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Title: Enchanted India
Author: Karageorgevitch, Prince Bojidar
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Enchanted India" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


[Illustration BOJIDAR KARAGEORGEVITCH: and signature]




[Illustration: Logo]



     *** _"Enchanted India," which was written in French by
     Prince Bojidar Karageorgevitch, and translated by Clara Bell, is
     now published in advance of the edition in the original language._




AT SEA                1, 305

BOMBAY            3, 91, 302

ELLORA                    36

NANDGAUN                  46

BARODA                    50

AHMEDABAD                 55

PALITANA                  64

BHAWNAGAR                 84

HYDERABAD                 92

TRICHINOPOLY             107

MADURA                   114

TUTICORIN                123

COLOMBO                  123

KANDY                    125

MADRAS                   133

CALCUTTA                 139

DARJEELING               145

BENARES                  154

ALLAHABAD                181

LUCKNOW                  185

CAWNPORE                 189

GWALIOR                  199

AGRA                     204

JEYPOOR                  213

DELHI               216, 299

AMRITSUR                 233

LAHORE                   235

RAWAL PINDI              238

PESHAWUR                 241

MURREE                   253

GARHI                    254

SRINAGAR                 256

RAMPOOR                  266

DOMEL                    269

DERWAL                   271

KOHAT               273, 287

BUNNOO                   274

DEHRA DOON               289

HARDWAR                  296



The air is heavy with indefinable perfume. We are already coasting the
Indian shore, but it remains invisible, and gives no sign but by these
gusts of warmer air laden with that inscrutable aroma of musk and
pepper. A lighthouse to port, which we have for some time taken for a
star, vanishes in the light mist that hangs over the coast, and then
again there is nothing but the immensity of waters under the clear
night, blue with moonlight.

All the day long a quantity of medusæ have surrounded the ship: white,
as large as an ostrich's egg, with a pink or lilac heart, like a flower;
others of enormous size, of a paler blue than the sea, fringed with
intense and luminous green--a splash of light on the dusk of the deep.
Others, again, white, blossoming with every shade of rose and violet.
Then, towards evening, myriads of very small ones, thickening the water,
give it a yellowish tinge, clinging to the ship's side, rolling in the
furrow of its wake, a compact swarm, for hours constantly renewed; but
they have at last disappeared, leaving the sea clear, transparent,
twinkling with large flecks of phosphorescence that rise slowly from the
depths, flash on the surface, and die out at once under the light of the

Before daybreak, in the doubtful light of waning night, dim masses are
visible--grey and purple mountains--mountains shaped like temples, of
which two indeed seem to be crowned with low squat towers as if

The morning mist shrouds everything; the scene insensibly passes through
a series of pale tints, to reappear ere long in the clear rosy light,
which sheds a powdering of glowing gold on the broad roadstead of

But the enchantment of this rose-tinted land, vibrating in the sunshine,
is evanescent. The city comes into view in huge white masses--docks,
and factories with tall chimneys; and coco-palms, in long lines of
monotonous growth, overshadow square houses devoid of style.

As we go nearer, gothic towers are distinguishable among the
buildings--faint reminiscences of Chester, clumsily revived under the
burning light of white Asia.


In the spacious harbour, where a whole fleet of steamships lies at
anchor, a swarm of decked boats are moving about, sober in colour, with
the bows raised very high in a long peak, and immense narrow sails
crossed like a pair of scissors, and resembling a seagull's wings.

The noise in the dock is maddening. The Customs, the police, the
health-officers, all mob the voyager with undreamed-of formalities, such
as a paper to be signed declaring that he has but one watch and one
scarf-pin, and that their value is in proportion to the wearer's
fortune. Then, again, the dispersal of the luggage, which must be fished
out at another spot amid the yelling horde of coolies who rush at the
trunks and use the portmanteaus as missiles, till at last we are in the

Under the blinding sunshine reflected from the whitewashed houses, an
incredibly mixed crowd, squeezed against the railings of the
custom-house wharf, stands staring at the new arrivals. Natives, naked
but for a narrow loin-cloth rolled about their hips; Parsees in long
white tunics, tight white trousers, and on their heads hideous low
square caps of dark wax-cloth, pursuing the stranger with offers of
money-changing; Hindoos, clad in thin bright silk, and rolls of
light-hued muslin on their head; English soldiers, in white helmets, two
of whom stare at me fixedly, and exclaim that, "By Jo', Eddy has missed
this steamer!"

There are closed carriages, victorias, vehicles with a red canopy drawn
by oxen, the shafts set at an angle. The drivers bawl, shout to the
porters, fight for the fare with their whips, while, overhead, kites and
hawks wheel incessantly, uttering a plaintive cry.

Along the roads of beaten earth, between tall plastered houses, a
tramway runs. In the shopfronts the motley display suggests a curiosity
shop, and the goods have a look of antiquity under the thick layer of
dust that lies on everything. It is only in the heart of the city, in
the "Fort," that the shops and houses have a European stamp.

Opposite the hotel, beyond the tennis club, is a sort of no-man's-land,
where carriages are housed under tents. Natives dust and wash and wipe
down the carriages in the sun, which is already very hot; and the work
done, and the carriages under cover, out come swarms of little darkies,
like ants, who squall and run about among the tents till sunset.

Further off, under the banyan trees, is the sepoys' camp; they have been
turned out of barracks on account of the plague; and flashing here and
there among the dark, heavy verdure there lies the steely level of
motionless ocean.

In the English quarter of Bombay the houses are European: Government
House, the post office, the municipal buildings--perfect palaces
surrounded by gardens; and close by, straw sheds sheltering buffaloes,
or tents squatted down on common land; and beyond the paved walks are
beaten earth and huge heaps of filth, over which hover the birds of prey
and the crows.

A large building of red and white stone, with spacious arcades and a
central dome, as vast as a cathedral, stands at the angle of two
avenues--the railway terminus; and a great market of iron and
glass--Crawford Market. Here are mountains of fruit, greenery, and
vegetables of every colour and every shade of lustre; and a flower
garden divides the various market sheds, where little bronze coolies, in
white, scarcely clad, sell oranges and limes.

At the end of the garden are the bird sellers, their little cages packed
full of parrots, minahs, and bulbuls; and tiny finches, scarcely larger
than butterflies, hang on the boughs of ebony trees and daturas in

In the native town the houses are lower and closer together, without
gardens between. Down the narrow streets, between booths and shops, with
here and there a white mosque where gay-coloured figures are
worshipping, or polychrome temples where bonzes are drumming on
deafening gongs, run tramways, teams of oxen, whose drivers shriek and
shout, and hackney cabs, jingling and rattling. Among the vehicles there
moves a compact crowd of every race and every colour: tall Afghans, in
dingy white garments, leading Persian horses by the bridle for sale, and
crying out the price; bustling Parsees; naked Somalis, their heads
shaven and their oiled black skins reeking of a sickening mixture of
lotus and pepper; fakirs, with wild, unkempt hair, their faces and
bodies bedaubed with saffron and the thread of the "second birth" across
their bare breast; Burmese, with yellow skins and long eyes, dressed in
silks of the brightest pink; Mongolians, in dark-hued satin tunics
embroidered with showy colours and gold thread.

There are women, too, in the throng of men, but fewer in number. Parsee
ladies, draped in light sarees of pale-hued muslin bordered with black,
which shroud them entirely, being drawn closely over the narrow skirt,
crossed several times over the bosom, and thrown over the right shoulder
to cover the head and fall lightly on the left shoulder. Hindoo women,
scarcely clothed in red stuff, faded in places to a strong pink; a very
skimpy bodice, the _chol_, embroidered with silk and spangles, covers
the bust, leaving the arms and bosom free; a piece of thin cotton stuff,
drawn round the legs and twisted about the waist, covers the shoulders
and head, like a shawl. On their wrists and ankles are silver bangles;
they have rings on their fingers and toes, broad necklaces with
pendants, earrings, and a sort of stud of gold or copper, with coloured
stones, through the left nostril. They go barefoot, pliant forms
avoiding the jostling of the crowd, and carrying on their head a pile of
copper pots one above another, shining like gold, and scarcely held by
one slender arm with its bangles glittering in the sun. The tinkle of
the _nanparas_ on their ankles keeps time with their swinging and
infinitely graceful gait, and a scent of jasmine and sandal-wood is
wafted from their light raiment. Moslem women, wrapped from head to foot
in sacks of thick white calico, with a muslin blind over their eyes,
toddle awkwardly one behind the other, generally two or three together.
Native children beg, pursuing the passenger under the very feet of the
horses; their sharp voices louder than the hubbub of shouts, bells, and
gongs, which exhausts and stultifies, and finally intoxicates the brain.

Everything seems fused in a haze under the sun, as it grows hotter and
hotter, and in that quivering atmosphere looks like a mass in which red
and white predominate, with the persistent harmony of motion of the
swaying, barefooted crowd.

The air is redolent of musk, sandal-wood, jasmine, and the acrid smell
of the hookahs smoked by placid old men sitting in the shadow of their

The ground here and there is stained with large pink patches of a
disinfectant, smelling of chlorine, strewn in front of the house where
anyone lies dead. And this of itself is enough to recall to mind the
spectre of the plague that is decimating Bombay; in this excitement,
this turmoil of colour and noise, we had forgotten it.

Shops of the same trade are found in rows; carpenters joining their
blocks, and workmen carving ornaments with very simple tools--clumsy
tools--which they use with little, timid, persistent taps. Further on,
coppersmiths are hammering the little pots which are to be seen in
everybody's hands; under the shade of an awning stretched over the tiny
booth, the finished vessels, piled up to the roof, shed a glory over the
half-naked toilers who bend over their anvils, perpetually making jars
of a traditional pattern, used for ablutions. There are two men at work
in each shop, three at most, and sometimes an old man who sits smoking
with half-closed eyes.

In a very quiet little alley, fragrant of sandal-wood, men may be seen
in open stalls printing patterns with primitive wooden stamps, always
the same, on very thin silk, which shrinks into a twisted cord reduced
to nothing when it is stretched out to dry.

Here are carvers of painted wooden toys--red and green dolls, wooden
balls, nests of little boxes in varied and vivid colours.

Far away, at the end of the bazaar, in a street where no one passes, are
the shoemakers' booths littered with leather parings; old cases or
petroleum tins serve as seats. Among the workmen swarm children in rags,
pelting each other with slippers.

And, quite unexpectedly, as we turned a corner beyond the coppersmiths'
alley, we came on a row of tea-shops, displaying huge and burly china
jars. Chinamen, in black or blue, sat at the shop doors in wide, stiff
armchairs, their fine, plaited pigtail hanging over the back, while they
awaited a customer with a good-humoured expression of dull indifference.

After breakfast a party of jugglers appeared in front of the hotel; they
performed on a little carpet spread under the shade of a banyan tree.
Acrobatic tricks first, human ladders, feats of strength; then nutmegs
were made to vanish and reappear; and finally they conjured away each
other in turn, in little square hampers that they stabbed with knives to
prove that there was nobody inside; and to divert the spectators'
attention at critical moments they beat a tom-tom and played a shrill
sort of bagpipe.

The jugglers being gone, a boy, to gain alms, opened a round basket he
was carrying, and up rose a serpent, its hood raised in anger, and
hissing with its tongue out.

After him came another little Hindoo, dragging a mongoose, very like a
large weasel with a fox's tail. He took a snake out of a bag, and a
battle began between the two brutes, each biting with all its might; the
sharp teeth of the mongoose tried to seize the snake's head, and the
reptile curled round the mongoose's body to bite under the fur. At last
the mongoose crushed the serpent's head with a fierce nip, and instantly
a hawk flew down from a tree and snatched away the victim.

By noon, under the torrid blaze which takes the colour out of
everything, exhaustion overpowers the city. Vehicles are rare; a few
foot-passengers try to find a narrow line of shade close to the houses,
and silence weighs on everything, broken only by the buzzing of flies,
the strident croak of birds of prey.

Along Back Bay lies the Malabar Hill, a promontory where the
fashionable world resides in bungalows built in the midst of gardens.
Palm trees spread their crowns above the road, and on the rocks which
overhang the path ferns of many kinds are grown by constant watering.
The bungalows, square houses of only one storey, surrounded by wide
verandahs, and covered in with a high, pointed roof, which allows the
air to circulate above the ceilings, stand amid clumps of bougainvillea
and flowering jasmine, and the columnar trunks of coco-palms, date
trees, baobabs and areca palms, which refresh them with shade.

The gardens are overgrown with exuberant tropical vegetation: orchids,
daturas hung with their scented purple bells, gardenias and creepers;
and yet what the brother of a London friend, on whom I am calling, shows
me with the greatest pride, are a few precious geraniums, two real
violets, and a tiny patch of thickly-grown lawn of emerald hue.

Colaba is the port; the docks, with tall houses between the enormous
warehouses. The silence is appalling; windows, doors--all are closed.
Only a few coolies hurry by in the white sunshine, with handkerchiefs
over their mouths to protect them against the infection in these
streets, whence came the plague which stole at first through the
suburbs, nearer and nearer to the heart of the city, driving the
maddened populace before it.

One morning a quantity of dead rats were found lying on the ground; next
some pigeons and fowls. Then a man died of a strange malady--an unknown
disease, and then others, before it was known that they were even ill. A
little fever, a little swelling under the arm, or in the throat, or on
the groin--and in forty-eight hours the patient was dead. The mysterious
disease spread and increased; every day the victims were more and more
numerous; an occult and treacherous evil, come none knew whence. At
first it was attributed to some dates imported from Syria, to some corn
brought from up-country; the dates were destroyed, the corn thrown into
the sea, but the scourge went on and increased, heralded by terror and

At Mazagoon, one of the suburbs of Bombay, behold a Parsee wedding.

The bridegroom sits awaiting his guests, in his garden all decorated
with arches and arbours, and starred with white lanterns. An orchestra
is playing, hidden in a shrubbery.

Presently all the company is assembled, robed in long white tunics. The
bridegroom, likewise dressed in white, has a chain of flowers round his
neck; orchids, lilies, and jasmine, falling to his waist. In one hand he
holds a bouquet of white flowers, in the other a coco-nut. A shawl,
neatly folded, hangs over one arm.

Over the gate and the door of the house light garlands, made of single
flowers threaded like beads, swing in the breeze and scent the air.

Servants carrying large trays offer the company certain strange little
green parcels: a betel-leaf screwed into a cone and fastened with a
clove, containing a mixture of spices and lime, to be chewed after
dinner to digest the mass of food you may see spread out in the tables
in the dining-room.

Then follow more trays with tufts of jasmine stuck into the heart of a
pink rose; and as the guest takes one of these bouquets the servant
sprinkles first the flowers and then him with rose-water.

Shortly before sunset the _dastour_ arrives--the high priest--in white,
with a white muslin turban instead of the wax-cloth cap worn by other

The crimson sky seen above the tall coco-palms turns to pink, to pale,
vaporous blue, to a warm grey that rapidly dies away, and almost
suddenly it is night.

Then an elder of the family deliberately lights the first fire--a lamp
hanging in the vestibule; and as soon as they see the flame the High
Dastour and all those present bow in adoration with clasped hands. The
bridegroom and the priest go into the house and have their hands and
faces washed; then, preceded by the band and followed by all the guests,
they proceed to the home of the bride.

There, again, they all sit down in the garden. The same little packets
of betel, only wrapped in gold leaf, are offered to the company, and
bunches of chrysanthemum sprinkled with scent.

Then, two and two, carrying on their shoulders heavy trays piled with
presents, women mount the steps of the house, the bridegroom standing at
the bottom. The bride's mother comes forth to meet them in a dress of
pale-coloured China crape covered with a fine white saree. She waves her
closed hand three times over the gifts, and then, opening it, throws
rice on the ground. This action she repeats with sugar and sweetmeats,
and finally with a coco-nut. And each time she empties her hand a naked
boy appears from heaven knows where, gathers up what she flings on the
ground, and vanishes again, lost at once in the shadows of the garden.

At last the bridegroom goes up the steps. The mother-in-law repeats the
circular wave of welcome over the young man's head with rice and sugar
and an egg and a coco-nut; then she takes the garland, already somewhat
faded, from his neck, and replaces it by another twined of gold thread
and jasmine flowers, with roses at regular intervals. She also changes
his bouquet, and receives the coco-nut her son-in-law has carried in his

In the midst of a large room crowded with women in light-hued sarees,
the bridegroom takes his seat between two tables, on which are large
trays of rice. Facing him is a chair, and one is occupied by the bride,
who is brought in by a party of girls. She is scarcely fourteen, all in
white; on her head is a veil of invisibly fine muslin ten folds thick;
it enfolds her in innocence, and is crowned with sprays of myrtle

The ceremony now begins. The dastour chants his prayers, throwing
handfuls of rice all the time over the young couple. A sheet is held up
between the two, and a priest twines a thread about the chair. At the
seventh turn the sheet is snatched away, and the bride and bridegroom,
with a burst of laughter, fling a handful of rice at each other.

All the guests press forward, ceasing their conversation, which has
sometimes drowned the voice of the dastour, to ask which of the two
threw the rice first--a very important question it would seem.

The two chairs are now placed side by side, and the priest goes on
chanting his prayers to a slow measure, in a nasal voice that is soon
lost again in the chatter of the bystanders. Rice is once more shed over
the couple, and incense is burnt in a large bronze vessel, the perfume
mingling with that of the jasmine wreaths on the walls.

Then the procession, with music, makes its way back to the bridegroom's
house. On the threshold the priest says one more short prayer over the
bowed heads of the newly-married couple, and at last the whole party go
into the room, where the guests take their places at the long tables.

Under each plate, a large square cut out of a banana leaf serves as a
finger-napkin. Innumerable are the dishes of sweetmeats made with _ghee_
(clarified butter), the scented ices, the highly-coloured bonbons;
while the young couple walk round the rooms, and hang garlands of
flowers about the necks of the feasters.

Outside the night is moonless, deep blue. Venus seems quite close to us,
shining with intense brightness, and the jasmines scent the air, softly
lighted by the lanterns which burn out one by one.

In the evening, at the railway terminus, there was a crush of coolies
packed close up to the ticket-office of the third-class, and holding out
their money. Never tired of trying to push to the front, they all
shouted at once, raising their hands high in the air and holding in
their finger-tips one or two shining silver rupees. Those who at last
succeeded in getting tickets slipped out of the crowd, and sang and
danced; others who had found it absolutely impossible to get anything
retired into corners, and groaned aloud.

In the middle of the station groups of women and children squatted on
the flagstones, their little bundles about them of red and white rags,
and copper pots looking like gold; a huddled heap of misery, in this
enormous hall of palatial proportions, handsomely decorated with
sculptured marble.

They were all flying from the plague, which was spreading, and emptying
the bazaars and workshops. The Exchange being closed, trade was at a
standstill, and the poor creatures who were spared by the pestilence
were in danger of dying of hunger.

When the gate to the platform was opened there was a stampede, a fearful
rush to the train; then the cars, once filled, were immediately shut on
the noisy glee of those who were going.

At the last moment some porters, preceded by two sowars in uniform and
holding pikes, bore a large palankin, hermetically closed, to the door
of a first-class carriage, and softly set it down. The carriage was
opened for a moment: I could see within a party of women-servants,
shrouded in white muslin, who were preparing a couch. An old negress
handed out to the porters a large sheet, which they held over the
palankin, supporting it in such a way as to make a covered passage
screening the carriage door. There was a little bustle under the
sheet--the end was drawn in, and the sheet fell over the closed door.

The last train gone, all round the station there was quite a camp of
luckless natives lying on the ground, wrapped in white cotton, and
sleeping under the stars, so as to be nearer to-morrow to the train
which, perhaps, might carry them away from the plague-stricken city.

In a long narrow bark, with a pointed white sail--a bunder-boat--we
crossed the roads to Elephanta, the isle of sacred temples. Naked men,
with no garment but the _langouti_, or loin-cloth, navigated the boat.
They climbed to the top of the mast, clinging to the shrouds with their
toes, if the least end of rope was out of gear, hauled the sail up and
down for no reason at all, and toiled ridiculously, with a vain
expenditure of cries and action, under the glaring sky that poured down
on us like hot lead.

After an hour's passage we reached the island, which is thickly planted
with fine large trees.

A flight of regular steps, hewn in the rock, under the shade of banyans
and bamboos, all tangled with flowering creepers, leads straight up to
the temple. It is a vast hall, dug out of granite and supported by
massive columns, with capitals of a half-flattened spheroidal
shape--columns which, seen near, seem far too slender to support the
immense mass of the mountain that rises sheer above the cave under a
curtain of hanging creepers. The temple opens to the north, and a very
subdued light--like the light from a painted window--filtering through
the _ficus_ branches, lends solemnity and enhanced beauty to this
titanic architecture.

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, 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.

In the atmosphere floated a pale blue smoke, rising from a heap of weeds
that some children were burning, a weird sort of incense, acrid and
aromatic, fading against the too-blue sky.

As we went down to the shore a whole swarm of little dark boys wanted to
sell scarabs, rattans, birds' nests shaped like pockets, and
dream-flowers, gathered from the creepers on the temples; large
almond-scented lilies, and hanging bunches of the ebony-tree flowers, so
fragile in texture and already faded in the sun, but exhaling till
evening a faint perfume of verbena and lemon.

As we returned the wind had fallen, and the men rowed. The moon rose
pale gold, and in the distance, in the violet haze, the lights of Bombay
mingled with the stars. The boatmen's chant was very vague, a rocking
measure on ascending intervals.

Afternoon, in the bazaar, in the warm glow of the sinking sun,
wonderfully quiet. No sound but that of some workmen's tools; no
passers-by, no shouting of voices, no bargaining. A few poor people
stand by the stalls and examine the goods, but the seller does not seem
to care. Invisible _guzlas_ vibrate in the air, and the piping
invitation of a moollah falls from the top of a minaret.

Then, suddenly, there was a clatter of tom-toms, and rattling of
castanets, a Hindoo funeral passing by. The dead lay stretched on a
bier, his face painted and horrible, a livid grin between the dreadful
scarlet cheeks, covered with wreaths of jasmine and roses. A man walking
before the corpse carried a jar of burning charcoal to light the funeral
pile. Friends followed the bier, each bringing a log of wood, to add to
the pyre as a last homage to the dead.

A Mohammedan funeral now. The body was in a coffin, covered with red
stuff, sparkling with gold thread. The bearers and mourners chanted an
almost cheerful measure, as they marched very slowly to the
burial-ground by the seaside, where the dead rest under spreading
banyans and flowering jasmine.

Then a Parsee woman stopped my servant to ask him if I were a doctor.

"A doctor? I cannot say," replied Abibulla, "but the sahib knows many
things." The woman's eyes entreated me. Would I not come? it would
comfort the sick man, and help him, perhaps, to die easily if the gods
would not spare him.

At the door of the house the sick man's wife was washing a white robe,
in which he would be dressed for the grave on the morrow. The nearest
relation of the dying must always wash his garment, and the woman,
knowing that her husband had the plague and was doomed, as she was
required by ritual to prepare for the burial while her husband was yet
living, wore a look of mute and tearless resignation that terrified me.

The plague-stricken man lay on a low bed struggling with anguish; large
drops of sweat stood on his face, his throat was wrapped in wet
bandages, and he spoke with difficulty, as in a dream.

"Pané, sahib!"--"Water, sir!"

Then he closed his eyes and fell asleep at once, and so would he sleep
till the end.

Out of doors, meanwhile, one funeral procession almost trod on the
heels of the last; at the latest gleam of day, and out towards the west,
above the Field of Burning, a broad red cloud filled all one quarter of
the sky.

In the heart of Girgaum, one of the suburbs of Bombay, at the end of a
street, under a large areca palm an old man was selling grain and rice
in open baskets. A whole flight of bickering sparrows settled on his
merchandise, and he looked at them with happy good humour without
scaring them away.

In the town a zebu cow was trotting along with an air of business. To
avoid a vehicle she jumped on to the footpath and went her way along the
flagstones, and every Hindoo that she passed patted her buttock and then
touched his forehead with the same hand with great reverence.

Outside Bombay, at the end of an avenue of tamarind trees, between
hedges starred with lilac and pink, we came to Pinjerapoor, the hospital
for animals. Here, in a sanded garden dotted with shrubs and flowers,
stand sheds in which sick cows, horses and buffaloes are treated and
cared for. In another part, in a little building divided into
compartments by wire bars, poor crippled dogs whined to me as I passed
to take them away. Hens wandered about on wooden legs; and an ancient
parrot, in the greatest excitement, yelled with all his might; he was
undergoing treatment to make his lost feathers grow again, his hideous
little black body being quite naked, with its large head and beak. In an
open box, overhung with flowering jasmine, an Arab horse was suspended
to the beams of the roof; two keepers by his side waved long white
horsehair fans to keep away the flies. A perfect crowd of servants is
employed in the care of the animals, and the litter is sweet and clean.

At Byculla in the evening we went to Grant Road, the haunt of the street
beauties, where the gambling-houses are. At the open windows under the
lighted lamps were coarsely-painted women dressed in gaudy finery. In
the entries were more of such women, sitting motionless in the attitude
of idols; some of them real marvels--thin, slender bronze limbs scarcely
veiled in dark, transparent gauze, gold rings round their neck and arms,
and heavy nanparas on their ankles.

One of them was standing against a curtain of black satin embroidered
with gold; muslin that might have been a spider's web hardly cast a mist
over her sheenless skin, pale, almost white against the glistening satin
and gold, all brightly lighted up. With a large hibiscus flower in her
hand she stood in a simple attitude, like an Egyptian painting, then
moved a little, raising or lowering an arm, apparently not seeing the
passers-by who gazed at her--lost in a dream that brought a strange
green gleam to her dark eyes.

Japanese girls, too, in every possible hue, with piles of tinsel and
flowers above their little flat faces all covered with saffron and white
paint; little fidgeting parrakeets flitting from window to window, and
calling to the people in the street in shrill, nasal tones.

In booths between these houses, the gamblers, standing round a board
with numbered holes, were watching the ball as it slowly spun round, hit
the edge, seemed to hesitate, and at last fell into one of the cups.
Four-anna pieces, ten-rupee notes--anything will serve as a stake for
the Hindoo ruffian in a starched shirt-front, low waistcoat and white
tie, above the dhouti that hangs over his bare legs; or for the
half-tipsy soldier and sailor, the cautious Parsee who rarely puts down
a stake, or the ragged coolie who has come to tempt fortune with his
last silver bit.

All alike were fevered from the deafening music of harmoniums and
tom-toms performing at the back of each gambling-booth--a din that
drowned shouts of glee and quarrelling.

Turning out of this high street blazing with lamps, were dens of
prostitution, and dark, cut-throat alleys.

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.

Here, one by one, in came the nautch-girls, dancers. Robed in stiff
sarees, their legs encumbered with very full trousers, they stood
extravagantly upright, their arms away from their sides and their hands
hanging loosely. At the first sound of the tambourines, beaten by men
who squatted close to the wall, they began to dance; jumping forward on
both feet, then backward, striking their ankles together to make their
nanparas ring, very heavy anklets weighing on their feet, bare with
silver toe-rings. One of them spun on and on for a long time, while the
others held a high, shrill note--higher, shriller still; then suddenly
everything stopped, the music first, then the dancing--in the air, as it
were--and the nautch-girls, huddled together like sheep in a corner of
the room, tried to move us with the only three English words they knew,
the old woman repeating them; and as finally we positively would not
understand, the jumping and idiotic spinning and shouts began again in
the heated air of the room.

"Nautch-girls for tourists, like Europeans," said my Indian servant
Abibulla. "Can-can dancing-girls," he added, with an air of triumph at
having shown me a wonder.

At the top of Malabar Hill, in a garden with freshly raked walks and
clumps of flowers edged with pearl-shells, stand five limewashed towers,
crowned with a living battlement of vultures: the great Dokma, the
Towers of Silence, where the Parsees are laid after death, "as naked as
when they came into the world and as they must return to nothingness,"
to feed the birds of prey, which by the end of a few hours leave nothing
of the body but the bones, to bleach in the sun and be scorched to dust
that is soon carried down to the sea by the first rains of the monsoon.

One of these towers, smaller than the others, and standing apart at the
end of the garden, is used for those who have committed suicide. The
bearers of the dead dwell in a large yellow house roofed with zinc.
There they live, apart from the world, never going down to Bombay but to
fetch a corpse and bring it up to the vultures, nor daring to mingle
with the living till after nine days of purification.

In another building is the hall where the dastours say the last prayers
over the dead in the presence of the relations; the body is then
stripped in a consecrated chamber and abandoned to the mysteries of the

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.

Far away a murmur is heard, a long-drawn chant, suddenly arousing the
birds; they flap their wings, stretch themselves clumsily, and then fly
towards one of the towers.

