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Photo book: Illustrated tour along the rivers during British Raj

The book, Picturesque Tour Along The Rivers Ganges and Jumna, in India, offers vintage, inspiring views through illustrations by Lt Colonel Forrest that were aimed to showcase glimpses of the real India from the days of the Raj

City of Benares.  pic courtesy/Niyogi Books, A Picturesque Tour Along The Rivers Ganges and Jumna in India
City of Benares. Pic courtesy/Niyogi Books, A Picturesque Tour Along The Rivers Ganges and Jumna in India

The Taj Mahal, tomb of the emperor shah jehan and his queen: The Taj Mahal was already 200 years old when Forrest visited it and unlike today, was still said to have been in pristine condition.

The Taj MahalPics and information courtesy/ Niyogi Books, A Picturesque Tour Along The Rivers Ganges and Jumna in India

Village and pagoda below patna azimabad: In this plate a contrast of various colours can be seen at the ghat, (Forrest refers to it as ghaut) including the red stone, and dende foliage with different tints of green that make the white buildings stand out.

Village and pagoda below patna azimabad

Raj ghaut and fort of allahabad: Forrest not just comments on the visual sights that meet him along the tour of Ganga but also the prejudices and rituals related to it. One such being ‘Allahabad ranks equally high as Benares in the estimation and religious prejudices of the Hindoos (Hindus). It is the spot were Vishnu, the adored and darling deity of Indian women, first descended from heaven’. Forrest mentions the fort was built by the great ‘Acber’.

Raj ghaut and fort of allahabad

Surseya ghaut, khanpore (kanpur): While in some sections Forrest dubs natives as ‘superstitious wretches urged on by Brahmins’, he also seems taken in by the physical beauty of women, especially those who step out after a fully clothed ritual bath from the Ganga with saris hugging there figures. In his rant of beauty, Forrest considers Hindoos of both sexes of the upper provinces of Bengal as perfect models for sculptors.

Village and pagoda below patna azimabad

Hindoo Pagodas below Barrackpore: Forrest talks about the picturesque pagodas built with ‘cutcha’ or unburnt bricks covered with fine stucco. These pagodas are said to have been backed by palms of different types and bamboos too

Hindoo Pagodas below Barrackpore

A Picturesque Tour Along the Rivers Ganges and Jumna (Jamuna), In India is a collaborative effort between the publishers, Niyogi Books, and National Archives of India.

BOOK

It is a collection of 24 original drawings made on the spot by Forrest (Late On The Staff of His Majesty’s Service in Bengal), a map and descriptions of Forrest’s tour across the river. Belonging to the 19th century, the book is a vivid description of India as viewed by the British then. Priced at Rs 1,600, the book is available online and at all leading bookstores.

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