Cosmology to Cartography

A Cultural Journey of Indian Maps

Views of Kozhikode and Kannur, Kerala with Hormuz, Iran and Elmina, Ghana (1572) by Georg BraunKalakriti Archives


Cosmic Map of the Mortal World as Two and a Half Continents_ Rajasthan, mid-17th Century (Mid 17th Century)Kalakriti Archives


The four cosmological depictions represent the mortal world according to Jain philosophy.  In Jain texts the universe is divided into three worlds – the upper occupied by the gods, the middle by mortals and the lower belonging to the damned.  The most significant is the middle world, manushya-loka (world of the mortals), where liberation from the chain of rebirth is possible and where the Jinas (of saints and devotees) are born.

Paintings of the phenomenal world therefore have remained popular in the jain tradition and survive from the fourteenth century through to the present day.

Cosmic Map of the Mortal World as Two and a Half Continents_ Gujarat, early 15th Century (Early 15th Century)Kalakriti Archives

The four paintings presented here are fine examples of adhaidvipa patas ranging from the 15th to the 19th centuries.
The first example, dating from the 15th Century, small in size and rich in detail, is comparable (in painting style and chromatic palette) to Jain manuscripts of the period, most significantly the Kalpa Sutra. The outer ridge of mountains is less defined compared to later examples is characteristic of the early period.

Cosmic Map of the Mortal World as Two and a Half Continents_ Gujarat, early 17th Century (Early 17th Century)Kalakriti Archives

The second example, dating from the early 17th century (or possibly late 16th Century) is rich in detail and draws in scale and format from its earlier predecessor. However, shows firmer geometry and a stronger representation of the outer mountain range.

Cosmic Map of the Mortal World as Two and a Half Continents_ Rajasthan, mid-17th Century (Mid 17th Century)Kalakriti Archives

This sensibility of formalization is taken forward through the mid and late 17th century as is evident from the third painting.

Cosmic Map of the Mortal World as Two and a Half Continents_ Rajasthan, 18th Century., 18th Century, From the collection of: Kalakriti Archives
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The fourth example, dating from the mid-18th Century is a fine example of the stylization and incorporation additional embellishments – in this instance the strong circle of mountains, trees, banners and larger shrines located in the outer rim – characteristic of this period where such paintings clearly become more decorative.

Indian Cosmography (Early 19th Century)Kalakriti Archives

A Map of Jambudweepa or the Earth according to the Hindoo Geography
Indian Cosmography
London, early 19th Century
Copper-engraving, 26.4 x 21,2 cm

A Map of Jambudweepa or the Earth according to the Hindoo Geography
Indian Cosmography
London, early 19th Century
Copper-engraving, 26.4 x 21,2 cm

Cosmic Man (Late 19th Century)Kalakriti Archives

The Cosmic Man

The cosmic man is a popular theme in late Jain painting although its origins are evident from the fourteenth century. This example is a striking and beautiful painting, characteristic of the north Rajasthan region centred around Bikaner state, and is possibly a late 19th Century rendition of an earlier 17th Century version.

The cosmological scheme of the adhaidvipa – world of the mortals – is ‘superimposed on the human body in an attempt to homologize the microcosm with the microcosm. The human body symbolism is sub-divided into the adhaloka (lower world), madhyaloka (middle world), and, urdhvaloka (upper world) each of which is represented differently. The depiction overall is thus acts as cosmic representation - both a picture for the worship of the mandala of the world of the mortals and the enormous body form of Lord Mahavira – the twenty forth Jina, which also embodies the three worlds.

The evil lower world is represented by seven horizontal registers of various colors depicting various carnal acts. The middle world, with the point of origin at Mount Meru and the concentric world of mortals, incorporating all humanity, flora and fauna, is placed over the navel of the cosmic man; the origin myths of man and universe being aligned very literally.

The upper world of the gods, in its orderly formulation of courtly tiers, is located on the torso of the cosmic man. The iconography, stylization and chromatic palette of this painting draws from illustrations in contemporaneous manuscripts such as the Samgrahanisutra.

Pilgrimage Maps of Shatrunjaya (Mid 19th Century)Kalakriti Archives

Pilgrimage Maps of Shatrunjaya

Large in size and rich in detail, these painted maps depict the pilgrimage circuit at the sacred Jain site of Satrunjaya (modern town of Palitana in Gujarat).  Such compositions are therefore generally referred to as Satrunjaya Pata. 

Map of the Ganges (Early 18th Century) by Rajasthani ArtistKalakriti Archives

7. Pilgrimage Map of River Alaknanda depicting shrine at Badrinath
early 18th Century
Opaque watercolour on cotton, 39.5 x 223 cm.

This pilgrimage route map depicts the river Ganga and one of its chief headwaters, the Alakananda, as seen by the devout pilgrim making a pilgrimage from Haridwar where the Ganga debouches into the plain, as far as the shrine at Badrinath in the Garhwal Himalayas. It is read from left to right. Most of the action is assumed to be, or subsumed into, the right bank of the river, i.e. the upper part of the scroll. In keeping with such route maps, things depicted on the left bank of the river are depicted upside down.
The scroll is plentifully supplied with inscriptions, naming sacred places, villages, mountains and trees. Although it is difficult to date such items, it seems clear that this is a uniquely important religious document that deserves a great deal of further study.

The scroll is now in three sections. The map presented here is the third section. In the first the river is depicted branching as it does round Haridwar. Soon the road runs between hills on either side. Shivpuri (just beyond Rishikesh) is the first place of importance marked. Upriver there are numerous shrines dedicated to Rama Laksmana Sita and Hanuman as well as Krishna.

The river Ganga is depicted as coming in from the right bank, as it does where the Bhagirathi and Alakananda meet at Deoprayag, where pilgrims are depicted bathing and washing their clothes. Here are a large temple dedicated to Ramacandra and two magnificent banyan trees. The pilgrimage path continues up the Alakananda. Fortresses are noted on both sides of the river, Vanagadh and Durgakoti.

The second section begins at Deoprayag. The villages of Josigaon amd Josimath are noted. There are temples to Thakur (Krishna), Laksmi, Narasimha and Mataji. Lots of dharamsalas (pilgrim hostels) are shown.

The Narasimha temple is presumably the famous one at Josimath. Josimath is the winter headquarters of the Rawul and other priests from Badrinath who bring the deity and the treasures down before their temple is completely cut off by the snow for six months of the year. Next comes Karnaprayag where the Karnaganga comes
in, shown here coming in from the right but in fact from the left (now called the Pindar River). Pilgrims are bathing where the Karnaganga joins the Alakananda at a Siva temple. Five peaks tower over the road where a sacred tank is dedicated like the mountains themselves to the five Pandava brothers, who spent time here in meditation according to the Mahabharata.

They seem to represent the Pancakedara or five great Siva shrines round Kedarnath which tower above the road to Badrinath. The road off to Kedarnath leaves now before Srinagar. We have now reached what must be Srinagar the old capital of Garhwal, since here is depicted the Raja’s palace, but there is no inscription. Two elephants guard the outskirts of the palace and a Laksmi temple. Within the palace is seated Raja Fateh Shah. He is giving an audience to an official while outside his palace some men are awaiting a darshan or viewing of the Raja. Fateh Shah ruled the state of Garhwal 1684–1716 from his capital of Srinagar. Cows graze peacefully on a meadow while a bazaar is noted above the palace. For an apparently contemporary equestrian portrait of Fateh Shah see Lal 1951, p. 39a.

The topographical information is not to be taken literally in this route map, since for instance Karnaprayag is depicted before Srinagar whereas in fact it is considerably farther upstream. The next part of the journey in the third section of the scroll, presented herewith, is hurried over and within a short while we have arrived at the sacred site of Badrinath itself.
Badrinath is one of the four great religious sites at the extremities of India along with Dwarka, Puri and Ramesvaram, as established by the great sage Sankaracarya in the ninth century. In keeping with this foundation, the chief priest or Rawul is always a Nambudiri Brahmin from Sankaracarya’s homeland of Kerala. The main road ends in Badrinath where the pilgrims bathe in the river beside the temple of Visnu, who is seen enshrined and being worshipped. Snow covered peaks rise above the temple including the mountain Nara which along with Narayan guards the shrine.
A stream of water emerges from a dragon’s head beside the temple wall. On the ghat and the slope below the temple are the sacred tanks including the Tapt Kund, the hot spring where the god of fire Agni resides, while to the right is the Rawul or chief priest’s house. A small shrine labelled as Kedarnath and sacred to Siva is depicted nearby.
Two springs labelled the Sitakund and the Suryakund feed their waters into the Naradakund on the edge of the river where pilgrims bathe.
The temple at Badrinath was largely destroyed in the great Himalayan earthquake of 1803 and was rebuilt through the generosity of the Maharaja of Jaipur. In its present form the temple has a large and wide entrance gateway in Rajasthani style, a large hall or mandapa behind while the garbagrha where the deity resides consists of a tower with a two-tiered Himalayan roof.
Although no images seem to exist of the earlier temple, it is unlikely to have looked liked the temple depicted here, which is typically Rajasthani with its domed mandapa in front of a tall curvilinear sikhara. Nonetheless the artist has gone to considerable trouble to include all the sacred spots in the immediate vicinity so clearly had accurate information about them.

Pilgrimage Maps of Shatrunjaya, Mid 19th Century, From the collection of: Kalakriti Archives
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The key purpose of these paintings is to provide a panoramic view of the key shrines, the pilgrimage route and details of significant features and episodes along the devotees path. They thus often served as surrogates for those – often aged or infirm devotees - who were unable to visit the sites. Their display on festivals and special occasions, viewed by large congregations of priests and devotees, provided the same merit as having visited the site.

Pilgrimage Maps of Shatrunjaya, Late 19th Century, From the collection of: Kalakriti Archives
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Both the textiles, dating from the early and mid- nineteenth century, are fine examples of large congregational patas – possibly commissioned by an important monastery or shrine.

Pilgrimage Maps of Shatrunjaya (Mid 19th Century)Kalakriti Archives

The artist depicts the topographic context of Satrunjaya Hill with its two ridges. The first ridge is dominated by the main temple complex of Adinatha whilst the other is the setting for nine smaller temple complexes patronised by Jain merchants.
A new temple complex was established between the two ridges around 1825, which is a used as a key point of reference for dating such patas. According to the Satrunjaya Mahatmya, a medieval pilgrimage text glorifying the site, King Kumarapala was the builder of the Adinatha temple in c.1213 and its consecration was conducted by the famous Sage Hemachandrasuri.
The site overall comprises sixty-five temples, over three hundred small shrines and close to five thousand images.

