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Return to India

Tripe returned to India in 1854 during a transitional time in the history of Great Britain, India, and Burma. By the mid-1850s, after centuries of conflict, the East India Company ruled large portions of India and Burma and was the world’s largest, most powerful commercial enterprise and the effective sovereign of the subcontinent. As the company transformed itself from conqueror to ruler, the gathering of information — data, maps, surveys, drawings, and somewhat later in the century, photographs — became a critical element in maintaining its domination.

This environment prompted Tripe to embark on an expedition to photograph the celebrated temples in Hullabede and Belloor in Mysore, then a kingdom in south India. A vast, sprawling location, Hullabede had been the capital of the Hoysala dynasty between the 11th and 14th centuries. The trip gave Tripe the opportunity to use his newly mastered skills as a photographer to record and contemplate the ruins of a former civilization. With his perspective as a military surveyor, he aimed to present information as comprehensively and unambiguously as possible.