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Photos from 14-15 August 1947 – Indian Transfer of Power ceremonies

My uncle, Jayantilal B. Nallawalla was commissioned by Lord Mountbatten to be his private photographer a few months before and during the Indian independence day (“Transfer of Power”) ceremonies. For the first time, his photos are being released online. As a teenager, I was privileged to communicate with Lord Mountbatten for several years and his unsolicited kindness ultimately helped me to emigrate to New Zealand.

These photos were printed in B&W from a colour film roll, so some sharpness has been lost.

14 August 1947

Lord Mountbatten transferring power from Britain to India

Lord Mountbatten transferring power from Britain to India

Jawaharlal Nehru played a major role in the Indian independence struggle and became India’s first Prime Minister.Here is a YouTube clip showing his famous “Tryst with destiny” speech:

And here is the photo taken by my uncle.


Jawaharlal Nehru delivers his famous lines.

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” – Link to speech.

Rajkumari Amrit Kaur DStJ was from the princely family from Kapurthala and became the first minister of Health. Later she served in the upper house – the Rajya Sabha for many years until her death in 1964.

Rajkumari Amrit Kaur

Rajkumari (royal princess) Amrit Kaur delivers her speech

Dr Rajendra Prasad, a lawyer by training, served two terms as President of India.

Dr Rajendra Prasad

Dr Rajendra Prasad became India’s first President in 1950

Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan dropped his “Sir” title after independence and went on to become India’s second President.


Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan became the first Vice-President of India

15 August 1947

After the stroke of the midnight hour, everyone went home, we believe. The next day was 15 August 1947 and the photographs taken near the Princess Gardens show few signs of jubilation or animated behaviour. The “Oh, shit” moment had arrived. India, albeit partitioned, was finally handed back to the Indians.


Parliament House, India

Crowds outside Parliament House, New Delhi

RIAF flypast

RIAF planes fly past the newly minted Indian tricolour.


India Gate

Crowds at India Gate, Princess Park, New Delhi, 15 August 1947

Governor General's residence

The Viceregal Lodge now becomes the Governor General’s residence. Later it became Rashtrapati Bhavan


Awaiting Lord Mountbatten’s coach


Crowds at Princess Gardens



Subdued crowds contemplating “Jai Hind” at Princess Gardens, New Delhi 15 August 1947


“Now we can go home to Blighty!” – RIAF officers and families

That’s all, folks.

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