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Plan of a group of buildings on Dal-ki-Mandi, Benares

Plan of a group of buildings on Dal-ki-Mandi, Benares

Artist: Prinsep, James (1799-1840)

Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink

Date: 1822

Shelfmark: WD4274

Item number: 4274

Length: 31

Width: 41

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Plan

Pen and ink and wash plan by James Prinsep (1799-1840), of a group of buildings on Dal-ki-Mandi at Varansi (Benares) in Uttar Pradesh, dated 1822. The plan is inscribed: 'Meer Roostum Ulee Ka Suraj. Dewan Shookr Oollah. Dal Kee Mundei'. On the reverse are the plans of a densely built section of the city. This Drawing and the one on the reverse were used to compile Prinsep's map of Benares made in the same year. James Prinsep spent ten years in Benares, from 1820-1830 and his map was the first of its kind produced from actual surveys of the city. He wrote to his father in December 1821, "I am now busy about rather a stupendous work of labour, just for my amusement this cold weather, making an accurate map of this Holy City, a work never yet undertaken...I had vowed to do nothing until I had accomplished my never ending map of Benares. And with a work of labour undertaken as a work of pleasure, it is almost necessary to make a bond with yourself not to use your liberty of giving it up as soon as it becomes a mere labour. In this way only have I brought it to a conclusion." A revered scholar and scientist, he was also secretary of the Asiatic Society and Assay Master at both the Benares and Calcutta Mints. He later devised a plan to drain Benares of its surrounding stagnant marshes which filled up during the rainy season and became a health hazard. He built a network of drains and a tunnel which were considered a great feat of engineering. The sewer was opened in 1824 and the tunnel, in 1827.

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