The painters of the two patas depict the pilgrimage route from the point of view of the devotee’s experience rather than a topographic expression of the actual site; despite this, these examples show strong geomorphic coherences.

Pilgrimage Maps of Shatrunjaya (Late 19th Century)Kalakriti Archives

Earlier examples are often even more diagrammatic with a propensity towards creating abstract cosmological patterns drawn from the Jaina texts and related cosmic symbolism; topographic accuracy was clearly of no significance.

In both these patas, the pilgrimage can be seen to begin at the bottom of the hill in the lower foreground. Pilgrims arrive on foot, horseback, carts drawn by elephants or horses, or palanquins and commence their journey to the top of the hill by foot, flowing the winding path up and paying respects to the various shrines or features en route.

They then encounter a fork in the path allowing for two alternatives - to either proceed to the left to the older complex of Adinatha, or to the right hand side, to the new complexes. The pilgrimage circumambulation draws to a close when the pilgrims return to their starting point along a route depicted on the right hand side of the patas.

Pilgrimage Map of Vraj (Mid 19th Century)Kalakriti Archives

Pichhvai of Vraj Yatra

This pichhvai depicts the pilgrimage landscape of Vraj, the district around Mathura on the banks of the River Yamuna, and includes the sacred sites associated with Krishna’s boyhood and the discovery of the Shrinathji image. It shows the route for the religious procession or Vraj Yatra which pilgrims undertake each year lasting several weeks.

Commencing from Mathura, the birthplace of Krishna, devotees move in a clockwise direction around the city. After visiting the villages of Mahavana and Gokul they re-cross the Yamuna and return to Mathura and the spot of Krishna’s victory over the evil king Kansa. Devotees should ideally visit thirty-six groves on their pilgrimage, and in temples of the Vallabha sect, Vallabhacharya’s and Vitthalnathji’s circumambulations of Vraj are commemorated by the Vraj Yatra pichhvai. For those devotees who cannot make the trip, this pichhvai serves as a pilgrimage cosmogram by proxy.

The boundaries of the Vraj Yatra are represented in the central portion of this pichhvai and the River Yamuna, dominates the landscape. Located at the bend of the river, is Mathura. Key sites include Mount Govardhana with its bluish rocky mass in the centre, Chandrasarovara (moon lake) directly below Mount Govardhana where Krishna enjoys the Ras Lila with his gopis, Kamvana (upper left corner), Barsana, the birthplace of Radha (edge of pinkish hill) and Nandgrama, the home of Nanda (upper centre). The scenes in the upper part of the pichhvai focus on Krishna’s play with the gopis whilst those in the lower half depict specific episodes, shrines and places in Krishna’s life.

Plan of the Shrinathji Temple at Nathdwara (Early 20th Century)Kalakriti Archives

Plan of the Shrinathji Temple at Nathdwara
Nathdwara, early 20th Century

This pichhvai depicts the Shrinathji temple
complex at Nathdwara. Composed from a series of courtyards (including various shrines, palaces and service rooms) within a bastioned boundary wall
and with one main gate at the heart of the town, the complex follows the architectural tradition of a large Rajasthani mansion or haveli, rather than a traditional North Indian Hindu temple. It is hence often referred to as the Nathdwara Haveli by devotees.

The haveli plan was a popular subject for both paintings and pichhvais, particularly in demand by visiting pilgrims to take back as mementos of their visit and did not otherwise serve any particular religious purpose. This plan, like most such plans, depicts the occurrence of the Annakuta Festival, the day after Diwali, which is the most important festival for the Vallabhasect. Various courtyards are in use. Whilst mounds of food are presented to Shrinathji and the sat swarupas in the inner sanctum or Nijmandir (depicted with its characteristic tiled roof and orange and yellow flags), devotees and cows crowd in the Govardhana Chowk where the image of Navanitapriyaji presides over Govardhanapuja. Devotees flock towards the White Court or Dholi Patiya to gain access to the inner shrines. Unlike most other haveli plans, the depiction of the haveli and its associated townscape is shown in a wider pilgrimage landscape setting of the Vraj country, amidst holy streams, shrines, villages and palace complexes.

Buddhist Map of the World: ‘Outline Map of All Countries of the Universe (1710) by Zuda Rokashi (Priest Hotan)Kalakriti Archives

A monumental early 18th Century Japanese map of the World, focusing on the continent of ‘Jambudvīpa’ and centred on the heart of Buddhist cosmology, Lake Manasarovar, Tibet, where Buddha was conceived.

This grand and beautiful work is the earliest Japanese map to embrace the entire world and represents a fascinating synergy of Buddhist cosmology and knowledge gained from a variety of Asian and European sources. The portrayal of India is central to the composition and powerfully portrays the prominent role that the subcontinent played in the religious life of Asia, as the birthplace of Buddhism, hosting many of the greatest destinations for pilgrimage. The map was devised by the Japanese Buddhist priest Zuda Rokashi and printed in Kyoto by in 1710 (‘Hoei 7’ in Japanese dating).

The traditional Buddhist perspective of the world portrayed on the map focuses on the metaphysical continent of Jambudvīpa. In the centre the continent is the mythical Lake Anavatapta, which represents the actual Lake Manasarovar in Tibet. It marks the centre of the Buddhist universe, as the location where Queen Maya conceived Buddha. Lake Manasarovar and its waters are also sacred to Hindus and Jains. Flowing from the lake are four great sacred rivers of the Indian Subcontinent: the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Indus, and the Sutlej.

While the map showcases the entire world as known to Zuda Rokashi, it depicts various geographic details in a manner radically different from their true geographic scale. The map was intended to emphasize the importance of regions that were traditionally central to Buddhism, such as India and China, at the expense of Europe, Africa and the Americas, which appear as small islands along the periphery.

Course of the Ganges and Ghaghara Rivers (1784) by Joseph TieffenthalerKalakriti Archives

Joseph Tieffenthaler’s remarkable map of the Courses of the Ganges and Ghaghara Rivers is a fascinating synergy between the mapping of Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites and European Enlightenment cartography, prepared by Abraham-Hyacinthe Antequil du Perron.

This fascinating map of the courses of the sacred Ganges River and the Ghaghara (Karnali) River represents a synergy of Indian and European sources and a bridge between Indian Pilgrimage mapping and European Enlightenment era cartography. The map is thus of great intellectual interest, as it represents the earliest accurate geographical depiction of a region and its great rivers which are sacred to Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, and which form the heart of the economic, political and cultural life of Northern India.

The composition is dominated by the principal map which is based on the explorations of the Jesuit cartographer Joseph Tieffenthaler, who spent over 40 years wandering India, charting the countryside and making astronomical measurements with a quadrant. In particular, during the late 1760s he carefully mapped much of the length of the Ganges through the Gangetic Plain down to Calcutta. The five inset maps depicting various interpretations of the sources of the Ganges and the Ghaghara rivers, four of which are based on maps made by Indian cartographers under Tieffenthaler’s employ. Some of these sources, such as the ‘Gomukh’ (the ‘Cow’s Mouth’) at the foot of the Gangotri Glacier (Fig. II) and Lake Manasarovar, Tibet (Fig. III), are ancient pilgrimage sites and identifying their locations had long been a source of curiosity to Europeans.

Interestingly, portions of the composition feature toponymy and annotations in both French and Persian (the language of the Mughal Court). The map was assembled and published by the esteemed French orientalist Abraham-Hyacinthe Antequil du Perron, based on the original manuscripts that Tieffenthaler had sent him from India.

Ptolemaic India (1511) by Bernardus Sylvanus, after Claudius Ptolemy (c. 90 - c.168 AD).Kalakriti Archives


The historical cartography of India charts a progressive quest for the accurate physical depiction of the Subcontinent and its various regions. However, this journey was not linear, it was channeled by the particular priorities, limitations, experiences and cultural biases of the mapmakers, who were not native to India. Many maps fundamentally reflect a European view of India, and not necessarily India as it truly existed. This section includes maps and views printed in seven foreign countries, as well as several manuscript works prepared by Europeans resident in India. 

India and East Asia (Mid 16th Century) by Lorenz FriesKalakriti Archives

Early Encounters

The relationship between Europe and the Indian Subcontinent extends over two millennia, all the way back to the 4th Century BC, when Alexander the Great conquered regions in the northwest, followed by the establishment of a Greco-Indian Empire in what is now the Punjab. The Romans developed extensive maritime trade with coastal India from their ports in Egypt. In the 2nd Century AD, the Greco-Egyptian cartographer, Claudius Ptolemy, developed a map of India which detailed the numerous ports visited by Roman mariners, and which represented the apogee of the Classical European cartography of South Asia {no. 14}. However, from the 7th Century AD, contact between Europe and India greatly declined and would not be revived until near the end of the 15th Century. In 1498, the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama opened up the modern sea route from Europe to India, granting Portugal a virtual monopoly on European interaction with the Subcontinent that lasted for over a century. The first map that depicts the Indian Peninsula in its recognizable, approximately modern form soon followed, represented here by Lorenz Fries’ map {no. 15}.  Georg Braun & Frans Hogenberg’s view of Calicut (Khozikode) and Cannanore (Kannur) {no. 16}, dating from 1572, showcases two wealthy ports on the Malabar Coast that played a central role in Portugal’s presence in India.  Giacomo Gastaldi’s map of South Asia (1554), which appeared in Giovanni Battista Ramusio’s celebrated exploration and travel book, Navigationi et Viaggi, offers an important impression of India based on Portuguese sources {no. 17}. The fragments of Giovanni Francesco Camocio’s fantastically rare wall map of Asia, which features most of India {no. 18}, represents a masterpiece of Italian Mannerist engraving and presents a unique and detailed view of the region, also based on Portuguese sources. While the Portuguese interests in India were largely confined to the coastal areas, many foreign powers were fascinated by the Mughal Empire.  A fabulously wealthy state, it was based in Northern India and had been steadily growing, due to conquests, since its founding in 1526.  Interestingly, many of the early maps of the Mughal Empire were based on extraordinary cross-cultural interactions.  William Baffin created the first broadly accurate map of Northern India in 1619, largely based on Mughal sources imparted to him by the English ambassador to Emperor Jahangir’s court {no. 19}.  One of the most fascinating works in the entire exhibition is Kâtib Çelebi’s map of Northern India, published by Ibrahim Müteferrika in Istanbul in 1732 {no. 20}. This beautiful engraving is the first map of India to have been printing in the Islamic World and to employ typography in Arabic characters. The rulers of the Ottoman Empire maintained a particular fascination with the Mughal Empire, which was ruled by a fellow Muslim Turkic dynasty.  The map’s geography, largely based on Baffin’s map, follows a fascinating chain of cross-cultural exchange, as it is a Turkish map, yet predicated on cartography done by an Englishman, who in turn derived his sources from the Mughal Court.

