crackers and lit sparklers to ring in a pre-Diwali Diwali. We had a party at home. At that time we didn't have proper record players, so someone began strumming a guitar. Even as a four-year-old, I knew it was a special day. The image of a tricolour fluttering out of our window has always stayed with me.

    (As told to Aasheesh Sharma)
    ON THE ROAD TO FREEDOM: A father and a son pose with volunteer scouts, as crowds (many on bicycles) throng the Red Fort to celebrate Independence Day on August 15, 1947
    [Former deputy director, Delhi Public Library]

    I was seven years old when India gained independence in 1947. The Mazarul Islam School, Farashkhana (near Chandni Chowk) where I studied, gave us tricolour toffees as part of the celebrations.

    We led a different life - we learnt the alphabet with slate and chalk (slates were cleaned with multani mitti).

    My mother wore ghararas at home and my father, who worked in the Municipal Committee, wore a khaki hat to work and a felt hat for special occasions.
    Though we had electricity at home since the late 1920s, we only had a few pedestal fans. Ceiling fans were not available in the market. The old-fashioned, big hand-pulled pankhas mounted on the walls and khus-khus pardahs kept the heat out. Kerosene lamps lit up the evenings.

    Tongas were the preferred mode of transport since buses and cars were very few. Women hardly ventured out, and even if they had to go across the street, a doli was called for. However, this changed post-Independence as dolis disappeared overnight, and my mother visited the market in a hand-pulled rickshaw.

    Cooking was a different ritual. You had to blow at the fire to start the chulha, and all the masalas were ground by hand. There was meat every day - made with vegetables or in the form of mouth-watering nihari.

    On Fridays, when the butcher shops would be shut, there would be khichdi for lunch, which made all the kids upset.
    The radio was a source of entertainment. However, we were more interested in playing hide and seek and gilli danda than cinema or music. A plane passing overhead was the highlight of the day for all children!

    Of course, there was a flipside to Independence too - the chaos that the Partition brought with it. As Faiz said, it was a "dagh dagh ujala…".
    (As told to Zehra Kazmi)

    Paper money in the 1940s, printed at the Currency Note Press in Nasik, featured the face of King George VI. By August 1940, when a new Re 1 note was introduced during war time, notes displayed a new feature - the security thread. After Independence, it was felt that the King's portrait be replaced by a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi. The |consensus moved to the choice of the Lion Capital at Sarnath in lieu of the Gandhi portrait, according to the Reserve Bank of India website. Since 1835, Re 1 equalled 16 annas. By 1957, Re 1 equalled 100 naya paise and eventually today's regular paise.
    Value for money

    Gold prices

    As of 1947, the price of 10 grams of gold was Rs 88.62. Today it is closer to Rs 29,000.

    The dollar rate

    It was exactly $1 = Re 1. You read right; one rupee was equal to one US dollar in value as at Independence, there were no external borrowings on India's balance sheet. Devaluation began with the first five-year plan. Today one US dollar is close to Rs 61.

    What Re 1 could buy

    The average yearly inflation for 1948-2013 is 6.55 per cent. So what cost Re 1 in 1947, now costs about Rs 59.27, an increase of 5827.00 per cent.

    Shaving blade: 7 o'clock slotted blades, double edged, were priced at 12 annas for a packet of 10
    Book: Tenali Rama by ASP Ayyar, Rs 2
    Rain Coat: Rainy Coat (water-proof) from Cooch Behar Industries Rs 4
    Radio: Emerson Radio (Model 517) Rs 175
    Tobacco: Ogden's Coolie Cut Plug tobacco (Rs 3/4 per 4oz tin)

    According to textile historian Rta Kapur Chishti, author of Saris of India, the contemporary urban style, or the five-and-a-half-metre drape in which the pallu goes front to back across the left shoulder, became the standard for working women across India after Independence. But the style has its genesis in the late 19th century.
    "It is said that Gyanodanandini, wife of Satyendranath Tagore, the elder brother of Rabindranath, went with her civil servant husband to Bombay around the 1860s and adopted the Parsi way of wearing the sari. At that time, the local Bengali style wasn't considered elegant for outdoor wear (it wasn't worn with a petticoat and blouse). Gyanoda even opened a school in Calcutta to teach draping styles," says Chishti.
    After Independence, young women began experimenting with more salwar-kameez styles

    Textiles expert Jasleen Dhamija shifted to Delhi in 1940 from Abbotabad in Pakistan. "My family had links with the Congress. We didn't wear synthetics and my sister wore khadi," says Dhamija, 79. She recalls how the elite and the royalty wore chiffons and nylons and the aam aadmi donned mill-made dhotis. Saris could have been sourced from mills or from local weavers. But with the chiffon classes, the urge to ape Europe was apparent. "Saris looked like curtains since the patterns were filched from wallpapers and bathroom tiles," she says.