We could see the procession coming straight up a hollow ravine from the
valley to the Dokma, a path that none but Parsees are allowed to tread;
eight bearers in white, the bier also covered with white, and, far
behind, the relations and friends of the dead, all robed in white, two
and two, each pair holding between them a square of white stuff in sign
of union. They came very slowly up the steps of the steep ascent with a
measured chant, in muffled tones, on long-drawn vowels. And from the
surrounding trees, from far and near, with a great flutter of wings, the
vultures flew to meet the corpse, darkening the sky for a moment.

In the evening, as I again went past the Towers of Silence, the palm
trees were once more crowded with sleeping birds gorged with all the
food sent them by the plague. On the other side of Back Bay, above the
Field of Burning, a thick column of smoke rose up, red in the last beams
of the crimson sun.

In the silence of a moonless night nine o'clock struck from the great
tower of the Law Courts--a pretty set of chimes, reminding me of Bruges
or Antwerp; and when the peal had died away a bugle in the sepoys'
quarters took up the strain of the chimes, only infinitely softer,
saddened to a minor key and to a slower measure; while in the distance
an English trumpet, loud and clear, sounded the recall in counterpart.

Outside the town the carriage went on for a long time through a
poverty-stricken quarter, and past plots of ground dug out for the
erection of factories. Fragile flowers, rose and lilac, bloomed in the
shade of banyans and palm trees. Hedges of jasmine and bougainvillea,
alternating with rose trees, scented the air. Then we came to Parel, a
suburb where, in a spacious enclosure, stands the hospital for
infectious diseases. It is a lofty structure of iron, the roof and walls
of matting, which is burnt when infected with microbes, and which allows
the free passage of the air. In spite of the heat outside it was almost
cool in these shady halls.

All the sick were _sudras_, Hindoos of the lowest caste. All the rest,
Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisiyas, would rather die at home, uncared for,
than endure the promiscuous mixture of caste at the hospital, and
contact with their inferiors. Even the sudras are but few. There is an
all-pervading dread of a hospital, fostered by Indian bone-setters and
sorcerers, stronger even than the fear of the pestilence; the people
hide themselves to die, like wounded animals, and their relations will
not speak of an illness for fear of seeing anybody belonging to them
taken to the hospital.

All the sufferers lay on thin mattresses spread on low camp beds; they
were all quiet, torpid in the sleep of fever. The doctor showed them to
me, one after another; there was nothing distressing to be seen in their
naked bodies lying under a sheet. Some, indeed, had dressings under the
arm, or on the groin. One, who had just been brought in, had a large
swelling above the hip, a gland which was lanced to inject serum.

This, then, is the malady of the appalling name--the Plague--hardened
glands in the throat or under the arm; the disease that gives its victim
fever, sends him to sleep, exhausts, and infallibly kills him.

In the ward we had just passed through there were none but convalescents
or favourable cases. At the further end of the room a boy, fearfully
emaciated, so thin that his body, lying in the hollow of the mattress,
was hardly visible under the covering, was asleep as we approached. He
had come from one of the famine districts, and in escaping from one
scourge had come to where the other had clutched him. The doctor touched
him on the shoulder, and he opened his great splendid eyes. The
awakening brought him gladness, or perhaps it was the end of his dream,
for he had the happy look of a contented child, shook his shaven head
waggishly, and the single corkscrew lock at the top, and was asleep
again instantly.

In the further room were four sufferers past all hope: one in the
anguish of delirium that made him cry out the same words again and
again, in a hoarse voice that was growing fainter. He was held by two
attendants. Another lay with chattering teeth; a third was struggling
violently, hidden under his coverlet; the fourth seemed unconscious,

Not far from the great hospital, in huts of bamboo and matting, some
Hindoos were isolated, who refused to be attended by any but native
doctors, or to take anything but simples. An old man lay there who had a
sort of stiff white paste applied to the swellings under his arms. He,
too, was delirious, and watched us go by with a vague, stupefied
glare--eyes that were already dead.

In another hut was a woman, brought hither yesterday with her husband,
who had died that morning. She had an exquisite, long, pale face and
blue-black hair. On her arms were many bangles, and gold earrings
glittered in her ears. For a moment she opened her large gazelle-like
eyes, and then with a very sad little sigh turned to the wall, making
her trinkets rattle. She was still dressed in her blue choli. A striped
coverlet had been thrown over her; by her bed she had a whole set of
burnished copper pans and canisters. Charmingly pretty, and not yet
exhausted by the disease, which only declared itself yesterday, she was
sleeping quietly, more like a being in a storybook than a
plague-stricken creature, who must infallibly die on the morrow under
the incapable treatment of the Hindoo "bone-setter."

And then we came away from this hospital, where no sister of charity, no
woman even, had brought some little consolation or the kindliness of a
smile to these dying creatures, whose wandering or frantic black eyes
haunted me.



At sunrise we reached Nandgaun, whence I went on towards Ellora in a
tonga, the Indian post-chaise, with two wheels and a wide awning so low
and so far forward that the traveller must stoop to look out at the
landscape. A rosy haze still hung over the country, rent in places and
revealing transparent blue hills beyond the fields of crude green barley
and rice. The road was hedged with mimosa, cassia, and a flowering
thorny shrub, looking like a sort of honeysuckle with yellow blossoms,
and smelling strongly of ginger.

We met a strange caravan; a small party of men surrounding more than a
hundred women wrapped in dark robes, and bearing on their veiled heads
heavy bales sewn up in matting, and large copper pots. A little blind
boy led the way, singing a monotonous chant of three high notes. He came
up to my tonga, and to thank me for the small coin I gave him he said,
"Salaam, Sahib," and then repeated the same words again and again to
his tune, dancing a little step of his own invention till the whole
caravan was hidden from me in a cloud of dust.

In a copse, women, surrounded by naked children, were breaking stones,
which men carried to the road. The women screamed, hitting the hard
pebbles with a too small pick, the children fought, the men squabbled
and scolded, and amid all this hubbub three Parsees, sitting at a table
under the shade of a tamarind tree, were adding up lines of figures on
papers fluttering in the wind. There was not a dwelling in sight, no
sign of an encampment, nothing but these labouring folk and the
bureaucracy out in the open air, under the beating sun.

Next came a long file of carts, conveying cases of goods "made in
Manchester," or loaded, in unstable equilibrium, with dry yellow fodder
like couch grass, eaten by the horses here; and they struggled along the
road which, crossing the limitless plain, appeared to lead nowhere.

When we stopped to change horses, two or three mud-huts under the shade
of a few palm trees would emit an escort of little native boys, who
followed the fresh team, staring at the carriage and the "Inglis Sahib"
with a gaze of rapturous stupefaction.

Flocks of almost tame partridges and wood-pigeons occupying the road
did not fly till they were almost under the horses' feet, and all the
way as we went, we saw, scampering from tree to tree, the scared little
squirrels, grey with black stripes and straight-up bushy tails.

At the frontier of the Nizam's territory, a man-at-arms, draped in
white, and mounted on a horse that looked like silver in the sunshine,
sat with a lance in rest against his stirrup. He gazed passively at the
distance, not appearing to see us, not even bowing.

Towards evening Ellora came in sight, the sacred hill crowned with
temples, in a blaze of glory at first from the crimson sunset, and then
vaguely blue, wiped out, vanishing in the opalescent mist.

At Roza, the plateau above the Hindoo sanctuaries, above a dozen of
Moslem mausoleums are to be seen under the spreading banyans that
shelter them beneath their shade, and sometimes hide them completely;
the white objects are in a whimsical style of architecture, hewn into
strange shapes, which in the doubtful starlight might be taken for

One of these mausoleums served us for a bungalow. The distance was
visible from the window openings, which were fringed with cuscus blinds
that would be pulled down at night: the spreading dark plain, broken by
gleaming pools, and dotted with the lamps in the temples to Vishnu, of
which the cones were visible in silhouette, cutting the clear horizon.

The almost imperceptible hum of a bagpipe came up from below; in a white
mosque of open colonnades enclosing a paved court, and in front of the
little lamps that burned above the holy of holies sheltering the Koran,
figures in light garments were prostrate in prayer; their murmurs came
up to us in sighs, mingling with the slow and tender notes of the music.

Rising from the highest point of the hill the huge tomb of Aurungzeeb
the Great--more huge in the darkness--stood out clearly, a black mass,
its bulbous dome against the sky. Flocks of goats and sheep came
clambering along the ridge to shelter for the night in the recesses of
its walls. Then, one by one, the lights died out. Infinite calm brooded
over the scene; a very subtle fragrance, as of rose and verbena, seemed
to rise from the ground and scent the still air; and over the motionless
earth swept enormous black bats in silent flight, with slow,
regularly-beating wings.

At the first ray of sunrise I went down to the temples, hewn out of the
side of the hill and extending for above a mile and a quarter. Gigantic
stairs are cut in the rock, and lead to caves enshrining immense altars,
on which Buddha or other idols of enormous size are enthroned. Hall
after hall is upheld by carved pillars. Bas-reliefs on the walls
represent the beatitudes of Krishna surrounded by women, or the
vengeance of Vishnu the terrible, or the marriage of Siva and Parvati;
while on the flat roof, on the panels and architraves--all part of the
solid rock--there is an endless procession of Krishnas and Vishnus, on a
rather smaller scale, producing utter weariness of their unvaried
attitudes and beatific or infuriated grimacing.

One temple to Buddha only, on an elongated plan, ends in a vault forming
a bulb-shaped cupola supported on massive columns, quite Byzantine in
character and wholly unexpected. The dim light, coming in only through a
low door and two small windows filled in with pierced carving, enhances
the impression of being in some ancient European fane, and the Buddha on
the high altar has a look of suffering and emaciation that suggests a
work of the fourteenth century.

More temples, each more stupendous than the last, and more halls hewn
in the rifts of the hills, and over them monks' cells perched on little
columns, which at such a height look no thicker than threads.

And there, under the open sky, stands the crowning marvel of Ellora, the
temple or Kailas, enclosed within a wall thirty metres high, pierced
with panels, balconies, and covered arcades, and resting on lions and
elephants of titanic proportions. This temple is hewn out of a single
rock, isolated from the hill, and is divided into halls ornamented in
high relief. Covered verandahs run all round the irregular mass in two
storeys, reminding us, in their elaborate design, of the Chinese balls
of carved ivory with other balls inside them. Nothing has been added or
built on. The complicated architecture--all in one piece, without cement
or the smallest applied ornament--makes one dizzy at the thought of such
a miracle of perseverance and patience.

The external decoration is broken by broad flat panels, incised in
places so delicately that the patterns look like faded fresco, scarcely
showing against the gold-coloured ground of yellow stone. In front of
the Kailas stand two tall obelisks, carved from top to bottom with an
extraordinary feeling for proportion which makes them seem taller still,
and two gigantic elephants, guardians of the sanctuary, heavy, massive
images of stone, worm-eaten by time into tiny holes and a myriad
wrinkles, producing a perfect appearance of the coarse skin of the
living beast.

In the twilight of the great galleries the gods are assembled in groups,
standing or sitting, rigid or contorted into epileptic attitudes, and
thin bodies of human aspect end in legs or arms resembling serpents or
huge fins, rather than natural limbs: Kali, the eight-armed goddess,
leaping in the midst of daggers, performing a straddling dance while she
holds up a tiny corpse on the point of the short sword she brandishes;
impassible Sivas wearing a tall mitre; Krishna playing the flute to the
thousand virgins who are in love with him, and who fade into perspective
on the panel. And every divinity has eyes of jade, or of white plaster,
hideously visible against the pale grey stone softly polished by time.

Amid hanging swathes of creepers, in a fold of the hill stands another
temple, of red stone, very gloomy; and, in its depths, a rigid white
Buddha, with purple shadows over his eyes of glittering crystal. And so
on to temples innumerable, so much alike that, seeing each for the first
time, I fancied that I was retracing my steps; and endless little
shrine-like recesses, sheltering each its Buddha, make blots of shadow
on the bright ochre-coloured stone of the cliffs. For centuries, in the
rainy season, thousands of pilgrims have come, year after year, to take
up their abode in these cells, spending the cold weather in prayer and
then going off to beg their living and coming back for the next wet

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.

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.

Under the cool shade of evening, the softening touch of twilight, all
this sculptured magnificence assumes an air of supreme grandeur, and
calls up a world of legends and beliefs till the temples seem to recede,
fading into the vapour of the blue night.

While I spent the hot hours of the day in the bungalow, a flock of birds
came in through the open doors, and quietly picked up the crumbs on the
floor. They were followed by grey squirrels, which at first crouched in
the corners, but presently, growing bolder, ended by climbing on to the
table, with peering eyes, in hope of nuts or bread-crusts.

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.

At Jané the pagodas are of red stone. The largest, conical in shape,
covers with its ponderous roof, overloaded with sculptured figures of
gods and animals, a very small passage, at the end of which two lights
burning hardly reveal a white idol standing amid a perfect carpet of
flowers. Round the sacred tank that lies at the base of the temple,
full of stagnant greenish-white water, are flights of steps in
purple-hued stone; at the angles, twelve little conical kiosks, also of
red stone and highly decorated, shelter twelve similar idols, but black.
And between the temples, among the few huts that compose the village of
Jané, stand Moslem mausoleums and tombs. Verses from the Koran are
carved on the stones, now scarcelyl visible amid the spreading briars
and garlands of creepers hanging from the tall trees that are pushing
their roots between the flagstones that cover the dead.

Before us the road lay pink in colour, with purple lines where the
pebbles were as yet un-crushed; it was hedged with blossoming
thorn-bushes, and among the yellow and violet flowers parrots were
flitting, and screaming minahs, large black birds with russet-brown
wings, gleaming in the sun like burnished metal.

The post-chaise was a tonga, escorted by a mounted sowar, armed with a
naked sword. He rode ahead at a rattling trot, but the clatter was
drowned by the shouts of the driver and of the sais, who scrambled up on
the steps and urged the steeds on with excited flogging.

At a stopping-place a flock of sheep huddled together in terror, hens
scuttered about clucking anxiously, the stable dogs crouched and slunk;
high overhead a large eagle was slowly wheeling in the air.

Round a village well, enclosed by walls with heavy doors that are always
shut at night, a perfect flower-bed of young women had gathered, slender
figures wrapped in robes of bright, light colours, drawing water in
copper jars. The sunbeams, dropping between the leaves of a baobab tree
that spread its immense expanse of boughs over the well, sparkled on
their trinkets and the copper pots, dappling the gaudy hues of their
raiment with flickering gold.


Is a long row of bungalows in their own gardens, on each side of an
avenue of thick trees that meet above the road. We crossed the bed of a
dry torrent and came to the native village, a labyrinth of clay huts and
narrow alleys through which goats and cows wandered, finding their way
home to their own stables. On a raised terrace three Parsees, bowing to
the sun with clasped hands, prostrated themselves in adoration, and
watched the crimson globe descend wrapped in golden haze; and as soon as
the disc had vanished, leaving a line of fiery light in the sky, all
three rose, touched each other's hands, passed their fingers lightly
over their faces, and resumed their conversation.

In every house a tiny lamp allowed us to see the women, squatting while
they pounded millet, or cooked in copper pots. Then night suddenly fell,
and I could no longer find my way about the dark alleys, stumbling as I
went over cows lying across the path, till I suddenly found myself
opposite a very tall pagoda, three storeys high. On the threshold the
bonzes were banging with all their might on gongs and drums, alternately
with bells. And on the opposite side of the street, in a sort of shed
enclosed on three sides, but wide open to the passers-by, people in gay
robes were prostrate before two shapeless idols, Krishna and Vishnu,
painted bright red, twinkling with ornaments of tinsel and lead-paper,
and crudely lighted up by lamps with reflectors. And then at once I was
between low houses again, and going down tortuous streets to the
river-bed, whither I was guided by the sound of castanets and

At the further end of the last turning I saw a fire like blazing gold,
the soaring flames flying up to an enormous banyan tree, turning its
leaves to living fire. All round the pile on which the dead was being
burned was a crowd drumming on copper pots and tom-toms.

Very late in the evening came the sound of darboukhas once more. A
throng of people, lighted up by a red glow, came along, escorting a car
drawn by oxen. At each of the four corners were children carrying
torches, and in the middle of the car a tall pole was fixed. On this,
little Hindoo boys were performing the most extraordinary acrobatic
tricks, climbing it with the very tips of their toes and fingers,
sliding down again head foremost, and stopping within an inch of the
floor. Their bronze skins, in contrast to the white loin-cloth that cut
them across the middle, and their fine muscular limbs, made them look
like antique figures. The performance went on to the noise of drums and
singing, and was in honour of the seventieth birthday of a Mohammedan
witch who dwelt in the village. The car presently moved off, and, after
two or three stoppages, reached the old woman's door. The toothless
hag, her face carved into black furrows, under a towzle of white hair
emerging from a ragged kerchief, with a stupid stare lighted up by a
gleam of wickedness when she fixed an eye, sat on the ground in her
hovel surrounded by an unspeakable heap of rags and leavings. The crowd
squeezed in and gathered round her; but she sat perfectly unmoved, and
the little acrobats, performing in front of her door, did not win a
glance from her. And then, the noise and glare annoying her probably,
she turned with her face to the wall and remained so. She never quitted
her lair; all she needed was brought to her by the villagers, who
dreaded the spells she could cast. Her reputation for wisdom and magic
had spread far and wide. The Nizam's cousin, and prime minister of the
dominion, never fails to pay her a visit when passing through Nandgaun,
and other even greater personages, spoken of only with bated breath,
have been known to consult her.


An old-world Indian city with nothing of modern flimsiness and tinsel.
The arcades and balconies of the houses in the bazaar are carved out of
solid wood, polished by ages to tones of burnished steel and warm gold.
Copper nails in the doors shine in the sun. Along the quiet streets,
where nothing passes by but, now and then, a slow-paced camel, Hindoos
make their way, draped in pale pink, or in white scarcely tinged with
green or orange colour; little naked children, with necklaces, bangles
and belts of silver, looking like ribbons on their bronze skin. In front
of the shops is a brilliant harmony of copper, sheeny fruits, and large
pale green pots. A glad atmosphere of colour surrounds the smiling
people and the houses with their old scorched stones.

The coachman we engaged at the station was a giant, with an olive skin
and a huge, pale pink turban. He was clad in stuffs so thin that on his
box, against the light, we could see the shape of his body through the
thickness of five or six tunics that he wore one over another.

After passing through the town, all flowery with green gardens, at the
end of a long, white, dusty road, where legions of beggars followed me,
calling me "Papa" and "Bab," that is to say father and mother, I arrived
at the residence of the Gaekwar, the Rajah of Baroda. At the gate we met
the palace sentries released from duty. Eight men in long blue pugarees
and an uniform of yellow khakee (a cotton stuff), like that of the
sepoys, with their guns on their shoulders, looked as if they were
taking a walk, marching in very fantastic step. One of them had a bird
hopping about in a little round cage that hung from the stock of his
gun. Three camels brought up the rear, loaded with bedding in blue
cotton bundles.

In the heart of an extensive park, where wide lawns are planted with
gigantic baobabs and clumps of bamboo and tamarind, stands an
important-looking building, hideously modern in a mixture of
heterogeneous styles and materials, of a crude yellow colour, and much
too new. There is no attempt at unity of effect. A central dome crowns
the edifice and a square tower rises by the side of it. Some portions,
like pavilions, low and small, carry ornaments disproportioned to their
size; while others, containing vast halls, have minute windows pierced
in their walls, hardly larger than loopholes, but framed in elaborate
sculpture and lost in the great mass of stone. Arcades of light and
slender columns, connected by lace-like pierced work of alarming
fragility, enclose little courts full of tree-ferns and waving palms
spreading over large pools of water. The walls are covered with niches,
balconies, pilasters, and balustrades carved in the Indian style, the
same subjects constantly repeated.

Inside, after going through a long array of rooms filled with sham
European furniture--handsome chairs and sofas covered with plush,
Brussels carpets with red and yellow flowers on a green ground--we came
to the throne-room, an enormous, preposterous hall, which, with its rows
of cane chairs and its machine-made Gothic woodwork, was very like the
waiting-room or dining-room of an American hotel.

The Rajah being absent we were allowed to see everything. On the upper
floor is the Ranee's dressing-room. All round the large room were glass
wardrobes, in which could be seen bodices in the latest Paris fashion,
and ugly enough; and then a perfect rainbow of tender opaline hues:
light silks as fine as cobwebs, shawls of every dye in Cashmere wool
with woven patterns, and gauze of that delicate rose-colour and of the
yellow that looks like gold with the light shining through, which are
only to be seen in India--royal fabrics, dream-colours, carefully laid
up in sandal-wood and stored behind glass and thick curtains, which were
dropped over them as soon as we had looked. And crowding every table and
bracket were the most childish things--screens, cups and boxes in
imitation bronze, set with false stones--the playthings of a little
barbarian. A coloured photograph stood on the toilet-table between
brushes and pomatum-pots; it represented the mistress of this abode, a
slender doll without brains, her eyes fixed on vacancy.

Then her bedroom: no bed, only a vast mattress rolled up against the
wall, and spread over the floor every night--it must cover the whole

At the end of the passage was a sort of den, where, through the open
door, I caught sight of a marvellous Indian hanging of faded hues on a
pale ground, hidden in places by stains; the noble pattern represented a
peacock spreading his tail between two cypresses.

In front of the palace, beds filled with common plants familiar in every
European garden fill the place of honour; they are very rare, no doubt,
in these latitudes, and surprising amid the gorgeous hedges of wild
bougainvillea that enclose the park.

In the train again, _en route_ for Ahmedabad. As we crossed the fertile
plain of Gujerat the first monkeys were to be seen, in families, in
tribes, perched on tall pine trees, chasing each other, or swinging on
the wires that rail in the road, and solemnly watching the train go by.
Peacocks marched about with measured step, and spread their tails in the
tall banyan trees tangled with flowering creepers. Shyer than these, the
grey secretary birds, with a red roll above their beak, seemed waiting
to fly as we approached. On the margin of the lakes and streams
thousands of white cranes stood fishing, perched on one leg; and in
every patch of tobacco, or dahl, or cotton, was a hut perched on four
piles, its boarded walls and leaf-thatch giving shelter to a naked
native, watching to scare buffaloes, birds, monkeys, and thieves from
his crop.


In the middle of the town, which consists entirely of small houses
carved from top to bottom, are two massive towers, joined by the remains
of the thick wall that formerly enclosed the immensity of the sultan's
palace and its outbuildings. The towers now serve as prisons; the stone
lattice which screened the private rooms has been replaced by iron bars,
the last traces of ornamentation covered up with fresh plaster. Behind
the wall the ancient garden, kept green of old by legions of gardeners,
is a mere desert of dust; a mausoleum in the middle, transformed into a
court of justice, displays all the perfection of Indian art in two
pointed windows carved and pierced in imitation of twining and
interlaced branches; marvels of delicacy and grace left intact through
centuries of vandalism.

Beyond these ruins, at the end of a long avenue bordered with tamarind
trees, beyond an artificial lake, is the tomb of Shah Alam. A wide
marble court; to the right a mosque with three ranks of columns; above,
a massive roof crowned with a bulbous dome, flanked by fragile
minarets. The fountain for ablutions in the midst of the court is
surmounted by a marble slab supported on slender columns. To the left,
under the shade of a large tree, is the mausoleum of marble, yellow with
age, looking like amber, the panels pierced with patterns of freer
design than goldsmith's work.

Inside, a subdued light, rosy and golden, comes in through the myriad
interstices, casting a glow of colour on the pierced marble screens
which enclose the tomb of Shah Alam, Sultan of Gujerat. The tomb itself,
hung with a red cloth under a canopy on posts inlaid with
mother-of-pearl, is dimly seen in the twilight, scarcely touched here
and there with the pearly gleam and lights reflected from ostrich eggs
and glass balls--toys dedicated by the faithful to the hero who lies
there in his last sleep. Yet further away, under the trees, is another
tomb, almost the same, but less ornamented, where the sultan's wives

Finally, in a third mosque, lies Shah Alam's brother. On the stone that
covers him a sheet of lead bears the print of two gigantic feet,
intended to perpetuate to all ages the remembrance of his enormous

In the town is the tomb of the Ranee Sipri: walls of lace, balconies of
brocade carved in stone. Opposite this mausoleum are an open mosque and
two minarets as slim as sapling pines, wrought with arabesques as fine
as carved ivory. There are lamps carved in relief on the walls, each
hung by chains under-cut in stone with Chinese elaboration; and this
lamp is everywhere repeated--on the mosque, on the tomb, and on the base
of the minarets. The building, which has the faintly russet tone of old
parchment, when seen in the glow of sunset takes a hue of ruby gold that
is almost diaphanous, as filmy as embroidered gauze.

Wherever the alleys cross in the bazaar, open cages are placed on
pillars of carved marble or wood, and in these, charitable hands place
grain for the birds; thus every evening, round these shelters there is a
perpetual flutter of pigeons, minahs, and sparrows, pushing for places,
and finally packed closely together, while the little lanterns flash out
on all sides, giving a magical aspect to the shopfronts, turning copper
to gold, fruit to flowers, and falling like a caress on the wayfarers in
thin pale-hued robes.

Back to the station, where we lived in our carriage, far more
comfortable than a hotel bedroom. T., my travelling companion in
Gujerat, received a visit from a gentleman badly dressed in the European
fashion, and followed by black servants outrageously bedizened. When
this personage departed in his landau, rather shabby but drawn by
magnificent horses, T. was obliged to tell me he was a rajah--the Rajah
of Surat--quite a genuine rajah, and even very rich, which is somewhat
rare in these days among Indian princes.

Some prisoners were brought to the train; a single sepoy led them by a
chain. Two carried enormous bales, and the third a heavy case. They
packed themselves into a compartment that was almost full already, and
one of a couple that were chained together by the wrists put the chain
round his neck; then, when he had scraped acquaintance with the other
travellers, he amused himself by tormenting the hawkers of drink and
pastry, bargaining with them for a long time and buying nothing, quite
delighted when he had put them in a rage with him.

In the third-class carriages, where the compartments are divided by
wooden lattice, among the bundles, the copper jars, and the trunks
painted in the gaudiest colours, sit women in showy saree and decked in
all their jewels; children in little silk coats braided with tinsel,
and open over their little bare bodies; men with no garment whatever but
a loin-cloth or dhouti. There is endless chatter, a perpetual bickering
for places, the bewilderment of those who lose themselves, shouts from
one end of the station to the other, and in the foreground of the hubbub
the incessant cries of the water and sweetmeat sellers.

When the express had arrived that morning from Bombay, eight bodies were
found of victims to the plague who had died on the way. They were laid
on the platform and covered with a white sheet; and in the station there
was a perfect panic, a surge of terror which spread to the town, and
broke up the market. The shops were all shut, and the people rushed to
their knees before the idols in the temples.

A naked fakir, his brown skin plastered with flour, and his long black
hair all matted, bent over the bodies muttering holy words; then
flourishing two yellow rags that he took out of a wallet hanging from
his shoulder, he exorcised the station, driving away the spectre of the
pestilence; going very fast, running along the line by which the evil
had come, and vanishing where the rails ended behind the trees.

Music attracted us to where the cross-roads met, darboukhas struck with
rapid fingers and a bagpipe droning out a lively tune. The musicians sat
among stones and bricks, tapping in quick time on their ass's-skin
drums, beating a measure for some masons to work to. Women carried the
bricks men spread the mortar; they all sang and worked with almost
dancing movements in time with the music, as if they were at play.

A Jaïn temple. A confusion of ornament, carved pillars, capitals far too
heavy, with a medley of animals, gods and flowers, under a roof all
graven and embossed. In the sanctuary, where the walls are riddled with
carving, is an enormous Buddha of black marble decked out with emeralds,
gold beads and rare pearls, hanging in necklaces down to his waist. A
large diamond blazes in his forehead above crystal eyes, terrifically
bright. Every evening all this jewellery--the gift of Hati Singh, a
wealthy Jaïn merchant who built the temple--is packed away into a
strong-box, which we were shown in the cellar.

All round the sanctuary, in niches under a square cloister, are three
hundred and fifty alabaster Buddhas, all alike, with the same jewel in
their forehead, and on their shoulders and round their bodies gold
bands set with imitation gems and cut glass. An old woman, who had come
thither at daybreak, had prayed to each of these Buddhas; to each she
had offered up the same brief petition, she had struck the three bells
on her way, and she was now in the sanctuary, calling out a prayer while
beating a gong that hangs from the arch. Meanwhile other worshippers
were murmuring their invocations prostrate before the jewelled Buddha.

Out in the street a woman, bare-backed, was submitting to be brushed
down the spine by a neighbour with a brush of cuscus; she scorned to
answer me when I asked whether she felt better, but shutting her eyes
desired the operator to go on more slowly.

