Long before Instagram filters added a vintage touch to modern Indian life, real sepia-toned photographs were the norm.
In the 1850s, photography spread widely throughout the country, with the launch of a number of photographic societies, as well as studios in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai that did brisk business.
With time, many of these black and white photographs lay forgotten in family archives. But the Indian Memory Project, founded in 2010 by Mumbai-based photographer and curator Anusha Yadav, is bringing them back to life.
“The basic idea was that if you put several pictures together, you can trace the history of a country, or of the world,” Yadav, a graduate of Ahmedabad’s National Institute of Design, told Quartz. “In my case, I just chose to trace the history of the country through personal stories and photographs.”
The result is a delightful and growing collection of old treasures, featuring everything from family portraits to pictures of beauty queens, wrestling champions and more.
For the past week, Yadav took over the Instagram feed of the New Yorker magazine’s photo department, posting a number of beautiful photographs, along with the stories of the people pictured.
“I have chosen simple stories, but those which have a powerful impact,” Yadav explained, adding that it was important to select photographs with descriptions that would resonate even among those with little or no connection to India’s history.
And the response, according to Yadav, has been “fantastic.”
Here are some of the photographs that were featured.
Image and Text contributed by Anisha Jacob Sachdev, New Delhi. This picture with my mother Anupa Jacob, standing right (nee Nathaniel) and her friend Shalini when they were in school at Convent of Jesus & Mary in Delhi in 1962. They were around 15 years old. My mother was a Rajasthani, from the small town near Ajmer. Her father was orphaned when a plague hit the village, he and many others were then adopted by the British. Everyone adopted was converted to Christianity and given the last name ‘Nathaniel’. From Nathu Singh, my grandfather became Fazal Masih Nathaniel. He went on to become the Head of the English Language Department at Mayo College, in Rajasthan My mother married my father Philip Jacob, in 1968. He is a Syrian Christian – whom she met while she was studying at school at the age of 15. One of the most interesting parts of my mother’s life was that Shalini, some other friends and she, formed the first ever Delhi University‘s Girl Rock Band called “Mad Hatter” in their 1st year of college at Miranda House. It is so far the first known girl band of India, as we no knowledge of anything earlier, yet. My mother was the lead guitarist and singer. Family stories say that , when the Beatles came in Delhi in 1966, the Mad Hatters even got to meet them. My mother had four kids. She was also a piano teacher, and her youngest child and my youngest sister Arunima is autistic but an ace piano player and has performed Beethoven Music pieces with complete accuracy. My mother suffered a cardiac arrest in 1982, and passed away in 1986. Shalini, my mother’s friend in the photograph (left) is now a psychologist in London. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator – Anusha Yadav – @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image and text by Sheetal Sudhir, Mumbai "This picture of my grandfather Manjerikandy Ramchandran, was taken when he was 16 years old, in Cannanore, (now Kannur) Kerala in 1927 just before he set sail for Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania for the first time. The British colonies and occupation on both sides of the Indian Ocean (India & Tanzania, Africa) had revived the sea trade as well as migrations for work and opportunity. My grandfather poses here with leopard skin wrist bands and I am especially proud of his eight pack abs. He returned to India five years later and won the All India Heavyweight Wrestling and Weightlifting championship beating several champions including the Sri Lankan heavyweight wrestling champion in 1937. His son Sudhir Ramchandran is my father who was born in British Tanganyika and retains his British Citizenship until this day. My grandfather was also responsible for building gymnasiums in Cannanore (Kannur) and in Tanzania. There are several tales of how he used to be called to handle local robbers, who existed in plenty those days. My father tells me that my grandfather's happiest life was in Dar-es-salaam. After my grandfather retired in 1968, he moved back to Cannanore, India, to build a house but passed away the same year of cancer." ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from one of the most curious and interesting countries in the world, India. Follow us as we present India's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. www.indianmemoryproject.com is the world's first visual and narrative based archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives contributed by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator – Anusha Yadav – @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image and text contributed by Mrudula Prabhuram Joshi, Bombay This photograph taken in 1935, Bombay (Mumbai) is of a beautiful woman , Sharda Pandit, a scion of a Maharashtrian aristocrat family.. She was born in Rajkot, Gujarat. She was hailed as the ‘Beauty Queen’ of Elphinstone College of Bombay, in fact of all collegians of the city; because Bombay (now Mumbai) had only three colleges at that time – Elphinstone, Wilson and St. Xavier’s. She possessed a kind of serene beauty, singular charm and grace. Her contemporaries from other colleges would drop by just to have a glimpse of this icon of beauty. Not only was she beautiful to look at, she possessed a beautiful heart, too. At that time, there were only a handful of women students in the colleges, most of whom were from middle-class families. Sharda would get along amicably with everyone despite her wealthy family background. She acted as the heroine of several plays during the college years, for the Annual College Day functions. Sharda and my mother, Kamini Vijaykar were classmates and that is how I came to know about her. Later on, Sharda married Subroto Mukherjee, the first Air Chief Marshal of the Indian Air Force in 1939. After his untimely death in 1960, she devoted herself to social service and political activism. For some time, she was also the Governor of Andhra Pradesh from 1977-1978 and then the Governor of Gujarat from 1978 to 1983. She kept herself busy with several constructive activities. She was beyond 90 years of age when she passed away, but preserved her inner and outer beauty till the very last. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator – Anusha Yadav – @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image and Text contributed by Nihaal Faizal, Bangalore This is an image of my great-grandparents, Haleema Hashim with her husband Hashim Usman. Cochin (now Kochi), Kerala, c. 1955. My Great-grandmother Haleema Hashim was born in Burma in 1928, and when she was 4, the family migrated to Kerala, India, her ancestral land. Her family belonged to the Kutchi Memon community of Gujarat. Kutchi Memons are Sunni Muslims from Sindh (in Pakistan) who migrated to Kutch, Gujarat after their conversion to Islam. At the age of 17 she married Hashim Usman, whose family business was Sea food exports. They had eight children, one of whom is my maternal grandfather. After her marriage, my great grandmother Haleema whom I call 'Ummijaan' began to develop an interest in photography and taught herself the craft via books & magazines. She had 2 cameras, an Agfa Isolette 3, her first, and then a Yashica. I am told that her brother would take the negatives to a studio to have them developed for her. Her photographs featured relatives as well as brides-to-be women from the Kutchi Memon community. Many of also featured her children, and especially her identical twin daughters Kiran and Suman. She would position her children in varying poses, create sets in and around the house and her garden, with furniture and home-ware props. Ummijaan, never practiced professionally, nor do I think she was in an environment where photography was encouraged, but perhaps it was the very reason she could practice and experiment with no intervention. She continued photographing for 25 years , which has now comprised into an enormous body of work. Standing not very encouraged, Ummijaan gradually gave up photography and assuming that the images had no value and no one would be interested, she burnt all her negatives down. But I did find hundreds of her prints. Ummijaan is now 88 years old, she doesn’t keep too well and her memory is almost lost. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. presenting Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited. www.indianmemoryproject.com founded by @photowaali Anusha Yadav
Image & text Veena Sajnani. Bangalore. As told to Smita Sajnani. In 1970, when I was a fashion model, I toured with Femina all over India doing fashion shows.Our salary at the time was Rs. 150 ($2.3) per show and it was a lot of fun. While rehearsing one day, I was informed that I was no longer required on the ramp. Very upset, I presumed I had been kicked out because I had made a mistake. But no, apparently a call for Miss India 1970 had been announced and I was selected to participate. The funny part was, I hadn’t even applied for it. I then found out that Meher Mistry and Persis Khambatta, both of whom were the original Super Models of India, and close friends, had filled in the application form on my behalf. Before the day of the pageant, we were asked to come to the Times of India office terrace (parent company of Femina) with a swim-suit and be photographed in it, because in those days, judges looked at pictures instead of the actual girls in swim-suits. On the pageant day, the judges came backstage to check us and since it was dark they had flashlights and our photos in their hands. We all giggled but it was better than walking out half naked under full lights. During the pageant’s fashion show, Persis who was walking the ramp decided to find out how I was faring. Each time she was on the ramp she would peek into the judges’ notes and claimed she saw the number 6, my number. We all pooh and paahed but when the winner was announced it was indeed me, Veena Sajnani. Persis and Meher were thrilled to bits. After all I had beaten Zeenat Aman (later a famous movie star). I too was happy for myself for joining the elite band of Miss Indias. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of Instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is the world's first visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images & narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator – Anusha Yadav – @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image & Text by Juhi Pande, London This is one of my most favorite pictures, taken in a small town known as Etawah, Uttar Pradesh (North India) in 1977. My mother (right) had just finished her graduation and was teaching in a school. My aunt Rashmi, the bike rider was still in school, in the 12th standard. They lived there with their father, Dr. Krishna Kumar, a Chief Medical Officer. In Etawah, there used to be a local fair every year which the entire city would attend, because that’s what you did when you were in Etawah. There were food stalls and rides and balloon & air gun shooting galleries. And then there was this photo studio where one could take dashing, avant-garde photographs. So, of course Soma & Rashmi climbed aboard this cardboard bike and posed. I can almost hear Rashmi’s laughter once the picture was developed. I feel you cannot entirely be pretty unless you are a bit silly. My mother and my aunt were born four years apart. But that’s just a technicality. Soulmates is a very vanilla word when it comes to them. Born to doctors, they lead a very nomadic life until their 20s. Growing up from little girls to stunning young women I feel that they started to think alike yet maintained such different personalities that it was remarkable. I genuinely believe that they can read each others minds. I feel I love Dhruv, my brother, just like Soma Loves Rashmi. And I know it’s genetic. My aunt Rashmi, now lives in Germany and my mother in Mumbai …………. This is @indianmemoryproject from one of the most curious and interesting countries in the world, India. Follow us as we present India's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. www.indianmemoryproject.com is the world's first visual and narrative based archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives contributed by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator – Anusha Yadav – @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image & Text by Jason Scott Tilley, UK “I will never be sure if my grandpa, Bert Scott, would have wanted anyone to find these negatives, for they were his secrets from the moment he left India. Bert Scott was born in Bangalore in 1915. His family had lived in India since the 17th century. In 1936, he became a press photographer with Times of India, but during India & Pakistan’s #Partition, he fled to the UK. Inside one of trunks he travelled with, was his archive of 5000+ images. After grandpa passed away, I found thousands of photographs, including a discreet blue sleeve with four negatives as single frames, of a young girl who was not my grandmother. It was an unknown beautiful Anglo-Indian girl, Margurite Mumford, whose photographs seemed more intimate than others. Moreover, grandpa had kept her negatives separate from the rest. Undoubtedly, this had been a romantic relationship. I set out to find who Margurite was but there were no clues. Many months later, I noticed a faded scribble 'Lovedale’ by a photograph. ‘Lovedale’ turned out to be the Lawrence Memorial Military School in Ooty in Niligiri Hills. I also remembered that my great-grandfather had a home in Ooty so it had to be the place where the two met. An enquiry with the school led me to Gladys, Margurite’s sister, in USA. Gladys remembered it all and informed me that Margurite was indeed alive, 96 years old and living in New Zealand, in an old people’s home. I connected with Marguirite’s family and sent her a photo of grandpa. I am told Margurite’s hopeful reaction was, “Is Bertie here?” My grandpa was indeed her first true love, but like millions, Magurite too fled India during Partition; married an Irishman and moved to New Zealand. Partition, the biggest tragedy of the subcontinent broke a billion people but at least the pictures show us that two people meant a lot to each other. Margurite passed away aged 100 in February, 2015”………….. This is @indianmemoryproject India. Follow us as we present India's surprising history through photographs & lives of its people. Indianmemoryproject.com is the world's first visual and narrative based archive. Founded By Anusha Yadav @photowaali
