Jain Temple, the richest place of worship in Calcutta, India
Photographer: Ricalton, James
Medium: Photographic print
Stereoscopic photograph of an exterior view of the Shitalanatha Temple, at Calcutta in West Bengal, taken by James Ricalton in c. 1903, from The Underwood Travel Library: Stereoscopic Views of India. The Shitalanatha Temple was built in 1867 by the chief government jeweller. The style of the building blends central Indian temple architecture with European Baroque features. This Jain shrine is surrounded by gardens, pavilions and pools. To the right of this view is the home of the builder and a second court with a floor of mosaics, shaded by canopies. The main temple beyond the courts has a clustered tower and is raised on a terrace with a verandah on three sides. Every surface glitters with tile mosaics, glass and gilt. This is one of a series of 100 photographs, designed to be viewed through a special binocular viewer, producing a 3D effect, which were sold together with a book of descriptions and a map. Stereoscopic cameras, those with two lenses and the ability to take two photographs at the same time, were introduced in the mid 19th century and revolutionised photography. They cut down exposure time and thus allowed for some movement in the image without blurring as subjects were not required to sit for long periods to produce sharp results.