Kalakriti Archives (KA), one of largest private archives of vintage maps of Indian Subcontinent. It also comprises a significant collection of rare photographs, prints and artifacts primarily of South Asian countries. It includes the Prshant Lahoti Personal Collection (PLPC), which has over ten thousand vintage maps spanning five centuries, as well as over nine thousand vintage images from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

KA has quickly become a leader in the visual record of South Asian history, politics, and culture.

The maps, which range from pre-survey painted cosmological and pilgrimage route-maps to modern scientific maps with greater plane metric accuracy, are mostly about India and other South Asian countries and regions, revealing the changing modes of terrestrial vision and imagination over a long period of time. 

Maps: Our wide collection of Indian maps can be broadly categorized into the following categories:

Pre-Survey Traditional Painted Maps: We have an outstanding collection of early painted maps depicting Hindu sacred geographies as well as sites and routes to religious sites, or Tirtha. Although the maps with traditional artistic styles and cosmic imagination reflect the devotee’s experience rather than the topographical portrayal of the actual locales, they exhibit significant geographic coherence.

Early Scientific Maps: Following Vasco Da Gama’s arrival in the subcontinent in 1498, European maps depicting India with ever-greater planimetric features represented a break with the spiritual heritage of geographic vision. In these early trade maps, the familiar pattern of modern India can be seen gradually taking shape.

Early Colonial Maps: These are the maps that detail the complicated and contentious ties that existed between many European powers and significant Indian states in order to gain control of the Indian Subcontinent. The strong graphic depictions tell the highly ambiguous story of ambition, bravery, conflict, cunning, and intellect as India was forcibly opened up to the rest of the globe.

British Colonial Maps: The collection has civil and military maps and plans depicting Britain’s engagement with India, the mercantile and political history of the East India Company, and the history of British imperial authority gradually consolidating up to 1947.

City Survey Maps: The valuable collection of municipal survey maps of Hyderabad produced between 1912 and 1915 under Leonard Mann’s direction, a mining engineer with the Nizam’s Government, shows the revitalized city spaces following the devastating Musi river flood in 1908.

Photographs: KA’s collection of Photographs contribute to research on the history of early photography in India, as well as ethnography, architecture, and archaeology. Rare cityscape pictures of India’s major colonial and princely cities are very well represented in the collections.

Rare images by early European photographers, such as Samuel Bourne and Francis Frith, who traveled to India in the second half of the nineteenth century and professionally captured India’s natural and geographic beauty, as well as its anthropological and archaeological history, are among them. Aside from European images, we have a vast collection of Indian photographs. The original, authentic images of Raja Deen Dayal, the most famous Indian photographer in colonial India, form the foundation of the Indian photographic collection.

Popular Prints: We have over 300 popular oleographs and chromolithographs by Raja Ravi Varma, M. V. Dhurandhar, Bamapada Banerjee, and many other lesser-known artists of the so-called ‘Calendar Prints’ from 19th and 20th century India. We also offer some rare chromolithographs issued by the Poona Chitrashala Press, one of India’s first fine art lithography studios recognised for historical portraits, iconic prints, and mythological prints.




Cartographier L’Inde
Cartographic journey of the French in India –
Curated by Supriya Lahoti & Prshant Lahoti 2 June – 20 July 2022, HICC, Hyderabad.
Cartographier L’Inde

In 2022, Mapping the World: Perspectives from Asian Cartography was shown at the National Library of Singapore.

Windows to God
An Exhibition of the Popular Prints from 19th and 20th Century Curated by Arka Prava Bose. 

17 May – 17 June 2019, Kalakriti Art Gallery, Hyderabad.

Travel Back in time –
Ramana Bandi
9th – 13th January 2019
Zanana Mahal & Princess Esin women educational center, Hyderabad

Memory of Frozen time
Ravikanth Masuram
Kalakriti Contemporary
Club Botanika, Hyderabad
8th – 24th January 2019

Block by Block – Shikha Pandey
Following the exhibitions, two scholars sponsored by IFA and The Tata Trust are conducting research on the maps from the collection of Kalakriti Archives.
5-13th January 2019
Purani Haweli

Mapping Dewan Deodi 

Sirisha Indukuri & Kishore Krishnamoorthi

5-13th January 2019

Purani Haweli

Secunderabad – curated by Ramana Bandi

5th – 16th January 2019
Secunderabad Club, Secunderabad.