    After Independence, the young Dhamija became more experimental. In 1948, when she was in college at Miranda House, she and her friends visited Pahar Ganj. "We bought the fabric that wives of workers used for odhnis and lugdis and created salwar-kameezes."

    We didn't read much - we couldn't. The adult literacy rate in 1941 was 16.1 per cent (it is now 74.04 per cent). But Indian writing of the time was tinted with the advent of Marxism on the literary scene in the 1930s. Writers were re-examining their relationship with social reality. Here are some works published in the '40s for some perspective:
    Twilight in Delhi (1940) by Ahmed Ali: It is the story of Mir Nahal and his family - an upper middle class Muslim household in the now old Delhi. This was also the first novel to call for freedom from British rule.

    The Sword and the Sickle (1942) by Mulk Raj Anand: The final part of a trilogy, it is about a Sikh sepoy, who after fighting in France and being imprisoned in Germany, comes back to India. The book also deals with the rise of Indian Communism.

    The English Teacher (1945) by RK Narayan A semi-autobiographical book, it is about an English teacher in Narayan's fictionalized town, Malgudi, and how he deals with the death of his wife.
    The early decades of the twentieth century had seen the entry of several new advertising firms, both Indian and foreign. Most ads were published in English language newspapers. They were neatly laid out, mostly typographical and featured excellent illustrations.
    some ADs from newspapers of 1947

    By the 1940s, the ads reflected the nationalistic spirit of the decade. The quality of life in the '30s and '40s had considerably improved. Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras were big markets for most products and hence, for advertising in general. As the middle class rose, the advertising focus shifted from luxury goods to convenience-driven consumer goods. Ads for foreign products made by foreign ad agencies were also Indianised. Lux signed actress Leela Chitnis to endorse the soap in 1941, the illustrations in the ads were also made to look Indian.
    Actor-singer KL Saigal ruled the '40s like a collossus, says historian Pran Nevile. "His popularity didn't diminish with his death in 1947. Noor Jehan was the most popular leading lady. After 1947, she moved to Pakistan and Suraiyya took her place." A few big hits of 1947 included these:
    1. Yahan Badla Wafa Ka from JUGNU, Singers: Mohd Rafi and Noor Jehan, Composer: Feroze Nizami, Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
    One of the first hits of Mohd Rafi, the duet was picturised on Dilip Kumar and Noor Jehan. The lyrics are remembered even today.

    2. Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon Dil-e-Beqarar Ka from DARD, Singer: Uma Devi, Composer: Naushad, Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
    Sung by Tun Tun, the well-endowed comedienne, the mellifluous song was composed by Naushad. Shakeel Badayuni's words were full of longing. Sample this: Ji chaahataa hai munh bhi na dekhun bahaar kaa.

    3. Hum Dard Ka Afsana Duniya Ko Suna Denge from DARD, Singer: Shamshad Begum, Composer: Naushad, Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
    Sung in Shamshad Begum's inimitable voice, it is filmed on orphaned children. The words tug at the heart strings: Ham par bhee karam karna, ham tum ko dua denge. Poignant!

    4. Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya from DO BHAI, Singer: Geeta Dutt, Composer: SD Burman, Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
    O chhod ke janewale aa in Geeta Dutt's soulful voice had the nation singing the blues.

    5. Sunday Ke Sunday from SHEHNAI, Singers: Meena Kapoor and Chitalkar Ramchandra, Composer: C Ramchandra, Lyrics: PL Santoshi
    Comic and entertaining, it was soon ruling the charts!
    Movies, monsoon, Magic: The scene outside Mumbai’s Metro cinema, shot in 1947. The Regal and Eros were the other other popular theatres where both English and Hindi movies ran to packed houses


    Going to the movies was one of the biggest forms of entertainment in the late 1940s. Delhiites flocked to Regal, Rivoli, Plaza and Odeon. Mumbaikars bought tickets at The Regal, Metro, Liberty and Eros. Here are some of the biggest grossing movies of 1947 (tales of the freedom struggle are conspicuous by their absence).

