Public Rooms, interior, Secunderabad.
Photographer: Dayal, Deen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph taken by Lala Deen Dayal, c. 1890, of the interior of the Secunderabad Public Rooms (now the Secunderabad Club) with the billiards table at the far end. In the 19th century era of pioneering photography mostly dominated by Europeans in India, Deen Dayal earned renown as a hugely successful Indian photographer. Born to a Jaina family in Sardhana near Meerut, he studied photography while an engineering student, and took it up professionally encouraged by mentors such as Sir Henry Daly. His technical excellence and attention to detail made him much in demand and he took official photographs of colonial events and administrators, including Lord Dufferin, Viceroy 1884-88. In 1884 he was appointed court photographer to the Nizam of Hyderabad and founded a studio in Secunderabad which is still run by his descendents today. He specialised in portraiture and Indian views.
Secunderabad in Andhra Pradesh is separated from its older twin city Hyderabad by the Hussain Sagar Lake. It was founded as a British military cantonment in c. 1807, as part of a military and political alliance signed by the Nizam of Hyderabad ('the most faithful ally of the British Empire') with the British East India Company in 1798. The cantonment developed into one of the largest in the country, its colonial architecture including barracks, official and residential buildings and recreational sites like clubs, all located within acres of lush green grounds. The Secunderabad Club, originally known as the Secunderabad Public Rooms, was established in 1878. Its membership was initially confined to civil and military officers in the service of the British Government in the vicinity. Gradually, Indian princes and big landowners were allowed as members. Its architecture typified the attempt to create a luxurious atmosphere with 'islands of aloofness and peace' in which the English could 'withdraw and transpose themselves back home'.