Apparently was offered in Madras in 1855! Malavika Karlekar has more details:
The army officer, Linnaeus Tripe, gives an interesting and well-documented account of bullock-cart travel during his extended photographic trip in south India. Photography had arrived in Madras soon after the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839. As in the other two presidencies, the colonial middle-classes took to it with much alacrity — to be soon followed by Indians. Bourne and Shepherd did not travel so far south, and the initiative was left to H.R. Wiele and his partner, a Theodor Klein, who was born of German parents in Madras, to set up one of the best-known studios in the region. This was around the 1880s. Earlier, in 1855, photography had been introduced as a subject in the Madras School of Industrial Art (the present College of Arts and Crafts). One of the earliest institutions in Asia to offer the subject, the principal, A. Hunter, encouraged students to record agricultural practices and indigenous implements. The following year, the Photographic Society of Madras was started by Walter Elliot. Elliot belonged to that select group of civil servants who combined an exacting full-time occupation with other interests, in this case natural history and photography.
Apparently, as early as 1857, there was a photographic expedition:
Prior to his trip, Tripe located informants who were asked to supply information about local antiquities, natural phenomena and of course, ‘native races’. He set out from Bangalore on December 12, 1857 and reached Madras almost five months later via Salem, Srirangam, Trichy, Madurai, Pudukkottai and Tanjore. He used four bullock carts built at the Bangalore arsenal to transport equipment and his staff. Despite the discomfort of hot weather and an exhausting tour, he produced 275 large 14 inches by 12 inches paper negatives, sixteen 14 inches by 11inches dry collodion negatives on glass plates and 160 stereographs, also on glass plates.
I would love to see the photographs from Salem district, since (a) my district was part of Salem district during the British rule, and (b) according to the piece
Tripe had photographed all the major temples and architectural buildings in the region and had made interesting landscapes of Salem district and documented life within the palace of the ruler of Pudukkottai as well.
What is more, Karlekar also tells us that the photographs were published as albums with annotations by scholars such as G U Pope. Karlekar’s piece is full of nuggets like this; a must-read piece; don’t miss it.