    Top 6 grossers of 1947

    * Jugnu: Rs 50 lakh

    * Do Bhai: Rs 45 lakh

    * Dard: Rs 40 lakh

    * Mirza Sahibaan: Rs 35 lakh

    * Shehnai: Rs 32 lakh

    * Elaan: Rs 30 lakh

    (Earnings in net gross; source:

    1. JUGNU

    Cast: Dilip Kumar and Noor Jehan Director: Shaukat Hussain Rizvi Music: Feroze Nizami

    Synopsis: Dilip Kumar's father is a Rai Bahadur who lives in a palatial house with a chauffeur and attendants but is on the lookout for a family that would shell out (incredible as it may sound!) two lakh rupees in dowry for his eligible son. The leading lady Jugnu (Noor Jehan) is asked to sacrifice her love by her boyfriend's mom. And so the story ends on a tragic note, as was the case in many movies of the 1940s.

    Dilip Kumar and Noor Jehan in Jugnu, one of the biggest box-office success of 1947. A campus romance, the film’s music and strong social subtext with an anti-dowry message stood out even then

    Watch it for: Noor Jehan's singing, the rakish looks of young Dilip Kumar and the way the film tackles the subject of dowry. A young Mohammed Rafi does a cameo as Dilip Kumar's hostel mate!

    2. DARD

    Cast: Badri Prasad, Suraiya, Munawwar Sultana Jehan

    Director: Shaukat Hussain Rizvi Music: Feroze Nizami

    Synopsis: The love triangle is the story of an orphan who is indebted to the nawab who adopts him and helps him become a doctor. The nawab's daughter likes him, but he falls in love with the daughter of a patient.

    Watch it for: The beautiful talaffuz in chaste Urdu: Sample how Suraiya pampers Sultana. "Hamam tayyar hai. Ghusal karlo, behen," she says, when her bath is ready.


    Cast: Noor Jehan, Trilok Kapoor Director: K Amarnath

    Music: Pandit Amarnath and Husnlal Bhagatram

    Synopsis: Mirza, once the naughtiest boy in the village, falls in love with Sahiban. But Mirza's arch enemy is also head-over-heels in love with Sahiban and is irked that she prefers Mirza. He takes advantage of village gossip to fuel Sahiban's brother's anger against the couple. They are forced to separate. The couple try to get back together, but like all old love stories, their love is doomed.

    Watch it for: The beautiful music and Trilok Kapoor (Prithviraj Kapoor's brother and a thoroughbred Kapoor). See it as a precursor to Bollywood's affair with classic love stories such as Heer Ranjha and Sohni Mahiwal.

    4. SHEHNAI

    Cast: VH Desai, Indumati and Kishore Kumar

    Director: PL Santoshi

    Music: C Ramchandra

    Watch it for: The jazz-influenced compositions of C Ramchandra which were like a spot of sunshine in the otherwise gloomy film music scene. The song Aana Meri Jaan, Sunday Ke Sunday became an anthem for the young at heart.

    These landmarks that add to New Delhi's splendour had very English-sounding names. But they were symbols of the British Raj, and we Indianised them.

    * Rajpath: This sprawling boulevard was known as King's Way.
    * Parliament House: Formerly the Council House, this building was designed by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker - responsible for the planning and construction of New Delhi. Covering nearly six acres, its diameter is 560 feet.
    * India Gate: With a height of 42 metres (designed by Lutyens), it was known as the All-India War Memorial, and has the names of the Indian soldiers who died during World War I etched on its surface.
    * Rashtrapati Bhavan: Designed by Lutyens, this structure has four floors and 340 rooms, and was known as the Viceroy House.
    * Janpath: An important part of Lutyens' design of Delhi, it was known as Queen's Way.
    In 1947, Bombay was still part of the Bombay Presidency. Now-defunct addresses reflect the life of the time.
    * Banian Road: From Bania, a trading caste who had houses there.
    * Beef Lane, Bhajipala Street, Dukar Wady, Kasai Street, Kitchen Garden Lane, Milk Street and Mutton Street: Areas that had butcheries, vegetable bazaars, piggeries, produce gardens, buffalo stables or meat shops.
    * Depot Lane: It led to a night-soil depot situated at the end of the lane and was known among residents as name Hagri Galli.
    * Garibdas Street: "Garibdas" meant "your humble servant " and appeared to be a coveted title for a Bombay landlord to own.
    * Gunpowder Road: Named after the powder magazine there.
    * Palki Gully: So called because palanquins, used by Khojas at weddings, were kept here for hire.
    * Scandal Point: A popular place to rendezvous.
    Back then, if you had wheels perhaps you'd already know what freedom would taste like. Cars were symbols of prosperity. Trams chugged along our roads, new bus routes were being charted out, streets were filled with people cycling to work. The tonga was another favoured mode of transport.
    The horse carriage was a preferred mode of transport, though now it serves mostly as a tourist attraction.


