A date with history: This photographer makes calendars with ancient pictures of Whitefield
Set up in the early 1890s as an Anglo-Indian village, Whitefield is now unrecognisable.
BENGALURU: In 2015, Babu Ajaz, 36, wanted to customise a calendar for his kids. He decided to make one using photos of old buildings dotting Whitefield; historical places like the Whitefield Club, Whitefield Cemetery, and the railway underpass among others, with a few snippets of trivia. Then, he shared his creation on social media.
“I was quite surprised at the response I got. People found the idea interesting and asked me to make one every year. I was more than happy to,” says Ajaz, born and raised in Whitefield.
Set up in the early 1890s as an Anglo-Indian village, Whitefield is now unrecognisable, with flashy malls, IT hubs and gated communities. Peeling the layers of the history of the area, Ajaz says, has helped him and others discover so much more of it.
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A passionate photographer, Ajaz does not even have a professional camera or setup. Using only his mobile phone camera, he tours around Whitefield on weekends, aims and shoots buildings that are interesting and have a story to tell. “There’s a lot of history in Whitefield and it often gets overshadowed by other landmarks,” he says.
The 2018 calendar had photos of the first grocery shop, The Meer Sahib general store; Waverly Inn, which was frequented by Winston Churchill; and the now-razed Old Punchayat office.
For 2020, Ajaz says he plans to go beyond Whitefield and explore Kadugodi and Varthur, among others. One of the structures on his list is the Sir Ismail Sait Mosque in Kadugodi, built in 1929. Instead of focusing only on heritage buildings, he also plans to celebrate the contributions of old-time residents and personalities from Whitefield like JE Giddens and Margaret Lunel.
Ajaz is also a part of a group — Bygone Bangalore — which documents photographs of heritage structures across the city. Last year, Ajaz widened his sights and photographed structures around Frazer Town, Basavanagudi and Malleswaram for this group, sourced pictures from others as well, and turned it into a calendar.