Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh

Surveyor Governor General of India's Office1867/1868

Kalakriti Archives

Kalakriti Archives
Hyderabad, India

This large and extremely detailed plan depicts the city of Kanpur and its immediate surroundings as they appeared in the late 1860s, when the city was establishing itself as one of India’s leading centres of manufacturing and logistics. It was exactingly lithographed by the Surveyor General of India’s Office in Calcutta, and shows that by this period urban cartography of the highest possible quality, as good as any produced in Europe, was being drafted and published in India.

Kanpur is strategically well located along the Ganges River in the heart of the India’s Northern Plains, in the middle of what is today Uttar Pradesh. Kanpur was an insignificant village until the beginning of the 19th Century. In 1801, the area was ceded to the EIC by the Nawab of Oudh. The British soon proceeded to make Kanpur their largest army base in the region and the city (in the centre of the map) developed and prospered, while the massive ‘Cantonment’ of barracks, parade grounds and arsenals of the EIC Army makes up almost the entire right half of the map. Kanpur developed a major transport hub, being linked to the Grand Trunk Road, which ran down the Yamuna and Ganges valleys, by 1846 and the Ganges Canal by 1853.

The city was famously the scene of the bloody ‘Siege of Cawnpoor’ during the Uprising of 1857, during which many British soldiers and civilians were massacred, followed by brutal British reprisals against the city’s inhabitants. In spite of these destructive events, the city quickly recovered. The city was progressively integrated into the railway system of India from 1859 onwards and vast sums of capital from both Britain and the rest of India flowed into the city, resulting in the construction of large facilities specializing in industries such as textiles and leather goods. As shown on the map, within a decade after the Uprising Kanpur was virtually surrounded by factories and industrial lots. It would soon become known as the “Manchester of the East” and was one of the few major Indian cities to robustly resist the British mercantilist policies of sending raw materials to Britain to be manufactured. Over the generations Kanpur continued to grow and today it is a lynchpin of industry in the modern India.


  • Title: Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
  • Creator: Surveyor Governor General of India's Office
  • Date Created: 1867/1868
  • Date Published: 1869
  • Location Created: Calcutta
  • Physical Dimensions: 127 x 145 cm
  • Type: Map
  • Medium: Lithograph with original hand colour, dissected on original linen
  • Title (Original): Cawnpoor Cantonment, Civil Station, City and Environs. 1867-68.

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