Raja Deen Dayal, India's 'warrior of photography'

Raja Deen Dayal, India's 'warrior of photography'


The doyen of Indian Photographers, Lala Deen Dayal was born in 1844 at Sardhana in Meerut in United Provinces. He received technical education at Thomason Civil Engineering College in Roorkee after which he joined as head estimator and draftsmen in the Public Works Department at Indore. The ruler of Indore, Maharaja Tukoji II, encouraged him to set up his studio there. Sir Henry Daly the Agent to the Governor General encouraged him. According to his Memoirs, he was thus able to obtain the patronage of Lord North Brook the Governor General of India in 1874.

He accompanied Sir Lepel Griffin on his central India tour during which he photographed views of Gwalior, Khajuraho and other sites in Central India.

“I started exploring outside Ahmedabad if there was any driving school just for the differently abled and I found that even in the major cities, there was no such dedicated driving school.” In 2013, Harish started researching how he could set up a school. With many clearances, documentation, and research required, Harish first decided to set up an NGO and went back to his job till the time the logistics were in place.

In 1896 he expanded his business and opened the largest photography studio in Bombay, which was patronized by the Indians as well as the British. The Nizam visited his studio at Bombay and invited him to Hyderabad. He established a Photographic Studio in Secunderabad. The Nizam Mahaboob Ali Pasha, Nizam VI was photographed by Raja Deen Dayal during his Shikars/Wedding Ceremonies, visits by foreign royalty. The Nizam of Hyderabad conferred of him the Title of Raja Musavir Jung Bahadur and a Mansab.

Besides the Nizam, Raja Deen Dayal photographed various British dignitaries, Military exercises, the visit of King George V, then Prince of Wales. He also accompanied the Nizam VI to Delhi for the Durbar in 1903.

He was honored in 1885 by Lord Dufferin and appointed official photographer to the Viceroy and also to successive viceroys like Earl Elgin and Duke of Connaught. He had a unique honor of being appointed as “Photographer to Her Majesty and Queen” by Queen Victoria in 1887. He received numerous awards in exhibitions in India and abroad notable the World Colombian Commission in 1893 in the USA.