Ptolemaic India (1511) by Bernardus Sylvanus, after Claudius Ptolemy (c. 90 - c.168 AD).Kalakriti Archives

Bernardus SYLVANUS (fl. 1490 - 1511), after Claudius PTOLEMY (c. 90 - c. 168 AD).
Ptolemaic India
Decima Asiae Tabula
Venice: Jacobo Pentius de Leucho, 1511.
Woodcut, printed in two colours, 40.8 x 54.5 cm.

One of the finest maps depicting the Ancient European conception of India, as conceived by Claudius Ptolemy (circa 150 AD), printed in Venice in 1511.

This fascinating map, while published in the early 16th Century, reflects how the Ancient Greeks and Romans conceived of India. Importantly, it remained the most authoritative source of geographical knowledge of the subcontinent available to Europeans prior to Vasco da Gama’s arrival in India in 1498. The map was devised by the Italian cartographer Bernardus Sylvanus and was printed in Venice in 1511. However, it is based on the work of Claudius Ptolemy, a Greco-Egyptian geographer, living in the 2nd Century AD, in Alexandria, Egypt, which was then part of the Roman Empire.

While the India depicted on the map is at first unfamiliar to the modern eye, once one becomes immersed in its details, the map comes alive. While Ptolemy’s India is correctly framed by the ‘Indus flu.’ (Indus River), in the northwest, and the delta of the ‘Ganga flu.’ (Ganges River), in the northeast, the interceding coastline meanders jaggedly into the sea, as opposed to forming the familiar triangular peninsula of Southern India. However, the map features a roughly accurate sequence of the main ports of India as they appear along the coastlines.

One will notice ‘muziris em.’, which refers to Muziris ‘Emporium’, one of the wealthiest and most famous ports of contemporary India. Preserved in the name of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the city’s legacy has long been associated with Kochi and its region, although the exact location of Muziris remains a source of debate amongst archeologists. It is widely held that it was located near the mouth of the Periyar River (named by Ptolemy ‘Pseudostomus f’, meaning 'one with false mouths'), just to the north of Kochi, near Kodungallur. Muziris remained an important centre until it was destroyed by floods in 1341.

India and East Asia (Mid 16th Century) by Lorenz FriesKalakriti Archives

Lorenz FRIES (c. 1485-1532).
[India and East Asia].
Tabula Nova utriusque Indiae.
Lyon, 1522 / 1541.
Woodcut with hand colour, 30 x 47.5 cm.

An edition of the first map to show India in its ‘modern’ form, as a recognizable peninsula, based on a stolen Portuguese master map.

This fascinating map embraces all of South Asia and much of East Asia, as it was conceived by Europeans near the beginning of the 16th Century. Most interestingly, India, which is named ‘India Intra Gangem’ (India within the Ganges), appears in its modern form, as a recognizable peninsula, for the first time. East Asia is termed ‘India Extra Gangem’ (India beyond the Ganges) and assumes comparatively crude outlines.

India is framed by the ‘Indus Fl.’ (Indus River) and the Ganges River, while the west coast of India features many place names that were ports of call for the Portuguese during the period immediately following Vasco da Gama’s first arrival in India in 1498. These include ‘Cambaia’ (Khambhat), ‘Caliqut’ (Kozhikode), ‘Cochim’ (Kochi),‘Cananor’ (Kannur), ‘Cangallor’ (Kodungallur) and ‘Mangalor’ (Mangalore).

The map is based on the depiction of the subcontinent featured on the “Cantino Planisphere” (1502), a revolutionary ‘top secret’ Portuguese manuscript world map that was stolen from Lisbon by an agent of Ercole I d'Este, the Duke of Ferrara, and which was since disseminated across Europe.

Views of Kozhikode and Kannur, Kerala with Hormuz, Iran and Elmina, Ghana (1572) by Georg BraunKalakriti Archives

Georg BRAUN (1541-1622) & Frans HOGENBERG (1535-1590).
[Views of Kozhikode and Kannur, Kerala with Hormuz, Iran and Elmina, Ghana].
Calechut Celeberrimum Indiae [with] Ormus [with] Cananor.
Cologne, 1572.
Copper engraving with original hand colour, 39.6 x 53.4 cm.
The earliest printed views of Calicut (Khozikode) and Cannanore (Kannur) on the Malabar Coast, from Braun & Hogenberg’s celebrated town book.

The present sheet of views includes two of the most popular early printed European impressions of Indian cities, printed as part of Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg’s celebrated series of urban views, published as Civitates Orbis Terrarum (1572-1618). During the 16th Century, Europeans were dazzled by the immense wealth that flowed from the subcontinent and captivated by the accounts of travellers who described India’s exotic wonders.

The present views of Calicut (Kozhikode) and Cannanore (Kannur) are imbued with considerable importance as the authoritative contemporary views of these important trade centres, being predicated, in good part, on actual observation. They are likely based on drawings that were part of a collection that Frans Hogenberg is thought to have acquired from a Portuguese mariner in Antwerp around 1570.

India (1554) by Jacobo GastaldiKalakriti Archives

Georg BRAUN (1541-1622) & Frans HOGENBERG (1535-1590).
[Views of Kozhikode and Kannur, Kerala with Hormuz, Iran and Elmina, Ghana].
Calechut Celeberrimum Indiae [with] Ormus [with] Cananor.
Cologne, 1572.
Copper engraving with original hand colour, 39.6 x 53.4 cm.

The earliest printed views of Calicut (Khozikode) and Cannanore (Kannur) on the Malabar Coast, from Braun & Hogenberg’s celebrated town book.

The present sheet of views includes two of the most popular early printed European impressions of Indian cities, printed as part of Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg’s celebrated series of urban views, published as Civitates Orbis Terrarum (1572-1618). During the 16th Century, Europeans were dazzled by the immense wealth that flowed from the subcontinent and captivated by the accounts of travellers who described India’s exotic wonders.

The present views of Calicut (Kozhikode) and Cannanore (Kannur) are imbued with considerable importance as the authoritative contemporary views of these important trade centres, being predicated, in good part, on actual observation. They are likely based on drawings that were part of a collection that Frans Hogenberg is thought to have acquired from a Portuguese mariner in Antwerp around 1570.

India and the Silk Road, 3 sheets from the wall map Quattro Parte Del Mondo (1579) by Giovanni Francesco CamocioKalakriti Archives

Jacobo GASTALDI (1500-1566) /
Giovanni Battista RAMUSIO (1485-1557).
Seconda Tavola.
Venice, 1554.
Woodcut map, 29.2 x 42 cm.

One of the first maps to focus on the Indian Peninsula, by Giacomo Gastaldi, issued in Venice and based on Portuguese sources.

This attractive Venetian map is focused on Peninsular India, although its coverage extends from Sumatra to the Persian Gulf. It employs an ‘upside down’ southward-oriented perspective, which was not unusual during the 16th Century. The Indian Peninsula appears as a broad, evenly shaped triangle, somewhat stylized from reality, but still familiar to the modern viewer.

Predicated on Portuguese sources, India’s coastlines are labeled with ports that were then critical to Portuguese trade, including: ‘Cochin’ (Kochi), ‘Calicut’ (Kozhikode), ‘Cananor’ (Kannur), ‘Mangalor’ (Mangalore), ‘Goa’, ‘Chaul’ (then an important centre, but abandoned in the 18th Century), ‘Surati’ (Surat), ‘Cambaia’ (Khambhat), ‘Diu’ and ‘Negapatao’ (Nagapattinam).

Within the ocean, the images of ships represent Portuguese caravels and are labeled ‘Vado a Calicut’ (‘Route to Calicut’), symbolically representing the sea route between Europe and India, and ‘Vado alle Molucche’ (‘Route to the Moluccas’), representing the maritime passage to the Moluccas (the “Spice Islands”), in Indonesia.

The labeling of the ‘Regno de Besinagar’ in the interior refers to the Vijayanagara Empire, a powerful Hindu kingdom that dominated much of southern India from 1336 to 1565.

During this period, the Portuguese were largely confined to their coastal factories and fortifications and possessed a relatively limited understanding of the interior of India, such that one will notice that many areas in the Ganges Basin are placed way too far to the south of their true locations.

Northern India – Mughal Empire (1625) by William BaffinKalakriti Archives

William BAFFIN (c. 1584-1622).
[Northern India – Mughal Empire].
A Description of East India: conteyning th[e] empire of the Great Mogoll.
London, 1625.
Copper engraving with hand colour, 32.2 x 37.5 cm.

The first broadly accurate map of Northern India, by the English adventurer William Baffin, based on geographic intelligence obtained at the court of Emperor Jahangir.

This revolutionary map embraces the entire Mughal Empire, and extends from Afghanistan and Kashmir in the north, down south to the middle of the Deccan, and from the mouths of the Indus in the east to Burma in the west. While far from scientific, and featuring some obvious inaccuracies (notably, areas in the upper part of the map are placed way too far to the north), it is the first map of Northern India to evince a basic level of planimetric accuracy.

The Indus River is shown to enter the Arabian Sea in the correct location, in what is now the Sindh, as opposed to Gulf of Khambhat, as shown on previous maps. While the path of the Ganges River is incorrectly shown to flow in a general north-south direction, its depiction here is a vast improvement over previous maps. The course of the ‘Jemni fluvis’ (Yamuna River), is delineated with a relatively high degree of accuracy.

The map divides the empire into the Mughal subhas (provinces), some of which have names that correspond to modern Indian states, including ‘Chishmeere’ (Kashmir), ‘Penjab’ (Punjab), ‘Guzarat’ (Gujarat), ‘Orixa’ (Orissa / Odisha), and ‘Bengala’ (Bengal).

