This magnificent atlas, printed in Calcutta, depicts the courses of the Ganges River and it major tributaries, such as the Yamuna, from the Bay of Bengal up to the foothills of the Himalayas. In the form of 7 interconnecting strip maps, plus an index map, the atlas provides an accurate and detailed itinerary along what were the main travel corridors across North Central and Northeastern India. The maps delineate the courses of the rivers in a brilliant aquamarine hue, while all major cities, towns and roads are depicted. The atlas was intended for practical use by travellers, as evidenced by the contemporary manuscript notes present on some of the maps within the present example of the atlas, which record the daily progress of a boat trip down the Ganges. The atlas is opened to the fifth map in the series, From Agra to Kurnal (31 x 85 cm), which includes the greater Delhi region.
The map was published by the Oriental Lithographic Press, that operated in Calcutta from 1830 to 1841, and which played a major role in improving the quality and availability of maps published in India. The press was founded by Jean-Baptiste Tassin, a larger than life French adventurer and world traveller, who had previously gained experience in mapmaking while working in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). While the process of lithography (or printing on stone) had come to India in 1820, the humid climate of Calcutta often played tricks on the printing process. Tassin’s genius was to work closely with Bengali artists to develop special ink formulas and techniques that produced sharp, high quality resolution. Tassin’s maps were not only considered to be beautifully designed, but they also had a splendid colour palette based on Indian pigments that distinguished them from European maps. The Oriental Lithographic Press became the Surveyor General of India’s favoured contractor for map production during the 1830s and Tassin was responsible for issuing many of the finest and most important Indian maps during this period.