Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Forgotten Kashmir: A Collage of Old Photographs

Old Photographs of Kashmir, Srinagar, Dal Lake, valley
(Click to enlarge)
(Update:
Now may enjoy these photographs of Kashmir in video!
Also you may like to visit my Kashmir blog: Search Kashmir)
‘who has not heard of the vale of Cashmere,
With its roses the brightest that earth ever gave,
Its temples, and grottos, and fountains as clear,
As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave.’
— Popular lines from Thomas Moore's poem Lalla Rookh

For a man who never visited Kashmir, Thomas Moore certainly had a clear image of the fabled Kashmir. He saw Kashmir through writings of other writer who had seen Kashmir. A generation later people were to be enticed by the images captured by the photographers traveling through the ‘happy Valley’ Kashmir.

This collage comprises of some of these very images and few of the oldest photographs of Kashmir.

About the Photographs:
Starting from Top Right, the photographs in first row are by Samuel Bourne, who visited Kashmir in 1864.

  • Kashmir - The Srinagar Bazaar on the Jhelum
  • Poplar Avenue - Srinagar, Kashmir
  • View on the Jhelum at Srinagar, Kashmir

Found these three photographs here at harappa.com

  • Photograph of a boat in Munshi Bagh, Srinagar from the Brandreth Collection: 'Views in Simla, Cashmere and the Punjaub' taken by Samuel Bourne in the 1860s. Srinagar the capital of Kashmir is a city of lakes and waterways, gardens and picturesque wooden architecture. The caption states, 'One of the Maharaja's boats such as lent to the Comr or Resident on duty & to others, as myself. He has several of these each with 20 rowers.
The next two rows of photograph are by Fred Bremner

  • Kashmiri Minstrels (called Bhand) , 1900
  • A Village Girl, Kashmir , 1905
  • Specimens of Kashmir Carving, 1900
  • Soonamurg, Top of the Sind Valley, 1900
He writes:
"I arrived at Soonamarg, top of the Valley, early in November, when their happened to be a fall of snow, and interesting were the pictures which I obtained there. Soonamurg is at an elevation of 8,000 feet and some years ago it was looked upon as the resort for a residence of several months, and many were the Europeans who used to camp in and around the meadow."
(Forty Years, pg. 52)

  • The Jhelum River, Kashmir, 1900
"Passing through the Jhelum Valley and river the steep mountain sides are clad with pine, deodar and other trees of stalwart height, and in the depths of the valley below, some 3,000 feet, the river winds its tortuous way, just as the road winds through the mountains as far as the river below and rising again to the summit of a few thousand feet - their eye may sometimes rest on a figure slowly gliding through mid-air with no apparent support whatever. Coming to close quarters one sees a crossing by rope bridges. It is a curious way of engineering these people have. One of the bridges is merely a single rope made of tough twisted cowhide and secured at both banks of the river. The passenger is seated in a small suspended cradle. He then lets himself go and his own impetus carries him fully half-way over and he is pulled across the remaining distance by a smaller guiding rope."

  • View on the Jhelum River near Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, 1900
"Leaving the city one cannot do better than be rowed up to the Dhal Lake, which is aid to be one of the most beautiful spots in Kashmir. . .. Entering the Dhal Lake, which measures about 4 miles by 2 1/2, one cannot help but admire the works of nature which are depicted in a variety of beautiful ways in the stillness of the water combined with mirror-like reflections of the mountain ridges."
(Forty Years, pp. 48-49)

  • The Dhal Lake, Kashmir, 1900
"The stillness and clearness of Dhal Lake make it comparatively easy to catch fish with the aid of a spear instead of by rod and line. Boatmen are the class with whom visitors to Kashmir come most intimately in contact. They are said to claim Noah as their ancestor, and certain it is that if they did not borrow the pattern of their boats from Noah's Ark, Noah must have borrowed the pattern from them! Families live permanently on the boats, and they all have their little cooking places on board, and an enormous wooden pestle and mortar with which women and very often children pound the rice or grain."
(Forty Years, pg. 48).