In an ancient mosque, somewhat dilapidated, was an infant-school. Little
heaps of stuff, pink and yellow and white, and above them emaciated
little faces with large dark eyes that had greenish-blue lights in them,
all moving and rocking continually, and spelling aloud out of open books
set up on wooden folding desks. The master in his pulpit listened
stolidly with half-shut eyes, and detected the mistakes in all this
twitter of little voices.

Not far from Ahmedabad, in a sandy desert where, nevertheless, a few
proliferous baobabs grow, there is a subterranean pagoda drowned in
stagnant water that has filled three out of the six floors. These are
now sacred baths, in which, when I went there, Hindoos were performing
their pious ablutions. Sculptured arcades, upheld by fragile columns,
skirt the pools; the stones are green under the water, and
undistinguishable from the architecture reflected in the motionless
surface that looks blue under the shadow of the great banyan trees
meeting in an arch over the temple. A sickly scent of lotus and
sandal-wood fills the moist air, and from afar, faint and shrill, the
cries of monkeys and minah-birds die away into silence over the calm

A little way off, in the burning sandy plain, is a pagoda sacred to the
pigeons. Lying as close as tiles, in the sun, they hide the roof under
their snowy plumage. Round pots are hung all about the building, swaying
in the wind, for the birds to nest in, a red decoration against the
russet stone; each one contains an amorous and cooing pair.

The Jumna Musjid, in the middle of the bazaar, is a reminder of the
mosque at Cordova. A thousand unmatched columns stand in utter
confusion of irregular lines, producing a distressing sensation of an
unfinished structure ready to fall into ruins. Every style is here, and
materials of every description, brought hither--as we are told by the
inscription engraved over one of the lofty pointed doorways--from the
temples of the unbelievers destroyed by Shah Mahmoud Bogarat, the taker
of cities, that he might, out of their remains, raise this mosque to the
glory of Allah. In the centre of the arcade a large flagstone covers the
Jaïn idol, which was formerly worshipped here; and my servant Abibulla,
as a good Moslem, stamped his foot on the stone under which lies the
"contemptible image." Some workmen were carving a column; they had
climbed up and squatted balanced; they held their tools with their toes,
just chipping at the marble in a way that seemed to make no impression,
chattering all the time in short words that seemed all of vowels.

Behind this mosque, by narrow alleys hung with airy green silk that had
just been dyed and spread to dry in the sun, we made our way to the
mausoleum of Badorgi Shah: a cloister, an arcade of octagonal columns
carved with flowers, and in the court, the tombs of white stone, covered
with inscriptions, that look like arabesques. There are some children's
tombs, too, quite small, in finer and even whiter stone, and two tiny
stones under which lie Badorgi's parrot and cat.


The carriage of the Rajah of Palitana awaited us this morning at Songad.
As an escort two sowars in long blue cloaks and red turbans, their guns
slung behind them, galloped by our vehicle. On each side of the road lay
fields of scorched grass, quite burnt and very fine, glistening like
silk, reflecting the sun as far as we could see.

In the middle of a large garden outside the town was the visitors'
bungalow, the divan, where the prince's prime minister received us, and
made us welcome on behalf of his master. Hardly were we seated when in
came the Rajah, driving two wonderful horses drawing a phaeton. Dressed
in a long black coat over very narrow trousers of white muslin, Gohel
Sheri Man Sinjhi wore a turban, slightly tilted from the left side, and
made of hundreds of fine pale green cords rolled round and round. The
Prince of Morvi, and another of the Rajah's cousins, followed in
perfectly appointed carriages, drawn by thoroughbreds. Last of all,
carried by an attendant from her landau to the large reception-room
where we sat gravely in a circle, came a little princess of seven years
old, the Rajah's daughter. Enormous black eyes with dark blue lights,
her tawny skin a foil to her jewels, and the gold and silver embroidery
of a little violet velvet coat open over a long tunic of green silk,
trousers of pink satin, and yellow leather slippers. A plum-coloured
cap, worked with gold trefoils, was set very straight on her black hair;
she wore, in her ears, slender rings of gold filigree, and had a
nose-stud of a fine pearl set in gold. She stood between her father's
knees, squeezing close up to him with downcast eyes, never daring to
stir but when we seemed to be paying no heed to her.

At the end of a quarter of an hour the princes drove off through a great
cloud of white dust sparkling in the sun, and raised by the carriages
and the escort of armed sowars.

In the afternoon the Minister came to take us to the palace. The Rajah,
with his cousins, met us at the foot of the grand staircase; a
detachment of sowars were on guard. With great ceremony, preceded and
followed by an army of officials and attendants, we went up to a room
where a silver throne, inlaid with gold, of exquisite workmanship,
between two armchairs of massive silver, looked quite out of keeping
with gilt wood chairs with tapestry seats, and the everlasting Brussels
carpet of poor and glaring design. On the various tables was the latest
trumpery from Oxford Street--plush frames and varnished wooden screens;
a shower of glass lustres hung from the ceiling.

Three musicians in white, with red turbans, squatted down on the ground
in front of us. One sang to the accompaniment of a viol with three
strings and nine frets, and a darboukha; a drawling strain, all on the
upper notes, and rising higher to a shrill monotonous wail, retarded, as
it were, to a rhythm against the accompaniment; then by degrees more
lively, faster and faster, ending with a sudden stop on a word of
guttural consonants. But the man began again; he sang for a long time,
varying the tunes, always returning to the first. But nothing of them
remains in my mind, not even the rhythm, only a vague recollection, a
singular echo, confused but charming, in spite of the weirdness of the
too high pitch.

Then two children, their pretty, fresh voices in unison, sang some
womanly songs, languishing ballads, swinging to a very indefinite
rhythm, and suggestive of slow dances and waving gauze scarves in
flowery gardens under the moonlight.

With tea a servant brought packets of betel in a chased gold box, with a
lid imitating a lotus flower. Then, when everybody was served, he
carefully replaced the precious object in an embroidered silk bag and

The little princess had made her way between the seats, close up to us;
she was wrapped in dark-coloured gauze, with woven gold borders, so
light! scarcely less light than the diaphanous material of the dress.
And as I admired this wonderful silk, the Rajah had some bayadères'
dresses brought out for me to see: twelve or fifteen skirts, one above
another, pleated and spangled with gold, yet, hanging to one finger,
scarcely the weight of a straw.

In a coach-house, through which we passed on our way to see the prince's
favourite horses with the state carriages--quite commonplace and
comfortable, and made at Palitana--was a _chigram_, off which its silk
cover was lifted; it was painted bright red and spangled with twinkling
copper nails. This carriage, which is hermetically closed when the Ranee
goes out in it, was lined with cloth-of-gold patterned with Gohel
Sheri's initials within a horseshoe: a little hand-glass on one of the
cushions, two boxes of chased silver, the curtains and hangings redolent
of otto of roses.

A carriage with four horses, and servants in dark green livery thickly
braided with silver, and gold turbans with three raised corners very
like the cocked hats of the French Guards, were standing in the Court of
Honour. The little princess took a seat between her father and me. To
drive out she had put on an incredible necklace with bosses of diamonds
and heavy emerald pendants. With her talismans round her neck in little
gold boxes, with this necklace of light, and rings of precious stones in
her ears, she looked like a too exquisite idol, motionless and silent.
It was not till we were returning and the falling night hid her
glittering jewels that she chirped a few words, and consented to give me
her hand, and even sang a few crystal notes of a favourite song. A
little princess of seven years who can already read and write, sew and
embroider, sing in time, and dance as lightly, I should fancy, as a
butterfly with her tiny feet, that fidget in her gold slippers when she
hears the music--though, frightened lest the Rajah should make her dance
before me, she denied it altogether--a little princess, an only child,
whom her father takes with him everywhere that she may see something of
the world before she is eleven years old, for after that she will never
leave her mother's zenana but to marry and be shut up in another harem.

On the road the people bowed low as we passed, almost to the earth. The
women, in token of respect, turned their backs and crouched down.

In the prince's stables were a long row of brood mares and superb
stallions; and then a hundred or so of colts were turned out into the
yard--mischievous, frisking things, romping against each other, suddenly
stopping short, and wrapped ere long in white dust, which fell on us,

The Prince of Morvi came before sunrise to take us to the temples of
Satrunji. On the way we outstripped carts packed full of women and
children in light shimmering muslins. They were all making a pilgrimage
to the sacred hill, singing shrill chants in time to the jolting of
their springless vehicles, and broken by oaths and imprecations at the
stoppages occasioned by our expedition.

The holy hill, bristling at top with the conical roofs of the pagodas,
rises isolated in the vast stretch of silky grass, enclosed by a distant
fringe of pale violet heights. At the foot of the ascent--in some places
an incline, and in others a flight of steps going straight up to the
temples--bearers were waiting for us, and an armed escort. A mob of
pilgrims were shouting at the top of their voices, and did not cease
their squabbling till we began the climb in our most uncomfortable
palankins, etiquette forbidding us, alas! to get out of them. One of my
bearers, almost naked, with a mere rag of white cotton stuff round his
hips, had hanging from his left ear a ring with three pearls as large as
peas and of luminous sheen.

Stations for prayer stand all along the road; little open shrines, where
footprints are worshipped, stamped on flags of white marble, a large
footprint surrounded by a dozen of a child's foot.

In front of us were men loaded with bundles or with children; old women
gasping as they leaned on long staves; chattering women with green or
pink or white veils, their arms full of sheaves of flowers. By each
little temple--between which there are kiosks, sheltering innumerable
grinning idols--trees grow, and under their shade the pilgrims break the
climb with a short rest. In a palankin, carried by two men, a slim
woman's figure was borne past, in a pink gauze dress spangled with
silver; her feet and hands, beringed with silver and gold, were
exquisitely delicate. For an instant her veil blew aside, showing her
face, rigid with horrible white leprosy, only her almond-shaped black
eyes--beautiful eyes--were alive with intense brilliancy, full of
unfathomable woe.

In front of a statue of Kali with a hundred arms, surrounded by rough
votive offerings carved in wood, most of them representing legs, a man
was pouring out rice, and a whole flight of grey _leilas_--birds like
magpies--almost settled on his hands: birds of the temple, so familiar
that one even allowed me to catch it, and did not fly away at once when
I set it at liberty. There are rows of black Buddhas, white Buddhas,
Sivas painted red--terrible--straddling in fighting attitudes; pilgrims
without end bow and pray in front of each idol.

We reached the top of the hill, the sacred enclosure of the Jaïn
temples. A stoppage again and a fresh dispute. The priests would not
admit within the temples our soldiers, who wore shoes, belts, and
gun-straps made of the skins of dead beasts. The sowars wanted to go on,
declaring that they would take no orders from "such men, priests with
dyed beards, dressed in red flannel, with their turbans undone and
heated with rage."

The heavy door, plated with iron, was shut. Hubbub, shouts, thumps on
the wood with gun-stocks--nothing stirred, no reply.

I proposed to go in without the soldiers. Impossible, it was not
etiquette! I was the Rajah's guest. The Prince of Morvi and I could not
mingle with the crowd, our escort was necessary to isolate us. Well,
then, the soldiers must take off their shoes, and leave their belts and
guns at the door! Again impossible. Where would the prestige of the
uniform be?

My friend T----, long a resident in India, and quite unmoved by the
habitual turmoil of the native Hindoos, finally settled the difficulty
between the cabbage of the priests and the soldiers' goat; the men would
put on hemp-shoes, and we also, over our leather boots; as to the belt
and gun-slings, as they only touched the soldiers themselves, they could
defile nothing and might be allowed to pass.

So at last the door was opened.

On the very summit of the hill, all over the ravine which divided it
from another, and which has been filled up at an enormous cost, and then
on the top of that other hill beyond, temples are piled up, shining
against the too-blue sky, with pointed roofs of stone, scorched by the
sun or stained by the rain, and patterned with pale-hued lichens. Above
each a spear stands up, impaling a metal ball. In infinite variety,
differing in materials, style, and proportions, some quite small, as if
they had sprouted round the base of others that are gigantic, there are
here five thousand temples built by the faithful, who are incessantly
erecting more, devoting great fortunes to the vanity of leaving a chapel
that bears their name.

Spread before us in the iridescent atmosphere, the view extends over
Palitana under its blue veil of light smoke, over the verdant plain
chequered with plots of brown earth, and the winding ribbon of the
Satrunji, a river as sacred to the Jaïns as the Ganges is to the
Brahmins. And far away, vague in the distance, a light shimmering more
brightly where all is bright, lies the luminous breadth of the sea.

Just within the enclosure to our right is a tomb. A Mohammedan who came
forth to take the sacred hill, the brother of an emperor of Delhi, fell
dead at the foot of a Jaïn idol, which he had dared to touch with his
staff. How the legend developed it is impossible to say; but this
warrior, buried on the spot where he was stricken down by the divinity,
has the miraculous power of curing barrenness in the women who invoke
him. Votive offerings, little cradles daubed with yellow and red, are
heaped on the pavement and hang to the railing.

A wide avenue paved with marble, rising in broad steps, crosses the
hilltop between temples on either side, intersecting narrower alleys,
likewise bordered with pagodas crowded together in the inextricable
mazes of a labyrinth, whence our guides were frequently required to lead
us out--temples crowned with a cupola or a cone, a bristling throng of
little extinguishers all covered with carving. The same subjects and
patterns are repeated to infinity, even in the darkest nooks: figures of
gods, of gigantic beasts rearing or galloping, of monstrous horses and
elephants, of tiny birds sheltering the slumbers of the gods under their
outspread wings.

On the stone ceiling of almost every temple four large women's faces and
certain crouching gnomes appear in fresh red paint. In the very dim
twilight that comes in through the narrow windows hung with blue gauze,
the idols are visible behind lattices: white Buddhas blazing with
sparkling gems that hang on their wrists and ankles, or form a perfect
breastplate; and every one, without exception, has an enormous
glittering imitation diamond in his forehead.

In the shrine of Chaumuc, the god of many faces, the four masks grin
down from the sides of a square pillar of white stucco. The walls,
vault, and pavement of this temple are all red, with borders of green
and yellow; the colours scream in contrast to the whiteness of the
images, with their staring eyes made of crystal balls that look like

Another sanctuary holds an idol made of seven metals mingled to a pale
golden hue. The statue is loaded with jewellery of silver and precious
stones. On its head is a fan-shaped diadem starred with rubies. The
walls and columns, of a dull purple, are decorated with gaudy mosaic of
scraps of looking-glass set in brass along the lines of the mouldings.

Pilgrims crowd the courts and the temples. All, when they speak, hold a
hand or a corner of their 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.

A very large temple, with its walls pierced in Persian patterns,
contains fifty-two chapels behind pointed arches. In each chapel are
four gods, all alike, of white plaster, all decked with the same jewels.
In an angle of the vaulting a female figure, carved in the stone and
wearing a tiara, holds an infant in her arms; this statue, with its long
face and the rigid folds of the drapery, might have been transferred
here from a gothic building.

A bulbul, flying out of a temple where it had been picking up the
offered rice, perched on a pomegranate tree and began to sing, at first
a little timid chirp, and then a ripple of song, soon drowned by the
shrieks of parrots, which came down on the tree and drove out the little
red-breasted chorister.

At the very top of the incline, the enclosing wall, black with age but
bright with yellow velvet moss, rises precipitously above the plain, and
three light balconies, with columns as slight as flower-stems, crowned
with pointed roofs recurved at the angles, overhang the abyss.

More and yet more temples, seen through the mist of weariness, the
nightmare of grimacing idols, the heavy vapour of the incense burnt in
every chapel, and of the flowers brought by the pilgrims. A dark red
pagoda, lighted by a mysterious blue gleam falling intermittently from
somewhere in the roof, enshrined a white marble god, whose glittering
gems seemed to rise and fall behind the cloud of perfume that floated
about him.

In another place two elephants of bright indigo, and some musicians all
green, with red parrots on their wrists, are painted on the walls of a
hall where the prayer-bell is incessantly tolled. Here many worshippers
were prostrate. An idol, flanked by two statues on guard in stiff
hieratic attitudes, was almost hidden under gold chains and a crown of
inordinate splendour, while a priest, wearing only a loin-cloth, stood
calmly sluicing the white plaster and putting the god through his
toilet, sometimes splashing the congregation.

There is a very small and simple niche against the wall of a larger
building, and in this, without even a railing to protect it, stands the
image of a goddess robed in silk embroidered in gold; and in such
another little recess, not far away, is the sister of this divinity,
also dressed in magnificent stuffs, renewed by the faithful at each high

In a consecrated hall we came to a plaster image of a camel modelled
over stone. To prove that you are without sin you must be able to pass
under the beast, or at least between the front legs and the girth of the
belly without touching any part; and so very narrow is this little
gateway of Jaïn virtue that, to preserve my character in the presence of
my escort, I did not attempt it.

Another temple--carved and pierced, and loaded and overloaded with
ornament. In the crypt was a bas-relief representing the ceremony of
marriage: the procession, the couple in front of the altar, the
relations sitting round, all alike in the same crouching attitude, like
toys set out by a little child. Then the model of a very famous temple
elsewhere in India: columns, gateways, statues of the gods, all
reproduced with microscopic exactitude down to the minutest details; and
surrounding this tiny model a bas-relief of the most bewildering
perspective--a plan of Satrunji with its fifty-two principal temples,
its trees and sacred tanks; and as a pendant to this representation, a
circular carving giving a bird's-eye view of the crowd, the same little
doll-like figures repeated again and again, coming to worship with arms
and legs spread out, grovelling, as if they were swimming.

A large open niche, supported on massive columns and enclosed by a
carved parapet, built by some king with a long, high-sounding name,
looks as if it were made of gold; the stone is yellow and flooded with
sunshine, which, where the hard material is not too thick, shines
through and makes it seem transparent, with the peculiar vibrant glow of
molten metal. The shadows, blue by contrast, are as soft as velvet;
twinkling sparks are lighted up in the angles of the architrave, by the
reflected rays, like stars in the stone itself.

On a square, shaded by an awning, with porticoes all round, coolies in
white dresses sat on the ground making up little bunches of flowers, the
blossoms without stems tied close to a pliant cane for
garlands--jasmine, roses, chrysanthemums, and sweet basil--for in India,
as in Byzantium of old, basil is the flower of kings and gods. The
basil's fresh scent overpowered the smell of sandal-wood and incense
which had gradually soaked into me in the presence of the idols, and
cleared the atmosphere delightfully. A woman rolled up in pale-tinted
muslins under the warm halo of light falling through the awning, was
helping one of the florists. She supported on her arm a long garland of
jasmine alternating with balls of roses. Almost motionless, she alone,
in the midst of the idols, at all reminded me of a goddess.

In the chief temple, whose walls were painted all over, a huge Buddha of
gold and silver was hidden under wreaths of flowers round his neck, and
a diadem of flowers on his brow, where blazed a luminous diamond; and
flowers were arranged in a canopy over his head, and were strewn like a
carpet on the steps of the shrine.

The fourteen hundred and fifty-two gods of the Jaïn paradise are
represented on a sculptured pyramid under a pagoda: little tadpoles of
white stone crowded together, two black dots showing for eyes in the
middle of the round featureless faces; on one side a more important god,
sitting alone, has a rather less elementary countenance.

A very solid structure, with walls like a fortress, contains the
treasury of the sacred mount. Five guards in turn came to open as many
padlocks, and at last the ponderous door turned slowly on its hinges. A
car, an elephant, and a vehicle to which are harnessed two prancing
horses, are all brought out to convey the idols when they go forth in a
procession. The animals are chased with almost artistic skill. The
harness, starry with precious stones, all takes to pieces.

Near one pagoda, where the highly venerated footprints of Adishwara are
preserved, a tree--a _gran_ tree--was cut down to the root, and, as the
legend tells, grew again in a single night as large as it now is; and it
would grow again if it were again felled, to screen with its shade the
holy spot touched by the god.

Beyond the outermost wall, when we had at last left it behind us, at the
foot of the pile of terra-cotta-coloured bricks, were vast tanks of
stagnant water, said to be inexhaustible. Near them was a shrine to
Siva, with two small idols hung with yellow flowers, where an old Hindoo
was praying devoutly; and then through a park of giant trees, and shrubs
bright with strange blossoms, over which the parrots flew screaming.

As soon as we returned to Palitana the Rajah sent to inquire after me,
and to present me with round boxes of fruit preserved in Cashmere, oval
green grapes, each wrapped separately in cotton and smelling of honey.

One of my sepoys was lying asleep in the verandah of the bungalow. A
variety of articles hung from his belt: an antelope's horn made into a
powder-flask, several tassels of red and green silk threaded in a row, a
triple chain of copper serving to hang up lamps in front of the sacred
images, a small damascened knife in a crimson velvet sheath, and a tiny
yellow earthenware bottle containing kohl.

In the courtyard a tall and gaudy cock was keeping the crows in order,
driving them relentlessly away from the kitchen precincts. On the roof
of the servants' quarters, always in the same spot, perched a kite,
ready to pounce as soon as anything was thrown out. The doves, the
house-pigeons, the fowls fled at once and squatted in corners; but the
cock stood his ground, his feathers all on end, his crest erect,
chuckling with rage and stalking round the yard within ten paces of the
bird of prey.

In the afternoon the Rajah wore a pale green dress embroidered with gold
and gems, and sparkling with stones, and a wide rose-coloured sash
fringed with pearls. He wore no jewels but priceless diamond buckles in
his shoes. As I had lingered long in the morning at a jeweller's shop,
the prince wished to show me his possessions. Servants, as solemn as
gaolers, brought in many trays covered with enormous emeralds cut into
beads and strung on white cords, necklaces of pear-shaped pearls
threaded on almost invisible silk. And then, from among the goldsmith's
work, modelled into impossible flowers and chimeras twisted to make
heavy anklets, from among coat-buttons, rings and sword-guards sparkling
with diamonds, the Rajah took up a costly snuff-box and begged me keep
it as a remembrance.

The elephant of ceremony, covered with a velvet cloth embroidered with
gold, on which was placed a massive silver howdah edged with gold, was
in waiting to take me for a ride. Round the beast's neck hung a huge
necklace of balls as large as apples and long pendants from his ears,
all of silver, tinkling as he moved and glittering in the sun. The
mahout rested a ladder against the elephant's head for me to mount by,
and we set out, following the Rajah and escorted by sowars, to the very
modern tennis club of Palitana.

The game had begun. The prince's cousins, dressed in light white muslin,
seemed to fly as they ran after the ball in the fluttering of the
diaphanous stuff.

The guards' band played Indian tunes, to a measure I could not yet
catch, and Strauss' waltzes very oddly accented. Suddenly the princess
appeared, in soft rose-pink lightly touched with blue. She wore a pearl
necklace with slides of ruby and emerald, shoes thickly worked with
gold, and a broad pink sash somewhat darker in colour than her
silver-striped tunic.

Evening fell, purple and orange tinging the princes' muslins to delicate
hues; then very quickly all was dark. Deep melancholy came over us; we
all sat without speaking a word, while from afar came the clatter of
tom-toms from the temple, sometimes drowning the music, which droned on
in a minor key, a maundering strain without a close but constantly
repeating itself.

The Rajah, a prisoner in his little state, a ruler only in name and
deposed from his power, as I rose to take my leave, cast a glance of
deep melancholy towards a last golden beam that quivered on the sacred
hill, and seemed to awake from a dream.


The little palace of Nilam Bagh, panelled inside throughout with carved
wood, looks like a jewel-casket dropped in a vast park of green shade
and broad lawns. Rawl Shri Bhaosinhji, Rajah of Bhawnagar, is very
young, almost a child, and still very shy, dressed in the European
fashion in a long grey overcoat, with a voluminous turban of
turquoise-blue gauze.

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.

On the edge of a pool, where, like a huge, full-blown lotus flower,
stands a kiosk of sculptured marble, dedicated to the Rajah's mother, we
came upon the shoe market, the last survival of a time not so very long
ago, when shoemakers, as working on the skins of dead beasts, dared not
come within the precincts of a town.

It was a miserable assemblage of booths and tumble-down dwellings,
crowded round a sumptuous old palace with porticoes carved with
divinities. The new town consists of modern buildings, devoid of style,
the residence of wealthy Parsee merchants. Here are libraries,
archives--all kinds of offices, which seem so useless here, and which,
till I was told what they were, I took to be a prison.

A long train of wailing women, loud in lamentation, came slowly out of a
house where one lay dead whom they had just been to look at, on their
way now to wash their garments, defiled by contact with the body. But
all dressed in red, with gaudy embroidery in yellow, white, and green,
and large spangles of looking-glass glittering in the sun, they did not
look much like mourners.

Really the prison this time! in the midst of a large enclosure with high
walls; a building on a star-shaped plan, with large windows to admit air
and daylight. The prisoners, in a white uniform, with chains on their
feet, were manufacturing various articles in basket-work, and in a shed
with a cotton awning a hundred or so of convicts were weaving carpets.
The brilliancy of colour was indescribable; the vividness of the medley
of worsted piled by the side of the gorgeous looms, the light hues of
the dresses, the faded turbans touched with light, the glitter of the
steel chains, the bronze skins, glorified to gold in the quivering
sunshine, which, scarcely subdued by the awning, bathed the scene in a
glow so intense that it seemed to proceed from the objects themselves.
Behind each loom sat a warder, with the pattern of the carpet on his
knees, dictating the colours to the weavers, chanting out his weariful
litany of numbers and shades in a monotonous voice.

A poor old fellow, behind a grating that shut him into a kind of hovel,
called out to us, first beseeching and then threatening, rushing
frantically to the back of his hut and at once coming forward again with
fresh abuse. He was a dangerous madman, placed there to keep him out of
mischief and to be cured by the Divinity.

In the bazaar I sought in vain for the petticoats embroidered with
rosettes, flowers, and elephants pursued by tigers, such as the women
wear here; these robes are made only to order and are not to be found.
Then Abibulla simply asked a beggar-woman to sell me hers. The poor
creature, hooted at by some old gossips, retired into a corner to
undress, and, wrapped in the packing-cloth in which she had been
carrying some rags, brought me the petticoat.

A tame white antelope was wandering about the garden of the old rajahs'
palace, under a shower of gardenia-like flowers that hung by a stem
scarcely thicker than a thread. The whole of one avenue was strewn with
this snow, on which the graceful little beast, with its large sad eyes,
was feeding. Further on, under some other trees with red blossoms,
stands a little mausoleum built by the prince over Jacky, his dog, "who
was faithful and good."

Some native lancers were manoeuvring; they charged at top speed in a
swirl of golden dust, which transfigured their movements, making them
look as though they did not touch the earth, but were riding on the
clouds. They swept lightly past, almost diaphanous, the colour of their
yellow khaki uniforms mingling with the ochre sand; and then, not ten
yards off, they stopped short, with astonishing precision, like an
apparition. Their lances quivered for an instant, a flash of steel
sparks against the sky--a salute to the Maharajah--and then they were as
motionless as statues.

The regiment is housed under sheds, the horses picketed to the ground by
one fore and one hind foot. They are thoroughbred and magnificent
beasts, almost all from the prince's stud, and affectionately cared for
by the men, who were delighted to be complimented on their steeds.

A New Year's dinner this evening at the Guest Bungalow. The prince,
forbidden by his religion to eat with men who are not of his own caste,
was represented by Mr. S----, the English engineer at Bhawnagar.

The long table was filled with officials and their wives, as happy as
children--pulling crackers at dessert, putting on paper caps, singing
the latest music-hall nonsense; while outside, jackals whined, suddenly
coming so close that they drowned the voices and the accompaniment on
the piano.

At the railway station a woman, who would accept no gratuity, strewed
flowers on the cushions of my carriage, and put garlands along the
grooves of the open windows--bunches of ebony flowers, of Indian
cork-flowers, lilies, and China roses on the point of dropping, only
hanging to the calyx by the tip of the petals.

In the distance, across the plain, herds of deer were feeding, and
hardly looked up as the train went by.

At a station where we stopped, a man with a broad, jolly, smiling face
got into the carriage. He was a juggler and a magician, could do
whatever he would, and at the time when the line was opened he
threatened that if he were not allowed to travel free he would break the
trains into splinters. The officials had a panic, and the authorities
were so nervous that they gave way; so he is always travelling from one
station to another, living in the carriages.

He came into ours as if he were at home, and amused himself by worrying
me. At first he made believe to throw my rings out of window,
substituting others, I know not how, which I saw fall on the line and
roll into the grass on the bank. My watch got into his hands and
vanished; I found it in my friend T----'s pocket, and afterwards in a
basket of provender closed at Bhawnagar, and which I unpacked with my
own hands.

The man was dressed in blue and silver, his belt studded with four-anna
pieces; hanging to his girdle was a whole array of small knives,
sheaths, and boxes. With his sleeves turned up to his elbows, he fairly
amazed me, conjuring away into the air eight rupees that filled his
hand, and finding them again one by one in our pockets, bags, or plaids.
He turned everything topsy-turvy, swaggered as if he were the master,
and then went off, with his broad smile, to amuse other travellers.

