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Modern restored reproductions from original photographs from the Lala Raja Deen Dayal collection
The doyen of Indian Photographers, Lala Deen Dayal was born in 1844 at Sardhana in Meerut in United Provinces. He received technical education at Thomason Civil Engineering College in Roorkee after which he joined as head estimator and draftsmen in the Public Works Department at Indore. The ruler of Indore, Maharaja Tukoji II, encouraged him to set up his studio there. Sir Henry Daly the Agent to the Governor General encouraged him. According to his Memoirs he was thus able to obtain the patronage of Lord North Brook the Governor General of India in 1874.
He accompanied Sir Lepel Griffin on his central India tour during which he photographed views of Gwalior, Khajraho and other sites in Central India.
In 1896 he expanded his business and opened the largest photography studio in Bombay, which was patronized by the Indians as well as the British. The Pasha, Nizam VI was photographed by Raja Deen Dayal during his Shikars/Wedding Ceremonies, visits by foreign royalty. The Nizam of Hyderabad conferred of him the Title of Raja Musavir Jung Bahadur and a Mansab.
Raja Deendayal had two sons Gyanchand and Dharamchand assisting him. Dharmchand died in 1904 and this was a grievous loss to him.
Besides the Nizam, Raja Deen Dayal photographed various British dignitaries, Military exercises, the visit of King George V, then Prince of Wales. He also accompanied the Nizam VI to Delhi for the Durbar in 1903.
He was honored in 1885 by Lord Dufferin and appointed official photographer to the Viceroy and also to successive viceroys like Earl Elgin and Duke of Connaught. He had a unique honor of being appointed as ???Photographer to Her Majesty and Queen??? by Queen Victoria in 1887. He received numerous awards in exhibitions in India and abroad notable the World Colombian Commission in 1893 in USA.
He passed away on 5th July 1905.
His son Gyan Chand continued his work in Hyderabad studio and subsequently his sons Trilok Chand, Hukum Chand and Ami Chand continued the business in Hyderabad.
About Raja Lala Deendayal
As the world of the Maharajas of India gave way to British rule, one Indian photographer rose to a place of great prominence and regard. His name was Lala Deendayal and by 1874 he had taken up the medium of photography and soon thereafter established himself as its leading Indian practitioner. His work was lauded by British and Indian contemporaries alike and remains much sought after even today both for its historical importance and also its intrinsic artistic value.
The majority of photographers identified and recognized by the British Crown, to have significant talent and mastery over of the craft were European, save for one native – Deendayal – who had distinguished himself in the area of architectural views and portraits of prominent Indian and British contemporaries and events of the empire.
A big difference existed however between Deendayal and his western counterparts. The British patronized Deendayal because of his skill and humility whereas in Indian courts, it was his familiarity with the customs and manners that gave him an edge over his European rivals. He moved between the two worlds with perfect ease and confidence. Indeed Deendayal presented a more varied record of Indian life than a European was able to do right from capturing Viceregal tours to Durbar life. Deendayal’s hundreds of images from the late 1870s through 1890s underscore his unabashed association with the British ruling and military elite, but concurrently much of his professional success and social station – emphasised by having the title “Raja” bestowed upon him – was owing to the patronage of one of the most powerful remaining rulers of India, the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad. Such support opened the door to courtly traditions inaccessible to his European competitors, thus enabling Deendayal to excel in the best of circumstances with privilege from both British and Indian officialdom.
One day while on a hunting trip, the Nizam of Hyderabad was so astounded by Deendayal’s work that he composed an impromptu couplet in praise of Deendayal:
Ajab yeh karte hain tasvir mein kamaal kamaalUstaadon ke hain ustaad Raja Deen Dayal.
(In the art of photography, surpassing allThe master of masters is Raja Deen Dayal.)
Deendayal was appointed as the official photographer to the then Viceroy of India Lord Dufferin and successive viceroys like Earl Elgin and the Marquis of Lansdowne. He was also appointed as the official photographer to the Duke of Connaught, commander in Chief of the Indian Army. Deendayal had the unique distinction of getting the Royal Warrant of Appointment as “Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen” from Queen Victoria in 1887. Upon her death, her son King Edward the seventh renewed the warrant. The Maharaja of Indore granted him a jagir. The Maharaja of Dhar also honoured him. The sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Mehboob Ali Khan appointed him State Photographer.
International recognition was also not far behind. He was honoured twice at the London Exhibitions of 1886 and 1891. In 1893, he received an award from the World Columbian Commission of the United States. Next year he was awarded a medal and diploma at Chicago. In all, he received twelve citations from different countries of the world including Italy, Spain, England and Japan. By 1899 he had been given special appointments from seven dignitaries of the British Empire starting with the Queen herself, as can be seen on his letterhead.
Deendayal passed away in July 1905.