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Views of Bharatpur and Deeg [i. e. Dig] 1885

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y3022K

Scope and Contents

An album of photographs by Lala Deen Diyal containing albumen prints of various sizes, most measuring either approximately 205 x 145 mm or 250 x 195 mm, with captions beneath prints and signed on the last page 'Deen Diyal Indore 20th August 1885'. The majority of the prints are initialled DD and have an individual number which is also annotated below on the album page. It is assumed this is the photographers’ own reference.

Bharatpur and Deeg (Dig).
This album gives a detailed documentation of the two great fortress cities in the Rajasthan state of Bharatpur. Bharatpur, the capital, and situated some 100 miles ENE of Jaipur, is a walled city on the form of an irregular oblong lying NE-SW. The Inner Fort, surrounded by a mud wall and a ditch is contained on the north-east portion of the Outer Fort. Three palaces run across the centre of the Inner Fort from east to west: the Raja's Palace, Badan Singh's Palace and the Kamra Palace. Access is gained by only two gates, the Chau Burj at the south and the Assaldati at the north.

For 500 years the area was ruled from Delhi but Jat settlement in the late 17th and early 18th centuries displaced imperial rule and the state saw its greatest period of independent power under the leader Suraj Mal. In 1733 he captured Bharatpur from his Jat rival Kham Karan and laid the foundations for a new capital. Twenty years later in 1853 he sacked Delhi, and repelled the imperial forces a year later. Agra he captured in 1761 (which city was held by the Jats until 1774) and after his death in 1763 he was succeeded by his son Jawahir Singh who extended Jat possessions still further. This point marked the height of their power however and the following years saw the diminution of their influence. The rise of Maratha power led to the ceding of Alwar Fort by Bharatpur in 1775 and in 1776 Dig was captured by Najat Khan. The major struggle in the early years of the 19th century was the fight for supremacy between the British and the Marathas and this further eroded Jat domination in the area. The two towns were the scene of hostilities in 1803 when Lord Lake took the field against the Jat/Maratha alliance. In December of that year he took Dig and laid unsuccessful siege to Bharatpur. Four assaults, with great loss of life, failed to breach the defences, but a peace treaty was concluded in April 1805. Bharatpur was again the scene of hostilities when it was stormed by Lord Combermere in 1826 after disputes over the Maharaja's succession.

Dig, a walled town of great antiquity 20 miles north of Bharatpur is of greater architectural importance and is principally famous for the palace of fine-grained sandstone built by Suraj Mal: 'Dîg ... is on a perfectly level plain, and laid out with a regularity that would satisfy the most fastidious Renaissance architect. It is wholly the work of Sûraj-Mall, the virtual founder of the Bharatpur dynasty, who commenced it, apparently in 1725 ... It wants, it is true, the massive character of the fortified palaces of other Râjput states, but for grandeur of conception and beauty of detail it surpasses them all.
The whole palace was to have consisted of a rectangular enclosure twice the length of its breadth, surrounded with buildings, with a garden in the centre, divided into two parts by a broad terrace, intended to carry the central pavilion. Only one of these rectangles has been completed, measuring about 700 feet square, crossed in the centre by ranges of the most beautiful fountains and parterres, laid out in the formal style of the East, and interspersed with architectural ornaments of the most elaborate finish'. Fergusson (1910), volume 2, pp.178-79.


  • Creation: 1880 - 1885

Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Lala Deen Diyal (also written 'Din Dyal' and 'Dayal') was born at Sardhana near Meerut in 1844. He trained at Thomason Civil Engineering College, Roorkee and subsequently, in 1866, became the head estimator and draftsman at the Public Works Department, Indore. His interest in photography was probably sparked off at Roorkee where in 1864 a photographer was appointed to train those Indians who were to be employed in photographing public works. Whatever the origins Deen Diyal, according to his own memoirs, took up the craft on an amateur basis with the encouragement of Sir Henry Daly in 1874 and in the following year he photographed Lord Northbrook (Viceroy 1872-76) and the Prince of Wales (1875-76), then in India on a royal tour. He subsequently took a two year furlough from his official duties in order to concentrate on completing a series of views and opened studios in Secunderabad, Indore and, in 1896, Bombay. Over 50 people were employed in the three branches and part of the business was supervised by Deen Diyal's two sons Raji Gyan Chand (d.1919) and Lala Daram Chand (d.1904). In 1892 he installed a Zenana studio in his Secunderabad branch, operated by Mrs Kenny-Levick, wife of the editor of the Deccan Times. The death of Lala Daram Chand in 1904 precipitated the closure of the Bombay branch and the Indore one the following year, but until Lala Deen Diyal's own death the firm remained the most important of the Indian photographic businesses. Much of this pre-eminence was accounted for by the sponsorship of both Europeans and Indians in high places: he was chosen to accompany Sir Henry Daly on his tour of the Bundalkund Agencies and in 1882 travelled through central India with Sir Lepel Griffin. The most important of these patrons however was the Nizam of Hyderabad who in 1884 appointed him state photographer and paved the way for his similar employment by a number of Viceroys, including Lord Dufferin (Viceroy 1884-88). After Deen Diyal's death in 1911, the firm declined although its fortunes revived somewhat in later years and several of Deen Diyal's direct descendants are active in commercial photography in present day Hyderabad.


1 album(s) (36 images in 1 album)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Handle with care, album pages fragile (water damage). Photographs generally in good condition, but with some fading.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Originally part of the Imperial Institute Library, the volume was presented to the RCS by the Commonwealth Institute.

Existence and Location of Copies

This collection is available on microfiche: South Asia, fiche number 26-27.


As well as having over 250 of his views purchased by the Archaeological Survey of India, his work also appears in the following volumes: 11 prints in Cole, H.H. (1884-5), 'Preservation of national monuments in India', 2 vols, Calcutta; 24 prints in 'Photographs of places of interest in India' (1891 ?); 89 collotypes in Griffin, Lepel (1886), 'Famous monuments of Central India : illustrated by a series of eighty-nine photographs in permanent autotype', London : Autotype Co., Henry Sotheran and Co. For a brief outline of the architectural importance of Dig see: Fergusson, James (1910), History of Indian and Eastern architecture, vol. 2, London: John Murray.


This collection level description was entered by SG using information from the original typescript catalogue.

Date information

DateText: The date on the last page relates to the compilation of the album: many of the individual prints were taken earlier in the decade..


Diyal, Lala Deen, 1844-1910, photographer

Includes index.
2004-03-01 15:09:00+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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