traveling back in time, notes on Raja Deen Dayal photography exhibition

images swirled around my head and i amongst them, a few moments ago i was in 2011 and when i landed at the bottom of the rabbit hole i’d traveled almost 125 years in time, to the India of the late 1800s!

medieval forts and palaces, long abandoned even 100 years ago; new cities of Bombay and Kolkata, unspoilt and uncrowded; Red Fort’s Diwai-e-Khas and the Jama Masjid of Delhi, ‘only’ 28 years after the mutiny/revolution; the Nizams of Hyderabad, their noblemen and their families in all their royal splendor; the hunting parties; the foreigners who traveled to catch a glimpse of the exotic; the Kings and Queens and Princes lording above the poor natives who sadly still remain in more or less the same condition- all of this seen through, photographed and recorded for posterity by the keen eye of India’s pioneering photographer, Raja Deen Dayal.

this Sunday, i went to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) where an exhibition of Raja Deen Dayal’s extensive oeuvre is on till February. for three hours i roamed amidst these hundred of images framed on walls, images of a distant yet vaguely familiar India, because the more India changes, the more it remains same.

the Kings and Princes are long gone, but a new royalty is seated in their place; these days tigers are not sported as trophies, business deals are the sport; SUVs are the new elephants; corporate houses and political parties are the new kingdoms; and still, the common man is as common as he was a 125 years ago.



only the veneer has changed, the world Raja Deen Dayal a hundred years ago still is the same, bafflingly contradictory, sanely insane.
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created a slideshow out of the images i clicked there. do keep in mind that the image quality is quite low as there was a lot of reflection and all these were clicked by my Nokia C-6 only 🙂 and here you can watch it full screen

 

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related links:
Raja Deen Dayal’s Wikipedia page

two pages from the IGNCA digital archives, Raja Deen Dayal Collection and the legacy of Raja Deen Dayal

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