    The first 10 years of the Nehruvian period from 1947 to 1957 were decisive in shaping what the city would acquire a taste for. Partition refugees brought with them the tandoor. "The idea of eating home-cooked food prepared at the roadside by another refugee family at a moderate price appealed to homeless refugees. This was the genesis of Delhi's dhaba tradition," says food historian Pushpesh Pant.

    Kebabs, burra and Kandhari food became the staple at restaurants. At the same time, original Dehlavi food survived this onslaught - poori, bedami and methi ki chutney still tickled the palate of Old Delhi families. But people were acquiring a taste for paneer and maa ki dal. A favourite with those who relished a mean maa ki dal was Moti Mahal in Darya Ganj, recall old-timers. Monish Gujral, grandson of KL Gujral, credited with popularising the Peshawari delicacy, says the Darya Ganj restaurant, set up in 1947, was a social leveller. "Till then, fine dining was restricted to Europeans and Indians with titles. Moti Mahal opened its doors to all classes: a restaurant where an auto driver could be seen dining with an industrialist," says Gujral.

    Embassy Restaurant was a favourite with many Delhi families.

    Once the refugees found their feet in the city, the action shifted back to Connaught Place. Wenger's was popular with lovers of good confectionery. Even as the elite coveted a table at Gaylord's, government servants did not shy away from Kwality, which set up shop in 1939. Pant recalls how his father celebrated his confirmation as a Gazetted Officer at Wenger's as a live band played. Embassy was the place to head for when the family had to be treated to an elegant Indian repast. And United Coffee House, which opened in 1942, was the haunt of the arty crowd that loved its juke box.
    The good news is that the Bombaywalla was no stranger to eating out, even in the 1940s. Pancham Puriwala, right opposite the GPO at Fort, was serving up meals back then. Colaba was home to The Wayside Inn, where Dr Ambedkar drafted nearly half of India's Constitution at a table in the late '40s. Cafe Royal opposite The Regal was popular with locals and the iconic watering holes Leopold Cafe (which had opened in 1871 as a general store) and Cafe Mondegar were thriving.

    In Kalbadevi and Bhuleshwar, the flourishing cotton trade of the previous decades meant a steady inflow of traders from Gujarat. Single, male and on a budget, they'd find sustenance at little dining halls that served home food for a few annas a day. In 1945, Govindram Shankarji Joshi and four of his friends from Rajkot started The Friends Union Joshi Club, an eating house with a monthly meal service.

    In the new, ordered suburb of Matunga, you could get a full South-Indian meal at Mani's Lunch Home (which opened in 1937) or Rama Nayal Udipi (which opened in 1942). For a Sunday evening sundae, it was Bachelorr's on Marine Drive. And for anyone with cash, there was always the plush Taj Mahal Hotel.
    * A plate of mutton biryani at Britannia & Co, Mumbai was Rs 2.50. Today, Rs 400
    * At Manis Lunch Home, Mumbai, a Set Meal cost only 6 aanas. Now it costs Rs 120
    * A coffee cost just 90 paise at United Coffee House. Now it costs Rs 115. A chicken sandwich here cost just 90 paise then. Now it costs Rs 125
    * Four dozen lemon tarts cost only Rs 4 at Delhi's Wenger's Bakery.
    The year 1947 was a moment of great nationalistic fervour tinged with the trauma of Partition. The zeitgeist of the 1950s was a turning point of sorts in the development of contemporary Indian art, say experts. "It was the beginning of a new introspection after the Bengal School Revival," says Virendra Kumar Jain, 80, owner of Kumar Gallery, set up in 1955, arguably one of the first to show leading artists such as MF Husain.
    From the archives: Virendra Kumar of Kumar Gallery with MF Husain in the early 1950s

    Apart from Kumar, the Dhoomimal Art Gallery patronised artists such as Jamini Roy since the 1930s. "After the Partition, I had my first brush with artists from the Government College of Art, Lahore. It included people like Satish Gujral, BC Sanyal, PN Mago and Dhanraj Bhagat. They held their first show in the early 1950s at the Freemason Hall in Janpath, next to the Imperial Hotel, which managed to draw in only a few visitors," recalls Kumar.

