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Land & People

Descendants of Africans in India

Centuries ago, thousands of Africans were brought to India as slaves. They made this country their own, and their descendants can be found mainly in coastal Gujarat and north-west Karnataka.
Siddis, whose ancestors are from Africa, have settled in large numbers in Karnataka's Uttara Kannada district. Here, a few residents of Tottalagundi village in Yellapur taluk in the district.
Siddis, whose ancestors are from Africa, have settled in large numbers in Karnataka's Uttara Kannada district. Here, a few residents of Tottalagundi village in Yellapur taluk in the district.Photo: Kiran Bakale
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Nawab Siddi Mohammad Khan III and his mother, Kulsum Bibi.
Nawab Siddi Mohammad Khan III and his mother, Kulsum Bibi.Photo: The Kenneth and Joyce Robbins Collection/By Special Arrangement
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African guards for the royalty in Hyderabad, 1904.
African guards for the royalty in Hyderabad, 1904.Photo: Raja Deen Dayal/By Special Arrangement
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Siddi Mohammed Haider Khan, the nawab of Sachin (in modern-day Gujarat), in 1930.
Siddi Mohammed Haider Khan, the nawab of Sachin (in modern-day Gujarat), in 1930.Photo: The Kenneth and Joyce Robbins Collection/By Special Arrangement
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Yasmin, the African wife of Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Oudh.
Yasmin, the African wife of Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Oudh.Photo: Royal Collection Trust/By Special Arrangement
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Sultan Muhammad Adil Shah of Bijapur and African courtiers, circa 1640.
Sultan Muhammad Adil Shah of Bijapur and African courtiers, circa 1640.Photo: The British Library Board/By Special Arrangement
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The Mughal emperor Jahangir "shooting" Malik Ambar, 1616.
The Mughal emperor Jahangir "shooting" Malik Ambar, 1616.Photo: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C/By Special Arrangement
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Nawab Siddi Ahmad Khan, the nawab of Janjira from 1879 to 1922.
Nawab Siddi Ahmad Khan, the nawab of Janjira from 1879 to 1922.Photo: The Kenneth and Joyce Robbins Collection/ By Special Arrangement)
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The fort of Janjira on the horizon as seen from the beach in Murud, a few hours south of Mumbai.
The fort of Janjira on the horizon as seen from the beach in Murud, a few hours south of Mumbai.Photo: Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed
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Tourists alighting at the entrance to the fort.
Tourists alighting at the entrance to the fort.Photo: Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed
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The remains of what was once a magnificent fort.
The remains of what was once a magnificent fort.Photo: Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed
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A frieze at the entrance of the fort shows a tiger clawing six elephants. The tiger is said to represent Siddis and the elephants the various kingdoms in the region that tried in vain to capture the island fortress.
A frieze at the entrance of the fort shows a tiger clawing six elephants. The tiger is said to represent Siddis and the elephants the various kingdoms in the region that tried in vain to capture the island fortress.Photo: Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed
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Cannons overlook the sea from strategically located embrasures in the fort.
Cannons overlook the sea from strategically located embrasures in the fort.Photo: Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed)
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Tombs of the nawabs of Janjira in Murud.
Tombs of the nawabs of Janjira in Murud.Photo: Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed
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A building in the Ibrahim Rauza complex in Bijapur (now Vijayapura) designed by the architect Malik Sandal, an Ethiopian eunuch.
A building in the Ibrahim Rauza complex in Bijapur (now Vijayapura) designed by the architect Malik Sandal, an Ethiopian eunuch.Photo: Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed
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The residence in Murud of the current nawab of Janjira.
The residence in Murud of the current nawab of Janjira.Photo: Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed
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At a Siddi home in Tottalagundi.
At a Siddi home in Tottalagundi.Photo: Kiran Bakale
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Diog Siddi, 67, plays the damam, a traditional drum, in Tottalagundi. Fellow Siddis join in for an impromptu jig.
Diog Siddi, 67, plays the damam, a traditional drum, in Tottalagundi. Fellow Siddis join in for an impromptu jig.Photo: Kiran Bakale
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Teenage athletes from the Siddi community at the sports ground of Loyola High School, Mundgod, Uttara Kannada. They are among the 14 students from the community that the SAI has selected so far for its Special Area Games Scheme.
Teenage athletes from the Siddi community at the sports ground of Loyola High School, Mundgod, Uttara Kannada. They are among the 14 students from the community that the SAI has selected so far for its Special Area Games Scheme.Photo: Kiran Bakale
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Kamala Mingel Siddi.She won medals for India at three SAF Games.
Kamala Mingel Siddi.She won medals for India at three SAF Games.Photo: Kiran Bakale
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Teenage athletes from the Siddi community at the sports ground of Loyola High School, Mundgod, Uttara Kannada. They are among the 14 students from the community that the SAI has selected so far for its Special Area Games Scheme.
Teenage athletes from the Siddi community at the sports ground of Loyola High School, Mundgod, Uttara Kannada. They are among the 14 students from the community that the SAI has selected so far for its Special Area Games Scheme.Photo: Kiran Bakale
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Sobina Vishanti Bastanv, a talented sprinter, with her father, Vishanti Bastanv, in Mundgod.
Sobina Vishanti Bastanv, a talented sprinter, with her father, Vishanti Bastanv, in Mundgod.Photo: Kiran Bakale
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Siddi children returning home after school at Mingelpalya village in Yellapur taluk.
Siddi children returning home after school at Mingelpalya village in Yellapur taluk.Photo: Kiran Bakale
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Siddi women work on land on the edge of the forest, at Mingelpalya.
Siddi women work on land on the edge of the forest, at Mingelpalya.Photo: Kiran Bakale
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