At another station, a man, standing on the carriage step, held out a
broad sheet to a servant, the two ends falling to the ground. Then a
lady stepped out, hid herself under the stuff, which wrapped her from
head to foot, and walked along the platform with a woman-servant. She
was the wife of some superior clerk, not rich enough to have a palankin,
but of too high caste to uncover her face--a white bundle tottering
along the platform. One of her antelope-skin slippers came off; for a
second a tiny foot was put out with silver anklets. The woman put her
mistress's shoe on again, and then both went to the waiting-room
reserved for ladies.


A town in mourning. In the suburban stations, so crowded but three weeks
since, there was nobody, and nobody in the train we travelled by. No
coolies for the baggage, no carriages, and the tramcars running down the
wide, deserted road carried no passengers. The hotel was closed, all the
servants had fled in terror of the plague, which was raging with
increased violence. Every shop had the shutters up; the great market,
full of golden fruit and shaded by the flowering trees, was equally
empty, and in the bazaar the rare wayfarers hurried by in silence.

In the evening at Byculla, in the street of the disreputable, in front
of a house hermetically closed, and painted with a round red spot for
each person who had died there, a fire of sulphur was burning with a
livid glow. Only one gambling-house tried to tempt customers with a
great noise of harmonium and tom-toms; and from a side street came a
response of muffled tambourines and castanets. First the dead, wrapped
in red stuff and tied to a bamboo, and then the procession turned into
the lighted street. White shapes crowded by, vanishing at once, and the
harmonium again rose above the silence with its skipping tunes, and the
tom-toms beating out of time--and attracted no one.


At night, in the crowded station, a guard of honour was waiting,
composed of sepoys. There was shouting among the crowd, a fanatical
turmoil, a storm of orders, and heavy blows. Some great magnate got out
of the train, surrounded by secretaries and officers. The soldiers,
bearing torches, attended him to his carriage; they remounted their
horses, following the vehicle, in which a light dress was visible. Very
fast, and with a great clatter, they rode away into the silent night
fragrant with rich scents; they were lost under the trees to reappear in
the distance on a height, the torches galloping still and the smoke
hanging in a ruddy cloud above the bright steel and the white cruppers.
Then, at a turn in the road, they all vanished.

Beyond the new town of broad avenues planted with trees and bordered
with gardens, was a brand-new bridge of gaudy bricks over a river,
almost dry, where a swarm of naked natives were performing their
ablutions--washing linen and shaking out red and white cloths, as far as
the eye could see. Buffaloes lying in the mud were sleeping among the
tame ducks, the ibis, and the herons, all seeking their food. An
elephant plunged into the water, splashing it up and scaring thousands
of bright birds, which flew up against the intensely blue sky.

A tall wide gate beyond the bridge opens into the ferocious fortress of

Soldiers, bristling with daggers and pistols in their belts, are on
guard at the gate. Pikes and long muskets stand piled in the background;
over this arsenal, flowering jasmine and convolvulus with enormous bell
flowers hang their graceful shade.

In the streets, swarming with people, every woman who is not a pariah,
walks veiled in all the mystery of her unrevealed features, her long,
dreamy eyes alone visible.

Country folks bring in cages of birds full of the poor little fluttering
things, which are bought by children and by many men, captive at the end
of a long string; pretty black-headed bulbuls, so bold in the land of
the Buddhists, and victims here to the Moslems.

A palankin, hung with heavy red curtains, went by very quickly, borne by
five men. They chanted a sort of double-quick march, marking the time
with a plaintive sigh and a slight bend of the knees, which gave their
pace the appearance of a dance, the litter swaying very gently.

A spell seemed to linger over this little bazaar, to slacken every
movement and give the people an indolent grace. They spoke languidly in
the shade of the awnings spread by the flower-sellers and the jewellers,
who, with little ringing taps, were hammering out minute patterns on
silver anklets and necklaces.

Traversing the narrow avenues that intersect the bazaar, we came to a
series of quiet courts; here were the police-station, the small
barracks, and stables for camels and elephants. In a blind alley we
found a white mosque, where men were praying robed in pink and green;
while opposite, below a house consisting of three stories of arcades,
some Syrian horses, as slender as gazelles, were exercising on the
bright-hued mosaic floor of the open stable.

Between the houses tiny garden-plots full of flowers surround
gravestones, on which fresh roses are constantly laid.

Elephants came along, stepping daintily, but filling the whole width of
the street, looking, with one little slanting eye cocked, as if they
were laughing at the foot-passengers who were compelled to squeeze
against the wall.

Presently three beggar-women came up to sing from door to door. In their
arms, like babies at the breast, they carried shapeless idols painted
red, bedizened with spangles and gilt paper. They wailed out a ditty
repeated again and again, knocked perseveringly at the doors, insisting
on alms; and then, when they had received it, they touched the
threshold with their blood-coloured puppets and departed.

In the shops the salesmen, to weigh their merchandise, had a strange
collection of curious weights--dumps, rings, balls of copper, iron, or
lead, stamped or inlaid with symbols and flowers; fragments of spoons to
make up too light a weight, even pieces of wood; and they used them all
with perfect readiness and never made a mistake.

Where the roads cross there are basins where flowers are kept fresh, and
above them white pigeons are always fluttering. Public scribes,
squatting cross-legged on the ground, trace letters that look like
arabesques, on rice-paper with a reed pen. Those who dictate them crouch
beside them with an absorbed and meditative expression, dropping out the
words one by one with long pauses between.

Then some men go past who have a stick like a distaff thrust through
their belt with a net wound round it; they net as they walk, heedless of
jostling, their eyes fixed on their work.

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, 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.

All round the mosque, in narrow alleys, are more and yet more tombs,
strewn with roses and enclosed in little plots. Some stand out in the
street unenclosed, like milestones.

There was a children's garden-party to-day in the grounds of the English
Resident; a crowd of fair-haired babies, excessively _Greenaway_ in
their long, light frocks with bright-hued sashes. They shouted with joy
at the swings and wooden horses, clapping their hands when it came to
their turn to ride the elephant that marched about the park--so fair, so
bright, with their nurses or Indian ayahs wrapped in crude showy

And as they went home at nightfall enormous bats came out and flew
across above the tall trees in heavy, steady, straight flight. Without a
sound they made for the last gleam on the horizon, where the vanished
sun had left a crimson line; and what an insistent image of death and
oblivion were those great black fowl, slowly flapping their
five-fingered wings spread out round their bodies, headless as they
would seem, so small is the head, and so close-set on the neck. One
might fancy that they were bearing away the day, gliding noiseless and
innumerable towards the west, where already the last gleam is dead.

Outside the fortifications is a peaceful township of large gardens with
row on row of tombstones and mausoleums; some of enormous size, palaces
of the dead, and others smaller, but wrought like lacework of stone. For
a league or more the necropolis lies on both sides of the road. Across
the door of each mausoleum hangs a chain by the middle and the two ends.

But this suburb is now no more than a heap of huts and hovels. The
tombs, ruined and overthrown, are few and far apart, heaped with sand,
and showing as arid hillocks amid the level of withered grass. The plain
beyond, laid out in rice-fields of a tender green, furrowed with silver
streamlets, spreads unbroken to the foot of a huge wall of the hue of
red gold enclosing a hill; and on entering the precincts, behold, in
the bays of the thickness of the wall, a whole village where dwell the
families of the soldiers who guard this citadel.

An inner fortress, another portal held by armed men, and a walled
enclosure, is Golconda, the former capital of the sovereigns of the
Deccan. The entrance is through a magnificent archway of gigantic
proportions; to close it there are two gates of heavy wood studded all
over with long iron spikes, against which, during a siege, elephants
charged to their death.

All round the Royal Hill ancient buildings are piled in stages, the
remains of still majestic magnificence. The thorn-brakes cover
supporting walls as broad as crenellated terraces; fragments of light
and fantastic architecture stand up from amid golden blossoms; tottering
colonnades overhang tanks, all green at the bottom with a pool of
brackish water.

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.

At the top, facing two immense rocks that look like couchant lions,
there was another palace; one wall alone is left standing; on the
creamy marble a peacock spreads its tail, carved into very delicate
sprays and flowers.

The view spread to the horizon of mauve-pink sky, very faintly streaked
with green. We could see the white mass of Secunderabad, a town of
English barracks, at the foot of chaotic red-brown rocks, looking like
the heaped-up ruins of some city of the Titans; and among trees shrouded
in blue smoke, Hyderabad, conspicuous for its two mosques--the tomb of
the Empress and the Jumna Musjid, the mausoleum of the Nizams.

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

At our feet were the two walls, the outer wall enclosing the palace, the
gardens, the arena, where fights were given between elephants and
tigers; the inner wall, ten metres high, built round the zenana--the
women's palace--of which even the foundations have almost disappeared
under the overwhelming vegetation.

Mystery broods over this ruined past; grandeur seemed to rise up in the
sunset glow. We went down the hill, while behind us a saffron haze
veiled the Royal Hill, effaced every detail of architecture, and shed
over all an amethystine halo.

It was melancholy to return under the gloomy, spreading banyans, through
the dimly-lighted suburbs, where the people were still at work and
selling their wares; and the dungeon, the dead stones, the guns now for
ever silenced and pointed at vacancy, were lost in blue darkness.

Our last evening at the Residency, where I had spent days made
enchanting by music.

The servant who came to tell me that dinner was served went barefoot,
like all native servants, in spite of his livery--a sash and a
shoulder-belt arranged over the Indian costume, and bearing the arms of
England, and a monogram placed in his turban.

He appeared without a sound, visible only as a white figure, his brown
face lost, effaced in the gloom of the dimly-lighted room. For a moment
I had a really uncanny sensation at this headless apparition, but in an
instant there was the gleam of a row of brilliant teeth, the light in
the eyes, and the eternally smiling face of the household coolie.

On quitting Hyderabad, to the right and left of the iron road, the
landscape was for a long way the same; rocks, that looked as if they had
been piled up and then rolled over, lay in russet heaps among peaceful
little blue lakes without number, breaking the monotony of the wide,
scorched fields, a sheet of pure gold. At one of the stations a beggar
was rattling his castanets furiously, and singing something very lively
and joyous. At the end of each verse he shouted an unexpected "Ohé!"
just like the cry of a Paris ragamuffin.

Here in southern India the women wear hardly any trinkets, and their
garb consists of sarongs and sarees, so thin that their shape is visible
through the light stuff. In their hair, which is knotted low on the
neck, they stick flowers, and occasionally light trailing sprays fall
down on the throat. They all have gold studs screwed into the two upper
front teeth; hideous are these two red-gold teeth among the others,
sound and white under young lips!

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.

The rice, lately sown, was sprouting in little square plots of dazzling
green; it was being taken up to transplant into enormous fields
perpetually under water. All the "paddy" fields are, in fact, channelled
with watercourses, or if they are on higher ground, watered from a well.
A long beam is balanced over the mouth of the well, and two boys run up
and down to lower and raise the bucket; a man tilts the water into the
runlets out of a large vessel of dusky copper, or perhaps out of a
leaky, dripping water-skin.

The ripe rice, in golden ears, is cut with sickles; a row of women in
red gather it into sheaves, which men carry on their back, at once, to
the next village, and there it is threshed out forthwith on floors but
just swept.

And so, on both sides of the way there are rice-fields without end;
those that were reaped yesterday are ploughed again to-day.

As we went further south Moslem tombs became more and more rare; the
lingam was to be seen here and there among the rice-fields: a gross idol
made of stone and looking like a landmark, set up under a tree or
sheltered by a little kiosk. Soon temples of Vishnu were seen, raising
their pyramidal piles of ten stories to the sky. Amid the cool shade of
palms and bamboos, close to each temple, was a fine tank with steps all
round it; and surrounded by this magnificence of architecture and
vegetation Hindoos might all day be seen bathing, dwellers in hovels of
plaster or matting, sometimes in mere sheds supported on sticks, within
the shadow of the splendid building full of treasure, in which the god
is enshrined.

Birds, green, red, black, and gold-colour, fluttered gaily among the
palms, the bamboos as tall as pine trees, the baobabs and mango trees;
butterflies with rigid tails and large wings beating in uncertain
flight, floated over the bright verdure flecked with sunshine. Round one
pagoda, towering over a wretched village that lay huddled in the shade
of its consecrated walls, a proud procession of stone bulls stood out
against the sky, visible at a great distance in clear outline through
the heated, quivering air.

A kind of grey snipe, as they rose to fly, spread white wings which made
them look like storks or gulls, and then, dropping suddenly, became dull
specks again, scarcely distinguishable on the margin of the tank. Ibis,
on the watch, with pretty, deliberate, cautious movements, stood on one
leg, their bodies reflected in the mirror on which lay the lotus and
the broad, frilled leaves of the water-lily, and a sort of bind-weed
hanging from the edge in festoons of small, arrow-shaped leaves, with a
crowd of tiny pink starry flowers that looked as if they were
embroidered on the water.

The country was nowhere deserted. Labourers in the rice-fields were
transplanting the young seedlings or watering the taller growth that
waved in delicate transparent verdure. Or again, there were the watchers
perched on their platforms in the middle of the fields; fishermen
pushing little nets before them, fastened to triangular frames, or
grubbing in the mud in search of shell-fish--small freshwater mussels,
which they carried away in clay jars of Etruscan form. A motley crowd,
with animated and graceful gesticulations; the women red or white
figures in fluttering sarees, with flowers in their hair, and a few
glittering bangles on their arms; the children quite naked, with bead
necklaces and queer charms of lead or wood in their ears or their nose;
the men slender and active, wearing light-coloured turbans made of yards
on yards of twisted muslin, their brown skin hidden only by the langouti
or loin-cloth.

Along the line were hedges of glaucous aloes, of gynerium all plumed
with white, and over every plant an inextricable tangle of _baja_, its
pink flowers hanging in bunches.

Fields of betel pepper, broad-leaved and fleshy, carefully enclosed with
matting, were watched over by two or even three men, armed with heavy

Under an enormous banyan tree, far from any dwelling, two fine statues
of an elephant and a horse seemed to guard an image of Siva, rigidly
seated, and on his knees an image of Parvati, quite small, and standing
as though about to dance.

Images of horses recurred at intervals, singly, or in pairs face to
face; and as evening came on we saw round a pagoda a whole procession of
horses in terra-cotta, some very much injured, arranged as if they were
running round, one after another, in search of the heads and legs they
had lost.

Near a small station oxen were filing slowly past. On their heads were
hoops hung with bells, and little ornaments at the tips of their horns
dangled with quick flashes of light.

The evening was exquisitely calm, shrouding everything in rose-colour,
and shedding a light, opalescent golden haze on the pools and streams.
And out of this floating gauze, in the doubtful light, white figures
seemed to emerge gradually, only to vanish again in the pure,
transparent atmosphere of the blue night.

Over the rice-fields, in the darkness, danced a maze of fire-flies,
quite tiny, but extraordinarily bright; they whirled in endless streaks
of flame, intangible, so fine that they seemed part of the air itself,
crossing in a ceaseless tangle, faster and faster, and then dying out in
diamond sparks, very softly twinkling little stars turning to silver in
the moonlight.

Between the tracery of bamboos, behind clumps of cedars spreading their
level plumes of fine, flexible needles, we still constantly saw the
roofs of temples involved in clouds of tiny phosphorescent sparks
weaving their maze of light; and the clang of bells and drums fell on
the ear.


High on a hill, one with the rock, are built the temples, up to which is
a flight of steps hewn in the stone itself. At every stage, or nearly,
are little shrines with images of Ganesa, the elephant-headed god, or of
Ananta, the sacred serpent, decked with flowers, the _mindi_ flower,
which has a strong scent of pepper. In some places the whole temple, as
vast as a cathedral, is hewn out of the hillside; the columns in
elaborate and intricate patterns, the niches and altars wrought with
inconceivable toil and patience, not a scrap added or stuck on. In the
dim distance is a huge red statue of Siva, wreathed with flowers.

The colouring in all these rock-temples is a softened harmony of yellow
stone, hardly darkened in some places, forming a setting for the gaudier
tones of the idols, all sparkling with gold and showy frippery.

One of these halls, almost at the top of the mount, accommodated a
school. The elder pupils sat on stools by the master's side; the little
ones and the girls, in groups of five or six, squatted on mats in the
corners; and all the little people were very quiet in the atmosphere of
sandal-wood and flowers brought as offerings, read gravely out of big
religious books, and listened to the Brahmin as, in a deep, resonant
voice, he chanted a sort of strongly-marked melody. There was scarcely
an ornament on the light-coloured walls, pierced with deep windows
showing foliage without; and among the dead whiteness of the mats and
the schoolchildren's draperies there was but one bright light, the bell
over the pulpit, surmounted by the sacred bull in bronze, of precious

From the summit we looked down over a panorama of the town, set out in
square blocks sunk in the verdure of palms, bamboos, and banyans. At our
feet was the cupola of the temple of Siva, all gold, and covered with
bosses, the edges of the mouldings catching the sun. Besides this a
number of coloured domes, painted in pale shades faded by the sunshine,
descended the almost perpendicular incline down to the bazaar, where the
throng was beginning to stir like white ants, of slow gait and
deliberate gestures, their light-hued dhoutis flitting about the stalls
for drink and fruit. Far away, beyond the bright green rice-fields, and
against the horizon of intensely blue hills, the rocks stand out--French
rocks and Golden rocks--where the treasure of the conquered natives was
distributed to English soldiers. It might almost be fancied that a glow
of metal still shines on the smooth stone, a warm, yellow stone bathed
in sunshine.

A Catholic church flanking the Jesuit college persistently sent up to us
the shrill tinkle of a little bell, rattling out its quick, harsh
strokes like a factory bell for workmen.

At the bottom of the steps, almost in the street, was another school at
the entrance to a temple. The children, in piercing tones, were all
spelling together under the echoing vault, a terrible noise which seemed
to trouble nobody.

On reaching the temple of Vishnu, on the very threshold, we met an
elephant marching in front of the Brahmin priests, who were carrying
water in copper amphoræ to bathe the idols withal. Musicians followed
the elephant, playing on bagpipes, on a kind of little trumpet, very
short and shrill-toned, and on drums; and the beast, with its trunk
swaying to right and left, begged a gift for the expenses of the temple.

The priests slowly mounted the stairs, the music died away in echoes
more and more confused, ceasing at last, while the sacred animal, going
off to the right at the foot of the steps, disappeared into its stable.

In the island of Srirangam we visited a temple to Vishnu, enclosed
within eight walls, of which the three first only contain any dwellings.
A crowd of pilgrims swarmed about the steps, where everything was on
sale: little gods in bronze, in painted marble, in clay, and in wood;
paper for writing prayers on; sacred books; red and white face-paints,
such as the worshippers of Vishnu use to mark their foreheads with a V;
little baskets to hold the colours, with three or four divisions, and a
mirror at the bottom; coco-nuts containing kohl; stuffs of every dye;
religious pictures, artless indeed, and painted with laborious dabs of
the brush in the presence of the customer; chromo-lithographs from
Europe, sickeningly insipid and mawkishly pretty.

_Ekkas_, and _chigrams_ closed with thick curtains, came galloping past
with loud cries from within. All was noise and a shifting of many
colours, seeming more foolish here, in this large island, with its
deserted avenues of tall trees, than anywhere else.

A portico, supporting two stories of an unfinished building, forms the
principal entrance; the pilasters are crowned with massive capitals
scarcely rough-hewn in the stone. This porch alone gives an impression
of repose, from its simplicity of line amid the medley of statues and
incongruous ornaments loaded with strong colours, which, diminishing by
degrees, are piled up to form each temple, ending almost in a spire
against the sky. Vishnu, reclining on the undulating rings of Ananta
Sesha the god of serpents, whose name is the Infinite; idols with human
faces riding on bulls, and elephants, and prancing horses; terrible
Kalis with two fists rammed into their mouth, and six other arms spread
like open wings; Ganesa, the elephant-headed god, ponderously squatting,
his hands folded over his stomach; Garudha, the bird-headed god, ridden
by Vishnu when he wanders through space; Hanuman, the monkey god,
perched on a pedestal in an acrobatic attitude, the face painted bright
green; gods of every size and every colour mixed up in a giddy whirl,
round and round to the very summit of the structure.

In one of the inmost circles, a sacred elephant had gone _must_,
breaking his ropes, and confined now by only one leg. The chains
fastened round his feet as soon as he showed the first symptoms of
madness were lying broken in heaps on the ground. The brute had
demolished the walls of his stable and then two sheds that happened to
be in his way; now he was stamping a dance, every muscle in incessant
motion, half swallowing his trunk, flinging straw in every direction,
and finally heaping it on his head. A mob of people stood gazing from a
distance, laughing at his heavy, clumsy movements; at the least step
forward they huddled back to fly, extending the circle, but still
staring at the patient. In an adjoining stable were two more elephants
very well cared for, the V neatly painted in red and white on their
trunks, quietly eating and turning round only at the bidding of the
driver; but one of them shed tears.

Inside the temple long arcades connect the shrines sunk in the thickness
of the walls, gloomy recesses with images of Vishnu and other idols;
where the corridors or arcades cross each other there are vast halls
with a sculptured roof supported by thousands of columns. In one of
these halls there is a chariot full of divinities. The wheels, the
horses, the highly-venerated images, are all of marble very delicately
wrought, and amazing after the coarse caricatures on the outside. In the
courts again, under sheds, there are cars; one of enormous size in black
wood carved with innumerable figures and interlacing patterns; pendant
ornaments of the same wood sway in the wind. The solid wheels, without
spokes, small and having huge axles, seem made not to turn, and the
shafts, to which a whole army of the faithful harness themselves on the
occasion of a high festival, are long and as thick as masts. Another
car, past service, lay slowly rotting in a corner; almost all its images
had vanished, and its canopy had fallen off; it was almost completely
hidden under aristolochia in blossom.


Wide strands of golden sand; here and there among the rice-fields the
palms and bamboos are less crowded. In the moist air, that grows hotter
and hotter, the daylight is blinding, hardly tolerable through the blue
glass of the windows. Scorched, russet rocks stand up from the short
grass, tremulous in the noontide heat. The cattle, the very birds,
silent and motionless, have sought shelter in the shade; all the people
have gone within doors. And then, towards evening, in an oasis of
gigantic trees, amid bamboos and feathery reeds, behold the huge temples
of Madura, in sharp outline against a rosy sky.

The sun had just set, a violet haze was rising and enwrapping every
object. Fires were being lighted in the villages on the road to the holy
place. Tom-toms were rattling in the distance, and nearer at hand a
_vina_, gently touched by an invisible player, murmured a tune on three

The temples were already closed, but my servant, Abibulla, diverted the
attention of the gatekeeper, and I stole unseen into the outer

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.

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.

In the depths of little recesses the lamps twinkled feebly before images
crowned with flowers. At the entrances to shrines little glass lamps,
like a mysterious fairy illumination, followed the lines of the
arabesques, sparkling like glowworms, without lighting up the passages
which remained dark, and in which, in fact, we finally lost ourselves.

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.

In one brilliantly-lighted hall, priests, dressed in long yellow
dalmatics, were adoring idols, elephants, Anantas; and from an enormous
gold lotus sprang the _Mandeel_, rising through the dome, its tip
standing in the outer air to bear the white flag that is hoisted on high
festivals. At the entrance to this shrine parrots in cages suddenly set
up a hostile outcry as I passed them, and were only pacified by the
coming of a priest, who gave them some food. The clatter, however, had
attracted other Brahmins; one of them desired me to leave, "and at
once." I declined to obey, so he sent for the elephant who does duty as
police, to turn me out.

And as the priests knew that the beast would need no help they again
left me to myself. Up came the elephant at a brisk trot, flourishing his
trunk and hooting; within two yards of me he stopped and stood still. He
accepted a four-anna piece that I offered him, and handed it up for his
driver, but finding no one on his back he put the coin back into my
pocket, and sniffing all over my coat found a biscuit, ate it, and then
quietly went back to his stable.

A muffled sound of instruments, mingling in confusion in the myriad
echoes, came dying on my ear, hardly audible. A gleam of light flashed
in the corridor and then went out. Then some lights seemed to be coming
towards me, and again all was gloom. An orchestra of bagpipes, of
_kemanches_ and darboukhas sounded close by me, and then was lost in the
distance, and the phantasmagoria of lights still went on. At last, at
the further end of the arcade where I was standing, two men raised
green-flamed torches at the end of long poles, followed by two drummers
and musicians playing on bagpipes and viols. Children squatting on the
ground lighted coloured fire that made a bright blaze, and died out in
stifling smoke, shrouding the priests--a cloud hardly tinted by the

A golden mass, an enormous shrine chased all over and starred with
tapers, now came forward, borne by a score of naked men. Against the
gold background, in a perfect glory of diamonds and pearls, sat Vishnu,
decked out with flowers and jewels, his head bare with a huge brilliant
in his forehead.

The music played louder, light flashed out on all sides, the god stood
still, and bayadères performed their worship. With slow gestures, their
hands first hollowed and held to the brow, then their arms flung out,
they bowed before the idol with a snake-like, gliding motion, while the
music played very softly and the lights burnt faintly. The _nauchnees_,
in dark muslin drapery spangled with gold, bangles on their arms, their
necks, and their ankles, and rings on their toes, swayed as they danced,
and swung long, light garlands of flowers which hung about their necks.
And there were flowers in their hair, in a bunch on each side of the
head, above two gold plates from which hung strings of beads. The
flying, impalpable gauze looked like a swirl of mist about their limbs.

Very gradually the measure quickened, the pitch grew shriller, and with
faster and freer movements the bayadères were almost leaping in a sort
of delirium produced by the increasing noise, and the constantly growing
number of lights.

Then, in a blaze of coloured fire, a _fortissimo_ of music, and a
whirlwind of drapery, they stopped exhausted in front of the idol. The
lights were put out, the tom-toms were the only sound, and the
procession moved on, escorting the shrine which glittered for some time
yet, till it disappeared at an angle, leaving the temple in darkness
just tinted blue by the moon.

A different scene indeed next day, with none of the magnificence of
yesterday, was the temple of magical lights. There was a dense crowd of
shouting and begging pilgrims. Along the pyramidal roofs, as at
Srirangam, there were rows of painted gods, but in softer and more
harmonious hues. Over the tank for ablutions was a balcony decorated in
fresco, representing in very artless imagery the marriage of Siva and
Parvati. The couple are seen holding hands under a tree; he a martial
figure, very upright, she looking silly, her lips pursed, an _ingénue_.
In another place Siva sits with his wife on his knees, she has still
the same school-girl expression. Finally, on the ceiling, is their
apotheosis: they are enthroned with all the gods of Ramayana around
them, and she looks just the same. The red and green, subdued by the
reflected light from the water, were almost endurable.

Immediately on entering we were in the maze of vaults, sanctuaries,
great halls and arcades, where stall-keepers sell their goods, priests
keep school, and flower-sellers wander. Statues, repeated in long rows,
lead up to temples all alike, of a bewildering uniformity of
architecture and identical decoration.

Elephants, freshly painted, go past begging.

Making my way among the too numerous gods in relief against the
overwrought walls heavy with carving, I came to a wonderful balcony
where, in broken cages, I found the parrots that had betrayed me, and
among them an exquisite pale yellow cockatoo of great rarity.

One after another I made my salaam to Siva, seated on a peacock; to
Ganesa, looking calm and knowing; to Parvati, riding a bull; to Siva
again, this time pinning a dragon to the ground with a fork, a writhing
reptile with gaping jaws and outspread wings; the same god again, with a
child in his arms; and again, holding his leg like a musket up against
his shoulder with one of his four hands, the other three lifting a bull,
a sceptre, and a trophy of weapons above his head.

In a central space was a hideous rajah, a benefactor, with his six
wives, all gaudily coloured with jewels in coloured paper stuck on to
the images, and all kneeling in attitudes of idiotic ecstasy, doubly
absurd under the daubing of vermilion and indigo. These were greatly
admired by my servant, a convinced connoisseur in Indian art. Further on
we saw, on the ceiling of a polychrome corridor, monsters carved to fit
the shape of squared beams ending in a griffin's or a bird's head.

In a dirty stable, strewn with withered plants, stood some forlorn,
sickly-looking beasts, the sacred bulls of Madura.

Here again the cars of the gods were neglected in the open air, and one
of them, older than the rest, was fast being transfigured into a pyramid
of shrubs and flowers.

Two men were quarrelling; one had robbed the other. The dispute went on
endlessly, and no one, not the priest even, had succeeded in pacifying
them. At last an elephant was fetched; he came up without being noticed
by the disputants, and trumpeted loudly just behind them. The thief,
convinced that the animal in its wisdom had discovered his crime, took
to his heels and fled.

