Samuel Bourne (1834-1912) had already begun to earn recognition for his work in England, having exhibited at the London International Exhibition of 1862, when he decided to give up his position in a bank and depart for India to work as a professional photographer. He arrived in Calcutta early in 1863, initially setting up a partnership with William Howard. They moved up to Simla, where they established a new studio Howard & Bourne, to be joined in 1864 by Charles Shepherd, to form Howard, Bourne & Shepherd. By 1866, after the departure of Howard, it became Bourne & Shepherd, the name under which the firm continues to operate to this day. Although Bourne only spent 6 years in India, his time there was extremely productive. He undertook three major expeditions in the Himalayas, creating an impressive body of work which combined the highest technical quality and a keen artistic eye, while working under difficult physical conditions. Bourne left India for good in 1870, selling his interest in Bourne & Shepherd shortly thereafter and abandoning commercial photography.
The Shalimar Gardens were built by the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r.1605-27) for his wife Mehrunissa, called Nur Jahan, in 1616. The gardens were the inspiration for other gardens of the same name, notably the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, Pakistan. A simple translation of nautch is "dance" or "dancing". The nautch bungalow was likely a residence for the young girls known as "Nautch girls", who performed one of several styles of popular dance known as Nautch. The performance of Nautch rose to prominence during the later period of Mughal Empire, gradually expanding outside the confines of the Imperial Courts.