Thursday, April 20, 2017

'A tribute to Raja Deen Dayal - India's photographer par excellence' - by K.J.S.Chatrath

During my last trip to New Delhi, I visited the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). It was my first visit to the IGNCA and it turned out to be a huge disappointment.  In fact even before visiting I had been trying to get some information but no one responded to my emails. In the Centre itself there was an air of lethargy and lack of interest. It is a huge sprawling place and has a number of buildings. There is no Reception to guide the visitor.  I was keen to visit their sales counter and buy some books and DVDs. Unfortunately the Sales Counter located in one building was closed. With great difficulty I could gather that it has since shifted to another building. I visited that building to find the counter locked. I was told that the sales counter was in the process of shifting from the previous to the new counter and hence it was closed.
A kind sould suggested that I should meet Madame Kaul in the multi-storeyed building and she may help me in buying the DVDs and books. I went to her office on the second floor only to discover that she was on leave that day. I gave up.  

Before leaving I saw two exhibitions, one on Lord Hanuman and the other on Raja Deen Dayal. A little more on Raja Deen Dayal, who has fascinated me since quite some time but I had not tried to learn more about him. Here was a god send opportunity for me. 

Raja Deen Dayal (1844-1905) was from a middle class Jain family from Sardhana, near Meerut of Uttar Pradesh. He studied civil engineering at the Thompson Civil Engineering College in Roorkee and joined the Public Works Department of the Princely state of Indore afterwards. His work brought him to the attention of Maharaja of Indore Tukaji Rao II and Sir Henry Daly in mid 1870s. Deen Dayal opened a commercial studio at Indore at this time. He then came into contact with Sir Lepel, whom he joined in his mission to document monuments of architectural heritage of Central India. It was during this time, when he photographed forts and palaces at Gwalior, Orcha, Khajuraho, Sanchi, Jhansi, Deegh, Indore, Omkareshwar etc.

From 1885 onwards, Deen Dayal worked as photographer at the court of the Sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, where he remained until his death in 1905, except for intermittent periods of absence while conducting field tours or visiting Indore and Mumbai to look after his establishments there. In 1886 he opened his studio, Deen Dayal & Sons, Secunderabad, where he maintained a staff of fifty for various technical jobs. In 1892 he even opened a Zenana Studio in Hyderabad where one Mrs. Kenny Levick photographed "native ladies only" protecting them "from the gaze of the profane and the stern".

The same year Deen Dayal closed his Indore Studio and opened a deluxe salon in Mumbai. Called Raja Deen Dayal and Sons: Art Photographic Salon, it was located at 132, Hornby Road in the Fort Area and was mainly run by his son Gyan Chand. In 1903 Deen Dayal went to Delhi with the Nizam to cover the Delhi Durbar where he took some exquisite photographs of the event.

Raja Lala Deen Dayal died in 1905 in  Bombay (Mumbai).

Poster announcing the Raja Deen Dayal Gallery

Photo of an unidentified person taken by Raja Deen Dayal. This and the following are the photographs taken by the Raja. I have only taken photos of some of those photographs and put those in different sizes. I do not claim any credit what so ever.

This photo is entitled Miss Nandy.


This fiery photograph is of Sir Raghubir Singh, Maharao of Boondee.

The real magic box- the camera that Raja Deen Dayal used. 

(Text with inputs from the internet and IGNCA)

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