In the afternoon, while it was still broad daylight and very bright
outside, it was already dusk under the arches of the temple, and bats
were flitting about.

And under an arcade priests were hanging the shrine with wreaths of pink
and yellow flowers, in preparation for its nocturnal progress, while an
old woman, all alone, was bathing in the tank, with much splashing and
noise of waters.

The old palace of the kings is now yellow-ochre, coated with plaster and
lime-wash over the splendid antique marble walls.

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.

From the roof, consisting of terraces between cupolas, there is a view
of many temples glorified in the golden sunset, and nearer at hand stand
ten imposing columns, very tall--the last remaining vestiges of the
rajah's elephant-house.


A desolate strand, all the vegetation burnt by the sun and the
sea-breeze. The pearl-oyster, which made the fortune of the district,
disappeared four years since, and has migrated to other parts. The
fisheries no longer pay, and the boats are dropping to pieces on the
beach, while the divers beg, decimated by want.

An old man who sold us some shells, had, in the days of prosperity, made
a little fortune by charming the sharks with spells and signs that kept
them away from the boats, and from the naked and defenceless
pearl-fishers as they plunged into the deep to seek the precious shells.


A port crowded with steamers taking in coal, and very light barks high
out of the water, kept in equilibrium by parallel outriggers at the ends
of two flexible spars. These crank boats, made of planks that scarcely
overlap, were piled with luggage, and the boatmen jostle and turn and
skim close under the fast-steaming transatlantic liners, amid a
bewildering babel of shouts and oaths, under a sun hot enough to melt

On the landing-stage we read in large letters: "Beware of sunstroke,"
and lower down, "Avoid it by buying the best umbrellas and the best pith
helmets of John Dash." The streets are the commonplace highways of a
commercial town; the houses tall, with shops below. Dust and light alike
were blinding; jinrickshaws were passing to and fro, drawn by almost
naked coolies running as fast as horses.

The Cingalese women, of languid gait, wear a long dark robe clinging
about their legs and reaching to the ground. The poorer women have only
a scanty saree to complete the costume; the more wealthy display
stockings and boots; a white bodice cut low, with open sleeves and no
basque leaves a roll of skin visible between the skirt and the bodice.
The men wear a long loin-cloth of English trouser-stuff, a white jacket
buttoned over the bare skin, and a twist of back hair like a woman's, in
which they stick a celluloid comb, coronet-fashion--such a comb as is
used in Europe to keep the hair back from a child's forehead. And all
the race are too slender, too pliant, their eyes too long and slightly
darkened with kohl; the boys especially have an unpleasant, ambiguous

In every shop of the High Street jewellers are on the look-out for
customers, hale them in, tease them to buy, and open for inspection
little bags or cardboard boxes kept in safes, and containing the finest
sapphires in the world. The day slips by in bargaining for the gems, in
endless discussions and feigned departures. The indefatigable vendors
return to the charge, run after the customer, wait for him at the door
of a rival dealer, and drag him back again. Then there is a fresh
dispute over prices, till irresistible argument at last brings down the
estimates to a third or a quarter of what they were at starting.


Inland from Colombo it is pure enchantment to travel among the rich and
tangled vegetation of every shade of green that grows by the margins of
the pools, the rivers, and the rice-fields. At first, skirting the
shallows, where men, standing to their waists in water, were fishing
with large nets which they managed but clumsily, the flat banks are
overgrown with anthuriums, their broad leaves of dark velvet or of light
gauze splashed with rose and white, mirrored in the channels that form a
network to irrigate the rice-swamps. Then ferns, bamboos, and feathery
reeds in every varying shade of gold; creepers clinging to the trunks of
coco trees or phoenix-palms bear bunches of pink or yellow blossoms
between the palm-leaves, invading everything with their luxuriance, and
forming a gaudy undergrowth below the tall trees--a light but
impenetrable thicket where the sun casts warm purple shadows.

Higher on the hills, amid the rich bright verdure of the
tea-plantations, we find magnolias, pines, and the Campeachy medlar, all
wreathed with climbing plants and invaded by the young growth of palms,
by rattans which have succeeded in piercing the awning of parasites that
hangs, starred with flowers, from tree to tree--flowers like lamps
shining among the ripe coco-nuts, mango fruit, and papaws.

Beyond a wide valley that lay far beneath us a mountain-range gleamed
softly in the blue distance, starry and sapphire-hued above rising
levels of delicate green. Here, in the fresher air, floated the
fragrance of mosses and alpine flowers, and above the cascades falling
in showers we could see the tangle of climbing plants, ferns, orchids,
and hibiscus, a swaying curtain all woven of leaves and blossoms.

A plantation of theobromas (cacao), carefully enclosed and tended, with
their puckered leaves, and fruit-pods as large as an ostrich egg hanging
from the trunk and the larger branches, seemed quite melancholy, like
wild things tethered.

Then some gardens looking like hothouses, concealing bungalows, and a
gleaming lake among the greenery--and this was Kandy.

In front of a Buddhist temple were some tanks in which enormous
tortoises were swimming. On the building, above carvings of elephants in
relief on the stone, were a number of mural paintings, artless and
terrible scenes set forth with the utmost scorn of perspective and
chiaroscuro: a place of torment where green monsters thrust the damned
against trees of which the trunks are saws, and enormous red and yellow
birds devour living victims.

Inside the temple was the fragrance of fresh flowers, brought as
offerings, with grains of rice threaded like semi-transparent beads on
the flexible pale green stem. A huge Buddha here, of many-coloured
stones bedizened with gold, gleams in the shade of the altar, and two
bonzes in front of the idol were quarrelling at great length, with
screams like angry cats and vehement gesticulations, for the possession
of some small object which constantly passed from one to the other.

Adjacent to this temple was the court-house, a hall of ancient splendour
in the time of the kings of Kandy. It stood wide open, the walls lined
with carved wood panels. The court was sitting under the punkhas that
swung with regular monotony, the judges robed in red. One of the
accused, standing in a sort of pen, listened unmoved to the pleading. A
large label bearing the number 5 hung over his breast. Behind a barrier
stood other natives, each decorated with a number, under the charge of
sepoys. One of them, having been wounded in the murderous fray for which
they were being tried, lay at full length on a litter covered with
pretty matting, red and white and green, stretched on bamboo legs. A
long robe of light silk enveloped his legs, and he alone of them all had
charming features, long black eyes with dark blue depths, his face
framed in a sort of halo of silky, tangled hair. He, like the man now
being sentenced and those who had gone through their examination,
seemed quite indifferent to the judges and the lawyers. He mildly waved
a palm leaf which served him as a fan, and looked as if he were
listening to voices in a dream, very far away.

An interpreter translated to the accused the questions put by the judge,
who understood the replies, though he was not allowed to speak excepting
in English.

Then a fat native lawyer began to speak, and silence fell on the crowd
of three or four hundred listeners sitting behind the accused, as if
they were in church. The monotonous voice went on and on, urging every

Even more than the assembly of their relatives and friends, the
prisoners at the bar maintained the impassive mien of men who attach no
disgrace to a sentence pronounced by a conquering race; they would take
the penalty without a murmur, as one of the inevitable incidents of this
life, which to them is but a stage, a passage to a higher existence.

The song of birds in the mitigated atmosphere of the dying day came in
from outside, for a moment almost drowning the pleader's weariful tones
as he poured forth his statement, emphasized by sweeping gestures.

In the mystery of a polychrome temple, whose walls are closely covered
with sculptured bas-reliefs of gods in the shape of men or animals, is a
relic, the sacred tooth of Buddha; and all about the precious object,
which is enclosed in a series of shrines within impenetrable walls,
there is no sign of respect, but all the noise and bustle of a fair, a
perfect turmoil of hurrying, chattering folk, whose only anxiety is to
keep unbelievers away from the sacred spot.

The forest round Kandy is glorious, an exuberance, a crush of trees
growing as thick as they can stand, the dense tangle of boughs and
leaves outgrown by some enormous _ficus_, or tall _terminalia_, whose
sharp, angular roots have pushed through the soil while its trunk,
twisting in a spiral, has made its way to a prodigious height, ending a
thick dome of foliage. This, again, is overgrown by delicate creepers
decking the green mass with their flowers. Spreading banyans, with a
hundred stems thrown out like branches and ending in roots, form
colonnades of a rosy grey hue like granite, and might seem to be the
vestiges of some colossal church with a dark vault above, scarcely
pierced here and there by a gleam of blue light from the sky beyond.
Among these giants of the forest dwells a whole nation of bending ferns
as pliant as feathers, of clinging plants hanging in dainty curtains of
flowers from tree to tree. Sometimes between the screen of flowers a bit
of road comes into view, deep in impalpable brick-red dust, of the same
tint as the fruits that hang in branches from the trees.

A kind of lemon plant, with picotee-like flowers of a texture like
crystalline pearl, its petals delicately fringed, exhales a fresh scent
like verbena. Then, on an ebony-tree, overgrown with succulent leaves
forming an edging to every bough, is a bird--as it would seem--a lilac
bird, with open wings, which, as we approach, turns into an orchid.

Above a large fan-palm the pale fronds of a talipot soar towards the
sky, gracefully recurved like enormous ostrich plumes. A fluff, a down,
of flowers clings to the stems of the magnificent crest, a delicate pale
cloud; and the broad leaves of the tree, which will die when it has
blossomed, are already withering and drooping on the crown. Then, in the
clearings made by the recent decay of such a giant, falling where it had
stood, and crushing the bamboos and _phoenix_ that grew round its foot,
the flowers sprang in myriads--great sunflowers, shrubs of _poinsettia_,
with its tufts of red or white bracts at the end of a branch of green
leaves, surrounding a small inconspicuous blossom, and tall,
lavender-blue lilies.

There was not a sound, not a bird, excepting on the fringe of the
forest. As we penetrated further there soon was no undergrowth even on
the dry soil, between the ever closer array of trees; the creepers hung
very low, tangled with clinging parasites; and between the stilt-like
and twining roots and the drooping boughs, the path, now impracticable,
suddenly ended in face of the total silence and black shade that exhaled
a strong smell of pepper, while not a leaf stirred.

Colombo again; and again the jewellers and their blue stones--an
intoxicating, living blue.

In the harbour, where there was a light breeze blowing, the little
outrigged canoes had hoisted large sails, white edged with black, and
vanished into the distance, skimming like winged things over the
intensely blue water.

Men were carrying mud in enormous turtle-shells that they used for

Little beggar-girls with a depraved look, artful little hussies, pursued
us coaxingly: "Give something, sahib, to pretty Cingalee girl, who wants
to go over sea to where the gentlemens live."


The city produces an impression as of a town built in the clouds and
then dropped, scattered over the plain with vast arid and barren spaces
left between the houses. In the native and Moslem quarters, indeed,
there is a crowd of buildings, closely packed, crammed together on quite
a small plot of ground; and among them the electric tramway runs its
cars, useless just now, and empty of travellers, for it is the beginning
of Ramadan, and the Mohammedans in broad daylight are letting off
crackers in honour of the festival.

In the hotel compound--more absurd than all the rest, lost in a waste of
open land beyond the seething native town--there was a swarm of coolie
servants, their wives and their children, who played all day at climbing
about the coaches put up under the trees. And, without ceasing, a
maddening hubbub of laughter and crying came up from this litter of
brats, more weariful than the silence of vacancy all around.

The draught-oxen all had their horns painted in gaudy colours,
generally one horn blue and the other green.

In the evening, in the open street, we came upon a circle of bystanders
all beating time, while in the midst four little girls were dancing,
wearing the sarong, but naked to the waist. They leaned very much over
to the right, resting the right elbow on the groin, clapping the right
hand with the left, and throwing back the left leg. All four did the
same, round and round, and this went on again and again without a pause,
under the pale light of the stars filtering through an enormous banyan
tree. Occasionally a woman among the crowd would give a slow, long-drawn
cry, and the dancers answered in very short notes, piercingly shrill.

In the native town, on a tank in front of a temple, a raft was moving
very slowly. Under a dazzlingly gorgeous canopy stood an idol of gold,
covered with garlands and jewels. A dense crowd, white and fragrant with
jasmine and sandal-wood, stood about the sacred pool and on the steps,
and bowed reverently as the divinity floated past.

One old man, indeed, bowed so low that he fell into the water, and all
the worshippers shouted with laughter.

The streets were hung with gaudy flags and coloured paper. Altars had
been erected, four poles supporting an awning with flounces of
bright-coloured silk, and under them a quantity of idols, of vases
filled with amaryllis and roses, and even dainty little Dresden
figures--exquisite curtseying _Marquises_, quite out of their element
among writhing Vishnus and Kalis.

That evening, near the temple where the god, having left the tank, was
receiving the flowers and scents offered by his votaries, there was
howling and yelling from the crowd of Hindoos, all crushing and pushing,
but going nowhere. And louder yet the noise of the tom-toms, which the
musicians raised to the desired pitch by warming them in front of big
fires throwing off clouds of acrid smoke.

In one tent there was a display of innumerable gilt images, very
suggestive of Jesuit influence--mincing, chubby angels, martyrs carrying
palm-branches, and ecstatic virgins with clasped hands, all serving to
decorate the shrine in which the god was to be carried back to the
temple. Coloured fires lighted the workmen, and in the background the
temple was darkly visible, with only a few dim lamps shrouded in
incense, and burning before Rama, whose festival was being kept.

The god having been placed in the shrine, which was enormously heavy,
and took a hundred men to carry it, the procession set out. First two
drums, then some children burning coloured fire and whirling fireworks
round above their heads. Three oxen with housings of velvet, richly
embroidered in gold, carried tom-tom drummers, and behind them came the
priests and the god, hardly visible among the lights and flowers on the
shrine. A breath of awe fell on the crowd as the divinity came by; they
bowed in adoration with clasped hands and heads bent very low.

To light the way, coolies carried long iron tridents tipped with balls
of tow soaked in oil. The mass moved slowly forward through the people,
suddenly soothed to silence. The procession paused at the wayside
altars, and then, in the middle of a circle formed by the torch-bearers
and coloured lights, the sacred bayadères appeared--three girls with
bare heads, dressed in stiff new sarongs heavy with tinkling trinkets,
and an old woman crowned with a sort of very tall cylindrical tiara of
red velvet embroidered with gold. Very sweet-toned bagpipes and some
darboukhas played a slow tune, and the dancers began to move; they spun
slowly round, their arms held out, their bodies kept rigid, excepting
when they bowed to the shrine. The crude light of the red fire or the
sulphurous flare of the torches fell on their glittering ornaments,
alternately festive and mysterious, shedding over the performance an
atmosphere at once dreamy and magically gorgeous.

Then all went out, died gently away; the tom-toms and pipe attending the
god's progress alone were audible in the silence; till in the distance a
great blaze of light flashed out, showing a crowd of bright turbans and
the glittering splendour of the shrine going up the steps to the temple
where, till next year, Rama would remain--the exiled god, worshipped for
his wisdom which enabled him to discover the secrets, to find the true
path, and win the forgiveness of his father.

The doors were shut; all was silence--the stillness of the star-lit

Many hapless creatures here suffer from elephantiasis, and even quite
little children are to be seen with an ankle stiffened, or perhaps both
the joints ossified; and the whole limb will by-and-by be swollen by the
disease, a monstrous mass dreadfully heavy to drag about. Other forms of
lupus affect the face, and almost always, amid a crowd watching some
amusing performance, a head suddenly appears of ivory whiteness, the
skin clinging to the bone or disfigured by bleeding sores.

Steaming over the transparent and intensely blue sea, we presently
perceived an opaquer streak of sandy matter, getting denser, and
becoming at last liquid, extremely liquid, yellow mud--the waters of the
Ganges, long before land was in sight. Between the low banks, with their
inconspicuous vegetation, a desolate shore, we could have fancied we
were still at sea when we had already reached the mouth of the sacred
stream. Some Hindoos on board drew up the water in pails to wash their
hands and face, fixing their eyes in adoration on the thick sandy fluid.
Enormous steamships crossed our bows, and in the distance, like a flock
of Ibis, skimmed a whole flotilla of boats with broad red sails, through
which the low sun was shining. The banks closed in, the landscape grew
more definite--tall palm trees, plots of garden ground, factory
chimneys, a high tower. On the water was an inextricable confusion of
canoes and row-boats flitting among the steamships and sailing barks
moored all along the town that stretched away out of sight.


An aggressive capital! Palaces of concrete and stucco washed with yellow
stand cheek by jowl with commission agencies and hovels, and all without
a suspicion of style, not even giving one the impression of a southern
city. In the streets, thick with dust, an all-prevailing turmoil as of a
fair is prolonged to the latest hours of night. Red uniforms and "young
England" tourist suits ending their career in rags on half-breed
coolies--a wearisome staleness and total effacement of local colour,
worse than commonplace; and then, above all, a very strong and
nauseating smell of lotus and tallow, with an after-gust of something
peppery and acrid.

In the street of native shops the possible purchaser is attacked by
storm, every voice yelps out prices. The dealers scrambled into my
carriage with a whole catalogue of bargains poured out in a mixed lingo,
and with such overpowering insistence that I had to fly. An electric
tram-car, provided with a loud bell that rings without ceasing, runs
through the suburbs, a dirty swarming quarter where the streets are
alive with naked children, fowls and pigs wallowing in heaps of filth
and the mud made by watering the road.

Past a magnificent railway station, and through a manufacturing district
of tall furnaces, we came to the quiet country and the Ganges, bordered
with gardens, where creepers in flower hang over the muddy stream
stained with iridescent grease and soot.

Round the railway station crowds the village of Chandernagore, the huts
close together, with no land to spare, and at length we were in the city
of houses, with broad terraces in front in a classic style, with
colonnades and decorations in relief, and broad eaves overhanging for
shade. And beautiful gardens, bougainvilleas, and almond trees,
white-blossomed faintly touched with pink, hedge in streets with
foreign-sounding names. The air was full of the fresh scent of water and
greenery and of the blessed peace of silence--so rare in India.

The cathedral, embowered in shrubs and tall banyans, stands on a square,
where a pedestal awaits the bust of Dupleix.

A stone parapet runs along the river road, and below it the grassy bank
slopes gently to the clear and limpid stream of the Ganges. On the
shores of the sacred river fine trees overshadow many idols, and fresh
flowers are constantly laid at their feet.

In the city, which is swept and cleaned till it is hard to believe
oneself among Hindoos, there are six hundred tanks, for the most part
stagnant, in which the natives wash themselves and their clothes. Round
others, which are gradually being appropriated to the use of the
residents, and all about the houses, bamboos are planted and "flame of
the forest," covered with enormous red star-shaped blossoms as solid as
fruit, and trees curtained with creepers of fragile growth--one long
garden extending almost to the bazaar.

At night the sound of a remote tom-tom attracted me to a large square
shaded by giant trees. In a very tiny hut made of matting, a misshapen
statue of Kali, bedizened with a diadem, a belt, nanparas, and bangles
made of beads and gold tinsel, stood over a prostrate image in clay of
Siva, lying on his back. In front of this divinity, under an awning
stretched beneath the boughs of a banyan tree, two nautch-girls in
transparent sarees were dancing a very smooth sliding step to the
accompaniment of two bagpipes and some drums. The Hindoo spectators sat
in a circle on the ground--a white mass dimly lighted by a few
lanterns--and sang to the music a soft, monotonous chant.

Then a man rose, and standing on the bayadères' carpet, he recited, in
verses of equal measure, a sort of heroic legend, making his voice big,
and emphasizing his words with grand gesticulation. One of the dancers
spoke the antistrophe, and this went on interminably, till their voices
gradually sank to mere hollow and expressionless intoning, while they
swayed their bodies to and fro like children who do not know their

Then the dancing began again, interrupted for a minute by the call of
the night-watchman as he went past carrying a long bamboo. He paused for
a moment to watch the performance, and then was lost in the darkness.

At last, when it was very late, the reciter lifted the heavy idol on to
his head. A few worshippers followed him, carrying the flowers, the
little jars and the baskets offered to the goddess, and the procession
marched off towards the Ganges; while the nautch-girls went on with
their performance, giving loud, sharp shrieks out of all time with the
shrill but somnolent music.

The bearer of Kali walked into the sacred river up to his knees, and
then dropped the idol. The Hindoos who had followed him fell prostrate
in fervent prayer, hiding their face in their hands, and then flung
after the goddess, now lost in the waters, all the baskets, jars, and
flowers, to be carried down the stream. For a moment the silver paper
crown which had floated up spun on the water that was spangled by the
moon, and then it sank in an eddy.

The people came back to the dancing, which went on till daylight. The
music could be heard in the distance, drowned from time to time by the
yelling of the jackals or the watchman's call, and it was not till
daybreak that the drumming ceased.

In the little white church, all open windows, mass was performed by a
priest with a strong Breton accent. During the sermon, to an
accompaniment of parrots' screaming and kites' whistling, there was a
constant rustle of fans, which were left on each seat till the following
Sunday. The church was white and very plain; French was spoken, and
little native boys showed us to our places on benches. Old women in
sarees were on their knees, waving their arms to make large signs of the
cross. A worthy Sister presided at the harmonium, and the little
schoolgirls sang in their sweet young voices airs of the most insipid
type; but after the incessant hubbub of bagpipes and tom-toms their
music seemed to me quite delicious, raising visions in my mind of
masterpieces of harmony and grace.

In the afternoon--calm and almost cool--I went to call on the Resident,
who talked to me of India in the days of Dupleix, of its departed glory,
and the poor old fort of Chandernagore, once impregnable and now
demolished under the provisions of treaties; and as we walked on through
the town, between gardens that look like the great parks of the French
kings, all the past seemed to live again on this forgotten spot of
earth, and every moment, in the silence of the purple dusk, I could have
fancied that I saw in the avenues, under the tall phoenix palms, the
shades of powdered _marquises_ in skirts with full farthingales, and of
gallant knights of St. Louis; then from a far distance came the sound of
a piano--some simple melody quavering in the air that was so full of


Beyond Siliguri, where we left the main line, a little toy railway,
going very slowly, jostles the travellers across rice plantations and
woods of giant trees, under whose shade tree-ferns expand on the banks
of the streams. By the side of the water springs are hung prayers
written on strips of rice-paper that flutter in the wind from the shrubs
and bamboos, mingling with the blossoms of rhododendron and funkia,
spots of bright colour showing against the forest of mighty cedars and
sycamores and gloomy palms. Clinging to the highest branches, orchids
like birds are to be seen, and from bush to bush hang bright green
threads covered with white stars, tangled into hanks and hooked on to
every thorn. The vegetation of banyans, phoenix, and other tropical
plants gradually becomes mixed with oak, box, and plane trees, and then
disappears altogether as we get higher; and presently, as we pass
through a belt of great dark firs, the shrubs, the mosses, and even the
flowers are those of Europe. Higher up, the mountain side is mapped out
into lines and squares, green and russet, looking from a distance like
ribbed velvet; these are the tea plantations. The horizon grows broader,
spreading away and out of sight towards the vision-like mountains
forming the outposts of the Himalayas; up to the very verge of the
eternal snows they are cultivated in the same rib-like strips, all tea
plantations; and amid the shrubs are the little factories where the
precious leaves are dried, and villages of little homesteads lost among
the greenery, or peeping through the opalescent haze, intensely blue
under the pure, cold sky and crude sunshine. The natives here wear skins
with the fur inside; the leather outside is patterned with red or blue
cloth. Men and women alike go about in felt boots, which give them an
unsteady and straddling gait.

Above Darjeeling--a modern and fashionable health-resort, a town of
villas, for the most part with corrugated iron roofs--hangs a dense
mist, cutting off the horizon at a distance of a few miles; and through
the dull substance of this fleece, at an impossible height, there was a
reflection--a mirage, an illusion, a brighter gleam, a bluer shadow,
which might be the top of a mountain; but so high up, so far away, and
above all so transient, that it failed to fix itself on the memory,
blotted out at once by the pallid wall that shut in the scene. But at
sunset one thickness of the haze melted away, unveiling, leagues on
leagues away, a chain of giant mountains, not yet the snowy peaks, but
bright-hued cliffs on which gold and purple mingled in symphonies before
dying into violet, turning to blue in the moonlight; and the mists fell
once more--a shroud at our feet, an abyss of shadows, in which the
tea-planters' lamps twinkled through the darkness.

In the sleeping town of Darjeeling a bell and drum were sounding to
announce the Tibetan Christmas. The Brahmin paradise remained invisible
and mysterious behind a clear sky studded with stars.

Next morning--so far, so high on the horizon! I saw a pink spot; then,
as day broke, the rose colour spread--broader, lower, turned paler, then
to white, and the Himalayas lay before me in blinding glory of size and
light. Kinchinjunga, at a measureless distance, looked in the clear air
as if it were quite close; and round the sovereign giant other giants
rent their wrappings of cloud, an amphitheatre of peaks of dazzling
whiteness lost against the sky, and almost insensibly fading away behind
the vapour that rolled up from the abysses, grew thicker, and settled
into a compact mass over the lost summits, hiding the nearer heights and
shrouding Darjeeling in opaque white fog.

Round a temple, with iron roofs ending in copper balls at the top, a
crowd was watching, some seated on steps cut in the soil and some
squatting on the hillside, here almost perpendicular. By the temple long
white streamers, fluttering from bamboo poles, were covered with painted
prayers. A Lama was enthroned in an armchair under an arbour of
pine-branches; he wore a yellow robe, and above a face like a cat's he
had a sort of brass hat surmounted by a coral knob; his little beard was
quite white, and he turned his praying machine with a steady, dull
movement, perfectly stolid. Two women stood by his side fanning him,
dressed in close-fitting aprons of dark cloth bordered with a brighter
shade, and opening over pale pink satin petticoats, on their heads
crowns of flowers of every hue.

Four women and two men wearing masks stretched in a broad grimace--one
of the men in a red satin robe edged with leopard-skin, while the other
had a squalid white shirt, intentionally soiled, over all his
clothes--then began to dance round the priest, stopping presently to
spin very fast on one spot, and the girls' skirts floated gracefully in
heavy folds, showing their under-skirts of bright satin embroidered with
silver and gold. One of these women, who were not satisfied with
painting their faces, by way of adornment, on the nose and cheeks with
blackened pig's blood, took off her mask, showing her whole face smeared
with it. She and the man in the dirty shirt played a number of
mountebank's tricks to the great delectation of the spectators, and she
finished amid thunders of applause by seating herself on the Lama's knee
and stroking his beard.

Cymbals and kettle-drums formed the orchestra, reinforced by the shrill
cries and strident laughter of the spectators.

Whenever there was a pause in the dance the performers, to amuse
themselves, sang a scale, always the same, beginning on a very high
note, or sometimes taken up from the lowest bass pitch, and marking time
with their stamping feet.

Far up the hill, and for a long time, the clanging brass and sharp cries
followed me on my way all through the afternoon, and I could picture the
dancing women, the Lama under his gleaming brass hat, turning his
praying-wheel beneath his bower of branches and papers fluttering in the
wind; and not till dark did the whole party break up and go back to
Darjeeling; the poorer women, on foot, all a little tipsy, danced a
descending scale that ended occasionally in the ditch; the richer
ladies, in thin dark satin robes with wide sleeves all embroidered in
silk and gold, and their hair falling in plaits from beneath a fillet of
red wood studded with large glass beads, fitting tightly to the head,
rode astride on queer little horses, mostly of a dirty yellow colour,
that carried them at a brisk amble. Their husbands, extremely attentive,
escorted the dames, some of whom gave noisy evidence of the degree of
intoxication they had reached. The least blessed had but one husband, or
perhaps two; but the more fortunate had a following of as many as six
eager attendants, whom they tormented with incessant scolding.

Off at four in the morning, led by a Mongol guide with a broad
expressionless yellow face. My steed was a perfect little devil of a
horse of a light coffee colour.

I rode to Tiger Hill. Overhead hung a dense mist, like a roof of shadow,
perfectly still, wrapping us in damp and frightfully cold vapour. After
two hours' ride in the darkness we reached our destination. Suddenly
the cloud fell like a curtain pulled down, the sky appeared, and then
the earth at our feet became visible in the starlight. Some vestiges of
a temple could be discerned among the grass--the foundations of enormous
halls, and still standing in solitude, the brick chimneys in which the
devout were wont to burn their prayers, written on rice-paper. Far away,
in the transparent air, above a wall of grey cloud--the dull, dingy grey
of dirty cotton-wool--a speck showed as a beacon of lilac light, of the
hue and form of a cyclamen flower; this turned to rose, to brick-red, to
warm gold colour, fading into silver; and then, against the blue sky,
showed immaculately white. This was Gaurisankar--Mount Everest--the top
of the world, appallingly high, inconceivably vast, though lost in the
distance, and seen from a hillock three thousand metres above the sea.