    With the setting up of the Delhi Shilpi Chakra Group in 1949, the art scene in Delhi perked up. "The coffee house on Janpath was an intellectual hub. It is here that one ran into a Husain chatting over coffee with Kulkarni or BC Sanyal," recalls Krishen Khanna, one of the pioneers of the Indian art movement.

    Khanna, 87, recalls the euphoria of freedom and the anguish of Partition in August 1947 and has captured some of it on canvas. "I was 21. We listened to Pandit Nehru's speech and looked forward to a golden era. One didn't envisage the mess we would be in at that time," he says with a chuckle.

    Khanna has fond memories of a joint show with Husain in Delhi's All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society. "Husain Saab and I went back a long way. Till the time he bought his apartment in the upmarket Nizamuddin East, which became a hub for artists, musicians and dancers in the city, he used to come and stay with me at my father's Mathura Road residence."

    At a time when private patrons in Delhi were few and far between, State patronage was also gaining momentum with the setting up of the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1954.
    To life and freedom: Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, considered the architect of independent India, addresses people at the Red Fort on Independence Day. The mood was upbeat and the nation looked towards the future with tremendous optimism.
    This Independence Day Special Issue was put together by Aasheesh Sharma, Saudamini Jain, Shreya Sethuraman, Rachel Lopez and Amrah Ashraf. Do send us your feedback at

    From HT Brunch, August 11
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    1. OK Tata, 1946 by Abhi Calcuttawala, Outlook Traveller (, January 1, 2012
    2. Wholesale Price Index (WPI)
    3. Office of the Economic Adviser, Government of India
    4. Reserve Bank Monetary Museum, Fort, Mumbai,
    5. Tasveer Ghar, A digital archive of South Asian digital visual culture (
    6. Census of India (
    10. Bombay place-names and street-names; an excursion into the by-ways of the history of Bombay City (1917)
    11. Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
    12. National Film Archive, Pune
    13. Hindustan Times Photo Archive

    Thursday, April 26, 2018

    A beautiful collection of rare maps shows how the world viewed India over the centuriesQuartz 11 Apr 2018
    Decades after Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to the subcontinent, the Portuguese colonial empire kept its navigation intelligence a national secret and reaped the rewards, leaving the British and the Dutch desperate to learn how to traverse the long and treacherous journey themselves. But little did anyone know that the tide would soon turn and it would be van Linschoten who’d spark the beginning of the end of Portuguese hegemony in the East.
    Portrait of Jan Huygen van Linschoten from an edition of his Itinerario. (Wikimedia Commons/Public domain)
    As an assistant to the archbishop, van Linschoten spent five years in Goa, learning all about its inhabitants, culture, and local life, besides the structure of the Portuguese empire and how it controlled the region. This information would go on to form the backbone of the Itinerario, a seminal book he wrote on his return to the Netherlands in 1592. Besides extensive information about the journey from Lisbon to Goa, the territories of the Portuguese empire, and sailing instructions, this book included detailed maps of the region, which were kept under wraps for so long.
    Published in 1596, the book was an instant best-seller and was soon translated into English. The Dutch and the British had found the key they’d sought for so long and went on to unseat the Portuguese from the region.
    More than 400 years after van Linschoten published the Itinerario, one of his historic maps is now in the possession of Prashant Lahoti, the Hyderabad-based co-founder of the Kalakriti Art Gallery. Van Linschoten’s is only one of the 5,000 old maps Lahoti owns. Others, collected over a period of 15 years, include those dating between 1482 and 1913 and sourced from eight countries. Some of these are on display at Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science (IISc) until April 18.

