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Chunar from above

Chunar from above

Artist: Smith, Robert (1787-1873)

Medium: Pencil on paper

Date: 1813

Shelfmark: WD310

Item number: 8

Length: 26.2

Width: 43.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pencil drawing of Chunar by Robert Smith (1787-1873) in March 1813. This is one of 18 drawings (20 folios) of landscapes and architecture in Uttar Pradesh taken in 1813. Inscribed on the original album cover is:' No. 5. Ganges, Soane R. Cawnpore Jaunpoor.' Captain Robert Smith was a military engineer with the East India Company and was in India from 1805 to 1833. He designed a number of buildings in India and also repaired various Indian monuments including the Kutb Minar and the Jami Masjid at Delhi. In 1813 to 1814 he was surveying on the Mirzapur South frontier.

The fort at Chunar in Uttar Pradesh occupies a commanding position high above a meander in the Ganges River. There is evidence of settlement here from 56 BC when it was occupied by Vikramaditya of Ujjain. The almost impregnable citadel has massive ramparts that look down over the river and was built of local sandstone which is still quarried in the area today. In c.1538 it became the residence of Sher Shah Suri who built a pavilion here which was used as a gatehouse. Emperor Akbar stormed the fortress in 1575 and it was presided over by the Nawabs of Avadh until the British took it after the Battle of Buxar in 1764. Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India (1773 to 1784) took refuge at the fortress from an uprising led by Chet Singh in 1781. The fort was a favourite subject with artists as they passed up and down the Ganges.

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