After the giant a whole chain of lavender and rose-coloured peaks
turning to blue came into sight in the marvellously clear atmosphere;
then the sun rose below us, in the throbbing tide of heat the mountains
seemed to come closer to us, but immediately the mist gathered about
Gaurisankar. "The Apsaras wearing impenetrable veils, that mortals may
not gaze too long on the throne of the gods," said my saïs, who had
fallen on his face since the first appearance of the snow-crowned
colossus, with hands upraised towards the paradise of Indra.

For another minute the sublime ice-peak remained visible through the
gauzy whiteness, and then a cloud rising from beyond the range descended
on the heights and gradually enfolded the whole chain.

As we returned, vistas of unreal definiteness showed us endless valleys
lost in the distance, and vast spaces cultivated in green and russet
stripes--the tea plantations that spread below the now vanished
splendour of the snows. At a turning in the road stands a cross, erected
there in memory of an epidemic of suicide that broke out among the
soldiers of the English fort--a small structure of stone with an iron
roof that faces the heaven-scaling range.

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 mysterious blueness under
the broad pure light of the moon.

All the day long a solid blue mass melting into rain hid the mountains
and darkened the nearer view; and our return journey was made between
two grey walls, through which the trees, which sometimes met in an arch
overhead, were but dimly visible.

At the railway station thousands of people had collected to take leave
of a great turbaned moollah from Mecca, dressed in yellow silk. Long
after we had left Darjeeling the faithful ran by the side of the
carriage to kiss his hand, on which blazed an enormous diamond cut in a
cone; and all along the road, when the train going downhill went too
fast for anyone to keep up with it, Moslem natives bowed and prostrated
themselves in the road, shouting words of Godspeed to the holy man. And
at one stopping-place a little carpet was spread, on which he took off
his shoes and prayed--hurried through his last prostrations by the
whistle of the locomotive.

At night, when the fog had at last cleared off, a column of fire was
piled up on the engine; it shone on the smooth trunks of the "flame of
the forest," which looked like the pillars of a cathedral, on the
sparkling water-springs all hung about with prayer-strips, on the
veronica shrubs covered with flowers and as tall as trees, and the
sheaves of bamboo and fern; or it lighted up the hanging screen of
creepers, the impenetrable jungle growth that shut in the silence of the
sleeping forest.


Yellow palaces, mirrored as gold in the luminous waters of the Ganges,
came into view; cupolas quivering with dazzling lustre against the
intense sky--and then the whole city vanished. Nothing was to be seen
but a suburb of shabby buildings, the commonplace railway station
crowded by a Burmese pilgrimage of Buddhists come from so far--who knows
why?--to the holy Indian city. Yellow priests and white doll-like
figures dragging bundles that fell open, dropping the most medley
collection of objects to be picked up and stowed into the parcels again,
only to roll out once more. A yelling crowd, hustling and bustling,
shouting from one end of the station to the other, and finally
departing, like a flock of sheep, in long files down the dusty road, to
be lost at last in the little bazaar.

All along the narrow streets, paved with broad flagstones up and down in
low irregular steps, stand the five hundred temples of Benares, and
between them houses with carved stone porticoes. The ochre-coloured
stone, of which they all are built, is toned in places by a coating of
reddish purple, faded by the rain and sun to pale flesh-colour, with an
undertone of the yellow wall; and this takes on a glow as of ruby and
sunset fires in the watery ripple reflected from the river--a mingling
of every hue of intense sunshine, filtering through the awnings spread
over the balconies--a glory of repose, tender and clear, which seems to
emanate from the objects themselves, and to envelop them in a fine
powder of light.

Squeezed in and crushed between houses that tower above it, rises the
pointed dome of Biseshwar Matti, covered with leaves of chased gold;
smaller cones surround the principal dome, bristling with tiny pyramids
of gold, carved into flowers round statues of Kali with her eight arms,
of Ganesa, and of peacocks with spread tails. Under this splendid
cupola, dazzlingly bright against the sky, the temple itself is quite
small, and strictly closed against the unbeliever. Some pious hands had
hung chains of jasmine and roses above the entrance, and they gave a
touch of beauty to the stonework, very old, and soiled with large stains
of oil. A sense of intense piety hangs about this sanctuary, subdues
every voice, and bends the head of every passer-by in reverence of the
mystery, and they all bring flowers.

Under an arcade, lightly tinted with faded colours, and supporting a
heavy stone roof elaborately carved, a marble bull stands facing the
well which Vishnu touched when he came down from heaven. This is the
Court or Well of Wisdom.

Two fakirs, squatting in a corner, gazed at the sacred stone, their
bodies rigidly motionless; they did not seem to be of this world, rather
to be statues of gods themselves; their eyes alone were alive--burning.

Further on, in the temple stables, open to the sky and surrounded by a
colonnade of carved and painted pillars, some women, in silken sarees of
dark hues, were waiting on the bulls and the tiny zebu cows, feeding
them with the flower offerings strewn on the mosaic pavement of the

From the top of the observatory, where instruments, all out of order,
are to be seen on the deserted terraces, a staircase in a half-circle of
stonework leads straight up to the open sky, and there the eye is
dazzled by the view of Benares, all spread out below: the vast city of
yellow stone, the cupolas of its temples, and its palaces stretching far
along the Ganges, which slowly rolls its milky green waters under a sky
of almost pearly whiteness; and in the distance the grassy plain of
bright emerald green, lost on the horizon that throbs with the heat.
Everything was wrapped in a halo rather than a haze, faintly blue with
the smoke that went up from the funeral piles of the Hindoo dead.

One of the servants of the place, sitting in the shade of the arcade,
was painting, after a strange method. He sprinkled powdered colour on
the surface of some water in a tub, outlining the colour with black;
then, with a feather, he massed and arranged the colours, taking some
off and replacing it in infinitesimal quantities. Finally the result was
a representation of Siva and Ourasi, robed in blue and violet, against a
background of crude red. When they were quite finished he jerked the
bowl, giving the figures a curtseying motion, and stood a little way off
to contemplate the general effect; and then, quite satisfied, stirred
the whole thing up and began again, the same picture, with the same
precise care.

We sailed past the holy city in a heavy, massive junk, the prow formed
of a snake with its head erect and jaws yawning, down the Ganges, all
rippled with rose and blue. Palaces, and more palaces, with thick walls
and towers, that look like bastions, stand in perspective as far as the
eye can see. Windows and balconies are cut in the ponderous masonry at
the level of the third floor, and high above these rajahs' dwellings
rise the domes of the temples, pointing skywards among tall trees that
spread their shade on the russet stonework. At the foot of the palaces,
steps lead down to the river, divided by little stages covered with
wicker umbrellas that shine in the sun like discs of gold; under these,
Brahmins, after bathing, were telling their beads. Now and again they
dipped their fingers in the sacred waters and moistened their eyes,
forehead, and lips.

One of the largest buildings once slid into the river during an
earthquake, and stands there complete and unbroken, its magnificence
surviving under water. Some minarets only rise above the surface like
kiosks, and form a landing-stage, invaded by the bathers, who wash
themselves with much gesticulation, flourishing their long sarongs and
white loin-cloths, which they spread out to dry on the steps.

Between the large parasols are thousands of little pagodas, formed of
four columns and a roof, and sheltering idols wreathed with flowers, to
whom the faithful pray and bring offerings. Garlands are for ever
floating down-stream, jasmine and Indian pinks, and patches of scattered
rose petals; and on the banks of the river, where the sand forms little
bays, flowers lie in a hem of delicate colours.

Down the middle of the Ganges a white bundle is being borne, and on it a
crow pecking the body of a child wrapped in its winding-sheet.

From the broad steps on the shore other narrower flights lead to
archways and porticoes, or zigzag up to the lanes that make a gap of
distant blackness in the light-hued mass of palaces and embankments.

Then from afar came the sound of tom-toms and bagpipes, nearer and
nearer, and the musicians became visible at the top of one of the
stair-like alleys. First came the men, then the women. One of these,
robed in pale green with a violet and silver saree, carried a child in
her arms wrapped in a red dress embroidered with gold. He was this day
six months old; he had eaten rice, and was brought to see the sacred
Ganges for the first time. The family, friends, and neighbours had
assembled in honour of the great ceremony, which consisted in holding
the infant face downwards over the water, which he scarcely saw with
half-shut eyes; and then the procession went back again to the sound of
the music, and was gone.

Close to a temple, of which the cornice is decorated with female figures
holding musical instruments, on a sort of terrace a party of youths were
making a distracting din with brass instruments, acutely shrill, and, of
course, tom-toms. Two very small temples covered with brass that shines
like gold stand in the bazaar to mark the beginning and end of the
coppersmiths' quarter, where every stall rings with the tinkle of the
little hammers tapping the metal that is beaten into trays and pots and
a thousand vessels for the worship of the gods and for domestic
purposes. Workmen aged four, the great-grand-sons of the master-smith,
were already trying their 'prentice hand, chiselling the hard metal with
a free touch, and ornamenting cups and bowls of traditional shape. And
this is the only part of the calm and lazy city, living on its temples
and its sacred river, where the visitor feels himself a "tourist." Here
the shops for the special craft of Benares are furnished with the
unwonted luxury of chairs, and some display of signs and wares is made.
Further on is a large open place full of piles of flowers, garlands of
jasmine and marigold, and heaps of rose petals to be strewn on the

Next came a whole row of very small shops, where there was an endless
variety of trifles for sale, toys made of wood painted red and green;
and finally, on the ground floor of houses ornamented with carvings and
slender colonnades, in a cool and shady and silent street, were the
sellers of silk and cloth.

Past the buildings, and palaces with gardens enclosed behind pierced
stonework, and then across fresh green fields full of flowers, under the
shade of banyans and palm trees, we reached the temple of the monkeys.
This temple, dedicated to the fierce and bloodthirsty goddess Durga, is
painted all over of a vivid red colour, blazing in the sunshine with
intolerable brightness. Inside the sanctuary a black image of the
goddess may be seen, mounted on her lion, and flowers are arranged about
her in radiating lines mingled with gold thread, and producing very much
the effect of a theatrical sun. In the forecourt, on the carvings and
the roof of the temple monkeys swarm, rushing after each other, fighting
for the grains of maize that are thrown to them, and tormenting the
wretched mangy dogs that seek refuge in the temple precincts, where
they, too, are kept alive by the faithful.

A poor sick ape, beaten by all the others, sat crying with hunger at the
top of a parapet. I called her for a long time, showing her some maize
on a tray. At last she made up her mind to come down. With the utmost
caution she reached me, and then, after two or three feints, she struck
the platter with her closed fist, sending all the grain flying. Utterly
scared, she fled, followed to her perch by a whole party of miscreants
roused by the gong-like blow on the tray. Others stole into the temple
to snatch the flowers while the attendant priest had his back turned;
and when I left they were all busily engaged in rolling an earthenware
bowl about, ending its career in a smash. In front of the temple the
crimson dust round a stake shows the spot where every day the blood is
shed of a goat sacrificed to the Divinity.

A garden of roses and lilies was the dwelling-place of a very ancient
fakir, who had taken a vow to live naked, and only put on a loin-cloth
when ladies were expected. He was venerated by all, yes, even by
Abibulla, who knelt before him, touched the holy man's feet and then his
own forehead. The old fellow was surrounded by pilgrims wearing wreaths
of flowers round their neck; he came to meet me, took me by the hand,
and led me under the shade of a kiosk, where he showed me a large book
he had written, containing an account of the joys and ecstasies of his
life of asceticism and prayer. This old man had a magnificent brow, and
the deep gaze of his kind, smiling eyes was fine in a face puckered with
a thousand wrinkles. Infinite calm and peace characterized this happy
soul--a naked man in the midst of flowers.

At the end of the garden, in a little temple, is a statue of the holy
man of the size of life, in his favourite attitude, sitting on his
crossed legs. Round the image were the most absurd toys--and a
photograph of the German Emperor! As I was leaving, the fakir called me
back, asked me to think of him sometimes, and gave me one of the
splendid yellow roses that hung about him like a glory.

Very early in the morning, on emerging from the gloom of the narrow
streets, there is a sudden blaze of glory, the rising sun, purple and
gold, reflected in the Ganges, the waters throbbing like fiery opal. The
people hurry to the shore carrying trays piled high with flowers and
offerings. The women carry little jars in their hands looking like
burnished gold, and containing a few drops of scented oil to anoint
themselves withal after bathing. These jars are covered with roses and
jasmine blossoms, to be sent floating down the sacred stream as an
offering to the gods. The steps are crowded already with the faithful,
who have waited till Surya the day-star should rise, before going
through their devotional ablutions. With a great hubbub of shouts and
cries, and laughter and squabbling, this throng pushes and hustles,
while those unimaginable priests sit stolidly under their wicker
sunshades, mumbling their prayers, and accepting alms and gifts. All
along the river there are people bathing on the steps which go down
under the water, the men naked all but a loin-cloth, the women wearing
long veils which they change very cleverly for dry ones after their
bath, and then wait in the sun till their garments are dry enough to
carry away.

In the sacred tank, where Vishnu bathes when he comes on earth, an old
woman was standing pouring the stagnant green water over her body, while
others of the faithful, seated on the steps, were piously drinking the
stuff from a coco-nut that they handed round. In one corner of this pool
was an exquisite bower of floating wreaths--yellow, white, and violet--a
splash of bright colour on the squalid water.

Below one of the palaces is a huge statue of Vishnu Bhin in a reclining
attitude, daubed with ochre, the face flesh-colour and white; a statue
which is carried away every year by the floods and restored every year
in its pristine grossness.

The palace of the Rajah of Nagpoor, with its two towers, overlooks the
river from above a broad stairway. A balcony quite at the top is
supported on a massive cornice lightly carved into acanthus leaves. The
damp has subdued the red colour of the building, fading it especially at
the base, and from a distance it might be fancied that a veil of thin
gauze had been hung over the palace, and fastened beneath the carved

On the bank of the river, where there are no more steps, only beaten
earth, in a little raised pit a pile of wood was slowly dying out. A man
with a cane raked back the sticks as they fell and rolled away. A
squatting crowd were waiting till their relation was altogether consumed
to cast his ashes on the sacred waters.

Then a girl's body was brought out, wrapped in white muslin; the bier,
made of bamboo, was wreathed with marigolds, and on the light shroud
there were patches of crimson powder, almost violet. The bearers, on
reaching the river, placed the body in the water, leaving it there for a

A little way off an old man was wrapping the naked body of a poor woman
in a white cloth; then he fastened it to two poles to dip it in the
river; finally, with the help of another Sudra, he laid the corpse on a
meagre funeral pile, and went off to fetch some live charcoal from the
sacred fire which the Brahmins perpetually keep alive on a stone terrace
overlooking the Ganges. He carried the scrap of burning wood at the end
of a bunch of reeds, and, praying aloud, walked five times round the
pyre, which completely concealed the body. Then he gently waved the
bunch of reeds, making them blaze up, and placed them beneath the wood,
which slowly caught fire, sending up dense curling clouds of white
vapour and slender tongues of flame, creeping along the damp logs that
seemed to go out again immediately. But suddenly the fire flared up to
the top of the pile; the flesh hissed in the flame, and filled the air
with a sickening smell.

The maiden was placed on a very high pile of saplings and dry crackling
boughs. Her father fetched the sacred fire, and then, with the same
ceremonials and prayers, set light to the wood, which flashed up in a
golden glow with a sweet odour. The flame rose clear against the sky for
a long time before the smell of her burnt flesh mingled with that of the
poor woman, whose limbs, under the action of the heat, seemed to stretch
to an inordinate length. One arm, sticking out from the fire, seemed to
clench its fist, which was bright yellow, as if it would clutch at
something; and then all was consumed--the wood pile fell in, the skull
cracking with a dull snap, and nothing was left but a heap of embers,
into which the attendants raked the cinders that rolled down the sloping

The old woman's bones and ashes were cast into the Ganges, her husband
still vacantly looking on, as all that was left of his life's companion
floated for a few moments, and then was swallowed up in an eddy.

On the remains of the pyre was placed a corpse of spectral emaciation,
which had been lying at the top of the bank since the day before for its
turn, as a pauper, to be cremated at the cost of the municipality. The
head alone was wrapped in a wretched rag, and creeping flies formed a
cuirass on the dark skin, already torn in places by the kites. Petroleum
was poured over the hapless body, and it flared up with the wood in a
livid pink and green blaze, sending up a cloud of acrid red smoke.

And so on, in an endless file, come the bodies of the faithful dead,
some from long distances, so that their souls may rise at once to
paradise from their ashes burnt on the Manumenka.

A dome of smoke hangs like a vault over the fires, motionless, veiling
the sun. The relations of the dead, sitting on their heels, gaze at the
flames with an expression almost of indifference; no one weeps, and they
converse calmly in no subdued tones.

The pile of the girl with marigold wreaths and the shroud stained
crimson and purple flung her ashes to the winds, reduced to mere atoms
of bone and light cinder, and the servants of the place drowned a few
still glowing sticks in the river; the family and friends slowly went
up the yellow stone steps and disappeared through a gateway leading into
the town.

The attendants threw water on the pauper's pyre, and then with their
long bamboos pushed the mass of burnt wood and flesh into the Ganges,
where it looked like some enormous black frog with a white patch for the

They shoved it under water, but it presently rose to the surface and
floated down the stream, followed by a flock of hawks that snatched at
the burnt remains and fought over them in the air, while crocodiles
below swam up and snapped at them, dragging them down in their enormous
jaws, which appeared for a moment above the water.

By the side of the Manumenka stand two stelæ, on which two carved
figures, represented as surrounded by flames, preserve the memory of the
time when the funeral pyre consumed the living wife with the dead

In the town, at a spot where several alleys meet, stood a mob of people
holding out the ends of their sarees or dhotis to catch handfuls of
grain which a kshatriya was throwing to them from a window, though he
looked almost as ragged as the beggars collected in front of the house.

Close to a shop where I was bargaining for some old bronzes, in an open
booth, and quite alone among the metal jars and trays, sat a boy of
four, his only garment a green silk jacket bordered with blue velvet,
stitched with silver thread; there was nothing between the little vest
and his bright bronze skin. He had a blue cap embroidered with gold, and
his eyes were darkened with khol. He was drawing lines very neatly on a
slate, and then wrote beneath them the pretty Hindoo letters that look
like cabalistic signs, saying them as he went on, _pa_, _pa_, _pa_,
_pi_, _pi_, _pi_, _paï_, _paï_, _paï_, _pom_, _pom_, _pom_, till at
last, seeing that I was looking at him and smiling, quite fascinated by
his pretty ways, he burst out laughing, a hearty, happy, baby laugh, and
then gravely went on with his business again.

Then, under a portico in front of us, a man began to undress. He threw
off his dhoti and his sarong, keeping on his loin-cloth only. With
outstretched arms he placed a heavy copper pot full of water on the
ground, took it up between his teeth, and without using his hands
tilted his head back till the water poured all over him in a shower,
which splashed up from the pavement, sprinkling the spectators in the
front row. Next he tied his dhoti round the jar, which he refilled, and
fastened the end to his long hair. Then, simply by turning his head, he
spun the heavy pot round him. It looked as if it must pull his head off,
but he flung it faster and faster till he presently stopped.

There were people performing their devotional ablutions below stream
from the place of burning, and one old man took a few drops of water in
the hollow of his hand and drank it, quite close to a shapeless black
mass at which a kite was pecking as it floated by.

At sunset, when the glow fired the stones to a semblance of transparent,
burning light, at the top of one of the flights of steps rising from the
river to the town, and in front of a gate with large brass nails,
glittering like sparks, the figure appeared of a holy beggar in yellow
rags, with a copper jar blazing with reflected light; he was set in a
halo of gold, and looked like the vision of some pagan god. He stood
motionless for a long time, and then, as the last sunbeam went out, he
vanished beyond the fire-studded gate, while all the scene faded into
rosy lilac, rapidly dying into blue night.

A distant noise of tom-toms--big drums thumping out minims in the bass,
small ones rattling out semiquavers in very short, sharp notes; and to
this accompaniment came the sharp trill of a metal flute. The music came
nearer at a brisk pace, heralded by two tall baggage camels, a rare
sight in Benares, where the streets are so narrow and straight, and only
foot passengers are to be seen. Then followed saddle-horses, led by
hand, and a large number of men on foot, and after an interval there
appeared a band, atrociously out of tune, immediately in front of a
palankin hung with a shawl embroidered all over in palms of different
shades of gold and beads. In this sat a little bridegroom of eight,
dressed in pale yellow satin, a wreath of marigolds round his neck, and
above his turban a cap made of jasmine, the ends hanging all round his
head--a little bridegroom, eight years old, very solemn, sitting
cross-legged with a huge bouquet in his hand, and facing him his two
little brothers in white silk and necklaces of jasmine.

In the evening the priest would say prayers over the couple--the bride
being probably about five--and the bridegroom would stay with the little
bride's parents. Next day she would spend with the boy's parents, and
after that they would both go back to their lessons and probably never
meet again, unless they were very near neighbours, till he, having
attained the age of fifteen, they would be really married.

The Maharajah of Benares sent his carriage this morning to take me to
him. We went to the Ganges, where a palankin was in waiting to carry me
across the narrow strip of sand between the road and the boat, escorted
by a worthy who held a tall red umbrella, fringed with gold, over my

The barge was screened by a crimson awning and rowed by four men in red.
The water, a broad sheet of silky sheen, seemed motionless, and in the
distance, under a soft, powdery haze, Benares showed like a mass of dim
gold, the two slender minarets of Aurungzeeb's mosque towering above the

We landed at Ramnagar, a marble palace looking like a fortified town,
its massive walls rising from the river and crowned by balconies and
fairy kiosks--a lacework of stone against the brilliant sky.

A crowd of servants in red came down the flight of steps to the
landing-place, and stood on each side, while at the top the Maharajah
stood to receive me, in a tunic of yellow brocaded with silver, and silk
trousers of various shades of violet and gold tissue; his turban was
quite small, with an aigrette and a spray of diamonds.

From the open loggia at the end of the vast reception-room, lined with
white marble and hung with thick carpets, there was an extensive view
over the green plain inundated with water and sunshine to the holy city
of dazzling domes that looked as if they had just risen from the Ganges.
The air was full of heady fragrance; the Rajah described the springtide
festivals, barges carrying troupes of dancing bayadères on the Ganges
sparkling with a myriad lights.

Instead of the usual wreath of flowers for my neck the Rajah gave me a
necklace of silver threads, to which hung a little bag of purple and
green silk, closely embroidered, and looking like a scent-sachet, or a
bag to hold some precious amulet.

We drove across a succession of parks to visit Sumer Mundir, a too
elaborately carved temple, the panels representing scenes from the
Ramayana set in ornamental borders. On the roof, which bristled with
sculptured stone, thousands of blue pigeons were perched asleep, their
iridescent plumage scarcely stirring in the sunshine. Beyond a tank at
the end of the park was a palace in the Arab style with incredibly
delicate ornaments of wrought marble, open halls painted in subdued
colouring, and lighted by the golden reflections from the water. The
pool had steps all round it, in which crowds seat themselves on the
occasions of pilgrimage, and far away the enchanting vision of Benares,
the holy city, in every shade of amber and honey.

Then into a garden with a number of quite narrow, straight paths
bordered with nasturtiums, tall daisies, and geraniums, while a tangle
of jasmine, china roses, bougainvillea, and poinsettia flourished freely
under the shade of tamarind and palm trees. Over a clump of orange trees
in blossom a cloud of butterflies was flitting, white patterned with
black above, and _cloisonnés_ beneath in red and yellow with fine black

As we returned past a village--a hamlet of houses gathering round a well
surmounted by a kiosk shading a gaudy idol crowned with red pinks--a
perfectly naked fakir, his straight black hair bound twice round his
head like a turban, stood basking in the sun, leaning against a wall,
and chanting in a rapid monotone, while two babies, under the shade of a
fan-palm leaf, stared up at him and sucked their thumbs.

Then the sunset, in the furnace of heavy purple and red, reflected in
the water in fiery copper-colour streaked with violet, till soon it all
faded together, to gold, to lemon-colour; the mist rising from the river
spread over all the country, and everything looked the same in the
cloudless gloom. One quarter of the sky glowed faintly, through the haze
a crimson globe rose into view, the moon appeared, and soon lighted up
all the sky with a soft greenish glow, pallid but deep, lying on the
tranquil Ganges in broad rippling sheets of gold and green, spangled
with light where a fish leaped, or a white bird dipped its wing as it
skimmed swiftly across without a sound. The gold grew cold and dead, the
moon turned to steel against the intensely blue sky, to cold blue steel
on the lustrous face of the waters.

We went into the observatory, where the servants were sleeping in the
open air on camp beds, lying across each other and blocking the
entrance. I went to gaze at the north star, looking very small, a tiny
spangle of blue in the blue velvet sky, visible at the top of a crazy
flight of steps that goes up to nowhere in the air from the topmost

Down in the streets the houses looked ghostly blue in the moonlight, the
cross roads, lighted with the warmer glow of a few lamps in red paper
shades, alternating with the black darkness, in which it was just
possible to discern cows and goats lying on the ground.

Near a temple some bells and tom-toms animated the silence with their
clang and clatter. Worshippers stole in noiselessly, barefoot on the
stones, and entered the sanctuary, within which tapers were burning.

Further away, in another quite small temple, a young Brahmin robed in
white, and very handsome, was reading the Ramayana to two women; the
three quite filled the little building. The entrance was screened by a
curtain composed of jasmine flowers threaded on fine string, and behind
this veil of flowers the three figures looked like the creatures of a
legend. Outside the sanctuary, seated on the steps and flagstones and
obstructing the street, were a score or so of women redolent of lemon
and sandal-wood, and listening to the scripture distinctly chanted out
by the young priest.

In the street were bayadères, and women at every window, the pretty
faces brightly illuminated, the plainer in a skilfully subdued light.
The sound of tom-toms and pipes could be heard, and the guttural,
quavering song of a dancing beauty performing for some amateur; quite
young boys were wandering about the street, almost children, all in
white. Where the roads met, a mosque was illuminated in honour of this
month of Ramadan, and the believers were trooping out in a crowd.

A woman on the river-bank was flinging into the water, with devout
unction, scraps of paper on which the name of Rama was written, rolled
up in a paste made of flour. Not far from her another woman was praying;
she stopped to wash her copper cooking-pots, then prayed again; gave her
baby a bath, and then, squatting on the lowest step, prayed once more,
and for a long time, after which she picked up her pots and her little
one and went her way.

On the shore, on the steps in front of the temples and round the holy
images, in short, everywhere on this day, red powder was sprinkled to
inaugurate the month just beginning; a beggar, to secure the favour of
the gods, had smeared his head and hands with it.

And once more in a barge on the Ganges. The atmosphere seemed faintly
iridescent, like mother-of-pearl, the silence serenely lulled by the
distant sound of a flute. The palaces and temples, reflected in the
still water, looked in the distance like forts crowned with turrets of
gold, and their little windows like loopholes. The broad stairs of the
quays, where the priests' umbrellas glitter, assumed a spacious,
unfamiliar dignity, the red colour shading paler towards the bottom,
where it was washed off by the lapping Ganges, looking as though a fairy
hanging of gauze were spread under the wavelets in honour of the Apsaras
and the divinities of the river.

A kshatriya, a very old man, had seen me yesterday returning from
Ramnagar with my necklet of silver threads. Convinced by this that I
must be "a Europe Rajah," he tormented me to grant him a title. He
wanted to be Raj Bahadur; this was the height of his ambition. After
following me about the bazaar all the morning, he sat for a long time in
my room. So, to get rid of him, seeing that he persisted in hoping that
I should call him Raj Bahadur, I did so; this, however, did not satisfy
him: I must write it down on paper. At last I consented. Quite delighted
now, he went off to shout the words to his friends, who had been waiting
for him in the garden, and then, very solemn, and conscious of his new
dignity, he disappeared down the road.

At the station pilgrims again, bewildered, shouting, rushing about in
search of their lost luggage. One group presently emerged from the
crowd, led by a man bareheaded, who rang a big bell with great
gesticulations, his arms in the air, and the whole party marched off
towards the temples in silent and orderly procession.

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."


In a wonderful garden, amazing after the sandy waste that lies between
Benares and Allahabad--a garden of beds filled with flowers showing no
leaves, but closely planted so as to form a carpet of delicate, blending
hues--stand three mausoleums, as large as cathedrals, in the heart of
cool silence, the tombs of the Sultan Purvez, of his father Khusru, and
of his wife, the Begum Chasira.