Near the center of the map is ‘Agra’ (the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1526 to 1649), while many other cities are labeled, including ‘Delli’ (Delhi), ‘Lahor’ (Lahor), ‘Adsmeer’ (Ajmur), ‘Gwaliar’ (Gwalior), ‘Patna’, ‘Candahor’ (Kandahar), ‘Cabull’ (Kabul), ‘Dekaka’ (Dacca), ‘Suratt’ (Surat), ‘Diu’, ‘Chaull’ (Chaul), ‘Mesulapatnam’ (Machilipatnam).

Prominently featured is the ‘The Longe Walke’, a strait road shaded by trees, representing the great Mughal Trunk Road, which connected Agra with Lahore.

Importantly, the map is predicated on geographical information supplied by the Mughal Court to Sir Thomas Roe, the English ambassador to Emperor Jahangir. In 1619, Roe imparted this intelligence to the eminent cartographer and explorer William Baffin, who devised the present map.

Northern India – Mughal Empire (1732) by Kâtib ÇelebiKalakriti Archives

Kâtib Çelebi & Ibrahim Müteferrika.
Northern India – Mughal Empire
Copper engraving with original hand colour, 26.7 x 35.6 cm.

The first map of India to be printed in the Islamic World.

This extraordinary map was published in Istanbul in 1732, making it the earliest map of India to be printed in the Islamic World and the first to employ typography in Arabic characters. It embraces all of Northern India, being the heartland of the Mughal Empire, which was in its prime when the map was conceived, but in decline when the map was printed.

All major cities and rivers are noted, while the progress of the Mughal Trunk Road, which ran from Agra to Lahore, is expressed pictographically. The Nesih Arabic typography flows elegantly across the composition, while the original colour palate the style of the fine cartouches are distinctly Turkish.

The map was printed by Ibrahim Müteferrika who directed the first press founded in the Ottoman Empire. The map was part of the Cihannüma (1732), which translates as ‘Mirror of the World’, a magnificent manuscript atlas created during the mid-17th Century by the Turkish geographer Kâtip Çelebi.

India and the Middle East (1596) by Jan Huyghen Van LinschotenKalakriti Archives

The Players

During the 16th Century, Portugal had a virtual monopoly on
European interaction and trade with India.  For generations, Portugal had protected her position in
India by carefully guarding the vital navigational and commercial intelligence
she possessed on the region, which was absolutely vital for maintaining a
presence on the Subcontinent.   That all changed following the publication of Jan Huyghen van
Linschoten’s Itinerario (1596), based
on the author’s own espionage carried out in India.  It proved to be a ‘tell-all’ book exposing Portugal’s
secrets on India and Southeast and East Asia. The newly arrived European powers were represented by private chartered
corporations, which exercised varying degrees of autonomy from their respective
nations’ royal governments.  The
English East India Company (EIC) was founded in 1600, followed closely by the
establishment of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1602.  

Jan Huyghen van Linschoten
India and the Middle East
Copper engraving with hand colour, 43.6 x 59.5 cm.

Linschoten’s beautiful map of India and the Middle East was at the heart of one of history’s most consequential cases of espionage. Linschoten’s maps and descriptions ensured that the Portuguese hegemony in India and East Asia would be challenged by other European powers.

This magnificent map embraces all of India, the Middle East and the northern Indian Ocean. Based on secret Portuguese charts acquired by the Dutch adventurer and spy, Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, it presents the most accurate overall mapping of these regions published to date.

The depiction of India is advanced and features many details and locations critical to maritime trade.

During the 16th Century, as far as Europeans were concerned, the Indian Ocean was a ‘Portuguese Lake’, with the vast riches of the Indian Subcontinent flowing exclusively to Lisbon. Merchants and leaders of other European powers were highly envious of Portugal’s bounty. However, there were many factors that strongly inhibited others from attempting to open trade with India: the sailing route was long, treacherous and little understood and even if one reached India safely they would have to navigate the fractious political climate and survive determined Portuguese opposition.

The Portuguese were well aware that without excellent and highly detailed intelligence, their European rivals would likely refrain from mounting a serious challenge to their hegemony in the Indian Ocean. For decades they successfully guarded their secrets. However, in the 1580s, they trusted the wrong man.

Enter Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, a Dutch merchant and explorer who somehow managed to be appointed the secretary to the Archbishop of Goa, whereupon he served from 1583 to 1588. He was given free access to the most sensitive Portuguese documents and secret manuscript maps.

Linschoten returned the Netherlands and wrote the Itinerario: Voyage ofte schipvaert van Jan Huyghen van Linschoten naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien (1596), which included the present map, being a ‘tell-all’, ‘how-to’ guide for Europeans to successfully open up trade with India and East Asia.

Consequently, the English formed the East India Company (the EIC) in 1600, followed by the Dutch, who set up the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (the VOC) in 1602. It was not long before these new players were in India, successfully dismantling the Portuguese trading monopoly.

Kochi, Kerala (1672/1744) by Phillip BaldaeusKalakriti Archives

Phillip Baldaeus
Kochi, Kerala
1672 / 1744.
Copper engraving, 34.9 x 41.4 cm.

A pair of detailed plans of Cochin, depicting the city before and after it was conquered by the Dutch, ending 160 years of Portuguese rule.

The fascinating map sheet features two different plans of Cochin (Kochi). The larger plan depicts the city as it appeared at the end of the period of Portuguese hegemony. The smaller plan (below) was used by the minister and ethnographer Phillip Baldaeus to depict the Dutch plans for altering the city following their seizure of Cochin in 1663.

Cochin was one of the most important trading and cultural centers in all of India. It became the nucleus of the Indian spice trade, following the destruction, due to flooding, of the nearby port of Muziris (near modern Kodungallur) in 1341.

While the Raja of Cochin continued to exercise nominal authority, from the beginning of the 16th Century Cochin was controlled by the Portuguese. During this era, as shown on the plan, the city’s walls expanded to take up the entire tip of the peninsula, featuring many urban blocks occupied by trading rooms, warehouses, ecclesiastical institutions and grand residences.

On January 8, 1663, Dutch Admiral Rijckloff van Goens captured Cochin. As shown on the smaller plan below, the Dutch decided to extensively remodel Cochin, condensing the urban area and surrounding it with more robust fortifications in line with the latest standards of engineering.

Kochi, Kerala (1672/1744) by Phillip BaldeausKalakriti Archives

Phillip BALDAEUS (1632-1671).
[Kochi, Kerala].
A Prospect of the City of Cochin to the North / Cochin, to the Sea Side / Cochin, on the Land Side / Intire Cochin, on the Land Side.
Copper engraving, 34.9 x 41.4 cm.
London, 1672 / 1744.

Baldaeus’ series of four profile views of Cochin, depicting the city shortly after its capture by the Dutch from the Portuguese in 1663.

Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu (Mid 18th Century) by AnonymousKalakriti Archives

[Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu].
“Negapatnam op Cormandel”.
[Negapatnam, mid-18th Century].
Manuscript profile view, watercolor and ink on paper, 29 x 47 cm.

A finely executed 18th Century watercolour view of Negapatnam, the capital of the Dutch Coromandel.

This attractive original watercolour view depicts the major Dutch East India Company (VOC) factory town of Negapatnam on the Cormandel Coast, as it appeared during the mid-18th Century. To the right side of the view is the walled Dutch town, dominated by Fort Vijf Sinnen (built in 1687), from which flies a tall pole bearing the VOC flag. To the right (north) of the town are Tamil fishing villages, while the silhouette of an ancient Hindu Temple rises in the centre of the view. In the foreground, dhows and rowing boats ply the waters of the Bay of Bengal.

The Portuguese first established a factory at Negapatnam in 1554. In 1658, the VOC took Negapatnam and by 1663 had evicted the Portuguese from the region. The town was a major entrepôt for the pepper trade and played a key role in the VOC’s “Pepper War” against the English East India Company in 1682. In 1690, Negapatnam became the capital of the Dutch Coromandel, and retained this role until it was captured by the British in 1781.

Hooghly-Chinsura, West Bengal (1626) by François ValentijnKalakriti Archives

François VALENTIJN (1666-1727).
[Hooghly-Chinsura, West Bengal].
Aanwysing der Voornaamste Wooningen, Poorten, Thuynen, Tanken, enz: op Hoegly Ao. 1721.
Dordrecht, 1626.
Copper engraving with hand colour, 27.7 x 36.4 cm.

An early 18th Century plan of the Dutch factory of Chinsura, on Bengal’s Hooghly River, offering a detailed perspective on a typical contemporary European commercial outpost in India.

This plan grants a detailed insight into the formation of a European factory in India. While there were several European-governed cities in India, such as Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and Pondicherry, most European settlements consisted of such compact, commercial outposts built on land leased or rented from Indian rulers.

In 1635, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) established a factory at Chinsura, very near the town of Hooghly. The settlement was authorized by a firman granted by the Mughal emperor. Chinsura quickly developed into the VOC’s main base in Bengal, then the wealthiest region of India. The Dutch maintained a brisk trade in fine silks, calicos, saltpeter and opium.

The plan depicts Chinsura as it appeared in 1721, and shows a variety of facilities, such as the governor’s house, the accounting office, warehouses, military barracks, residences and docking quays, all enclosed by a wall. While goods and supplies would flow in and out of the factory, the settlement was a largely self-contained Dutch enclave.

Mumbai, Maharashtra (1685/1711) by John ThorntonKalakriti Archives

John THORNTON (1641-1708).
[Mumbai, Maharashtra].
A New Mapp of the Island of Bombay and Salsett.
London, 1685 / 1711.
Copper engraving, 47 x 55.5 cm.

The first detailed printed map of Mumbai, made by John Thornton, the official hydrographer of the English East India Company.

This fascinating sea chart represents the first printed map to focus on Bombay (Mumbai) and captures the city and its vicinity from an easterly perspective. It depicts the English colony as it appeared around 1680, following a period of explosive economic and population growth, which brought Bombay to prominence for the first time. It is based on a manuscript chart drafted by the Thames School of cartographers, a group of chartmakers who operated in London, and who relied on a sketch brought back from India. The manuscript chart was then engraved by John Thornton, the official hydrographer to the English East India Company.

In 1661, the Island of Bombay was given to England as part of the dowry for the Portuguese Infanta Catherine of Braganza’s marriage to Charles II.

Bombay was leased in 1668 to the East India Company. The adjacent ‘Sallset Island’ (Salsette) remained under the control of Portugal, while the mainland was technically under Mughal rule. ‘Bombay Towne & Castle’, marking the centre of the city, was the residence of the EIC governor.

