We were off by break of day. Among hanging creepers, shrubs, and trees, temples, gilded by the rising sun, gleamed dimly through the rosy mist, and faded gradually behind a veil of white dust raised by the flocks coming down from Roza, or melted into the dazzling blaze of light over the distance.Within the gateway, carved all over with foliage and rosettes, a footway, paved with bright mosaic, leads to the interior of the temple. All along a corridor, enormous prancing horses, mounted by men-at-arms, support the roof which is deeply carved all over, and at the foot of these giants a sacred tank reflects the sky. In front of us were gaps of black shadow, and far, far away, lamps, shrouded in incense, were twinkling behind the gratings.
This morning, at Peshawur, down come the police on my houseboat—three of them—and their leader explains matters. Abibulla interprets.[Pg 38]On the great banyan trees in the garden, and on every palm, torpid vultures sit in the sun, awaiting the meal that will come with the next funeral procession.
Two days later the roofs were covered with tulips of sheeny white and red, as light as feathers swaying on their slender stems; and the crowd, all in bright colours, went about in muslins in the clean, dry streets. Only a few very pious persons still wore the garments stained at the festival.TRICHINOPOLY
Then, on the right, endless pools and rivers; naked men were ploughing in the liquid mud and splashed all over by the oxen drawing a light wooden plough, their bronze bodies caked ere long with a carapace of dry, grey mud.While I was talking to the postmaster the fakir smoked a hookah, burning amber powder and rose-leaves. The air was full of the narcotic fragrance; a piercing perfume that mounted to the brain.
Captain McT——'s orderly appeared as soon as we stirred in the morning, shouldering arms—the "arm" an umbrella which the authorities allow as a privilege off duty to the Ghoorkhas, men from the high plateaux, who are very sensitive to sunstroke, and who wear only a cap without a pugaree. The umbrella solemnly resting against his right shoulder, this worthy stood at attention, serious and motionless, and very upright—a quaint figure, his age impossible to guess, with his Mongolian face, his little slits of eyes, and his figure, in spite of his military squareness, rather too pliant in the yellow khaki uniform.The road goes on. Trees cast their shade on the flagstone pavement, but between the houses and through open windows the sandy plain may be seen, the endless whiteness lost in a horizon of dust.In the distance, across the plain, herds of deer were feeding, and hardly looked up as the train went by.
We were off by break of day. Among hanging creepers, shrubs, and trees, temples, gilded by the rising sun, gleamed dimly through the rosy mist, and faded gradually behind a veil of white dust raised by the flocks coming down from Roza, or melted into the dazzling blaze of light over the distance.Between the cliff-walls of the defile, in a sort of bay, stands Ali Musjid, a little white mosque where travellers tarry to pray."You know it is pashmina?"
He, with his four sons, goes to pay a call on Tazulmulook, whom he does not recognize in his palace, when suddenly Dilbar arrives to claim her prisoners. The fifth son then relates to the king the deeds of his elder brothers, and in proof of his words points to the mark each of them bears on his neck. The king anathematizes the princes, and sends them to prison, but loads Tazulmulook with honours and affection.Every house in the town was shuttered, not a soul was to be seen in the baked streets; only here and there in a shady corner a beggar might be seen asleep. A chigram only was slowly moving along at the slow pace of two draught oxen, carrying the women of a zenana, and their constant chatter[Pg 300] within the curtains of the clumsy vehicle sounded formidably loud and discordant in the silence, the death-like exhaustion of noon. A foxy smell came up from everything that the sun was baking, and towards the end of the day it had become intolerable, corpse-like. It died away, however, after sunset.
As the sun sank, a magical light of lilac fading into pink fell on the mountain temples, on the rock partly blackened by ages or scorched to pale yellow, almost white; it shed an amethystine glow, transfiguring the carved stone to lacework with light showing through. A wheeling flock of noisy parrakeets filled the air with short, unmeaning cries, intolerable in this rose and lavender stillness, where no sound could be endurable but the notes of an organ. A ray of fiery gold shot straight into the red temple, falling on the marble Buddha. For a moment the idol seemed to be on fire, surrounded by a halo of burning copper.Further yet lay the artificial lake of Meer Alam, reflecting the palace of Baradari and the russet plain, infinite as far as the eye could reach towards the north, where other superb mausoleums were visible in their whiteness.Then a quiet little street. Our guide paused in front of a whitewashed house. An old woman came out, and with many salaams and speeches of welcome led us into a large, low room.
In the distance is the great mosque which no unbeliever may enter; the doors stand wide open. The only ornaments on the white walls are the lamps, hung with red. In the court of the mosque,[Pg 97] under magnificent trees, are the tombs of the Nizams, with stone lattices, jewellery of marble, fragile pierced work, whereon wreaths of pale flowers are wrought with infinite grace. Near these tombs are two large fountains, where a crowd of men were bathing, talking very loud; and a large basin of porphyry full of grain was besieged by grey pigeons.As soon as he had bid us welcome, bunches of chrysanthemums were presented to us tied round a little stick. The Rajah hung garlands of jasmine round our neck, and a servant sprinkled us with otto of roses. The conversation turned on Europe, which Rawl Shri regards as a land of marvels, where fairy-like manufactures are produced and extraordinary forces have subjugated nature. He, like his cousin of Palitana, has a passion for horses, and he took me to visit his stud.
Then, from a bridge across the Ganges, for a moment we had a last glimpse of the sacred city—the gold-coloured umbrellas, the throng of bathers on the steps to the river—and then Abibulla gravely remarked, "If only India had three cities like Benares it would be impossible ever to leave it."And then seeing that I did not go, that on wakening again from his dream I was still there, he fixed his eyes on me and caught sight of a medal that I wear.详情
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