High in the air, in the first mausoleum, at the head and foot of the
white marble cenotaph, covered with letters that look like creepers, are
tablets bearing inscriptions which record the life of the hero; and
above the sarcophagus rises an almost impossibly light and airy
structure--a canopy of white marble supported on columns as slender as

In the Begum's tomb the sarcophagus is on the ground, surrounded by a
pale-tinted mosaic pavement. The windows, screened by pierced stone,
admit a rosy light, and the walls are painted to imitate Persian tiles,
with tall Cyprus trees in blue and green. Incense was burning in one
corner, the perfume mingling with that of the flowers, wafted in at
every opening. Doors of massive cedar, carved with the patience of a
bygone time, rattle on their hinges as the wind slams them to, but still
endure, uninjured by ages.

There was nobody in the garden of the mausoleums, not even the usual
obsequious and mendicant attendant. Only by the tomb of Purvez a moollah
was kneeling in prayer, motionless, and wrapped in some very light white
material, which the wind gently stirred and blew up. All the time I was
examining the mausoleums he prayed on, prostrate, immovable; and even
from afar, from the road, I could see him still, like a stone among the
marble work, at the feet of the hero who sleeps his last in mid-air.

The fort of Allahabad, the fort of the mutiny of 1857, is a complete
citadel where, in the thickness of the walls, behind screens of acacia
trees, lurk doors into palaces. Among the gardens there are clearings
full of guns and ambulance waggons, and enormous barracks and huts for
native soldiers. Then on the ponderous stonework of the ramparts rise
little kiosks in the light Hindoo-Mussulman style, elaborate and
slender, built by Akbar the conqueror, who took Prayag and razed it, to
build on the site a city dedicated to Allah. And now modern architecture
is slowly invading it, adding to the flat walls which hide under their
monotony the gems of stonework with their elegant decoration.

From the parapet of one of the bastions the Ganges may be seen in the
distance, of a sickly turquoise-blue, shrouded in the haze of dust which
hangs over everything and cuts off the horizon almost close in front of
us, and the tributary Jumna, translucent and green. At the confluence of
the rivers stands a native village of straw and bamboo huts, swept away
every season by the rains. This is Triveni, containing 50,000 souls,
which enjoys a great reputation for sanctity, and attracts almost as
many pilgrims from every part of India as does Benares. The people come
to wash away their sins in the Saravasti, the mystical river that comes
down from heaven and mingles its waters at this spot with those of the
sacred Ganges and the Jumna. The faithful who bathe at Triveni observe
an additional ceremony and cut their hair; each hair, as it floats down
stream in the sacred waters, effaces a sin, and obtains its forgiveness.
In front of the barracks, a relic of past magnificence, there stands
alone on a porphyry pedestal, in the middle of a broad plot trampled by
soldiers on parade, an Asoka column carved with inscriptions to the top,
and decorated half-way up with a sort of capital.

Fakirs, holding out their begging-bowls as they squatted round an
opening in the ground, showed that it was the entrance to a temple; a
few steps down, a long corridor with little niches on each side, and
then hall after hall full of grimacing gods, lighted up by our guide's
torch, till at last we reached an immense vault where impenetrable
darkness filled the angles lost in a labyrinth of arcades converging to
some mystery. Here all the Hindoo gods, carved in stone, have been
crowded together, with their horrible contortions, their stolid
beatitude, their affected grace; and in their midst is a huge idol,
hacked with a great cut by Aurungzeeb, the Moslem emperor, at the time
of his conquest. Suddenly all about us was a crowd of Brahmins,
appearing from what dark corners we could not discover. They looked
nasty and half asleep, and vanished at once with a murmur of whispered
speech that hung about the galleries in an echo.

At the entrance into one of the chapels is the trunk of an _Akshai bâr_
or _bô tree_, a kind of fig such as the Buddhists place in front of
their sanctuaries. The tree is living in the subterranean vault, and
after thrusting its head through the heavy layer of stones forming the
roof of the temple, it spreads its branches under the light of day.
Endless absurd legends have grown up about the mystery of this tree,
which is said to be no less than twenty centuries old; and my guide, who
talks aloud in the presence of the idols he despises, being a
Mohammedan, bows reverently to the tree and murmurs, "That is sacred;
God has touched it."


A vision of Europe. Cottages surrounded by lawns under the shade of tall
trees, and against the green the scarlet coats of English soldiers
walking about. And close about the houses, as if dropped there by
chance, tombs covered with flagstones and enclosed by railings, and on
all the same date, June or July, 1857. Further away, under the trees,
are heaps of stones and bricks, the ruins of mosques and forts, hardly
visible now amid the roots and briars that look like the flowery
thickets of a park, varied by knolls to break the monotony of the level
sward. In the native town that has grown up on the site of the palace of
Nana Sahib, built indeed of the ruins of its departed splendour, dwell
a swarm of pariahs, who dry their rags and hang out clothes and reed
screens over every opening, living there without either doors or
windows, in utter indifference to the passer-by.

Opposite a large tank, where a tall column rises from the water in
memory of the victims of the Mutiny, and where a party of the votaries
of Siva are performing their pious ablutions, a building stands in the
Hindoo-Jesuit style of architecture. It is heavy, with white carvings
above its pink paint, and with columns supporting turrets crowned with
large lion-faces, the masks only, in the Indian manner, daylight showing
through the jaws and eyes, and the profiles absurd, shapeless, and
unmeaning. This is the college of La Martinière.

In the chapel of the building through which I passed to go down to the
tomb of La Martinière, two students, seated American fashion, with their
feet on the back of the bench in front of them, were reading the _Times
of India_ and smoking cigarettes.

In the circular marble crypt there is a large cracked bell, inscribed
"Lieutenant-Colonel Martin, 1788," also a bust of the corporal, and, in
an adjoining cell, the tomb of Colonel Martin, who, having left his
native town of Lyons for Pondicherry, after having painfully worked his
way up to the grade of corporal in the French king's army, departed from
thence and travelled to Oudh. There as a favourite of the Moslem king's
and generalissimo of his troops, he amassed a large fortune, and spent
it in building the palaces and colleges which perpetuate his name in
several towns in India. He was an eccentric adventurer, whom some now
remember here, and whose name pronounced in the Indian fashion, with a
broad accent on the _a_, suggests an almost ironical meaning in
conjunction with the idea of a college.

By the side of the road, in the town, the walls are still standing, all
that remains of a great hall in the palace of Secundra Bagh, in which,
after the suppression of the Mutiny in 1857, two thousand sepoys who
refused to surrender were put to death.

And at this day the high road passes Secundra Bagh in ruins, and on the
ground where Nana Sahib's soldiers fell, huge flowers are strewn of
"flame of the forest" fading into hues of blood.

In 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 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.

Inside the mausoleum numberless lustres hang from the roof, and fine
large standing lamps with crystal pendants burn round two tombs covered
with antique hangings and wreathed with jasmine; beneath these lie the
two last kings of Oudh. Small models of two famous mosques, one in gold
and one in silver, are placed on the tombs, round which a whole regiment
of obsequious moollahs and beggars mount guard. On the walls childish
paintings, representing scenes of the Anglo-Indian conflict, alternate
with mirrors in gilt frames, and silk standards exquisitely faded,
embroidered with dim gold and silver, and surmounted by tridents.

Here, once more, is the spectre of the mutiny that broke out in the
Residency, of which the ruins may be seen in the middle of a park
intersected by watercourses, the English flag still proudly waving over

The gateway looks as if it had been carved by the dints of bullets in
the stone, and close by, a breach in the huge enclosing wall scored all
over by shot gave ingress to the murderous host. Inside, on the walls
that are left standing, and they are many, the bullets seem to have
scrawled strange characters. In the bath-house with its graceful columns
and arabesque ornaments, in Dr. Fayrer's house, of which the proportions
remind us of Trianon, where Sir Henry Lawrence died among the ruins of
the mosque--everywhere, we see tablets of black marble commemorating the
numerous victims of the rebellion. In one barrack two hundred and
forty-five women and children were murdered; in another forty-five
officers were buried in the ruins. And close by the scene of carnage, in
a smiling cemetery, their graves hidden in flowers, under the shadow of
the English flag that flies from the summit of the ruined tower which
formerly commanded the country round, sleep the nine hundred and
twenty-seven victims of Nana Sahib's treachery.


Here, even more than at Lucknow, are the memories of 1857--columns and
tombs; and on the spot where the last victims who had trusted him were
murdered by the orders of the Indian prince, stands the "Memorial," an
arcade surrounding the figure of an angel, which in its Christmas-card
sentimentality suggests the apotheosis of a fairy drama, and has the
arid lack of feeling that characterizes a monochrome figure in vulgar
decoration, almost counteracting the pity we experience in the presence
of the simpler tombs--all bearing the same date, June, 1857.

By the roadside came two figures tottering along, and then, turning to
look at me, showed me the horror of their shrivelled bodies, their
dimmed eyes--all that seemed alive in those drawn faces of skin and
bone--the jaw stiffened in a skull-like grimace; victims of the famine,
who had come from the Central Provinces where there had been no rain for
two years, and where everything was dying. This couple were making their
way to a poorhouse hard by. They had come from a village in Bundelkund,
whence all the inhabitants had fled--themselves the sole survivors of a
family of eighteen souls. First the children died, then the very old
folks. These two had kept themselves alive on what had been given them
on the way, but immigrants soon were too many in the districts unvisited
by famine, and ere long they could get nothing; then they fed on roots,
on what they could steal from fields or garden-plots, or found left to
rot, scorned even by the beasts.

They were clad in colourless rags, matted and grizzled hair hung about
their pain-stricken faces. The woman was the more delicate, her bones
smaller and less knotted than those of the man, whose joints were
gnarled, his scraggy knees forming thick bosses of bone above his shins.
They threw themselves like hungry animals on some cooked grain which
Abibulla brought out for them, and then, with scared looks all round,
they went quickly away, as quickly as they could with halting, weary
feet, without even saying thank-you.

The poorhouse is about two miles from the city; it consists of a
courtyard enclosed by walls, from which awnings are stretched supported
on poles. And here from twelve to fifteen hundred wretched skeletons had
found shelter, spectres with shoulder-blades almost cutting through the
skin, arms shrunk to the bone, with the elbow-joint like a knot in the
middle, and at the end hands which looked enormous and flat and limp, as
if every knuckle were dislocated. Their gnarled knees projected from the
fearful leanness of their legs, and the tightened skin between the
starting ribs showed the hollow pit of the stomach. Men and women alike
were for the most part naked, but for a ragged cotton loin-cloth. And
all had the same scared look in their eyes, the same grin of bare teeth
between those hollow cheeks. Almost all had bleeding wounds where the
bones had come through the skin.

Such as were able to work at making rope or straw mats earned an anna a
day, the children half an anna. This was extra to their food, a cake of
gram flour, which was all the allowance for twenty-four hours. But among
those admitted to the poorhouse about a quarter of the number were
unable to work. In a similar but smaller enclosure adjacent was the
infirmary, a hospital with no physician, no remedies. The shrunken
creatures lay shivering in the sun, huddled under rags of blanket. All
were moaning, many were unconscious, wandering in delirium, shrieking,
and writhing. One man, too weak to stand, came up grovelling on his
hands and knees, taking me for a doctor, and beseeching me to go to his
wife who was lying over there, and by her a dusky moist rag as it
seemed--her very inside purged out by dysentery.

Near her was another woman, gone mad, dancing, her skeleton limbs
contorted in a caricature of grace; and a child of some few months,
like an undeveloped abortion, of the colour of a new penny, with a large
head rolling on a neck reduced to the thickness of the vertebræ, and
arms and legs no larger than knitting-pins, but, in a sort of mockery,
the swollen belly of the fever-stricken. The eyes blinked in the little
wrinkled face, seeking something in vacancy; it tried to cry, but the
only sound was a feeble croak.

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.

"And is there no doctor?"

"He comes now and then," said the baboo, who was our guide; but on my
pressing the question this "now and then" remained vague, no day or week
could be named.

"And no medicine?"

"We give rice to the sick, who all have dysentery, instead of the daily

"And is that all?"

"But rice is very good, and it is very dear, and some of them have been
ill for three weeks."

"And how many die every day?"

"Five--six," said the baboo, hesitating; then, seeing that I was quite
incredulous, "Sometimes more," he added.

Further away was one of the famine-camps--established all over India--to
afford the means of earning a living to those whom the scourge had
driven from their native provinces.

Two or three thousand haggard and fleshless beings were digging or
carrying earth to form an embankment for a railway or a road. With arms
scarcely thicker than the handles of the tools they wielded, the
labourers gasped in the air, tired in a minute, and pausing to rest in
spite of the abuse of the overseers. Emaciated women, so small in their
tattered sarees, carried little baskets on their heads containing a few
handfuls of earth, but which they could scarcely lift. One of them,
wrinkled and shrunken, looked a hundred years old tottering under her
load; on reaching the spot where she was to empty out the soil, she
leaned forward a little and let the whole thing fall, indifferent to the
dust which covered her and filled her mouth and eyes; and after taking
breath for a moment, off she went again as if walking in her sleep.

The men are paid as much as two annas (one penny) a day. The women earn
ten, seven, or three cowries (shells at the rate of about 190 to the
anna) for each basket-load, according to the distance, and could make as
much as an anna a day. But each of these toilers had to support many
belongings who could not work, and squatted about the camp in their
desolate and pitiable misery. And the food was insufficient for any of
them, only hindering the poor creatures from dying at once.

The baboo who has lost caste and been half-civilized in the Anglo-Indian
colleges, is always the middleman between the Government and the poor;
and he, barefaced and with no pretence of concealment, took twenty per
cent. of the wages he was supposed to pay the labourers. And there were
none but baboos to superintend the poorhouses and the famine-camps. It
is said that during the previous famine some made fortunes of six to
eight lacs of rupees (the lac is £10,000).

These gentlemen of the Civil Service would put in an appearance "now and
then"--the eternal "now and then" that answers every question in India.
They stepped out of a buggy, walked quickly round, had seen, and were
gone again in a great hurry to finish some important work for the next
European mail.

And of all the victims of the disaster those I had just seen were not
the most to be pitied. It was on families of high caste, men who might
not work and whose wives must be kept in seclusion, that the famine
weighed most cruelly. At first they borrowed money (and the rate of
interest recognized and tolerated here is seventy-five per cent.), then
they sold all they could sell. Bereft of every resource, unable to earn
anything in any way, regarding the famine as an inevitable infliction by
the incensed gods, they let themselves starve to death in sullen pride,
shut up in their houses with their womankind. Thus they were the most
difficult to rescue. Their unassailable dignity made them refuse what
they would have regarded as charity, even to save the life of those
dearest to them, and it needed the angelic craft of the women of the
Zenana Mission to induce the kshatriyas to accept the smallest sum to
keep themselves alive.

Grain was now at five times the usual price, and would continue to rise
till the next harvest-time. Official salaries and the wages of the poor
remained fixed, and misery was spreading, gaining ground on all sides of
the devastated districts.

A few officers, a few clergy only, had organized some distribution of
relief; the administration, wholly indifferent, was drawing double pay
in consideration of the increase of work in famine time.

The road from Cawnpore to Gwalior makes a bend towards central India
across a stony, barren tract, where a sort of leprosy of pale lichen has
overgrown the white dust on the fields that are no longer tilled. There
is no verdure; mere skeletons of trees, and a few scattered palms still
spread their leaves, protecting under their shade clumps of golden

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.

Through the half-open doors in the courtyards bones were bleaching,
almost buried under the fine powder that lies on everything. And from
this dust, as we trod it, rose a sharp smell of pepper and smoke.
Twisted branches drooped forlorn from the skeletons of a few trees that
were left standing. Parasitic creepers had woven a flowing robe of
tangle over a statue of Kali, left unbroken in front of a small temple
in ruins; and all over the withered and faded growth the fine white
dust had settled in irregular patterns, a graceful embroidery rather
thicker in the folds.

There was not a living thing in the silence and overheated air--not a
bird, not a fly; and beyond the houses lay the plain once more, a
monotonous stretch of dead whiteness, the unspeakable desolation of
murderous nature, henceforth for ever barren.

At Jhansi, by the station, were parties of famishing emigrants, all with
the same dreadful white grimace and glazed eyes, and in the town more
starving creatures dragging their suffering frames past the
shops--almost all closed--or begging at the doors of the temples and
mosques; and the few passers-by hurried on as if they, too, wanted to
escape, overpowered by this scene of dread and horror.

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.


A giant rock and natural fortress command the plain, towering above the
garden-land. Two roads, hewn in the stone, lead by easy ascents to the
top. All along the rock wall bas-reliefs are carved, warriors riding on
elephants, and Kalis in graceful attitudes. There are openings to the
green depths of reservoirs, small temples, arcades sheltering idols
bowered in fresh flowers. Arches in the Jaïn style of architecture span
the road, and at the summit, beyond the inevitable drawbridge, stands
Mandir, the palace of King Pal, a dazzling structure of yellow stone,
looking as if it had grown on the hill-rock that it crowns with beauty.
Towers carrying domed lanterns spring skywards above the massive walls.
The decoration is playfully light, carvings alternating with inlaid
tiles; and all round the lordly and solemn edifice wheels a procession
of blue ducks on a yellow ground in earthenware.

Under the archway by which we entered a cow crossed our path, her head
decked with a tiara of peacock's feathers, and went her way alone for a
walk at an easy pace. Within the palace is a maze of corridors, and
pierced carving round every room fretting the daylight. An inner court
is decorated with earthenware panels set in scroll-work of stone. A
slender colonnade in white marble is relieved against the yellow walls,
and below the roof, in the subdued light of the deeper angles, the
stone, the marble, the porcelain, take hues of sapphire, topaz, and
enamel, reflections as of gold and mother-of-pearl. In a pavilion is a
little divan within three walls, all pierced and carved; it suggests a
hollow pearl with its sides covered with embroidery that dimly shows
against the sheeny smoothness of the marble. The effect is so
exquisitely soft, so indescribably harmonious, that the idea of size is
lost, and the very materials seem transfigured into unknown substances.
One has a sense as of being in some fairy palace, enclosed in a gem
excavated by gnomes--a crystal of silk and frost, as it were, bright
with its own light.

The rock is girt with a belt of walls, and in the citadel, besides
Mandir, with its outbuildings and tanks, there is a whole town of
palaces and temples, which are being demolished little by little to make
way for barracks.

In front of these stolid-looking sepoys, their black heads and hands
conspicuous in their yellow uniforms, are drilled to beat of drum,
marking every step and movement.

Adinath, a Jaïn temple, is roofed with huge blocks of stone. The airy
architecture is a medley of balconies, of pierced panels, of arcades in
squares, in lozenges, in octagons; the two stories, one above the other,
are on totally different plans, and along every wall, on every column
and every balustrade runs a fatiguing superfluity of ornament, figures
and arabesques repeated on the stone, of which not an inch is left

The roof, upheld by a double row of stone blocks set on end, and
somewhat atilt, weighs on the building, which is already giving way; and
the next monsoon will destroy this marvel of the Jaïn to spare the
trouble of military constructors--the builders of barracks.

Another temple, Sas Bahu, likewise elaborately carved under a roof too
heavy for it, has a terrace overhanging the hill, whence there is a view
over Lashkar, the new palace, gleaming white among the huge trees of the

At our feet lay old Gwalior, sacked again and again, and as often
rebuilt out of its own ruins; and now the princely residences, all of
marble wrought in almost transparent lacework, serve to shelter
wandering cattle.

One mosque alone, a marvel of workmanship, its stones pierced with a
thousand patterns, remains intact amid the Indian dwellings built, all
round the sacred spot, of the remains of ancient magnificence, of which,
ere long, nothing will be left standing.

A fortified wall encloses Lashkar, the residence of the Maharajah of
Gwalior; the bridges, which form part of the enclosure crossing the
river that flows through the estate, have thick bars filling up the

On entering the park the cocked turbans of the bodyguard again reminded
us of the hats of the French Guards.

Heavy coaches with solid wheels, hermetically covered with red stuff
patterned with white, were bringing home the invisible but noisy ladies
of the zenana.

The garden, which is very extensive and laid out in beds carefully
crammed with common flowers, has Jablochkoff lamps at every turning. It
is traversed by a little narrow-gauge railway, and the toy train is
kept under a vault of the brand-new, spotless white palace.

The Maharajah was out, at his devotions; I could see everything. Up a
staircase with a gilt paper and gilt banisters, leading to rooms where
crystal lustres hang like tears above Oxford Street furniture, and
lovely chromo-lithographs in massive and glittering frames.

In the forecourt a cast-metal nymph presides over a sham-bronze

The south-western side of the great rock of Gwalior is hewn into temples
sheltering gigantic statues of Tirthankar; there are the usual
bas-reliefs all over the walls, idols squatting under canopies and
pagodas, slender columns supporting arches, standing out in contrast
with the ochre-coloured stone. Other temples, vast halls as at Ellora--a
vale of pagodas, "the happy valley"--have all disappeared under the
picks of engineers, to make a dusty road to the new town of bungalows
all adobe and straw thatch.

As the sun sank the citadel absorbed the gold and purple glory, and
looked as though it were of some translucent half-fused metal; the
towers and temples with their decoration of tiles blazed against the
pure sky. High over Mandir a little balcony with spindle columns,
overhanging the precipice at a giddy height, caught the last rays of
Surya, and flashed with a gem-like gleam above Gwalior, which was
already shrouded in the blue haze of night.


In a suburb of little houses beyond a great open square stands a
gateway--a monumental portico of pink sandstone inlaid with white
marble, on which the texts from the Koran, in black marble, look green
in the intense light.

On entering this portal, lo, a miraculous vision! At the end of an
avenue of dark cypress trees stands the tomb of Mumtaj-Mahal, a dream in
marble, its whiteness, crowned by five cupolas that might be pearls,
mirrored in a pool edged with pink stone and borders of flowers.

The whole mausoleum, the terrace on which it stands, the four minarets
as tall as light-towers, are all in dead white marble, the whiteness of
milk and opal, glistening with nacreous tints in the brilliant sunshine
under a sky pale with heat and dust.

Inside, the walls are panelled with mosaic of carnelian and chalcedony,
representing poppies and funkias, so fragile-looking, so delicate, that
they seem real flowers blooming in front of the marble. And marble
screens, carved into lace-work, filling the high doorways and the
windows, admit a tender amber-toned light.

Under the central dome sleeps Mumtaj-Mahal, the well-beloved sultana,
for whom Shah Jehan erected the most beautiful mausoleum in the world.

A marble balustrade, of flowing design and astounding delicacy,
exquisitely harmonious and artistic, encloses the white sarcophagus,
which is inlaid with _mindi_ and basilic flowers in costly agate, linked
by inscriptions looking like lacings of narrow black braid. This
balustrade alone, in the Taj, under the marble pile which forms the tomb
of the empress, and on which 20,000 craftsmen laboured for twenty years,
would, in its indescribable beauty of workmanship, have amply fulfilled
Shah Jehan's vow.

On the outside, all round the lower part of the monument, carved borders
frame flowers of pale mosaic in the walls; the ornament is in such faint
relief that at a short distance it is invisible, and the Taj is seen
only in the perfect elegance of its proportions. The mausoleum is built
on a broad terrace of white marble at a height of 270 feet, overhanging
the Jumna; and the impressive, harmonious outline commands the plain
from afar.

Legends have gathered round the Taj Mahal as about every old building in
India, and this one seems to me not impossible in its barbarity.

When the last stone was placed, Shah Jehan sent for the architect and
went with him to the top of the mausoleum.

"Could you design another tomb as beautiful as this?" asked the emperor.

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.

The fort, rising from a rock wall of rose-red sandstone, is reached by a
series of drawbridges and bastions, now no longer needed and open to all

The central square, formerly the Sultan Akbar's garden, is now a
parade-ground for soldiers, and barracks occupy the site of ruined
palaces. Still some remains of ancient splendour are to be seen that
have escaped the vandals.

Here, a white marble mosque with three flights of open arcades, with
white domes to roof it, is paved with rectangular flags, each bordered
with a fillet of black marble ending in an arch-like point, immovable
prayer-carpets turned towards Mecca. Behind the marble lattices that
form one wall of this mosque, the women of the zenana come to hear the
moollah recite prayer.

Under a loggia, flowery with mosaics of jasper and carnelian, the
emperor, seated on a white marble throne embroidered with carving,
administered justice. At his feet, on a raised stone flag, the divan,
his prime minister took down the despot's words, to transmit them to the
people who were kept at a respectful distance under a colonnade, forming
a verandah round the imperial palace.

And this morning I had seen in the place of Akbar or Jehangir, a sturdy,
blowsy soldier, in his red coatee, his feet raised higher than his head,
spread out in his wicker deck-chair, and reading the latest news just
brought by the mail from Europe.

The sultana's mosque is quite small, of translucent milky-white marble,
and close by it is a red wall, hardly pierced by a narrow window with a
stone screen, behind which Shah Jehangir was kept a prisoner for seven

Dewani Khas, the great hall of audience, on columns open on all sides to
the sky and landscape, overlooks a pit about thirty paces away where
tigers and elephants fought to divert the sultan and his court. At the
threshold is a large block of black marble--the throne of Akbar the
Great. At the time of the incursion of the Jâts, who drove the emperor
from his palace, as soon as the usurper took his seat, the stone, the
legend tells, split and shed blood; the iridescent stain remains to this

Above the throne, in the white marble wall, is a round hole, the mark of
a cannon-ball at the time of the Mutiny. Out of this came a parrot,
gravely perching to scratch its poll; then, alarmed at seeing us so
close, it retired into its hole again.

Further on we came to a courtyard surrounded by a cloister, where the
market for precious stones was held. The empress, invisible under her
wrappers of gauze as thin as air, and surrounded by her women fanning
her, would come out on her high balcony to choose the gems that pleased
her for a moment by their sparkle, and then disappear into the gardens
behind insurmountable walls. In another court, a pool kept stocked with
fish gave Shah Jehangir the pleasure of fancying he was fishing.

At one corner of a bastion of the rampart rises the Jasmine tower, the
empress's pavilion, built of amber-toned marble inlaid with gold and
mother-of-pearl. A double wall of pierced lattice, as fine as a
hand-screen, enclosed the octagon chamber; the doors, which were of
massive silver jewelled with rubies, have been removed. The golden
lilies inlaid in the panels have also disappeared, roughly torn out and
leaving the glint of their presence in a warmer hue, still faintly
metallic. Recesses in the wall, like porticoes, served for hanging
dresses in, and low down, holes large enough to admit the hand, were
hiding-places for jewels, between two slabs of marble. In front of the
sultana's kiosk, basins in the form of shells, from which rose-water
poured forth, go down like steps to a tank below.

The subterranean passage leading from the empress's rooms to the mosque,
has in the roof a thick flagstone that admits a subdued glimmer as
through amber or honey, lighting up all one end of the dark corridor.

The sultan's bath is lined with panels of lapis lazuli framed in gold,
and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, or looking-glass, and the walls have
little hollow niches for lamps, over which the water fell in a shower
into a bath with a decoration of scroll-work. And in front of Jehangir's
room, again a series of basins hollowed in the steps of a broad marble
stair, where a stream of water fell from one to another.

We saw the Jasmine tower from a corner of the garden in the glow of
sunset. With its gilt cupola blazing in the low beams, its amber-hued
walls as transparent as melting wax, and its pierced screen-work, it
looked so diaphanous, so fragile, that it might be carried away by the
evening breeze. And beyond the pavilion, above the ramparts carved with
huge elephants, lies the old Hindoo palace, deserted by Jehangir for his
house of pale marbles--an endless palace, a labyrinth of red buildings
loaded to the top with an agglomeration of ornament supporting flat
roofs. And pagodas that have lost their doors, a work of destruction
begun by Aurungzeeb. One court is still intact, overhung by seventy-two
balconies, where the zenana could look on at the dancing of bayadères.
Perfect, too, is the queen's private apartment, with two walls between
which an army kept guard by day and by night.

A road between ancient trees and green fields which are perpetually
irrigated leads to Sicandra-Bagh. Here, at the end of a wretched village
of huts and hovels, is the magnificence of a stately portal of red stone
broadly decorated with white; and then, through a garden where trees and
shrubs make one huge bouquet, behold the imposing mass of the tomb of
Akbar the Great. The mausoleum is on the scale of a cathedral. There are
two stories of galleries in pink sandstone crowned by a marble pavilion
with lace-like walls; and there, high up, is the sarcophagus of white
stone, covered with inscriptions setting forth the nineteen names of

Near this tomb is a stele with the dish on the top of it in which the
Koh-i-noor was found. In the crypt of the mosque, at the end of a
passage, is a vaulted room lined with stucco and devoid of ornament, and
here is the burial place of Akbar, a mound covered with lime. The
sarcophagus above, at the foot of which the Koh-i-noor once blazed, is
but the replica of this.

This cell is as dark as a cellar, barbarously squalid. But to all our
questions the moollah who was our guide only replied:

"Nothing could be fine enough to be worthy of Akbar, so this was made
in a hurry that he might at least rest in peace without delay."