Next six rows of photographs are by John Burke and appear in the book From Kashmir to Kabul: The Photographs of John Burke

  • Ruins of the Small Temple at Pattan, 1864-68
  • Resident's Boat on the Dhul Canal, Srinagar, Kashmir, 1868-72
  • Akbar's Bridge on the Dal Lake, 1868-72
  • Old Bridge on the Mar Canal, Srinagar, Kashmir, 1868-72
  • Two Nautch women from Kashmir, 1862-64. The name of woman on the left is given as Sabie, a prominent Nautch woman of her time

  • A Group of Dancing Girls, Kashmir
  • Down the Jehlum river from the 3rd Bridge of Srinagar
  • The Fakir and Cave of manusbal(Manasbal) and the next photograph is of Ladakhians
  • Azeezie, seems to have been a popular nautch girl, a fact testified by her numerous photographs in the Burke collection. These Nautch girls were a prominent feature of Kashmir and most of them stayed and worked in Shalimar Gardens. ( Read more about Nautch girls of Kashmir)
  • A Gentleman, Srinagar, 1862-64
The next bunch of photographs are mostly uncredited:
  • Group of Famous Brahmin Pundits, circa 1900
Found it at Kamat.com
  • Two photographs of Brahmins of Kashmir. The second photograph one is from 1875.
  • Much extolled Beauty in Kashmir, 1910 (Read more about fables of Kashmiri beauty)
Back of the card reads - Printed: Views of India Series Printed in Saxony

Another set of Photographs by John Burke

  • Pillar Near the Jumma Masjid in Srinagar, 1868




    Gateway of enclosure, (once a Hindu temple) of Zein-ul-ab-ud-din's Tomb, in Srinagar. Probable date A.D. 400 to 500 (?), 1868. John Burke. Oriental and India Office Collection. British Library. Photograph of the gateway and enclosure of Zain-ul-abidin's tomb at Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, taken by John Burke in 1868. This photograph is reproduced in Henry Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India report, 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir' (1869), when Cole wrote, 'In the Panels of the Gateways, there is proof that buildings had previously existed, in which columns play a part...The break in the roof is also remarkable as occurring in conjunction with the simplicity of the enclosing wall, and indicates, I think, that the Gateway is probably more modern than the wall, and may perhaps have been set up by the Mahomedans out of some of the materials of other ruined temples of which a quantity lies strewn all over Srinagar.' Zain-ul-abidin (ruled 1421-72) was one of Kashmir's greatest rulers from its Islamic period, under whose reign it enjoyed peace and prosperity and progress in the arts. His father Sikandar has been tainted in Kashmiri history as Butshikan or idol-breaker, but Zain-ul-abidin was tolerant towards his Hindu subjects. The fertile valley of Kashmir offered a retreat from the crossroads of Asia in the high Himalayas, and developed its own distinctive architecture. Buddhism was established here from the 3rd century BC but was eclipsed by the 8th century AD by the flourishing Hindu Vaishnava and Shaiva cults. Kashmir finally became a great centre of the Shaiva religion and philosophy and a seat of Sanskrit learning and literature. By the 14th century Kashmir came under Islamic rule. Most of its early temples were sacked in the 15th century and their remains were sometimes incorporated in later Islamic monuments. The tomb of the mother of Zain-ul-abidin was built in c.1430 on the foundations of an old Hindu temple, and was decorated with glazed tiles. Immediately to the north of this building is an enclosing wall and gateway made of Hindu materials, which contains a number of tombs, one of which is said to preserve the remains of the Sultan himself.
  • Temple at Pathan (Pandrethan), 1868
  • Temple at Pandrethan, 1868
  • Three photographs of Sun Temple of Martand, 1868
  • Another photograph of the temple at Pandrethan
Found these photographs here at Harappa.com