‘Mazagoem’ (Mazagaon Fort) represents a fortification that existed from 1680 to 1690, built to guard the landward approaches to the city. Intended to be a working sea chart, the harbour features nautical information, including bathymetric soundings, the locations of hazards and fishing stakes.

Bengal and parts of Odisha and Bihar (1685/1711) by John ThorntonKalakriti Archives

John THORNTON (1641-1708).
[Bengal and parts of Odisha and Bihar].
A map of the greate river Ganges as it emptieth it selfe into the bay of Bengala, taken from a draught made uppon the place by the agents for the English East India Company never before made publique…
London, 1685 / 1711.
Copper engraving, 43.8 x 53.3 cm.

The earliest detailed printed English map of Bengal, made for the English East India Company by its official hydrographer John Thornton.

This elegant chart depicts Bengal and adjacent regions as the English conceived of them around 1680. During this period, Bengal was considered to be the wealthiest region of India, its economy buoyed by the production of magnificent textiles, such as calicos and silk, while Bihar was rich in saltpeter, the main ingredient for gunpowder.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to gain a presence in Bengal, in the 1570s. However, beginning in the 1620s, they were supplanted by both the English and the Dutch. These players were later joined by the French, Danes and the Flemish-Austrians.

The map labels a number of centers that were important to European trade in the region. In the Ganges Delta these include ‘Cassimbazar’ (Kasimbazar), ‘Dacca’ (Dhaka, Bangladesh) and ‘Hulgly’ (Hooghly-Chinsura). Notably, Calcutta does not appear on the map, as it would not be founded until 1690.

The location marked on the map as ‘Jagernaut 1000 Pagods’ refers to the Jagannath Temple in Puri (Odisha), dedicated to the Hindu deity Jagannath, whose name derived from word Jagat-Nath, meaning 'Lord of the Universe'. Interestingly, the English word ‘juggernaut’ derives from a story concerning how the massive Jagganath the Ratha-Yatra temple car crushed a group of worshippers.

Bengal would become the first region of India to be conquered by the British, following the Battle of Plassey (1757), when the EIC luminary Robert Clive defeated and deposed the Nawab of Bengal.

Puducherry, Union Territory of Puducherry (1741) by AnonymousKalakriti Archives

Puducherry, Union Territory of Puducherry
Manuscript, pen and ink with wash colour, 61 x 88.8 cm.

A magnificent large-scale manuscript plan of Pondicherry, the capital of French India, drafted during the city’s historical apogee.

This exceptionally large military engineer’s plan depicts Pondicherry, which founded as the capital of French India in 1674 and developed into the finest European-planned city in India.

Here the city is depicted as it appeared in 1741, during the height of its prosperity. Focusing tightly in on the walled city, the exactingly drafted and finely coloured plan is adorned, in the lower right quadrant, by an elegant rococo cartouche. The map’s grand appearance suggests that it was intended as a presentation piece for a senior French official, although, curiously, it is unsigned.

Pondicherry was then enveloped by walls, graced by broad tree-lined streets and many beautiful buildings and public squares. Thirty-eight key sights are identified on the map, corresponding to the ‘Renvois’ (Reference), located within the rococo cartouche (designated A-S, 1-19).

The lettered sites describe the city’s military defensive works including: A. Fort St. Louis; B. the planned extension of the fort; and D. to S. Bastions and batteries along the city walls. The numbered sites refer to important public edifices and grounds, including: 1. Capuchine Church; 2. Jesuit Church; 3. Company Gardens; 4. Jesuit Gardens; 5. Capuchine Gardens; 6. Hospital; 7. Former Company Gardens; 8. French East India Company Office; 9. Governor’s House; 10. Mint; 11. Indian Cemetery; 12. French Cemetery; 13. Great Market; 14. Indian Prison; 15. Outer defensive works constructed in 1740 and 1741; 16. Outer defensive works constructed in 1740; 17. St. Lawrence Market; 18. Military Viewing Marquis; and 19. Military Parade Grounds.

Notably, Pondicherry was then divided into four districts: the French Quarter was located towards the waterfront to the south (left) of the Fort, while the north (right) was the New French Quarter. Inland from this district was the Indian Town, home to the vast majority of the city’s residents, while the New Extension, comprising the southwest portion of the town (the upper left), was built up only recently.

Unfortunately, the city as depicted here was almost totally destroyed by the British, following their seizure of Pondicherry in 1761. Although the city was subsequently rebuilt, it never regained the same splendor.

MAHÉ, Union Territory of Puducherry (circa 1750) by AnonymousKalakriti Archives

[MAHÉ, Union Territory of Puducherry].
“Plan de la Mayé Coste Malabare par les 11 dgs 40 ms latitude Nord”.
[Mahé, circa 1750].
Manuscript, pen and ink and watercolour on paper, 61.2 x 95 cm.

An especially fine mid-18th Century manuscript map of Mahé, France’s base on the Malabar Coast.

This magnificent plan is certainly among of the most beautiful and finely drafted French maps made in India during the period. It depicts the town and environs of Mahé, a small enclave that, from 1724 to 1954, was France’s only possession along the west coast of India.

The map depicts Mahé as it appeared around 1750 and employs an eastward perspective. The town is located along the south bank of the mouth of the Mahé River, where it meets the Arabian Sea, with all of the water spaces on the map coloured in an especially attractive light green wash, typical of the period.

The surrounding countryside is covered by plantations, expressed in a most elegant pictorial fashion, while all major buildings are depicted, employing a pink hue, then commonly used on engineers’ plans. The detailed key in the upper right identifies 79 key sites on the map (divided into three colour-coded columns: black, red and green, including military architecture, public buildings, churches, hospitals, prominent residences, streets and alleyways.

A prominent feature of the map is Mahé’s elaborate defensive system, as devised by the brilliant military engineer Louis de la Roche Paradis in 1740. It was anchored by Fort Mahé (Black column A), located in the center of the town, while the three forts were perched on highlands in the interior, Fort Dauphin (Black B), Fort Condé (Black C) and Fort St. Georges (Black D), guard the landward approaches.

A comprehensive series of redoubts and batteries completed the defensive system.

Several key sites in the town proper are named, highlights of which include: the Main Church (Black I); Government House (Black K); the Grand Powder Magazine (Black L); the Commandant’s residence (Black M); the French East India Company office (Black N); the Carmelite monastery (Black P); the hospital (Black R); and the foundry (Black S). The area immediately along the seacoast, below the European town, labeled “Macoirie”, features the village populated by Indian residents.

Tharangambadi, Tamil Nadu (circa 1740) by Matthäus SeutterKalakriti Archives

Matthäus Seutter
Tharangambadi, Tamil Nadu
Circa 1740
Copper engraving with original hand colour, 53.3 x 63.3 cm.

A highly detailed early 18th Century map of the Danish enclave of Tranquebar, on the Coromandel Coast, based on mapping done by German Lutheran missionaries.

This fine map depicts the environs of Tranquebar, a Danish enclave located along the coast of the Tanjore region, based on drafts made by German Lutheran missionaries during the early 18th Century.

The elaborately decorative map features the town of Tanquebar and the Castle of Dansborg in the lower center, while the limits of the Danish-held territory are delineated by a border canal. The countryside assumes the appearance of a bucolic, carefully manicured plantation landscape with rolling fields and rows of trees neatly aligned along country roads. The map labels the locations of Hindu Temples (‘Pagoden’), Christian Churches, Garden houses, flood control stations along the rivers and canals, fords, bushes, as well as different tree species, including cocoanut palms, palms for oil and Aalamaram (banyan) trees.

Tranquebar was, for over two centuries, the epicentre of the Danish presence in India. Envious of the astounding profits made by the Dutch and English East India companies, in 1616, King Christian IV chartered the Danish East India Company (Ostindisk Kompagni). While a small nation, Denmark was a wealthy and highly enterprising maritime power that maintained an outsized role in global trade. Admiral Ove Gedde led founded a Danish settlement at Tranquebar, then home to a small Jesuit mission, famous for being where St. Francis Xavier preached the gospel in 1542.

At the request of Fredrick IV, in 1706, two Pietist Lutheran missionaries, Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (1682-1719) und Heinrich Plütschau (1677-1746), were dispatched from Halle to Tranquebar. Upon their arrival, they founded the Danish-Halle Mission, the first Protestant mission in India and set a trend for academic excellence. Ziegenbalg soon mastered the Tamil language and by 1713 imported the first printing press to the East Coast of India. He was responsible for writing and publishing the first Tamil grammar and the earliest Tamil translation of the New Testament.

The missionaries maintained a great interest in geography and the physical improvements to the landscape around of Tranquebar. The present map is based on one of their most important maps and depicts the enclave as it appeared during the 1720s.

Tharangambadi, Tamil Nadu (Early to mid 18th Century) by AnonymousKalakriti Archives

Tharangambadi, Tamil Nadu
Early to mid-18th Century
Manuscript, pen and ink with wash, total: 17.4 x 10.7 cm; map: 9.8 x 10.0 cm; view: 5.8 x 10.2 cm.

A beautifully rendered miniature watercolour map of Tranquebar, accompanied by a view of the Castle of Dansborg.

This fine pairing features an original manuscript street plan of the Danish town of Tranquebar, on the Coromandel Coast.

The attractive view, “Dansburg” (the Castle of Dansborg) offers a profile perspective of this fascinating and unique edifice, built in 1620, on the orders of Admiral Gedde. The castle served as the residence of the Danish Governor, and is an extraordinary mixture of Danish and Indian architecture styles. Dansborg survives to this day, where it serves as a museum.

The watercolours were executed by an anonymous German hand, quite likely a member of the Danish-Halle mission.

Hooghly River, West Bengal (1726) by Jacques André CobbeKalakriti Archives

Jacques André Cobbe
Hooghly River, West Bengal
Copper-engraving with original hand colour, 53.4 x 75.5 cm.

An exceedingly rare early 18th Century map, commissioned by the Flemish-Austrian Ostend Company, depicting the European Factories along Bengal’s Hooghly River.

This highly attractive and very rare production relates to the Flemish-Austrian foray into India, which could be described as politically shambolic, commercially profitable and very short-lived.

The map depicts the lower course of the Hooghly River, the epicentre of European activity in Bengal, taken from a westward perspective.

