Once upon a river
May 2021
#Yamuna , 754 Views
Once upon a river

Curated By: Ambedkar University’s Centre for Community Knowledge

There was a time not too long ago when the people of Delhi loved the Yamuna. When the river wasn’t a sludgy mess, but a place to go for a swim, a boat ride or just a picnic in the sun. These photographs-curated by Ambedkar University’s Centre for Community Knowledge-offer a glimpse of the Yamuna as it used to be.
With the Yamuna flowing by, Okhla was known as a picnic-spot by many in Delhi. People would come in tongas from Old Delhi during the summer. In this photograph, Mumtaz Ahmed is taking Professor Yousuf’s family across the river for picnicking. Mumtaz recalls Professor Yousuf, a teacher at Jamia University, as one of the only two people in the neighbourhood who owned a boat at that time.
Popularly known as "Loha Pul” (Iron Bridge), the Old Yamuna Bridge replaced a previous bridge, from Jahangir's time that connected Salimgarh Fort and the Red Fort. Before it was built, passengers had to ferry across river Yamuna through boats. The East India Railway Company finished building the Iron Bridge at the staggering cost of 16,16,335 rupees in 1866. The single line bridge was extended and made a double line in 1913. Here, a family can be seen posing for a photograph on it.
With the Yamuna flowing by, Okhla was known as a picnic-spot by many in Delhi. People would come in tongas from Old Delhi during the summer. In this photograph, Mumtaz is taking family members of Yousuf sahab across the river for picnicking. Mumtaz recalls Yousuf Saaab (a professor at Jamia University) as one of the only two people in the neighbourhood who owned a boat at that time.
There was a time when trips to the ghats of the Yamuna were a regular occurrence for families living in Delhi. Taken in 1958, Lala Narain Prasad’s photograph captures a group of children enjoying some sunshine on the river’s bank.
Pictured by the ghat, Ram Lal Seth (standing extreme left on the boat) was one of the earliest residents of Nizamuddin East. He was known for organising cultural and sporting events in the community, and is fondly remembered by the community as "Lal Pehelwan".
A gathering of swimmers at the Yamuna Ghat, captured in 1945 by Narain Prasad.
Taken in the early 1940s, this group photograph of his comrades by Narain Prasad commemorates an excursion to the Yamuna barrage at Okhla by members of the Student Federation of India.
Mumtaz Ahmed, a resident of Gafoor Nagar, was known as an eminent swimmer in the Okhla neighbourhood. In 1997, he was awarded a Jeevan Raksha Padak, a civilian lifesaving award by the Government of India, for saving a drowning PAC personnel in the river Yamuna in 1995.