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14 Snapshots of Vintage India

Indian culture is full of life and color—with or without color photography. These beautiful black-and-white shots of people and places in 20th-century India show the stunning architecture, local customs, diverse attire, and varying moods of the country just as well as their later, in-color counterparts. Here, 14 moments from vintage India captured on camera.

Above: Annual prayer at Jama Masjid in Delhi, circa 1902–1910, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

On the bridge to Hyderabad, 1892. Photo by Lala Deen Dayal/Wikimedia Commons.

Sadhus, circa 1900. Photo public domain courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

Afternoon sports, circa 1900. Photo public domain courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

The Delhi Durbar, December 1911. Photo courtesy of MagentaGreen/Wikimedia Commons.

 

Bike riding in Old Delhi, 1954. Photo by Rodney Stich/Wikimedia Commons.

 

Photographer James Ricalton during his travels in India, circa 1901–1903. Photo courtesy of Okinawa Soba (Rob)/Flickr.

 

Hanging at the dry goods store in Mumbai, circa 1920. Photo public domain courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

Snake charmers in Delhi, 1903. Photo by Underwood and Underwood/Wikimedia Commons.

 

English teacher Helen Bisahu, 1950. Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church USA Archives/Wikimedia Commons.

 

A woman rides in a sedan chair, circa 1880. Photo public domain courtesy of Wikimeda Commons.

 

Rice and curry for lunch in Bihar, 1950. Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church USA Archives/Wikimedia Commons

 

 Light traffic at the ITO crossroads in New Delhi, 1950. Photo public domain courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

Mahatma and Kasturba Gandhi, January 1915. Photo public domain courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

For more stunning scenes from India, check out these photos of the country’s wildly decorated trucks.