A collection of about 178 photographs of India from the British Raj has been discovered in the archives of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS).

The negatives, believed to be dating back to 1912, were found in a fragile condition in a shoebox and were wrapped in copies of the Statesman newspaper dating from 1914, the RCAHMS said in a statement. The authorities also added it was unusual to find such photographs and indeed were unsure as to how the negatives came to be in their collection.

"It's fantastic that a small shoe-box contained such a treasure-trove of photographic imagery, but in some ways it's not unusual. Our experience as an archive has shown us that some of the most interesting discoveries can be made in the most unlikely of places," RCAHMS architectural historian Clare Sorensen said.

These black and white photographs capture the essence of life in India during the British Raj about a century ago. The collection, called Indian Glass Plates, highlights some of the religious ceremonies and also has photos from the celebrations of the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to the city of Calcutta (now called Kolkata), the capital of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, in 1912, when all the monuments in the city were lit up during the night. King George V's visit was the only visit by a British monarch to India as Emperor of the subcontinent.

The images also showcase some of the more picturesque locations in India, such as the Sundarban mangrove forest and the Hooghly River. While the actual location of most of the images remains a mystery, many of them were taken in Kolkata and at the Konark Sun and Jagannath Temples, which are Hindu shrines in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

In addition, while research into identifying the photographer is ongoing, RCAHMS said the negatives might have been sent from India.

"As the negatives were still wrapped in newspapers from 1914, it is possible that they were transported back to Britain from India at this time, and have remained unopened until now," the organisation explained.

Meanwhile, all the images have been printed and paint a rare picture of the British Raj as not seen before.

Check out images from the Indian Glass Plates exhibition and click here for the second and final part of this series.

Woman standing outside a house, possibly a member of domestic staff. Unknown location, possibly in Darjeeling or north Bengal.RCAHMS
Indian Men, possibly domestic servants, outside a building. Unknown location.RCAHMS
Interior view of office in Madras, India.RCAHMS
View of group of people at an unknown location in India.RCAHMS
A group of British tennis players photographed in India about 100 years ago.RCAHMS
Buildings on south east side of the Lal Dighi (BBD Bagh, formerly Dalhousie Square), Kolkata lit at night for the 1912 British royal visit.RCAHMS
Riverside scene with bathers, looking north from Chatulal's Ghat towards Ram Chandra Goenka's Zenana (ladies) ghat, Kolkata.RCAHMS
Group gathered around sweet seller on the Maidan, Kolkata. The group includes non Bengalis, possibly visiting for a festival.RCAHMS
Jain Temple complex, Kolkata.RCAHMS
Group of women and children, probably on the Maidan, Kolkata. The group may be pilgrims from outside Bengal.RCAHMS
Fishing boat on the Hooghly River in Kolkata.RCAHMS
Riverbank with bathers and ship, probably from Chandpal Ghat, Kolkata.RCAHMS
Probable pilgrim with cow and calf, Kolkata. The High Court is visible in the background.RCAHMS
Riverside scene with bathers, Chandpal Ghat, Kolkata. Bathers reached the river through tunnels under the railway line.RCAHMS
Riverside scene with bathers, Chandpal Ghat, Kolkata. Bathers reached the river through tunnels under the railway line.RCAHMS
Seated group of sadhus at Chandpal Ghat, Kolkata.RCAHMS
Group seated in two ferry canoes moored in stream. Unknown location.RCAHMS
Waterside with washer man and washing lines at a dhobi ghat. Unknown location.RCAHMS
Group of washer men at a dhobi ghat. Unknown location.RCAHMS
Street hairdresser giving a 'Hindustani haircut' (pudding bowl), Strand Road South, Kolkata. The High Court is in the left distance, the building behind could be the Volunteer HQ.RCAHMS
General Post Office (R) from across the Lal Dighi tank, Kolkata. The scaffolding could be for the lighting celebrating the British royal visit in 1912; and pictured left is Telegraph Office, Kolkata.RCAHMS