In the right-center of the map, located just inland of the left bank of the river, is ‘Bankebasar’ (Banquibazar, today the site of Ichapore), the Ostend Company’s commercial base, and nearby “Hitsiapour” (Hydisiapore), home of the “Loge Flamande” (the Flemish habitation). Across the river is “Chandernagar factorie Françoise” (the French base of Chandernagore, today known as Chandannagar), while just above is “Sinsura factorie Holland.” (the Dutch factory of Chinsura). Below Chandernagore is “Danemarnagor Loge Danoise” (Danemarnagore, today Gondalpara), a settlement that was abandoned by the Danes 1714. Further down river is “Coullicatta factorie Anglaise”, referring to Calcutta (established by the English in 1690).

In 1713, the Southern Netherlands, now known as Belgium, became part of the Austrian Habsburg Empire. Seeking to forge a permanent presence in India, in 1722, Emperor Charles IV chartered the Ostend Company.

The man selected to lead the venture was Lieutenant-General Jacques André Cobbé, who while having a fine military resumé, also possessed a volatile temperament. Within months of his arrival in Bengal, in June 1723, at the head of a modest force, Cobbé ‘went rogue’ and attacked Bengali shipping on the Hooghly. In April 1724, he holed himself up in the fort of Danemarnagore, and his rag-tag army weathered a siege by the Nawab’s forces until he was killed by a cannonball.

It was at this juncture that the level-headed Scottish merchant Alexander Hume took over the governorship of the Company. He managed to smooth over relations with the Nawab and built a commercial settlement at Bankibazar and the fortifications at Hydisiapore in short order. The Ostend Company briefly proved to be a spectacular financial success.

Not surprisingly, the other European powers in India saw the Ostend Company as a threat to their own endeavours. In 1731, the British pressured Charles IV into rescinding the Ostend Company’s charter, although it continued to operate unofficially until 1744.

Southern India (1682) by Johan NieuhofKalakriti Archives

Regionality: Southern India

Southern or Peninsular India was, for the first 250 years following the arrival of Vasco da Gama, the part of the Subcontinent that featured the most consequential interactions between Europe and India.  European powers set up numerous bases and factories along the coastlines and extensively influenced the politics, culture and economy of Southern India.  The exquisitely engraved sea chart, made in Tuscany by Sir Robert Dudley, an English exile, shows that by the mid-17th Century, 

Southern India (1740) by Johann Lucas NiekampKalakriti Archives

Europeans’ knowledge of the coastal areas was extensive, while their understanding of the interior was very limited {no. 33}. Johan Nieuhof’s map of Southern India beautifully depicts the state of play in the 1660s, during the height of the Dutch East India Company’s (the VOC’s) power in the region {no. 34}.  The fine manuscript map, covering much of the Indian Peninsula, rendered by an anonymous German hand, who was likely connected to the Lutheran mission in Tranquebar, shows that, by 1740, Europeans had developed a relatively sophisticated knowledge of the interior of the peninsula {no. 35}. Johannes van Keulen’s pair of sea charts, focusing on the Konkan, Kanara, Malabar and Coromandel Coasts {nos. 36 & 37}, comes from the ‘Secret Atlas’ of the VOC and reflects the powerful economic and political rivalries that then existed amongst the major powers in India. 

Southern India, Sri Lanka and Maldives (1646) by Robert DudleyKalakriti Archives

Robert DUDLEY (1574-1649).
[Southern India, Sri Lanka and Maldives].
Questa Carta contiene la costa dell’India Orientale con la costa de Coromandell e l'Isola di Zeilan e Finisce con la Parte Tramontna. di Sumatra. D'Asia Carta II.
Florence, 1646.
Copper engraving, 54.6 x 83.1 cm.

An exquisitely engraved sea chart depicting Southern India, printed in Florence by the English exile Sir Robert Dudley.

This chart of Southern India is quite impressive for the time, as while it is not based on systematic surveys, it shows a relatively advanced 17th Century mariners’ understanding of the nature of the coastlines of the Indian Peninsula.

Dudley relied on a variety of Dutch and English antecedents, although his mapping does not precisely correspond to any other known chart. It is thought that Dudley had access to some of the manuscript maps made by the navigator John Davis (c. 1550-1605), who made three voyages to South and Southeast Asia between 1598 and 1605.

The chart is from Robert Dudley’s Dell' Arcano Del Mare (1646-7), which translates as ‘The Mystery of the Sea’, a fantastic and highly unusual masterpiece that maintains the distinction of being the first maritime atlas to cover the entire known World as well as the earliest original maritime atlas made by an Englishman (albeit one who was working in Italy).

Dudley’s charts were masterfully engraved in a unique Italian Baroque style by Antonio Francesco Lucini, an accomplished Florentine artisan. Lucini clamed that Dudley had spent around 40 years preparing the Arcano, while he himself had taken 12 years to engrave the plates, employing over 5,000 lbs. of copper.

Sir Robert Dudley (1574-1649) was a brilliant, controversial and larger-than-life character. After leading an expedition to find ‘El Dorado’, the apocryphal ‘City of Gold’ in South America, he established himself as a foremost authority on maritime navigation. After falling out with King James I, he left England for exile in Tuscany, where he enjoyed the patronage of the wealthy Medici family.

Southern India (1682) by Johan NieuhofKalakriti Archives

Johan NIEUHOF (1618-1672).
[Southern India].
Landt caert vande Cust van Malabaer, Madura en Cormendel.
Amsterdam, 1682.
Copper engraving, with original hand colour, 35 x 42.8 cm.

An elegant Dutch map depicting Southern India during the apogee of the VOC’s involvement in the region, made for the diplomat Johan Nieuhof.

This fine example of the contemporary Baroque style of Dutch cartography portrays Southern India as it was conceived in the 1660s, during the height of the Dutch East India Company’s (the VOC’s) power in the region. The map was drafted for the diplomat Johan Nieuhof, and was published posthumously as part of his great work on India and Sri Lanka, Zee- en Lant-Reise door verscheide Gewesten van Oostindien (1682). The year that this map was printed, the VOC engaged the English East India Company in what was known as the ‘Pepper War’, a high-stakes trade game that nearly bankrupted the latter company.

While the map marks an advancement over Linschoten’s map of 1596 (no. 21), it nevertheless preserves many of the earlier work’s geographic misconceptions. Notably, the interior of the peninsula is shown to feature a single, central spine of mountains in place of the Western and Eastern Ghats and the Deccan Plateau. The still mysterious nature of the interior is beautifully demonstrated by the appearance of lions and ostriches (African Animals), which accompany depictions of tigers and elephants native to India.

The west coast of India features several important trading ports, including ‘Goa’, the capital of Portuguese India (the VOC’s arch-nemesis), ‘Mangalor’ (Mangalore), ‘Cananor’ (Kannur), ‘Calechut’ (Khozikode), ‘Cranganor’ (Kodullungur), ‘Cotchyn’ (Kochi, newly conquered by the Dutch in 1663), ‘Porca’ (Purakkad), ‘Coulan (Kollam), and ‘C. Comoryn’ (Cape Comorin).

The depiction of the east coast of India starts with ‘Madura’ and features the port of ‘Toutekryn’ (Tuticorin), ‘Adams Brug’ (Adam’s Bridge, the chain of islands which traverse the Palk Strait, dividing Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka), ‘Negepatnam’ (Nagapattinam, an important trading centre acquired by the VOC in 1658) and ‘Kranckebara’ (Tranquebar, the main Danish base in India). Also labeled are the ‘Seven Pagoden’ (the ‘Seven Pagodas’), referring the town of Mahabalipuram, which was famously rumoured to host seven major Hindu temples, although reality it was home to only one, the Shore Temple, built in the 8th Century BC.

Southern India (1740) by Johann Lucas NiekampKalakriti Archives

Johann Lucas NIEKAMP (d. 1740).
[Southern India].
[circa 1740].
Manuscript, pen and ink on paper, 56.5 x 32.5 cm.

A finely rendered manuscript map of Southern India, after Johann Lucas Niekamp, a German Lutheran missionary who was based in Tranquebar.

This map is a magnificent and very rare survivor, being the western half of an original manuscript map of Southern India that is either the original antecedent or, more likely, a contemporary manuscript copy of a printed map devised by the German missionary Johann Lucas Niekamp, entitled Special-Carte von der halb-insel Indiens dieserts dem Ganges (1740).

For some years, Niekamp was a member of the Danish-Halle mission in Tanquebar and he clearly went to great efforts to find the most advanced geographical sources for his map, which is perhaps the most accurate and detailed of the region produced during its time.

The coastlines are labeled ‘Westliche Kust’, (Western Coast), ‘Malabar’ (Malabar Coast), ‘Perlen Fischer Kust’ (Pearl Fishers’ Coast), and ‘Tondyscher MeerBusen’ (Gulf of Tondy). The Western and Malabar coasts feature ‘Goa’, ‘Bassalore’ (Basrur), ‘Canonaor’ (Kannur), ‘Calicut’ (Khozikode), ‘Cranganor’ (Kodungallur), and ‘Codschin’ (Kochi).

Key places labeled on the Coromandel Coast include ‘Nagapatnam’ (Negapatnam), ‘Trankebar’ (Tranquebar), ‘Pondicherry’ (Puducherry) and ‘Fort St. David’ (near Cuddalore).

The treatment of the interior regions of Southern India is quite impressive for the period, as many important locations are correctly placed, including ‘Tanschaur’ (Thanjavur), ‘Madure’ (Madurai), ‘Tricharapali’ (Tiruchirapalli), ‘Sirangapatnam’ (Srirangapatna) and ‘Golconda oder Bagnagar’ (Hyderabad).

Konkan, Kanara and Malabar Coasts (1753) by Johannes van KEULEN IIKalakriti Archives

Johannes van KEULEN II (1704-1755).
[Konkan, Kanara and Malabar Coasts].
Pas Caart van een Gedeette van de Kusten van Cuncancanara en Malibar met het Noortlykste van de Maldivische Eylanden in de Oostindischezee.
Amsterdam, 1753.
Copper engraving, 62.9 x 54 cm.

A highly detailed sea chart depicting the Malabar and Konkan Coasts, from the ‘Secret Atlas’ of the Dutch East India Company.

The present sea chart covers the Malabar and Konkan Coasts, which since the mid-17th Century, were among the primary theatres of operation for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in India. Up to this point, the VOC produced master charts of Asian waters that generally remained in manuscript form so that their dissemination could be carefully controlled, such that valuable intelligence would not fall into the hands of rival powers.