Spectacular: Cities & People curated by Deepthi Sashidharan
4th – 17th January 2019
State Art Gallery

From Atom to Pixel
Nandan Giya
Kalakriti Art Gallery
3-16th January 2019

Maps from the collection were showcased at the exhibition – The World from Asia – A Cartographic Story at Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet, Paris in years 2018

Space, Time & Place was also displayed at IISc Bangalore from 19th March – 18 April 2018.

The Munn Maps – 

A collaborative project between IFA & KA resulting in heritage walks and a range of public art projects.
7-11 Jan 2018

Kal Auj aur Kal
A Journey to Hyderabad’s glorious Past and a glimpse into its visionary future.
14-23rd September 2017
Galerie Marengu, Bordeaux, France

Ganga: River of Life & Eternity curated by Shakeel Hossain at National Museum, 20th May 2017 to 20th June 2017.

Maps from the collection were also part of the Serendipity arts festival, Goa – 15 – 23 December 2016.
In August 2015, Kalakriti Archives was part of the 10 partners in India as part of Google Art & Culture Institute (Google’s Cultural Institute)efforts to digitise the country’s cultural heritage and make it available online. Kalakriti Archives was the first private archive to be on this platform with its collection of maps. Around 650 Munn survey maps of Hyderabad have been digitized and put on the platform for researchers from all over the world to access it.

Curated by Vivek Nanda and Alexander Johnson, the exhibition titled Cosmology to Cartography: A Cultural Journey of Indian Maps was held from in the National Museum, New Delhi, showcasing sum total of 72 vintage old Indian maps of which 70 maps were collected from the Prshant Lahoti Collection in KA and only two maps from the National Museum.

This exhibition presents the multiple cultural perspectives towards representing the ordered world in the Indian sub-continent.

The evolution from early cosmological representations and pictographic depictions of ritual landscapes and sacred pilgrimage sites to the evolution of modern cartography is a testament of the diverse, competing and global interests and influences – religious, economic and political – which have contributed to the perception of `India’ as we know it today.

Exhibited at
Kochi Biennale, 2014-15
National Museum New Delhi, 2016-17
Krishnakriti Festival, Hyderabad, 2017-18
Indian Institute of Bangalore, 2017-18

Kalakriti Archives participated in the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014and exhibited its collection of regional and religious maps from the Indian sub-continent.

12 December 2014 to 23 March 2015 

200 years of Secunderabad –
HUDA office, Begumpet, Hyderabad


How to get involved

The Kalakriti Archives hold a diverse collection of rare visual artefacts: maps, photographs, plans and prints. For scholars, researchers and artists interested in the history of early cartography and photography, the collections hold rare historical material. It is one of the largest private collections of rare maps in India and the photographs that we have are indispensable for anyone conducting research on the visual culture of 19th and early 20th century India. KA, in collaboration with the Krishnakriti Foundation, organises a range of events, from preview openings of major exhibitions, workshops and seminars, to book-launch ceremonies of our publications. There are several ways to get involved and share our passion and knowledge. We offer internships for young scholars and fellowships to work on specific areas at our archive. Scholars, authors or artists are welcome to collaborate with KA. Our archival resources can be used to organise exhibitions, provide material for a wide range of publications and/or for imagining artistic interventions. KA is interested in helping materialise your project be it a film, publication or a work of art. We want to invite artists and curators to collaborate with us for the annual Krishnakriti Festival. The overview of the forthcoming festival, as well as the previous ones, is available on our website. Our resources, generally limited to non-commercial purposes, can be shared in different ways, keeping in mind varying copyright and licensing arrangements. For more information regarding collaborations, appointments for use of the archive and if you wish to support the archive, please write to us at [email protected] We look forward to hear from you.