    A dying art

    On the walls and on long wooden tables set up under a vaulted ceiling of the main hall of IISc, centuries of history unfold in hand-coloured, carefully engraved maps made by the ancient Romans, French, Portuguese, Dutch, and British, besides Indians.
    From a woodcut map crafted in Germany years before the Europeans ever made it to the subcontinent to an almost 20-foot-long panel of the Ganga that looks like a work of art, the collection reveals the many different ways India’s geography has been perceived and interpreted over the years—all a world away from the drab, utilitarian Google Maps.
    “They’re so artistically made, and they’re nowhere near the mundane maps which are being produced right now,” Lahoti told Quartz.
    Of course, many of these maps were commissioned out of strategic interest by European powers with ambitions to take over Indian cities. The British in particular produced numerous maps, which, over the years, depict how they rapidly took control across the region. But in their quest to map out India’s critical contours, they also created a record of what the region looked like at the time, one that is especially valuable today.  They’re so artistically made and nowhere near the mundane maps which are being produced right now. 
    “When you see a map, you find that every one has some part of Indian history captured in it,” Lahoti explained.
    Among the Indian-made maps, he’s collected cosmological ones designed based on Jain theology, and pilgrimage maps that look more like paintings, showing the path towards sacred sites such as Shatrunjaya and decorated with elephants and human figures. One of them is so big it reaches from the floor to the ceiling.
    Standing in front of these spectacular maps, it becomes all the more clear what we stand to lose as cartography dies out in an era of GPS navigation and apps that do all the work for you. But preserving and protecting these rare maps is a challenge, especially in India where heritage conservation is often an afterthought, and it falls upon private collectors to keep these historic pieces safe.
    “In a few more years, a lot of them will really vanish away because Indians don’t have the right weather to preserve maps, first of all, and the second thing is we don’t have the habit of keeping (old) things with us,” said Lahoti, who stores his collection in a temperature-controlled room. “There’s no library culture in India, so that’s the reason why I feel like most of these are going to vanish soon.”
    Fortunately, the Kalakriti Archives have made it easier than ever to explore the collection no matter where you are. Many of the maps have been digitised on Google Arts & Culture, and you can read about some of Quartz’s favourites from the exhibition below:

    Ptolemaic India, Nicolaus Germanus (1482)

    Years before Vasco da Gama arrived in India in 1498, the ancient Greeks and Romans referred to this woodcut map of India designed by a German monk named Donnus Nicolaus Germanus. The map was based on the rediscovered writings of Claudius Ptolemy, a Greco-Egyptian geographer from the 2nd century AD. While the image seems unrecognisable as India to modern viewers, if you look closely you’ll spot the Indus river in the northwest and the delta of the Ganges.
    Germanus's Ptolemaic India map
    Nicolas Germanus’s Ptolemaic India, 1482. (Prashant Lahoti/Kalakriti Archives)

    India and the Middle East, Jan Huyghen Van Linschoten (1596)

    One of the most beautifully coloured maps in the collection, Jan Huyghen Van Linschoten’s depiction of India and the Middle East looks like a work of art. But there’s a fascinating story of espionage behind it. Linschoten was a Dutch merchant who managed to sneak a peek at the Portuguese administration’s secret documents and maps while working as an assistant to the archbishop in Goa. At a time when the Portuguese dominated European trade with the subcontinent, Linschoten’s map taught the Dutch and British how to traverse the long route to India, and sparked the beginning of the end of Portuguese hegemony.
    Jan Huyghen Van Linschoten's map of northern India.
    Jan Huyghen Van Linschoten’s map of northern India. (Prashant Lahoti/Kalakriti Archives)

    Northern India, Mughal empire, William Baffin (1625)

    This is the first map of northern India that almost accurately depicts the region’s geography and the spread of the Mughal empire, extending from Afghanistan and Kashmir in the north and down south to the Deccan. Made by the English adventurer William Baffin, it was based on intelligence received by the English ambassador to emperor Jahangir.
    William Barfin's map of northern India and the Mughal empire.
    William Barfin’s map of northern India and the Mughal empire. (Prashant Lahoti/Kalakriti Archives)

    Northern India—Mughal empire, Kâtib Çelebi (1732)

    This was the first map of India to be printed in the Islamic world. Published by the Turkish geographer Kâtib Çelebi in Istanbul in 1732, the map depicts the the reach of the Mughal empire with Arabic typography and what is described as a distinctively Turkish colour palate.
    Katib Celebi's map of northern India.
    Katib Celebi’s map of northern India. (Prashant Lahoti/Kalakriti Archives)

    Plan of Pondichéry (1741)

    Before the British seized and almost totally destroyed Pondicherry (now Puducherry) in 1761, it was the capital of French India and reportedly one of the finest European-planned cities in the region. Pondicherry’s broad, tree-lined streets and the key sights of the time are identified in this pink-hued plan designed in 1741.
    The 1741 plan of Puducherry.
    The 1741 plan of Pondichery. (Prashant Lahoti/Kalakriti Archives)