However, by the mid-18th Century, it was decided that these charts would be printed by a trusted mapmaker in limited quantities, with their dissemination carefully controlled. The present chart is from the resulting ‘Secret Atlas’ of the VOC, issued in Amsterdam by Johannes van Keulen II, which was privileged for the use of the Company’s captains.

The style of the chart reflects the best practices of Dutch maritime cartography, which from the early 17th Century rose to dominate the genre. All major ports are identified and some are marked by the flags of the nations or companies that controlled the trade flowing through them.

The coverage extends from ‘Vingorla’ (Vengurla), in the north, all the way down past ‘Cochin’ (Kochi), in the south. The main ports, working from north to south and commencing along the ‘Kust van Cuncan’ (Konkan Coast) are ‘Goa’, the capital of Portuguese India; ‘Carvar’ (Karwar, featuring an EIC flag); and ‘Bassalore’ (Basrur, with both VOC and EIC flags).

The coastline labeled ‘Canara’ refers to the Kanara Coast (the coast of modern day Karnataka), of which ‘Manguloore’ (Mangalore, with the flag of the Nayakas of Keladi) is the preeminent port.

The ‘Kust van Malabar’ (Malabar Coast) features ‘Cannanoor’ (Kannur, VOC flag); ‘Tellechery’ (Thalassery, EIC flag); ‘Calicut’ (Kozhikode, EIC flag); ‘Cranganoor’ (Kodungallur, VOC flag); and ‘Cochin’ (Kochi, VOC flag).

Coromandel Coast (1753) by Johannes van KEULEN IIKalakriti Archives

[Coromandel Coast].
Nieuwe afteekening van de Kust van Coromandel en een gedeelte van de Kust van Golgonda.
Amsterdam, 1753.
Copper engraving, 629 x 540 mm.

A highly detailed sea chart featuring the Coromandel Coast, from the ‘Secret Atlas’ of the Dutch East India Company.

This fine chart depicts the Coromandel Coast and was included in the ‘Secret Atlas’ of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). It extends from ‘Goetepatnam’ (Gopalapattinam), along the Palk Strait, in the south all the way up north to the Andhra Coast beyond ‘Vizagapatnam’ (Visakhapatnam).

Beginning from south to north is ‘De Noord hoek van Ceÿlon’ (the northern cape of Sri Lanka), and then along ‘De Kust van Coromandel’ (Coromandel Coast) is ‘Negapatnam’ (Nagapattinam, VOC flag); ‘Karikal’ (a French possession); ‘Tranquebar’ (a Danish colony); ‘Pondichery’ (the capital of French India); ‘Sadraspatnam’ (Sadras, VOC flag); ‘Cabelon’ (Covelong, a former Flemish-Austrian factory); ‘Madraspatnam (Chennai, EIC flag); and ‘Palleacatte’ (Pulicat, with an EIC flag, although it was generally a VOC base from 1609 to 1825).

Further north, the coastline is labeled ‘Golconda’, referring to what was then known as the Northern Circars (today’s northern Andhra Coast), then ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad. Important ports are noted, such as ‘Masculipatan’ (Machiliptnam); ‘Nassipore’ (Narsapur); and ‘Vizagapatnam’ (Visakhapatnam, VOC flag).

Coromandel Coast (circa 1782) by Jean BourcetKalakriti Archives


From 1745 until 1783, India was one of the epicenters of global conflict, revolving around the efforts of France and Britain to gain imperial dominance over the Subcontinent. While conflict between European players in India was nothing new, previous to this period these rivals begrudgingly tolerated their coexistence, with each focusing their energies on mercantile interests. However, beginning with the First Carnatic War (1745-48), the French and British East India Companies began to make bold plays for ‘winner take all’ domination of India. Many of the great Indian regional states that had arisen in the wake of the decline of the Mughal Empire were caught up in this contest, as were the minor European powers. 

Chennai (formerly Madras), Tamil Nadu (1758) by Louis Paradis de la RocheKalakriti Archives

 The magnificent Theatre de la Guerre dans L’Inde sur la Coste de Coromandel {no. 38} in centred on a map that details the dramatic military action that occurred between France and Britain and their respective Indian allies in the Carnatic during the 1750s and 1760s. The fine vignettes that border the map detail key strategic locations throughout the region, based on maps drafted by French spies and agents provocateurs.The fine manuscript map documenting the Fall of Madras (1746) details the most stunning French victory over the British during the 18th Century {no. 39}. Claude Dezuache’s battle plan of the Siege of Cuddalore (1783) {no. 41} captures the final battle between France and the EIC within the Indian theatre of the American Revolutionary War, following which Britain became the dominant European power on the Subcontinent.  

Coromandel Coast (circa 1782) by Jean BourcetKalakriti Archives

Jean Bourcet,
Louis Marc-Antoine de Valory, Marquis d'Estilly,
Louis François Grégoire Lafitte De Brassier
circa 1782
Copper engraving, with manuscript additions in red wash colour, 64.6 x 101 cm.

The finest printed map showcasing the 18th Century theatre of war in the Carnatic and along the Coromandel Coast, a unique example distinguishing Hyder Ali’s domains in manuscript.

This magnificent composition focuses on a large map embracing the Coromandel Coast and the Carnatic, from Pulicat, in the north, all the way down south to Cape Comorin, as it appeared during the era running from the Third Carnatic War to the First Anglo-Mysore War, during the 1750s and 1760s. These conflicts involved the EIC and the Nawab of the Carnatic, on one side, versus, at various times, France and the Sultanate of Mysore on the other.

This main map is based on a manuscript by the military engineer Jean Bourcet and features all cities, villages, forts, major temples, roads, rivers and territorial boundaries in exacting detail. Every major battle site is marked with the symbol of crossed swords, including the date and names of the relevant French commander, employing letters as symbols to mark the outcome of each battle: ‘G’ means ‘Gagner’ (a French win), ‘P’ makes ‘Perdue’ (a French loss), ‘C’ ‘Canonade’ (a draw), ‘CR’ ‘Canonade avec un Retraite’ (a draw followed by a French retreat), while three naval battles are noted off shore.

The panels along the sides and lower part of the map contain 19 cartographic vignettes of key locations in the wars fought in the region. These are based on a series of manuscript maps made in 1777 and 1778 by Louis Marc-Antoine de Valory and Louis François Grégoire Lafitte du Brassier, French officers who were separately engaged in reconnaissance and espionage missions in various parts of Southern India.

This unique example features the territory of Mysore, ruled by Hyder Ali, coloured in a pink wash, labeled in manuscript as “Etats de Ayder Aly Kan”.

Chennai, Tamil Nadu (1746) by Raousset De Bourbon, after Louis Paradis De La RocheKalakriti Archives

Raousset de Bourbon, after Louis Paradis de la Roche
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Manuscript, pen and ink with red wash on paper, 46.1 x 61 cm.

A beautifully executed original contemporary manuscript map depicting the Fall of Madras (1746), a great French victory over the British East India Company.

This exquisite, yet unfinished, manuscript map was prepared by a French officer to illustrate the Fall of Madras, which represented the worst defeat the British would endure India during the 18th Century.

During the First Carnatic War (1746-1748), the first widespread conflict that pitted France against Britain for colonial dominance over India, French forces managed to besiege and quickly conquer Madras (Chennai), one of the EIC’s three most important bases in India.

The French forces under the Marquis Dupleix, the Governor of French India, backed by a naval force under the Comte de La Bourdonnais, attacked Madras on the morning of September 7, 1746. The modest British garrison of only 300 men was poorly prepared and it was also soon revealed that Madras’ defenses were poorly constructed, as they crumbled with each salvo. When Fort St. George’s liquor warehouse was hit, many of the dispirited British troops availed themselves of libations and were rendered unfit for combat. Realizing that his predicament was hopeless, on September 9, the British surrendered Fort St. George, the city’s main defensive structure, to Bourdonnais, although the city was not fully occupied by the French until some days later.

This unfinished map was drafted by a French nobleman, Monsieur de Raousset de Bourbon, who was an Officer of the Regiment of French Guards. It is based on the reconnaissance surveys of Louis Paradis de la Roche, the highly skilled engineer who previously designed the defensive system for Mahé (see no. 27).

As the intended key on the map was never filled in, the action can be interpreted through a printed edition of Paradis’s map of the Fall of Madras (see no. 40).

Chennai (formerly Madras), Tamil Nadu (1758) by Louis Paradis de la RocheKalakriti Archives

Louis Paradis de la Roche
Chennai (formerly Madras), Tamil Nadu
Copper engraving, 16.4 x 32.2 cm.

A printed edition of Louis Paradis de la Roche’s plan of the Fall of Madras, providing context to the accompanying manuscript map.

This printed version of Louis Paradis de la Roche’s map was engraved for Jacques-Nicolas Bellin and appeared in Abbé Prévost’s Histoire générale des voyages (Paris, 1758), a popular book on global exploration and colonial affairs.

It explains the operations leading to the Fall of Madras in September 1746. The ‘Renvoy’ (Reference) on the printed map identifies 51 key aspects of the action (lettered A to Z to identify sites in Madras, while those lettered a to x identify aspects of the attacking French forces). These include: A) Fort St. George; B) The Governor’s House; F) the powder magazine; M) the ‘Ville Noir’ (the part of the city inhabited by Indians, partially destroyed by French artillery); V) the houses of the British residents; and Y) houses intentionally burnt by the British prior to the French siege.

The action follows with: c) hospital destroyed by the French; e) houses intentionally destroyed by the British, so as not to be used by the French as cover; g) the first camp of the French army; h) the second camp of the French army; o) a great Hindu temple; q) the place of the landing of the French troops brought by the Comte de Bourdonnias; r) Bourdonnias’ three vessels, the Phenix, l’Achille and the Bourbon; t) supporting ships; and x) small landing vessels.

After a two-day siege, the French secured the surrender of Fort St. George on September 9, 1746, although they would not occupy the entire city of Madras until September 21.

Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu (1783) by Jean-claude DezaucheKalakriti Archives

Jean-Claude Dezauche
Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu
Copper engraving with original hand colour, dissected and mounted on linen as issued, 44.8 x 49.3 cm.

The authoritative map of the Siege of Cuddalore (1783), a seminal event of the Second Anglo-Mysore War.

This excellent battle plan depicts the height of action during the Siege of Cuddalore in June 1783, a key event of the Second Anglo-Mysore War, which pitted Britain against an alliance of France and Mysore, as part of the grander global contest of the American Revolutionary War.

