Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kashmir in 1945

The following photographs of Kashmir were shot in 1945 by an American serviceman named Robert Keagle who was posted in Calcutta and Burma during World War 2. I came across the collection at the online archive of Digital South Asia Library, a project of the Center for Research Libraries and the University of Chicago. Besides Kashmir, Keagle Photograph collection also offers photographs of Calcutta and Burma. Here we will take a look at his Kashmir collection only, you can check the entire collection here


Some of the photographs in the  collection are quite unique - like the one of a street and a  market scene of sub-urban Srinagar of  1945.


"Srinagar street scene". 1945.
It looks like a typical Tang'adda or the Tonga Station. In the background one can see the houses (with roof tops covered with, not iris ) and a 'Cheap John' Paper Mache shop to the right. 


The building may not have green cover anymore but these structures can still be seen in Srinagar and the word 'cheap' still retains its charm in Kashmir. 
[The place captured above is Dal Gate Tang Adda (picked up this info. from wallpost of folks sharing this photo on Facebook)]


A 'Cheap Ways' provision Store, 2008.


Stores. 1945
A Tailor Shop, 2008


"Hindu temple and associated tank, Srinagar, Kashmir, 1945"
Some of the Photographs are even intriguing like the photograph of a Hindu temple in Kashmir which I can't identify and whose architecture looks new age ( Plaster-of-Paris Apsaras at the door!) even though it seems to have been built based on traditional Kashmiri Temple style - a water Tank up-front. 

Update On Above image:

The above temple most probably is not from Kashmir. [For more check this post on Gadadhar Temple Jammu]

The above image may in fact be of a Jain temple in Calcutta. Found a structurally similar temple in an article about old images of Raj days found recently in a shoebox.


A Jain temple complex in Calcutta.

[ Update:  That photograph is indeed of the Jain temple in Calcutta. Check photo-essay of India in Life Magazine published in 1942.
Sikh enjoying hookah. 1945.
A Kashmiri Muslim with  Hookah is identified as a Sikh ( sight of a Sikh inhaling tobacco should have been even more rare back then).  In caption to another photograph, this one of a rickshaw stand, the place is identified as Srinagar, Kashmir. One look at that image and the people in that image, you too would have your doubts. Unless Kashmir had Bangladeshi rickshaw puller back then. I think this photograph was actually taken in Calcutta and mistakenly captioned as Kashmir.


"Public transport rickshaws await passengers, Srinigar, Kashmir, 1945"
In spite of these goof-ups, the photographs are a pure delight.


"Fishermen standing up in boats with spears, Srinigar, Kashmir, 1945"
"Scene in Srinigar, Kashmir, 1945"
That view panning Fateh Kadal, Jehlum's Third Bridge. Electrical wires make their debut and once they come into picture, they never go away.


"View across city of Srinigar, Kashmir, 1945"
In the background one can see the Mughal fort Afghan fort (build by Atta Ullah Khan, the Afghan Governor in 1808 ) atop Hari Parbat.


And atop the fort, a cannon.


"Guards at old fort in Srinigar demonstrate how ancient cannon was loaded to be fired. Srinigar, Kashmir, 1945."


"Sikh guard poses with vintage rifle, Srinigar, Kashmir, 1945"
Keagle, as a serviceman must have taken special interest in these armed photographs. There are more than a couple photographs of this Sikh guard offering various military poses to the photographer. Yet, natural beauty and this martial beauty, wasn't the only thing he captured in Kashmir. 




"Four young women, dressed in their finest, Srinigar, Kashmir, 1945"
Here are rest of the Kashmir photographs from Keagle Photograph collection. Input and info. are welcome.

4 comments:

  1. Got this wonderful clue from a reader:

    "Refer Kashmir in 1945/Hindu Temple and associated Tank, Srinagar Kashmir 1945. Though I have not been to valley since exodus in 1989-90 i think it is Gadhadhar Temple as seen from Maisooma Bazar ( River Side). Temple is inside Old Sectretariat, Srinagar.

    Dinesh Labroo"

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dinesh,
    thanks for that wonderful info. That might indeed be true because the structure as seen in this picture certainly seems to be of recent Dogra times. I quick search reveals that the tank many not exist any more as it was filled up in 80s.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Shukriya Jenaab!Jannat - e - benazeer, Waadi - e - laalzaar, Maadr - e - watan Kashmir ke in dil afroz nazaaron ke liye!Post ke akhir main Kashmir ki yeh Black and White tasveeren to lajawaab hain........ Yaad aatein hai.....

    ...........Barf se dhaki hui pahaadiyaan, dil afroz aabshaar, shor machati hui nadiyaan aur apne aap main ek jahaan samete hue jheel - e - dal ki behisaab khamoshi....... Is zakhmi dil ki kaifiyat to yun hua chaahti hai ki kal subuh jab aankh khule to khud ko ek shikaare par tairta hua paayen

    ReplyDelete

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