Image & Text by Nyay Bhushan, New Delhi This is the only image of my great grand-father, Vasu Deva Sharma, in our family archives. It shows him as an artist in Berlin, Dressed in a well-tailored suit. Vasu Deva was one of the 3 indians of his time who studied at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London in the 1920s. This picture c. 1925, was taken by a German photographer, Karl Alexander Berg. The stamp under the image suggests that Berg was appointed to the German Royal Court. Vasu Deva was born in 1881 in what is now the Pakistani Punjab. In 1911 he became a Drawing Professor and in 1920, a 39 year old, Vasu Deva gave up his job after receiving a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. He sailed from Bombay to London on the ship Kaisar-I-Hind. After graduation Vasu Deva sent his graduation cap and gown to his family as his ‘earnings’. His final term file states: “Plodding, ambitious of improvement, industrious, this Indian student has taken full advantage of the methods & initiative a European School of Art can offer" Vasu Deva then embarked on a tour of Europe to study original works of art . Not much is known but that the travels spanned Scandinavia, France, Germany, Italy and Greece. It is possible that he worked as a commissioned artist to earn an extra income. To imagine a traveling Indian artist in Europe at an important time in the continent’s history makes my great grandfather’s story a fascinating adventure. In 1927, Vasu Dev returned to Lahore and became a well recognised artist with several royal & important patrons, and students. A year before the partition of India and Pakistan Vasu Deva Sharma passed away in 1946, at the age of 65. After his death, the family moved to India just before the nation wide partition riots of 1947. The 2 things that they saved of my great grandfather's were his original RCA diploma and this photograph. It is understood that the mansion was looted including his artworks. I am always looking for any surviving works by Vasu Deva Sharma, that could be in Europe, Pakistan & India ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject , India. Follow us as we present India's surprising visual history. By Anusha Yadav @photowaali
Image & Text by Rakesh Anand Bakshi, Mumbai On October 2, 1947 my 17-year old father Anand Bakshi’s family was informed that their colony in Rawalpindi (now Pakistan) was going to be attacked. They had only minutes to grab personal effects and valuables before fleeing overnight. On reaching Delhi, India, my grandfather took stock of all that the family had managed to carry. Upon seeing what my father had carried, he was livid. My father Anand had carried what he had thought were valuables, a few photographs; and particularly those of his mother whom he had lost when he was nine. On being yelled at, my father said – “Money we can earn, but if these photos of her were lost, no amount of money could ever bring them back for me. Pictures of her are all I have.” This photo is one from the few my father managed to save. It has My father, Anand Prakash Bakshi as a child with his parents in Rawalpindi. (now Pakistan). Circa 1935 Post partition, he joined the Indian Army. In 1950 a poem of his was published in the Army publication ‘Sainik Samachar’. That gave him the confidence to try his luck as a songwriter in Hindi films in Bombay, a dream he had long harboured. But it took two failed attempts and many years of struggle before my father, Anand Bakshi, got established. Post 1967 he never lacked work until he passed away in 2002. He had by then written nearly 3300 Hindi song lyrics, for nearly 630 movies. Some of his top songs, like “Dum Maro Dum”, found cult status. Sometimes I wonder what made my father survive the loss of his mother, his land of birth, his youth, and lead an impoverished life for nearly two decades. The secret may lie in what he always said – “There is something inside of me superior to my circumstances, stronger than every situation of life.” ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject , India. Follow us as we present India's surprising history through photographs & lives of its people. Indianmemoryproject.com is the world's first visual and narrative based archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives contributed by people from all over the world. Founded by – Anusha Yadav – @photowaali
Image and Text contributed by Abhijit Das Gupta, Kolkata This image is of my swimming trainer Nalin Malik (left) with my father and me in Calcutta (now Kolkata), West Bengal. It was photographed in 1950. I was about four years old. My Father used to take me to the swimming club in Dhakuria lake (renamed Rabindra Sarovar). The pool in the club doesn’t exist anymore. People used to say that Nalin Malik did not swim – he mowed the water apart. What is not known well is that Nalin represented British India in the 1932 Olympics held in Los Angeles, USA . He never had any formal training, infact he was so poor that he could not even afford full meals. My uncle, Pankaj Gupta spotted Nalin swimming in the Ganges. Pankaj Gupta was a sports administrator and also began his career with the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He was a manager and coach to the Indian contingent and managed several sports events across Europe and the USA. Nalin Malik stood fourth in the 400 Meters Swimming Heat 4. He swam without even a proper swimming costume. The unfortunate part is that Nalin remained an unacknowledged, secluded, and a very lonely man whom no one remembered or paid tribute to. I, however, have fond memories of him. He was a very tough trainer. On this day in a cold December of 1950 he made me cross the lake. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator – Anusha Yadav – @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image & Text by Anusha Yadav, Mumbai These are images of my mother and her sisters, holding their degrees with pride. Some of these were also used as matrimonial pictures. All the sisters (Left to right) Kusum, Madhavi, Suman, Aruna, Shalini and Nalini were born between 1935 – 1946 in Agra in Uttar Pradesh. My eldest aunt Kusum (left most), committed suicide in 1967, yet no one spoke of it until 2009. My youngest aunt Nalini (bottom right) eloped from home to marry a man she had fallen in love; (very scandalous for a conservative Indian family). The rest led quieter lives, doing what was prescribed at the time for ‘good’ Indian women to do All sisters were well educated – some even triple degree holders, in Bachelors, Masters and Diplomas in Science, History, Economics, Dance, Arts, Painting and Teaching. Each one was formally trained in Tailoring, Embroidery, Shooting, First Aid, Swimming, Horse-riding, Music, Dance, Crafts and Cooking It still baffles me that except for one, Aruna (bottom left) not one sought to form careers of their own. My aunts conjecture that it was due to protective brothers, and it wasn't an era appropriate for single women to work before marriage. – Not that given a choice, they would actively pursue a career, because the man earned and the women, they took care of households. That was the norm. But they were all feisty, fiercely talented and ensured that we received at least some of their knowledge from the time we could walk. We were encouraged to read Hindi and English literature, we were trained in classical/ folk music & dances, embroidery, painting and cooking. By the 1980s the tide was turning. More women from middle-class economic backgrounds had begun working to generate a second income. I wasn't very good at academics, so my second eldest aunt ensured that I was sent for typing, short-hand and beauty parlour lessons. She believed at the least, if I could not be a good secretary, 'beauty was always going to be in business'. For all the lessons, important or amusing, I will be grateful to them —- This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Presenting India's history via photos & persona stories.By @photowaali Anusha Yadav
Image & Text by Amita Bajaj, Mumbai. This is a picture of my grandparents, uncles aunts on my parents' wedding day Jullandhar, Punjab in 1958. My grandfather was a famous & well off Doctor. He and my grandmother had 3 sons. The youngest was my father. In 1947, Partition was imminent, & my uncle tried to convince my grandmother to sell her savings – stacks of silver bricks in the basement of their mansion, in sialkot, now Pakistan but my grandmother refused “People will say that we are bankrupt!”. On August 14, 1947, the family saw police running away from rioters & it was time to leave. A few days later, with some of their valuables, they crossed River Ravi to Amritsar, India with 2 trunks – one with gold jewellery and the other with silver. The trunk with the silver fell in the river and got lost in the sea of people fleeing to and from Pakistan & India, both. My grandparents’ savings, their mansion & the silver bricks were lost forever, except for the trunk with gold that reached India. My mother, the bride in the picture, is wearing a set from that trunk. By 1950, the family had settled in Jullunder (now Jalandhar) where my grandfather was given a mansion of a muslim Judge who had left for Pakistan in 1947. The mansion was “claim property” (in lieu of the property worth Millions left behind in Pakistan). One day in 1958 the family witnessed a huge crowd outside their mansion with scores of policemen, jeeps, trucks and cars with dark window curtains. Apparently the original owners of the mansion, two women from Pakistan with all requisite permissions & police from both countries had come to claim assets they had left behind. My grandmother shaking with anger and disbelief, led the way. Nearing an alcove, the ladies knocked a make shift wall down to reveal an 18” tall glass shade of a candelabra crammed to the brim with gold & stone-studded jewellery, gold & silver coins. Everyone froze in awe & shock. The Pakistani ladies took their treasure back, a decade after the bloodiest partition in history, where over one million people lost their lives. Perhaps only a few recovered what they lost. …..This is @indianmemoryproject India by @photowaali Anusha Yadav