As shown on the map, Stuart’s forces mounted a series of inconclusive attacks on Cuddalore as part of a siege that lasted over three weeks. However, suddenly, on June 30, 1783, news arrived that Britain and France had agreed to end the war between them (although Britain and Mysore remained at war). The events at Cuddalore were significant in that it represented the last time that France seriously challenged British power in India.

India (1822) by Aaron ArrowsmithKalakriti Archives

One India

Following the East India Company’s conquest of Bengal in 1757, the British set about forging an empire that would eventually span the entire Indian Subcontinent.  While the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (reigned 1658-1707) came close to conquering all of India, by the mid-18th Century, the very notion of India as being a single coherent entity could be considered to be somewhat fanciful. India was then divided into numerous warring states and European enclaves, with vast populations divided by language and religion.   However, as Great Britain and France came to harbour ambitions to create vast empires in India, beginning in the 1740s, some envisioned the possibility of uniting India under a single power.  Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon’s Carte de l’Inde (1752) is the first large-format map to embrace all of India {no. 42}.  Importantly, the map, with its lack of emphasis on political or demographic divisions, seems to anticipate the notion of India as being a single coherent entity.  While D’Anville was commissioned to create the map by the French East India Company, ironically, it would not be France that would realize this vision.

India, 1752, From the collection of: Kalakriti Archives
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Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon D’anville India 1752 Copper engraving, 97 x 109 cm.

The first large-format map to depict India as single coherent entity and a major monument of Enlightenment Era cartography, based upon the latest authoritative sources.

This important work represents first large-format printed map to embrace of all of India. It was prepared by Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon D’Anville, then France’s leading mapmaker, at the behest of the French East India Company.

D’Anville’s map marks a seminal juncture in the evolution of how India was viewed by Europeans. Critically, it can be argued that it is the first detailed map to show the subcontinent as being ‘One India’, or a single coherent geographical entity.

The map is revolutionary in its stark simplicity. It is entitled ‘Carte de l’Inde’ (Map of India) and while numerous regions are labeled throughout, political divisions are omitted. Up to this point, maps generally made a point of dividing India into broad regional framings, such as maps of northern or southern / peninsular India or maps focusing on certain Indian states or European colonial enclaves.

Notably, the map also follows the ethic of empiricism favoured by the contemporary European Enlightenment, as D’Anville depicts only details that are based on authoritative sources, while areas unknown or little understood by Europeans are left blank.

While that map was made with French ambitions in mind, it prefigures the notion of India as being united under a single imperial power, a feat later realized by the British ‘Company Raj’.

Surat, Gujarat, Ludwig Felix De Gloss, circa 1760, From the collection of: Kalakriti Archives
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Ludwig Felix De Gloss Surat, Gujarat circa 1760 Manuscript, pen and ink with wash on paper, 52 x 64 cm.

The master plan for renovating Surat Castle, made shortly after the East India Company assumed control of the fortress in 1759 – marking the first step towards the creation of the British Raj.

This finely drafted manuscript represents the authoritative military engineer’s plan of Surat Castle, drafted shortly after the British East India Company (EIC) assumed control of the fortress in 1759. The takeover of the Castle was a milestone in the political history of India, as it represented the first time that an official British entity had formally assumed sovereignty over Indian territory (as opposed to leasing land from Indian rulers), marking the first step towards the formation of the British Raj.

Surat Castle, a monumental 16th Century stone edifice, sat on the banks of the Tapti River in the heart of the city, and was impressively built with walls 40 feet high and 13 feet thick, with the masonry bound together by iron strips and molten lead. However, when the EIC assumed control of the Castle, they found the medieval fortress in a state of disrepair.

They charged Ludwig Felix de Gloss, a highly competent German military engineer in the service of the Anglo-Indian army, with restoring and retrofitting the Castle. De Gloss’ extensive improvements and new constructions are carefully detailed on the plan.

West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Bangladesh (1776) by James RennellKalakriti Archives

James Rennell
West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Bangladesh
Copper engraving with original hand colour, on 2 un-joined sheets as issued, together approximately 108 x 151 cm.

James Rennell’s survey of Bengal and Bihar, considered one of the greatest technical achievements of cartography of the 18th Century and a powerful symbol of the foundation of the ‘Company Raj’ in India.

James Rennell’s magisterial wall map of Bengal and Bihar is considered to be one of the finest technical achievements of cartography made during the 18th Century. Rennell’s work is the earliest accurate general map of Bengal and Bihar, predicated on his surveys conducted through scientific methods.

The region is shown divided into subhas, or districts, as established by the Mughals, each distinguished in full original wash colours. Virtually every village is labeled and the vast network of roads running throughout the region is carefully delineated. Innumerable rivers, swamps and mountain ranges are depicted, while areas such as the Himalayas and beyond are deliberately left vague, true to the prevailing ethic of empiricism.

The upper right quadrant of the map features the dedication by the publisher Andrew Dury (fl. 1742-1778) to the Directors the East India Company, James Rennell’s employer and the new masters of Bengal and Bihar.

Ever since Robert Clive’s victory at the battle of Plassey (1757), the EIC had acquired ever-greater control of Bengal, the first Indian region to fall under British sovereignty. While Rennell’s surveys were still underway, their greater intended purpose was revealed. Warren Hastings, who served as Governor-General of Bengal from 1773 to 1786, intended for Rennell’s maps to form the basis of a ‘Doomsday Book’ for Bengal, harkening back to William the Conqueror’s invidious revenue survey of England during the late 11th Century.

While the military applications of Rennell’s surveys were obvious, Hastings intended for the maps to be used to register property and collect taxes, as well as to oversee social reforms upon the populous. In this sense, Rennell’s mastery of the terrain on the map anticipated the EIC’s mastery over Bengal and Bihar and the establishment of the ‘Company Raj’ that came to rule most of India.

Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi (1777) by James RennellKalakriti Archives

James Rennell
Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi
Copper engraving with original hand colour, 109 x 109 cm.

James Rennell’s magnificent wall map of Oudh, representing the first accurate and detailed survey of what is now Uttar Pradesh and adjacent areas, prepared for the British East India Company shortly after it asserted its political dominance over the region.

This magnificent work is the sequel to Rennell’s map of Bengal & Bihar, in that it follows the progress of British power up the Ganges Basin. The map is dominated by the depiction of Oudh (also known as Awadh), which is shown to be divided into its traditional subhas. Oudh, which spread along the Gangetic Plain, was long considered to be the ‘Breadbasket of India’.

On the left-hand side of the map, along the ‘Jumnah River’ (Yamuna River), is the nucleus of the, albeit vastly diminished, Mughal Empire. Delhi, which was dominated by the walled city founded in 1649, served as the Mughal capital from its establishment to 1857. Further to the south is ‘Agrah’ (Agra), home of the Taj Mahal. Founded in 1504 by Sikander Lodi, the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, it served as the Mughal capital from 1526 to 1649. To the northeast, the Himalayan region, described as ‘A Chain of Mountains sometimes covered with Snow’, remained a Terra Incognita to Europeans.

Like Rennell’s map of Bengal & Bihar, his map of Oudh was created to mark the EIC’s domination over the region. Following the British victory over the Nawab of Oudh and his allies at the Battle of Buxar (1764), Oudh became an EIC puppet state. Pursuant to the Treaty of Allahabad (1765), the Nawab was compelled to cede much territory and over the coming decades, in stages, the British essentially annexed Oudh.

Southern India (1788) by William FadenKalakriti Archives

William Faden
Southern India
Copper-engraving with original hand colour, on 2 un-joined sheets, together approximately 109 x 194 cm.

The most accurate map of Southernmost India of its era, based on groundbreaking EIC military surveys and one of the finest maps documenting the action of the Second Anglo-Mysore War.

This excellent map of the far south of India fulfills a dual role of being the most accurate topographical map of the region made to its time as well as an one of the finest maps to document British operations during the Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-1784), which was the Indian offshoot of the American Revolutionary War, pitting Britain and her Indian allies against France, the Netherlands and the powerful Sultanate of Mysore.

The map encompasses the southern part of peninsular India from around 13°30” North Latitude down to Cape Comorin, which embraces the primary theatre of the conflict. The map is based, in good part, on the finest available field surveys, most notably those of the Carnatic conducted by Colonel Robert Kelley during the 1770s and ‘80s.

The map features the routes of three of the war’s most dramatic military expeditions. Colonel William Fullarton’s highly successful campaigns in the Carnatic and southern Deccan (1783-4) are traced in red on the map. The route of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Mackenzie Humbertson’s shambolic 1782 attempt to attack Mysore through the Western Ghats is heightened in green. Lieutenant General Sir Eyre Coote’s masterly campaign in the Carnatic of 1781 is traced in blue.

India (1822) by Aaron ArrowsmithKalakriti Archives

Aaron Arrowsmith
Copper engraving with full original hand colour, printed on 9 sheets, in four un-joined parts as issued, total dimensions (if joined, irregular shape): 254 x 241 cm.

Aaron Arrowsmith’s colossal wall map represents the apogee of the Enlightenment cartography of India and powerfully symbolizes the consolidation of British control over the subcontinent.

This gargantuan map occupies a special place in the history of the cartography of India, in that it is both a great technical achievement and a monumental object of profound political symbolism.

Aaron Arrowsmith, as one of his final acts as the World’s leading mapmaker, produced the present map with the support of the East India Company and many of the individuals who played leading roles in the ‘Company Raj’.

The map appeared at an especially critical time in the development of British India, for it came on the back of 65 five years of progressive British territorial gains on the subcontinent. The vast areas, colored in ‘pink’, the signature colour of the British empire on maps, is shown to have practically enveloped India, virtually encircling the various princely states, which were nevertheless client states of the EIC.

Arrowsmith’s map is a composite of a vast variety of carefully selected antecedents, so numerous they cannot possibly be covered here. However, the most authoritative sources available to Arrowsmith were the road route surveys done by military surveyors, either as part of general civilian mapping commissioned by the EIC (such as James Rennell’s maps of Bengal, Bihar and Oudh) or surveys tracking military movement during campaigns.

Arrowsmith was exceedingly well connected and relied on only the most authoritative sources to construct his map. His endeavor was actively supported by the EIC who made their archives freely available to him.

Additionally, many surveyors and important political and military figures of the Company Raj went to considerable effort to ensure that Arrowsmith had access to the best intelligence. In some cases, these officials personally visited Arrowsmith in London, in order to assist him with making sure that his drafts were as accurate as possible.

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