Vyarawalla was known for widely photographing India’s transition from the British Raj to an independent country after its subsequent partition.
Hailing from Navsari in Gujarat, Vyarawalla moved to Bombay to pursue a diploma at St Xavier’s College before moving on for further studies at the JJ School of Arts. She was introduced to photography by her husband Manekcshaw Vyarawala, a photographer at the Times of India.
Vyarawala went on to work with the British Information Services and was a familiar sight in Delhi, sari-clad, travelling from one end of the city to the other on a cycle. She believed that the key to a good photograph is timing, composition and angle. “There are 15 people taking a photograph at the same time; each has his own style. But there’s only one who gets the right moment and the right angle,” she said in an interview to The Hindu.
Her contributions as a photo-journalist include immortalising the moment when the first Flag was hoisted at the Red Fort on August 15, 1947, the departure of the last Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten from the country, and the funerals of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri. Vyarawala also photographed Queen Elizabeth’s and former United States president, Dwight Eisenhower’s visits to India.
She was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India in 2011. She passed away at the age of 98 in 2012 in Vadodara, Gujarat.