In the plain, beyond shady avenues of tamarind and terminalia trees, Hardwar begins again, a second town of large buildings, buried in the greenery of banyans and bamboos. Here again was the ghost of a bazaar, where all seemed dead under the bleaching sun—a bazaar bereft of sellers, no one in the booths, and no buyers in the deserted streets.And on the man's replying that he would try, the sultan, who chose that the monument should have no rival, caused the architect to be thrown into the Jumna on the spot, where he was dashed to pieces at the foot of his masterpiece, which remains unique.
NANDGAUNIn the middle of a garden, full of clumps of flowering shrubs standing on green lawns, is the Nadjiff Ackraff, a vast rotunda crowned with gilt[Pg 188] cupolas and spires, and all round the building is an arcade built in a square and studded with iron pins on which thousands of wax lights are stuck on the evenings of high festivals.
In the bazaar a light, glossy cheetah was being led round for an airing. The beast had on a sort of hood of silk stuck with peacock's feathers, which its keeper pulled down over its eyes when it saw a prey on which it was eager to spring; and with its eyes thus blinded, it would lick the hand that gave it an anna with a hot tongue as rough as a rasp.
As we approached Jhansi we passed a village whence all the inhabitants had fled. The houses, the little temples, the gods on their pedestals by the dried-up tanks—everything was thickly coated with white dust.
And certainly the most comical of all is the representation of a baboo donor, to whom two servants, prostrate before him, are offering a glass of water.The rajah's sleeping-room has at one end a dais ascended by three steps; here the sovereign's bed used to be spread; and here, now, the judges of the Supreme Court have their seats. In the middle of the room was a confused array of benches and tables, and against the walls, also washed with yellow, hung a series of portraits of bewigged worthies.One boy, who being very tall looked even more emaciated than the rest, dragged an enormous leg swollen with elephantiasis, which had not diminished with the reduction of the rest of his body.
Music in the evening, in the gardens which surround the library, the chapel, and the tennis[Pg 286] courts. The ladies' dresses and the uniforms were lustrous in the moonlight. First we had the regimental band, and then songs to a banjo accompaniment; and all about us in the tall trees, the minahs and parrots shrieking as if it were broad daylight, finished the concert by themselves. A huge creeper, swaying between two branches, hung like a curtain of yellow flowers embroidered, as it seemed, on the airy tangle of leaves.
The walls are covered with bas-reliefs carved in the rock, the roof adorned with architraves of stone in infinite repetition of the same designs. The stone is grey, varied here and there with broad, black stains, and in other spots yellowish, with pale gold lights. Some of the sculpture remains still intact. The marriage of Siva and Parvati; the bride very timid, very fragile, leaning on the arm of the gigantic god, whose great height is crowned with a monumental tiara. Trimurti, a divinity with three faces, calm, smiling, and fierce—the symbol of Siva, the creator, the god of mercy, and of wrath. In a shadowed corner an elephant's head stands out—Ganesa, the god of wisdom, in the midst of a circle of graceful, slender, life-like figures of women. Quite at the end of the hall, two caryatides, tall and elegant, suggest lilies turned to women. In the inner sanctuary, a small edifice, with thick stone walls pierced with tiny windows that admit but a dim light, stands the lingam, a cylinder of stone crowned with scarlet flowers that look like flames in the doubtful light; and in deeper darkness,[Pg 22] under a stone canopy, another such idol, hardly visible. The Brahman priests are constantly engaged in daubing all the statues of these divinities with fresh crimson paint, and the votaries of Siva have a spot of the same colour in the middle of the forehead. Two lions, rigid in a hieratic attitude, keep guard over the entrance to a second temple, a good deal smaller and open to the air, beyond a courtyard, and screened with an awning of creepers.
The train, now travelling northwards again, ran for a long way across the scorched plain through groves of dead trees and sandhills covered with lichen, till, in the golden sunset close to Gwalior, suddenly, at the foot of a hill, we came upon the greenery of fine parks with palaces rising above cool marble tanks.详情
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