A little known album of seventeen images is the only photographic record of the town of Itihasnagar.
This catalogue of prints was created in 1858 by the Beato brothers upon their return from Lucknow, where they had documented the sepoy mutiny by re-staging disinterred corpses of rebel soldiers.
Unlike their macabre record of the mutiny, their album of Itihasnagar chronicles a gossamer town levitating above a vast complex of caves, rock-cut temples and shrines. You see a city of diaphanous tents, towers made of silken kites and balloon palaces, all floating over terraces of basalt rock, marked and hewn into pillared sanctums, granite alcoves and spires.
In pictures of cloth-clad feet of pilgrims or in stories of winged camels that served the town - you find a careful reluctance that kept the denizens of Itihasnagar from leaving any imprint of their existence upon the pristine structures of their gods.
And by this caution, all people were assured that the shape of the rocks that they worshipped, and the markings that they venerated, were indeed original and divine emblems.
For this was the purpose of Itihasnagar, a town meant to remember the unchanging history of gods. Where even the intimacy of worship was performed by floating hesitantly above a landscape whose only photographic record is also its most complete.
Dhruv Jani was invited by Mateus Domingos to contribute to "Reframing a glossary". Find out more.