Towards evening came a storm of hail and snow, from which we took refuge in a government bungalow, where none but officials have a right to rest—but we stayed there all the same. The wind was quite a tornado, sweeping the flowers before it, and the pink and yellow blossoms were mingled with the snowflakes and the tender green leaves, scarcely[Pg 272] unfolded. Birds were carried past, helpless and screaming with terror. We could hear the beasts in a stable close by bellowing and struggling; and then, while the thunder never ceased, repeated by innumerable echoes, darkness fell, opaque and terrific, slashed by the constant flare of lightning, and the earth shook under the blast.Pilgrims crowd the courts and the temples. All, when they speak, hold a hand or a corner of their[Pg 76] robe before their lips to avoid swallowing the tiniest insect, which would avert the favour of the gods. They bring offerings of rice or gram in little bags of faded silk, pale pink, or green, and gold thread; the poorest have bags of red and white beads.
"It is made at thirty-five, twenty, fifteen rupees."
And there are ruins all the way to Delhi, whither we returned by the old fortress of Purana Kila, with its pink walls overlooked by a few aerial minarets and more traces of graceful carving, the precursors of the Divan i Khas and Moti Musjid the Pearl Mosque.
This interminable piece, with twenty changes of scene, dragged its weary length till two in the morning. One by one the soldiers went away; even the baboos soon followed them, and only the coolies remained, enthusiastically applauding every scene, every harangue, in a frenzy of delight, before the final apotheosis of Tazulmulook and Bakaoli, as man and wife, lovingly united against a background of trees with golden boughs.
The Viharas, monasteries of cells hollowed out in the hillside, extend for more than half a mile; briars and creepers screen the entrances leading to these little retreats, a tangle of flowers and carvings.First went six armed regulars, then a party on horseback, for the most part Persians, one of whom was carrying in his arms an enormous sheaf of roses, which hid him completely and drooped over the saddle.
At an angle of the stairs of violet-tinted stone, which lead to the summit of the hill, a tablet of green marble, engraved in flowing Arabic characters, remains uninjured, the record of the great deeds of some emperor of Golconda.
Figures draped in pale muslins brushed past us, hastening to the door. Flower-sellers, in one of the arcades, were hurrying to finish their garlands; and suddenly, close before us—a mass that looked as if it were part of the temple itself—an enormous elephant started into sight, passed on and vanished in the darkness.DEHRA DOONLUCKNOW
Near the statues, which are placed in a row close to the wall, other statues, finer, slenderer, and more graceful, stood before the pedestals, anointing the stone with some oil which in time soaks in and blackens it, or else hanging lanterns up over the divinities. These were the temple servants, wearing nothing but the langouti tied round their loins; they either shuffle about barefoot, or remain motionless in rapt ecstasy before the little niches where the idols grin or scowl among branches of roses and amaryllis.Towards noon the mass of Kinchinjunga again lifted its head above the clouds, now white with a dust of rosy gold or violet on the snow in the shadows; and again, as the clouds swept across, of every changing tint of steel and copper, pearl and sunshine, till, following on the ardent glory of sunset, a purple and living fire, like a flame within the very substance of the ice-fields, all died into[Pg 153] mysterious blueness under the broad pure light of the moon.
With day came the grip of fire, the overwhelming[Pg 302] mastery of the heat. The sunshine pierced through every crack in the shutters and blinds, intolerably vivid. In feverish exhaustion, helpless to withstand the glow and light, we could but lie under the waving punkah and await the blessed return of night.Figures draped in pale muslins brushed past us, hastening to the door. Flower-sellers, in one of the arcades, were hurrying to finish their garlands; and suddenly, close before us—a mass that looked as if it were part of the temple itself—an enormous elephant started into sight, passed on and vanished in the darkness."She is the mother of Christ, you say? You are a stranger, and you cannot know all the mischief they do us in the name of her Son."详情
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