Image and text contributed by Geetali Tare, Simla, Himachal Pradesh. Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu, or C.K. Nayudu, as he is better known, was born in Nagpur in October 1895. He was the first captain of the Indian cricket team to play England in 1932. His playing career spanned six decades. Nayadu's father was a lawyer and landlord of several villages in Nagpur. He sent both his sons to England for further studies in Law. Nayadu was acclaimed for his physical prowess and known as Hercules in Cambridge varsity Campus. When he returned to India he served as Justice in High court of Holkar State for some years and functioned as Chief justice for some time. He made his debut in first class cricket 1916, playing for the Hindus against the Europeans. He played first-class cricket regularly until 1958, and then returned to the game for one last time in 1963 at the age of 68. He moved to Indore in 1923, on the invitation of Maharaja Holkar and would transform the Holkar team into one that would win many Ranji trophies. This picture was found in an old family album belonging to my uncle, Madhukar Dravid. My great-uncles Vasant Dravid and Narayan Dravid were great friends of Nayudu and his brother C.S. Nayudu. This picture was taken by my great-uncle, Vasant Dravid who is some manner also related to Rahul Dravid, a famous cricketer of Modern India . The year the photograph was taken is not known, but my uncle puts it around 1940. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator – Anusha Yadav – @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image & Text by by Minal Hajratwala, Bangalore/USA This image was photographed when my second cousin, Dalpat Kapitan and his family were at the Durban airport in 1960, en route to a family vacation in India. This was also at the height of “petty apartheid” in South Africa, when all public places were being segregated. Kapitan and his family owned a restaurant in Durban, South Africa, and his father and my Great great uncle, G.C. Kapitan is credited with inventing the fava-bean version of the “bunny chow.” The bunny chow, a loaf of bread filled with curry, is considered by some to be South Africa’s national dish. As an American I feel, we all have immigration somewhere in our family histories, and we are all citizens of some diaspora or another. Intrigued by my own, I wrote a book called "Leaving India " which was about one family, my family and how they migrated out of India, to five continents over a 100 years. We belonged to north west India, in Gujarat. My great grandfather was the first one to leave India in 1909, and went to Fiji on a ship. He was a tailor so he opened a small tailoring shop which many years later, though his sons became the largest department store in the South Pacific. The Narseys building. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from, India. Follow us as we present Indian Subcontinent's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. All texts are edited to fit the format of instagram. www.indianmemoryproject.com is a visual and narrative archive that traces a history of a largely undocumented subcontinent, via images and narratives sent by people from all over the world. Founded by Photographer/Curator – Anusha Yadav – @photowaali #history #indiansubcontinent
Image and text contributed by Anil Dhar, Mumbai This is probably the first, and as it turned out, the last ever photograph taken of my entire Kashmiri Pandit extended family. The Dhar Family. My grandmother, Tara Dhar, stands second from right in the top row, and my grandfather Raghunath Dhar, fourth from right in the same row. Between the men is my great grandmother, Sokhmal Dhar. The family was photographed in Vicharnag, Srinagar, Kashmir around 1915. Vicharnag when translated means “the spring of contemplation". It is a small village situated on the outskirts of Srinagar, Kashmir – and has a centuries-old temple complex which housed several Pandit families including mine for hundreds of years. The Dhar family belongs to the Kashmiri Pandit community – the only Brahmin Hindu community native to Kashmir. These were also good times, when ties between all communities, be it Hindu or Muslim, were strong and warm. This picture holds so many cultural nuances. For instance, the headgear of the elder male members was different from the younger male members. Moreover, the women were not in purdah (veiled) displaying some liberal social and cultural aspects of the community at the time. After belonging to a land for centuries, the family were forced to uproot themselves because of Indo-Pakistani border War of 1947 and then again in 1990 because of the eruption of radical militancy and ethnicity based massacres by subversives, on the Pandits. It is said that approximately 250,000 of the total Kashmiri Pandit population left the Kashmir valley during the 1990s. Soon every single member of the Dhar family too fled Vicharnag for good. Their derelict temple complex and abandoned houses are now occupied by squatters and carry a hazy memory of the community who lived there so long. Most of the family’s descendants now live all over the globe, and today, Vicharnag has no Kashmiri Pandits. ………….. This is @indianmemoryproject from one of the most curious countries in the world, India. Follow us as we present India's surprising history through personal photographs & lives of its people. www.indianmemoryproject.com founded by Anusha Yadav @photowaali