Rest of the photographs are uncredited

  • Butchershop called as pujwaan in Kashmiri Language, Kashmir
  • Chenar Bagh, Srinagar, Kashmir
  • Photograph of Fatheh Kadal, 1941
  • A typical rural household from Kashmir
  • Lotus flowers called as pamposh in kashmir, Dal Lake, 1943
  • Fisherman or Gad'e Henz., Dal lake, 1940.
  • Jhelum River winding through Kashmir Valley, 1890
  • A Labourer at Dal lake , 1941
  • Gade'wol Man with catch of fish, 1937.
  • Shankaracharya Temple, Kashmir. Also known by the name Tukt-I-Suliman or The Throne of Solomon

The oldest temple in Kashmir, both in appearance and according to
tradition, is that upon the hill of "Takt i Suliman," or Solomon's
Throne. It stands 1,000 feet above the plain, and commands a view of
the greater part of Kashmir.

The situation is a noble one, and must have been amongst the first
throughout the whole valley which was selected as the position of
a temple. Its erection is ascribed to Jaloka, the son of Asoka,
who reigned about 220 B.C.

The plan of the temple is octagonal, each side being fifteen feet in
length. It is approached by a flight of eighteen steps, eight feet
in width, and inclosed between two sloping walls. Its height cannot
now be ascertained, as the present roof is a modern plastered dome,
which was probably built since the occupation of the country by the
Sikhs. The walls are eight feet thick, which I consider one of the
strongest proofs of the great antiquity of the building.
From: Diary of a Pedestrian in Cashmere and Thibet by William Henry Knight
  • Dal Lake, 1937
  • Vegetable Shop or Sabzi' wan. Wan being the Kashmiri word for 'Shop'.
  • Woman rowing a Sikara, Dal Lake, 1944
  • Kashmiri potter, rural Kashmir
  • Saraf Kadal on Mar canal, Srinagar, Kashmir
Not without a reason was Srinagar called the 'Venice of the East'
The Mar canal formed an interesting waterway meandering through the city. Wherever the back waters of the Dal lake flowed through the city, it was known as the Mar canal deriving its name from the beautiful Marsar. The major portion of the water of the Dal lake came from the Marsar lake situated beyond the Harwan water reservoir. There was a network of Mar canals flowing through the city. An interesting clustering existed along the canals, some of the houses belonged to the rich merchants, as can be deciphered from the scale and magnificance of the buildings along the waterway. The canal has since been filled up to form a road. An interesting feature here is the row of shops along the bridge which formed an interesting walking experience across the canal. The shops appear to project out along the length of the bridge, as can be seen, with the help of timber columns resting on the banks on both sides. At Sekhi dafar there was an interesting streetscape. It was probably an important street within the cluster along the waterway. There was a row of shops on the ground floor of the houses along the street. The houses overlooked the waterway on one side and the street on the of the houses along the street. The houses overlooked the waterway on one side and the street on the other.
Read more here


  • A view of Srinagar City
  • A locality in suburb of Srinagar
  • Shankaracharya Temple, 1942
  • Backwater of Dal Lake, 1941
  • The Maharajah's State Barge, 1873
  • A Kashmiri grocery store or Kiryan'wan
  • The daily life of Kashmiri Woman in rural Kashmir
  • A Sketch of Floating Gardens of Kashmir. These are known as raadh in Kashmiri
  • Women working in field, weeding, while a royal guard looks on.
  • Papier machie work in progress
  • The weir at Chattabal, a suburb of Srinager ,1934. That's the place where I was born.
  • Habakadal, Srinagar
  • On the Dhul canal with Tukht (throne), 1864-68 by John Burke.
  • The bank of river Jhelum, 1937
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The pictures (towards the end) having the watermark India Pictures are from the website IndiaPictures 
. Most of these photographs were taken by famous photographer Ram Chand Mehta  for Royal Geographical Society in 1930 and 1940s.

Also thanks to those that I may have missed!
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