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Daguerre Photography in Mussoorie

Mussoorie has the distinction of being one of the most photographed towns of India soon after photography was just introduced in Europe. Prior to that, Captain J. Luard made the first Lithograph of Landour. Photography was introduced in India in 1840 only nine months after Louis Daguerre unveiled it before the world in 1839 in Paris. This first ever format was called Daguerre photography. It used to be a 2/4 by 3/4 inches print which resembled very much like a visiting card and people used it as a visiting card thus it was called carte-de-visite.

Since many of the Europeans, including the officers of the East India Company, were present in various parts of India at that time, the camera also traveled most of the country. A rare photograph of a portrait of Mumtaaj Mahal in the Delhi Lal Quila was also shot during the same time. Eventually, it was realized that the climate in the Indian plains was not favorable for the new obsession so the photographers and nature lovers began experimenting in the hills of India where temperature and climate was very much similar to that of Europe.

Mussoorie was sighted as an Irish country side and was a hot favorite destination among naturalists and peace seekers. The famous Scottish photographer Dr. John Murray was the superintendent of the Landour Sanitarium in Mussoorie during the early 1840s. He was known throughout the world for documenting the whole of India through photography. His collection was for sale on internet. Another pioneer J.H. Clark photographed the Landour Himalayas in early 1850s. Soon, Mussoorie was flooded with world known photographers that included Tytler, Robert and Harriet (1856-1858), H.W. Loof (1870s), Shepherd and Robertson (1860), John Edward Sache (1860), Julian and Thomas Rust (1870-1890).

Thomas A. Rust was patronized by H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh and H.E. the Earl of Mayo. Some of these photographers also instituted their studios in the town which included H.W. Loof studio at the Garden Reach, Thomas Rust studio, Bourn and Shepherd studio, J.H. Clark studio and Kinsey Brothers studio. Later, studios were also run by a few Indians that included Lal Chand and Ranjit Singh, Mr. Bora and Mr. Taneja. Glamour studio of those times still exists near the clock tower. A couple of those photographs can still be seen at the City Board E.O. office. Even today, photography is an integral part of the passion and the economy of some people in Mussoorie. The photographers can be seen on the Mall road and at the tourist spots where a couple of photographs in Pahaari attire is worthwhile the trip.