Andrew Cussins and Ashwathama, 1884-1886

© Forgotten Immortals, Bilmarg (Secret Passage), 1884-1886

Title: Bilmarg (Secret Passage)

Description: Between 1884 and 1886 Andrew Cussins made several cyanotype images in and around Asirgarh Fort. He took many images of Bilmarg, the secret passage that Ashwathama is believed to take from the Gupteshwar temple in Burhanpur on the banks of river Tapi all the way till Asirgarh Fort. There are about 17 different openings like this one that Andrew Cussins photographed.

Attributed to: Andrew Cussins

Source: Cyanotype Print

Ascribed date: 1884-1886

Dimensions: 18 in. x 12 in.

Identifier/Keywords: Ashwathama, asirgarh, fort, bilmarg, cyanotype


Title: Kalpataru (Tree of Life)

Description: It is believed that Ashwathama pays visit to a Kalpataru (Tree of Life) deep in the forest of Khandwa. The tree is described in most religions of the Indian Subcontinent as this mythical tree able to give power of life and wisdom. In Hindusim it is a tree that grows in Indra’s paradise. In Jain cosmology, Kalpataru is described as a wish-fulfilling tree. In Buddhism a small wish granting tree is depicted decorating the upper part of a vase held by longevity deities.

These drawings are a part cyanotype print and part pencil color drawing ascribed to Andrew Cussins. He was a mysterious British photographer, artist and poet who visited Asirgarh Fort between 1884-1886 and made several cyanotype prints now in the collection of Forgotten Immortals. It is believed that he was working on a series of images that point towards the existence of Ashwathama. He documented the stories local people told him about Ashwathama. These drawing depicts a mysterious tree in the Forest of Khandwa that locals believe Ashwathama pays a visit every full moon day after doing his routine journey from the banks of river Tapi and walking through the bilmarg (secret passage) and then placing the white flower in Asirgarh Fort.

Attributed to: Andrew Cussins

Source: watercolor paper

Ascribed Date: 1884-1886

Dimensions: 8.5 in x 11 in

Identifier/Keywords: Kalpataru, tree, life,


© Forgotten Immortals, Forest of Khandwa, 1884-1886

Title: Forest of Khandwa

Description: Andrew Cussins made several cyanotype prints of the Forest of Khandwa where Ashwathama is believed to walk into after placing the white flower in Asirgarh Fort. It is believed that Andrew Cussins followed Ashwathama into the Forest of Khandwa in search of the Tree of Life. He is believed to be doing this pilgrimage from the banks of river Tapi to Asirgarh Fort in a secret passage and then walking into the forest every full moon night. Locals mention a vague instance of Andrew Cussins encountering Ashwathama. All the drawings were made by Cussins after that encounter. However, the story of the encounter is inconclusive and incoherent.

Attributed to: Andrew Cussins

Source: Cyanotype Print

Ascribed Date: 1884-1886

Dimensions: 18 in x 12 in

Identifier/Keywords: Ashwathama, andrew, cussins, forest, khandwa,


© Forgotten Immortals, Man Praying Inside the Bilmarg, 1884-1886

Title: Man Praying Inside the Bilmarg at Asirgarh Fort

Description: Andrew Cussins spent about 2 years in and around Asirgarh Fort between 1884-1886. It can be deciphered only by the dates written on the photographs. Besides the photographs nothing remains of this mysterious photographer that Britishers had sent to investigate the curious case of Ashwathama spottings. This particular image is the famous bilmarg that is still worshiped today situated on the South-East end of the Asirgarh Fort. It is believed that Ashwathama enters the Asirgarh Fort through this bilmarg (secret passage) and several others like this in the entire periphery of the fort.

Attributed to: Andrew Cussins

Source: Cyanotype Print

Ascribed date: 1884-1886

Dimensions: 18 in. x 12 in.

Identifier/Keywords: Ashwathama, man, praying, asirgarh, fort, bilmarg,


Title: Cyanotype Palimpsest

Description: If you look closely at this cyanotype print you will notice a drawing of the asirgarh fort beneath the cyanotype layer. Andrew Cussins must have drawn the side elevation of Asirgarh fort and then must have used the same paper to print cyanotype photograph of the brick structures lying around in British Cantonment inside the Asirgarh Fort. This is one of the unique artifacts of the collection from Andrew Cussins works with Forgotten Immortals.

Attributed to: Andrew Cussins

Source: Cyanotype Print on paper

Attributed Date: 1884-1886

Dimensions: 24 in. x 7 in.

Identifier/Keywords: Palimpsest, cyanotype, print, andrew cussins,


Title: Co-ordinates of Ashwathama Sightings on the banks of Tapi River

Description: Andrew Cussins remains a mysterious photographer who is believed to have encountered Ashwathama in his various forms and attempted to catch him in his camera. He used cyanotype printing technique to capture him for posterity. Only few photographs remains in this archive with Forgotten Immortals. He is believed to have been commissioned by the British East India Company to document the mythology of the Satpura mountain range and the land of rivers Tapi and Narmada. He documented various Bilmarg (secret passages) inside and outside of Asirgarh fort. Andrew Cussins must have visited the Asirgarh Fort between 1884-1886 since some photographs mention the dates.

That was also the time when revolutionaries of the First War of Independence were brought to the Asirgarh Prison. Out of all the revolutionaries that spent their time in Asirgarh Prison, it is believed that Surendra Sai and Muluk Singh had conversations with Ashwathama when he visited them in the form of a tiger.

Attributed to: Andrew Cussins

Source: Watercolor paper, 200 gsm

Ascribed Date: 1884-1886

Dimensions: 7.5 in x 10 in (each piece)

Language: English Numbers

Identifier/Keywords: co-ordinates, ashwathama, sightings, khandwa, forest, satpura

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