This is a photographic journey back to British India, known then as the Raj.
India in 1912 was still a colonial possession of the British Empire, the jewel in its crown. Its vast population, strategic position and resources made the subcontinent one of the Empire’s greatest possessions. But compared to other up and coming British colonies such as Canada and Australia, India was economically backwards and undeveloped. There were few industries, and most people lived an agrarian lifestyle, their traditions largely undisturbed by the British or other Europeans.
Not that the British and North Americans did not try to remake India in their own image. The late 1800s and early 1900s saw a wave of Christian missionaries from America and Great Britain go to India.
The pictures below were published in a book entitled India and Daily Life in Bengal by Reverend Z.F. Griffin, a Baptist missionary in India for 15 years. The pictures record the way life was in India in 1912. Some things have not changed that much in some of the more rural areas, while in many other ways the India of today would be hardly recognizable to Reverend Griffin.
And so our tour of magnificent India at the start of the last century has come to an end. Soon the way of life depicted here would be changed forever by wars, social upheaval and independence. Fortunately these photographs allow us to look back on a bygone era of India.
This article was last updated on May 1, 2021 by adding more explanatory text, enhancing a couple of the images by using video editing software, and adding a video. The enhancement was not that successful because of the poor resolution of the original old vintage photos of India.