    Bengal and Bihar, James Rennell (1776)

    Produced by an employee of the British East India Company, this is said to be the earliest accurate map of Bengal and Bihar and it is incredibly detailed, showing almost every village, besides rivers, mountain ranges, and even swamps. This level of detail was very intentional at a time when the company was trying to consolidate its hold over greater swathes of Bengal. The governor-general of Bengal at the time reportedly wanted the map to be a sort of “Doomsday Book” for the region, much like William the Conqueror’s revenue survey of England in the late 11th century, which was used to help register property and collect taxes. In this way, it foreshadowed the East India Company’s control over Bengal which paved the way for British control over other parts of India.

    Bangalore, Robert Home (1791)

    This map of Bangalore (now Bengaluru) was created after the city was captured by the British in March 1791 during the Second Anglo-Mysore war. It shows what the city looked like before Europeans began to influence Bangalore’s urban planning, depicting the walled pettah with its dense blocks divided by narrow streets. The idea behind this kind of design was to confuse potential invaders at a time when Indian cities were often attacked. Decades later, Bangalore would become a key British garrison town, and its layout would continue to change.
    Robert Home's 1794 map of Bangalore.
    Robert Home’s 1794 map of Bangalore. (Prashant Lahoti/Kalakriti Archives)

    Bombay, Maharashtra, Juggunnath Willoba (1840)

    This map showing the Bombay Harbour is one of the only surviving large-format maps of the city to have been printed in India, and was most probably produced by an Indian lithographer. The typography and bright colours are distinctively Indian, and the map was likely printed by one Juggunnath Willoba working at a printing house called Manifest Press.
    Juggunnath Willoba's map of the Bombay harbour.
    Juggunnath Willoba’s map of the Bombay harbour. (Prashant Lahoti/Kalakriti Archives)

    Jammu & Kashmir, Thomas George Montgomerie (1850/1860)

    This map marked the first time the rugged terrain of Jammu & Kashmir had been accurately recorded. As part of the massive Great Trigonometrical Survey of India, Thomas George Montgomerie was tasked with surveying the region. Between 1856 and 1860, bearing incredibly tough conditions, Montgomerie and his team scaled mountains and did extensive research on the heights of Himalayan peaks.
    Jammu and Kashmir by Montgomerie.
    Jammu and Kashmir by Montgomerie. (Prashant Lahoti/Kalakriti Archives)

    Plan of Delhi, Edwin Lutyens (1912)

    In 1911, the British Raj wanted to move the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi, and tasked the architect Edwin Landseer Lutyens with the ambitious task of planning the new city. “New Delhi” was to be constructed on the south and southwestern outskirts of the one-time Mughal capital, and this map shows Lutyens’s master plan, on which construction was mostly based over the next 18 years. The red lines show the network of broad boulevards that were to be built over the villages and farms that would be bulldozed. But it also shows how some Mughal monuments, such as Humayun’s Tomb, would be preserved in the new city.
    Lutyens's master plan of Delhi (1912)
    Lutyens’s master plan of Delhi (1912) (Prashant Lahoti/Kalakriti Archives)

    The Queens Necklace - Marine Drive . As seen from 35000 feet.[

    The Queens Necklace - Marine Drive . As seen from 35000 feet.[sq: foot price before arrival of British was  ZERO; human greed price now has no limit ]

    The Queens Necklace - Marine Drive 1750
     shows British soldiers marching ahead of a hearse ,with grieving relative following in a sedan chair also known as Palanquin or palki;proceeding towards the christian burial place  Girgaum Cemetery, Bombay

    Image result for east india company in india

     Below:-The Queens Necklace - Marine Drive 1600'swith British fort at the tip

    Bombay 1750 and map

    Qui Hi's Last March to adree Burrows's Go Down p321
    Bombay 1750-showing sea side road from Bombay fort towards Malabar hill;Parsee tower of silence can be seen on the deserted jungle top of Malabar hill
    NOTES :- 

     Girgaum Cemetery, Bombay 1855-malabar hill covered with forest  can be seen in the distance





    Monday, April 23, 2018

    Wednesday, April 4, 2018

    Bombay Tram era 1920-1950

    Sharing a video ( not sure about the year[around 1920-1940] & who has filmed it) that I had received long back of the plying in . Sadly the last trip was on 31st March 1964.

    0:36 / 1:18