In the heart of Agra towards evening people were busy in the square of
the Jumna Musjid stretching pieces of stuff over rather low poles to
form a tent. Then in long file came the labourers from a famine-camp,
with their sleep-walking gait, their glassy eyes, their teeth showing
like those of a grinning skull. Rags in a thousand holes scarcely
covered the horrors of their fleshless bodies.

The children of the bazaar watched them pass, holding out in their
fingers scraps of food--the remains of cakes, green fruit, or handfuls
of rice, and the famishing creatures quarrelled for the morsels,
frightening the little ones, who fled. Then they disappeared silently
under the awnings, filling the air with a smell of dust and pepper,
scaring the pigeons away from the pool for ablutions, and the birds
fluttered up in dismay in the rosy sunset glow, seeking some other
refuge for the night.


Broad streets crossing each other at right angles; houses, palaces,
archways flanked by towers, and colonnades, all alike covered with
pink-washed plaster decorated with white. And all the buildings have the
hasty, temporary appearance of a town run up for an exhibition to last
only a few months.

There is a never-ending traffic of elephants, baggage-camels, and
vehicles with shouting drivers; and on the ground are spread heaps of
fruit, baskets for sale, glass baubles and weapons. In all the pink and
white throng not an European dress is to be seen, not even one of the
vile compounds adopted by the baboo, a striped flannel jacket over the
dhoti. Men and women alike wear necklaces of flowers, or flowers in
their hair; the children are gaudy with trinkets and glass beads.

The Rajah's residence, of plaster like the rest of the town, is pink too
outside, but the interior is aggressive with paint of harsh colours. In
the living rooms is shabby furniture, gilt chairs turned one over the
other, as on the day after a ball. The curtains over the doors and
windows are of silk, but frayed and threadbare. In the shade of a
marble court with carved columns, clerks are employed in counting
money--handsome coins stamped with flowers and Indian characters, laid
out in rows. They count them into bags round which soldiers mount guard.

Outside the palace is a large garden, devoid of shade, with pools of
water bowered in flowers and shrubs that shelter myriads of singing
birds. At the end of the park is a tank full of crocodiles. A keeper
called the brutes, and they came up facing us in a row, their jaws open
to catch the food which the Rajah amuses himself by throwing to them.

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.

A salesman of whom I had bought several things, wishing to do me a
civility, called a tom-tom player, who was to escort me home rapping on
his ass's skin; and when I declined very positively, the poor man
murmured with a piteous, crushed look:

"What a pity that the sahib does not like music!"

All about the town of pink plaster, in the dust of the roads and fields,
are an endless number of dead temples--temples of every size and of
every period; and all deserted, all empty; even those that are uninjured
look like ruins.

And for an hour as we drove along towards Amber, the old town deserted
in favour of modern Jeypoor, the same succession of temples wheeled
past. The crenated walls enclose three hills, one of them crowned by a
fortress, to defend erewhile the white palace mirrored in the waters of
an artificial lake.

All round the Rajah's palace crowds a town of palaces, mosques, and
temples dedicated to Vishnu; and outside the walls, on a plain lying
between the hills of Amber, is another town, still thick with ruins amid
the forest of encroaching trees. And it is all dead, deserted,
dust-coloured, unspeakably sad, with the sadness of destruction and
desertion in the midst of a landscape gorgeous with flowers and groves.
In the palace of Amber, guides make a good business of showing us the
public rooms, baths, and bedrooms, all restored with an eye to the
tourist. In the gardens, heavy with perfume, the trees display swinging
balls of baked earth full of holes, which protect the ripening fruit
from the monkeys; a whole tribe of them scampered off at our approach,
and went to torment the peacocks that were solemnly promenading a path,
and that presently flew away.


In the centre of the modern fort, a belt of walls with gates that form
palaces under the arches, is the ancient residence of the Moguls. Beyond
the barracks full of native and English soldiers, we reached the cool
silence of the throne-room. Colonnades of red stone surround a throne of
white marble inlaid with lilies in carnelian on tall stems of jasper.
All round this throne, to protect it from the tourists, but also as if
to emphasize its vanity, is a railing.

On the very edge of the Jumna, where russet fields break the monotony of
its white sandy banks, is the private state-room, the residence of the
sovereigns of Delhi, built of translucent milky marble, warmed by the
reflection of gold inlaid on the columns and merged with the stone that
is turned to amber.

Under the white dome a wooden ceiling, gilt in the hollows of the
carving, has taken the place of an earlier ceiling of massive silver,
worth seventy lacs of rupees, which was carried off by the conquerors
after some long-ago seizure of the city. Inside, by way of walls, are
carvings in marble of twisted lilies, inconceivably graceful and light.
And then, at one of the entrances, those marble lattices, once gilt and
now bereft of their gold, look just like topaz in the midday sun. After
that magic splendour of gold and marbles fused to topaz and amber, the
rest of the palace--the sleeping-rooms, the couches inlaid with mosaic
flowers, the pierced stone balconies overlooking the Jumna--all seemed
commonplace and familiar.

From a quite small garden close to the palace a bronze gate with three
medallions of lilies in high relief, of marvellous workmanship, opens on
the Pearl Mosque, exquisitely white, at the end of its forecourt of
immaculate pavement enclosed by a marble balustrade. Three polished and
shining domes are supported by columns of snow made of a hard white
marble, scarcely broken by ornament, and carrying a roof hollowed into
three vaults. The rings are still to be seen on the marble walls
outside, to which, when the great Mogul came to prayer, curtains were
attached made of gold net and spangled with diamonds and pearls.

In the evening I was to dine with the officers of the Artillery mess,
and in going I lost my way. Suddenly before me stood the amber palace,
with blue shadows, moon-coloured, the carvings like opal in changing
hues of precious gems. Half hidden by a growth of jasmine that loaded
the air with fragrance, up rose the cupolas of the little mosque, like
pearls reflecting the sparkle of the stars.

Outside the town of Delhi a road bordered by great trees leads across
the white plain, all strewn with temples and tombs, to Khoutab, the
ancient capital of the Moguls--a dead city, where the ruins still
standing in many places speak of a past of unimaginable splendour. There
is a colossal tower of red masonry that springs from the soil with no
basement; it is reeded from top to bottom, gradually growing thinner as
it rises, with fillets of letters in relief, and balconies on brackets
as light as ribbands alternating to the top. It is an enormous mass of
red stone, which the ages have scarcely discoloured, and was built by
Khoutab-Oudeen Eibek to commemorate his victory over the Sultan
Pithri-Raj, the triumph of Islam over Brahminism.

To reach this tower in its garden of flowering shrubs the way is under
the Alandin gate of pink sandstone; the name evokes a tale of wonder,
and the pointed arch, exquisitely noble in its curve, looks like pale
vellum, graven all over with ornaments, and inscriptions to the glory of

Close to the monumental trophy of Khoutab is a temple with columns
innumerable, and all different, overloaded with carvings incised and in
relief, with large capitals; beams meet and cross under the roof, also
carved in the ponderous stone, and the whole forms a cloister round a
court; while in the centre, amid Moslem tombs, an iron pillar stands,
eight metres high, a pillar of which there are seven metres sunk in the
ground--a colossal casting placed here in 317, when half the civilized
world was as yet ignorant of the art of working in metal. An inscription
records that "King Dhava, a worshipper of Vishnu, set up this pillar to
commemorate his victory over the Belikas of Sindhu."

And side by side with history a pleasing legend tells that King
Anang-Pal yearned to atone for his faults and redeem the earth from sin.
So by the counsels of a wise Brahmin he caused this vast iron spike to
be forged by giants, to be driven into the earth and pierce the serpent
Sechnaga, who upholds the world. The deed was done, but because certain
disbelieving men denied that the monster was dead, the king caused the
weapon to be pulled up, and at the end of it behold the stain of blood;
so the iron beam was driven in again. But the spell was broken--the
creature had escaped. The column remained unstable, prefiguring the end
of the dynasty of Anang, and the serpent still works his wicked will.

Only one entrance to the temple remains, built of polished red stone
mingled harmoniously with marble, toned by time to a warm golden hue
almost rose-colour. All the profusion of Indian design is lavished on
this gateway framing the marvel erected by Pal. Tangles of interlacing
letters incised and in relief, mingling with trails of flowers as lissom
as climbing plants, and supporting figures of gods; while a fine
powdering of white dust over the dimmed warm yellow of marble and
sandstone softens yet more the carved flowers and sinuous patterns, amid
which the images sit in tranquil attitudes.

A roofless mausoleum is that of the Sultan Altamsh, who desired to
sleep for ever with no vault over his tomb but that of the heavens; a
vast hall, its walls wrought with inscriptions in Persian, Hindostanee,
and Arabic, built of brick-red granite and yellow marble softened to
pale orange in the golden sunshine. Here and there traces may be seen of
wall-paintings, green and blue, but quite faded, and now merely a darker
shadow round the incised ornament. Hibiscus shrubs mingle their branches
over the tomb and drop large blood-red blossoms on the stone
sarcophagus. Further on is another mausoleum, in such good preservation
that it has been utilized as a bungalow for some official.

After passing the temples and tombs that surround the Khoutab, the town
of ruins lies scattered over the plain of pale sand and withered

A prodigious palace has left the skeleton of its walls pierced with
large windows, and in the blackened stone, almost at the top of the
building, a balcony with a canopy over it, resting on fragile columns,
is still uninjured; of a pale yellow, like lemon-tree wood, it looks as
if it had come into existence only yesterday, a flower risen from the
death of the ruins.

Huge vultures were prowling about the place. At our approach they
flapped a little away, and then perching on a heap of stones preened
their feathers with clumsy, ungraceful movements.

A tank here is deep below ground, down three flights of galleries. Quite
at the bottom is a little stagnant water, into which children leap from
the top of the structure, a plunge of twenty metres, ending in a great
splash of green mud that smells of water-lilies and grease.

More and yet more palaces; remains of marble porticoes and columns,
walls covered with tiles glittering in the blazing sunshine like topaz
and emerald; and over all the peace of dust and death, the only moving
thing those vultures, in shades of dull grey almost indistinguishable
from the colour of the stones.

And suddenly, emerging from the ruins, we came on a Moslem street with
high walls, windowless, and waving plumes of banyan and palm trees
rising above the houses.

At the top of the street a caravan of moollahs were performing their
devotions at the tomb of a Mohammedan saint, whose sarcophagus was
enclosed within a balustrade of marble and a border of lilies,
alternately yellow and green, with large full-blown flowers in blue,
fragile relics that have survived for centuries amid ruins that are
comparatively recent.

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.

And again ruins. Under an archway still left standing on piers carved
with lilies and foliage, lay a whole family of pariahs covered with
leprosy and sores.

Close to a village that has sprouted under the baobab-trees, in the
midst of the plain that once was Khoutab, in the court of a mosque, is
the marble sarcophagus of a princess. Grass is growing in the hollow of
the stone that covers her, in fulfilment of the wishes of the maiden,
who in her humility desired that when she was dead she should be laid to
rest under the common earth whence the grass grows in the spring. And
not far from the rajah's daughter, under a broad tamarind tree, in the
blue shade, is the tomb of Kushru, the poet who immortalized
Bagh-o-Bahar. On the sarcophagus, in the little kiosk, was a kerchief of
silk and gold, with a wreath of fresh flowers renewed every day by the

A humble poet, more venerated than the kings whose superb mausoleums
are crumbling to dust in subjugated India, who, though she forgets her
past, is still true to her dreams.

Another magnificent temple, with marble arcades wrought to filigree,
curved in frilled arches, on spindle-like columns that soar to support
the cupolas, as light as flower-stems. A gem of whiteness and sheen in
the desert of ruins where yet stand three matchless marvels: the tower
of Khoutab, the gate of Alandin, and the column of Dhava.

Toglackabad, again an ancient Delhi, a rock on the bank of the Jumna
after crossing a white desert; walls of granite, massive bastions,
battlemented towers of a Saracen stamp, rough-hewn, devoid of ornament,
and uniform in colour--bluish with light patches of lichen. The
enclosure has crumbled into ruin, in places making breaches in the
walls, which nevertheless preserve the forbidding aspect of an
impregnable citadel.

Entering by one of the fourteen gates in the ramparts of stone blocks
scarcely hewn into shape, the city of palaces and mosques is found in
ruins, matching the fortifications, without any decoration, and all of
the same cold grey hue, like a city of prisons.

At a short distance from Toglackabad, on a solitary rock, stands a
square building of massive architecture, sober in outline, and crowned
by a stone dome. It dwells alone, surrounded by walls; the mausoleum of
Toglack, containing his tomb with that of his wife and his son, Mohammed
the Cruel.

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.

In the town camels were harnessed to a sort of carriage like a hut
perched on misshapen wheels, and rumbling slowly through the streets,
seeming very heavy at the heels of the big beast with its shambling

To the Chandni Chowk--the bazaar. In a miniature-painter's shop was a
medley of ivories, of boxes inlaid with silver and ebony, and toys
carved in sandal-wood.

The artist sat at work in a corner of the window, copying minutely, for
the thousandth time perhaps, a Taj or a Moti Musjid. Quite unmoved while
his shopman displayed his wares, he worked on with brushes as fine as
needles; but when, on leaving, I asked him where I could procure some
colours I needed, "Then the sahib paints?" said he; and he rose at once,
insisted on my taking a seat, pressed me to accept a little sandal-wood
frame, as a fellow-artist, and then would positively paint my portrait.

In a little alley of booths was a shop with no front show, and behind it
a sort of studio full of carvers and artists working on sandal-wood
boxes, ivory fans as fine as gauze, and wooden lattices with elaborate
flower patterns, used to screen the zenana windows. And in little
recesses workmen dressed in white, with small copper pots about them in
which they had brought rice for their meals, were chasing and embossing
metal with little taps of their primitive tools, never making a mistake,
working as their fancy might suggest, without any pattern, and quite at
home in the maze of interlacing ornament.

In order that I might be far from the noise of the street the merchant
had the objects I wished to see brought to me in a little room over the
shop. Everything was spread before me on a white sheet, in the middle of
which I sat. Refreshments were brought, fruits and sweetmeats, while a
coolie waved a large fan over my head--a huge palm-leaf stitched with
bright-hued silks.

In the distance we heard a sound of pipes, and the merchant hastened out
to call the nautch-girls, who began to dance in the street just below
us, among the vehicles and foot-passengers. There were two of them; one
in a black skirt spangled with silver trinkets, the other in orange and
red with a head-dress and necklace of jasmine. They danced with a
gliding step, and then drew themselves up with a sudden jerk that made
all their frippery tinkle. Then the girl in black, laying her right hand
on her breast, stood still, with only a measured swaying movement of her
whole body, while the dancer in yellow circled round, spinning as she
went. Next the black one performed a sort of goose-step with her feet on
one spot, yelling a so-called tune, and clacking her anklets one against
the other. Then, after a few high leaps that set her saree flying, the
dance was ended; she drew a black veil over her head, and turned with
her face to the wall. The other boldly asked for backsheesh, held up her
hands, and after getting her money, begged for cakes and sugar.

In the evening to the theatre--a Parsee theatre; a large tent, reserved
for women on one side by a hanging of mats. The public were English
soldiers and baboos with their children, and in the cheapest places a
packed crowd of coolies.

The manager also traded in clocks, and a selection was displayed for
sale at one end of the stalls.

The orchestra, consisting of a harmonium, a violin, and a darboukha,
played a languishing, drawling air to a halting rhythm, while the
chorus, standing in a line on the stage, sang the introductory verses.

The actors were exclusively men and boys, those who took female parts
wore rusty wigs over their own long, black hair; these were plaited on
each side of the face, and waxed behind to fall over the shoulders. The
costumes of velvet and satin, heavily embroidered with gold and silver,
were hideous.

The scenery was preposterous: red and green flowers growing on violet
boughs, with forests in the background of pink and yellow trees;
perspective views of streets, in which the houses were climbing over
each other, and finally a purple cavern under a brilliant yellow sky.

The actors spoke their parts like lessons, with a gesture only now and
then, and invariably wrong; and they all spoke and sang through the
nose in an irritating voice pitched too high.

The play was _Gul-E-Bakaoli_.

King Zainulmulook has lost his sight, and can recover it only if someone
will bring to him a miraculous flower from the garden of Bakaoli. His
four sons set out in search of it. Zainulmulook has a fifth son, named
Tazulmulook. At the birth of this child the king has had his horoscope
cast by the astrologers of the palace, who declared that the king would
become blind if he should see his son before his twelfth year; but
hunting one day the king has met Tazulmulook, who was walking in the
forest, and has lost his sight.

In a jungle we now see Tazulmulook banished and solitary, and he relates
his woes.

The four sons of the king presently come to a town. They ring at the
door of a house inhabited by a woman who, as the little English
translation tells us, carries on a foul trade, and Dilbar the
dancing-girl appears.

This Dilbar was a boy with a more woolly wig than the others, and to
emphasize her sex wore a monstrous display of trinkets round her neck
and arms, in her ears and nose.

Dilbar dances and sings before the brothers, and then proposes to play
cards. The stake is the liberty of the loser. The four princes play
against the dancing-girl, who wins and has them imprisoned on the spot.

Tazulmulook arrives in the same town, and is on the point of ringing at
Dilbar's door when he is hindered by his father's vizier, who tells him
how many times this dangerous woman has been the ruin of kings' sons.
But Tazulmulook, in a discourse on valour addressed to the audience, who
stamped applause, rejects the counsels of prudence and rings at the
dancer's door. Tazulmulook wins the game with Dilbar, and compels her to
release his brothers, but only after branding each on the back of his

The young prince then goes on his way in search of the magical flower.
He is about to rest awhile in a cavern, but at the moment when he lies
down on a stone it is transformed into a monster made of bladder, which
rears itself enraged in the air with a trumpet-cry. By good luck the
king's son calls upon the aid of the prophet Suleiman, whom the dragon
also reveres, and the pacified monster conveys Tazulmulook to the garden
of Bakaoli, and, moreover, gives him a ring which will be a talisman in

Tazulmulook finds Bakaoli asleep in her garden, and after plucking the
miraculous flower he exchanges the ring for that of the princess and
departs. Bakaoli awakes, and discovering the theft of the flower and of
her ring is much disturbed, and gives orders that the thief is to be

Tazulmulook on his way meets a blind man, whom he restores to sight by
the help of the magical flower; the man relates the story of the cure to
the four brothers, who quickly follow up Tazulmulook and presently
overtake him. After a short conflict they rob him of the talisman and
fly. The young prince is in despair, but as he wrings his hands he rubs
Bakaoli's ring and the dragon instantly appears. Tazulmulook commands
him forthwith to build a palace in front of that of King Zainulmulook.

While all this is going forward in the jungle, Bakaoli, disguised as an
astrologer, comes to the king, to whom she promises the coming of the
miraculous flower, and even while she is speaking the return of the four
princes is announced.

The old king is at once cured; he embraces his sons again and again.
After this emotion the first thing he remarks is the new palace that has
sprung from the ground exactly opposite his own.

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.

Bakaoli, having returned to her own country, sends her confidante, named
Hammala, with a letter to Tazulmulook, who at once follows the
messenger. The prince and the queen fall in love with each other.
Bakaoli's mother finds them together, and furious at the disobedience of
her daughter, who is affianced to another rajah, she calls up a djinn to
plunge Tazulmulook in a magic fount. The prince finds himself
transformed into a devil with horns, and wanders about the jungle once
more. There he meets a pariah woman with three children, who begs him to
marry her. Tazulmulook in despair leaps back into the spring to die
there, and to his great surprise recovers his original shape.

Bakaoli bewails her lover's departure, for which no one, not even her
mother, can comfort her.

Tazulmulook, again an outcast in the jungle, rescues a lady related to
Bakaoli from the embrace of a demon, and she in gratitude takes the
prince to Bakaoli's court. So at last the lovers are united and married.

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


In the midst of the Lake of Immortality stands a marble temple with a
roof and decorations of gold. All round the sacred lake palaces of
delicate hue form a circle about the sanctuary, which glistens in the
sun, its gilding and pale-tinted marbles reflected like the gleam of
precious stones in the calm, sheeny, deeply transparent water.

A causeway of white stone, with a fragile balustrade and columns
bearing lanterns of gold, leads from the shore to the temple.

Inside the building, under a silken Persian rug, stretched like an
awning, there were piles of coin on a cloth spread on the ground, with
flowers, rice, and sweetmeats offered there. In a recess was a band of
musicians--tom-toms and fiddles--scarcely audible in the turmoil of
shouted prayers and the chatter of the faithful.

At the end of a passage that runs round the temple an old woman who had
just been bathing was changing her wet saree for a dry one, and appeared
quite stripped, dropping her garments, and careful only not to let her
face be seen.

There was at the top of the temple a sarcophagus in a shrine, on which
were masses of impalpable silk gauze embroidered with gold, which looked
like a peacock's breast, so subtle were the transparent colours lying
one above another--green, blue, and yellow predominating, gauze so light
that the slightest breath set it floating in glistening and changing
hues; and on the snowy white pavement of the floor was strewn a carpet
of very pale lilac lilies and _mindi_ flowers.


The same ubiquitous terminus on a sandy plain, remote from everything;
then a drive jolting through bogs, and we reached the dirty, scattered
town crowded with people who had collected round a sort of fair with
booths for mountebanks, and roundabouts of wooden horses.

In an alley of the bazaar girls were lounging in hammocks hung to nails
outside the windows, smoking and spitting down on the world below.

A delightful surprise was a museum of Indian art, the first I had seen,
a fine collection and admirably arranged;[A] but the natives who
resorted hither to enjoy the cool shelter of the galleries talked to
each other from a distance, as is their universal custom, at the top of
their voices, which rang doubly loud under the echoing vaults.

The ancient palace of the kings of Lahore. Amid the ruins there is a
mosque of red stone flowered with white marble, the cupola of a
material so milky that it might be jade; and the structure is mirrored
in a pool of clear water, dappled with sun-sparks over the rose-coloured
stones at the bottom.

Another mausoleum is of lace-like carving in marble, the roof painted
with Persian ornament; and the whole thing is uninjured, as fresh as if
it had been wrought yesterday, under the broad shade of theobromas and
cedars that have grown up among the ruins.

Behind a ponderous wall, dinted all over by shot, and showing broad,
light patches once covered by earthenware tiles, is the palace of
Runjeet Singh, inlaid with enamelled pictures in green, blue, and yellow
of tiger-fights and horse-races, mingling with flowers and garlands of
boughs. The durbar, the hall or presence chamber, opens by a verandah on
a forecourt paved with marble; in its walls are mirrors and panels of
coloured glass over a ground of dull gold, agate-like tints iridescent
with a nacreous, silvery, luminous lustre.

In one vast hall were ancient weapons, swords and pistols, enriched with
precious stones; suits of armour damascened with gold, guns with silver
stocks set with pearls, and a whole battery of field-pieces to be
carried on camels' backs and spit out tiny balls--enormously, absurdly
long, still perched on their saddle-shaped carriages. And in a window
bay two toy cannon made of gold and silver, with which Dhuleep Singh
used to play as a child before he lost his realm.

At two or three leagues from Lahore, in a city of ruins, opposite a
tumble-down mosque which is strewing a powdering of rose-coloured stones
on its white marble court, stands the tomb of Jehangir, splendid, and
more splendid amid the squalor that surrounds it.

The sarcophagus rests in the depths of a vaulted crypt lighted only by
narrow latticed loopholes, and it is shrouded in a mysterious glimmer, a
mingling of golden sunbeams and the reflections from the marble walls
inlaid with precious stones.

On the tomb, in elegant black letters, is this inscription:

     "_Here lies Jehangir, Conqueror of the World._"

As we returned to Lahore the palace rose before us among trees, a strip
of wall, uninjured, covered with sapphire and emerald tiles; a fragile
minaret crowning a tower bowered in flowering shrubs--and then the
vision was past. The carriage drove on for a long way by ruins and
vestiges of beauty, and re-entered the town, where lanterns were being
lighted over the throng that pushed and hustled about the fair.


[A] By Mr. John Lockwood Kipling, for many years the curator and head of
the art schools at Lahore.--_Translator._


From Lahore hither is an almost uninterrupted series of
encampments--English and native regiments established in huts in the
open fields far from every town, close only to the railway line. At one
station a detachment of Indian guards were drawn up, and Abibulla
declared from the number of men that they must be expecting a general at
least; but nothing was discharged from the train but some cases of
rupees, checked off by two English officers, and then carried to the
barracks under the escort of sepoys.

This Rawal Pindi is an English town of cottages surrounded by lawns and
shrubberies; about two streets of bazaar, and red uniforms everywhere,
Highland soldiers in kilts, white helmets, and the officers' and
sergeants' wives airing their Sunday finery in their buggies. The ladies
drive themselves, under the shelter of a sunshade on an all too short
stick, painfully held by a hapless native servant clinging to the back
of the carriage in a dislocating monkey-like attitude.

A regiment of artillery was marching into quarters. The Highlanders'
band came out to meet them: four bagpipes, two side drums, and one big
drum. They repeat the same short strain, simple enough, again and again;
in Europe I should, perhaps, think it trivial, almost irritating, but
here, filling me as it does with reminiscences of Brittany, especially
after the persistent horror of tom-toms and shrill pipes, it strikes me
as delightful--I even follow the soldiers to their quarters.

Among the officers was a young lady on horseback, her black habit
covered with dust. Instead of the pith helmet that the English ladies
disfigure themselves by wearing, she had a straw hat with a long cambric
scarf as a pugaree. She was pretty and sat well, and at the last turning
she pulled up and watched the men, the ammunition and the baggage all
march past, saluted them with her switch, and cantered off to the town
of "cottages." I saw her again in the afternoon, taking tea in her
garden as she sat on a packing-case among eviscerated bales, and giving
orders to a mob of slow, clumsy coolies, who were arranging the house.

All round the post-office there is invariably a crowd of natives
scribbling in pencil on post-cards held in their left hands. Their
correspondence is lengthy, minute, and interminable; in spite of their
concentration and look of reflection I could never bring myself to take
them seriously, or feel that they were fully responsible for their
thoughts and acts--machines only, wound up by school teaching, some
going out of order and relapsing into savages and brutes.

Stones flying, sticks thrown--at a little pariah girl, whose shadow as
she passed had defiled the food of a Brahmin. He merely threw away the
rice, which the dogs soon finished; but the bystanders who had witnessed
the girl's insolence in going so near the holy man--she so base and
unworthy--flew at the unhappy creature, who ran away screaming,
abandoning a load of wood she was carrying on her head.


As we approached the Afghan frontier, camp followed camp, clustering
round the railway stations that lie closer together on the line. In the
morning and towards evening there was a constant hum round the train, of
bagpipes, bugles, and drums, and the red or grey ranks were to be seen
of soldiers at drill.

Near the sepoys' tents long lines of mules picketed by their feet stood
by the guns; and further on baggage-camels, lying down, were hardly
distinguishable from the russet grass and the scorched ochre sand.

There are two towns of Peshawur: one a distracted, silly place, with no
beginning nor end, straggling along something in the manner of Madras,
with an embryonic bazaar and all the amusements demanded by soldiers;
the other enclosed in walls of dried mud, which are preserved only "to
protect the town from robbers."

In this Peshawur the houses are crowded along narrow, crooked alleys,
and there is but one rather wider street of shops, which here already
have a quite Persian character, having for sale only the products of
Cabul or Bokhara. The balconies, the shutters, the verandahs and
galleries are of wood inlaid in patterns like spider-net. The timbers
are so slight that they would seem quite useless and too fragile to
last; and yet they are amazingly strong, and alone remain in place, amid
heaps of stones, in houses that have fallen into ruin. In the streets,
the contrast is strange, of tiny houses with the Afghans, all over six
feet high, superb men wearing heavy dhotis of light colours faded to
white, still showing in the shadow of the folds a greenish-blue tinge of
dead turquoise. Solemn and slow, or motionless in statuesque attitudes
while they converse in few words, and never gesticulate, they are very
fine, with a fierce beauty; their large, open eyes are too black, and
their smile quite distressingly white in faces where the muscles look
stiff-set. Even the children, in pale-hued silk shirts, are melancholy,
languid, spiritless, but very droll, too, in their little pointed caps
covered with gold braid, and the finery of endless metal necklaces, and
bangles on their ankles and arms.

In one of the alleys by the outer wall was a little house with a door in
carved panels framing inlaid work as delicate as woven damask. A crowd
surrounding it could not be persuaded by Abibulla's eloquence to make
way for me, a suspicious-looking stranger.

In this house abode the postmaster of the Persian mails, and I wanted to
register a letter for Cabul.

Abibulla delivered a long harangue through the closed door; at last a
wicket was opened, framing an eye. I was invited to approach, and then,
after examination, the wicket in the polished door was abruptly closed!

There was a sort of murmur behind the door, like reciting a prayer, then
louder tones, indeed a very loud shout, repeated three times by several
voices at once; and then the one alone continued in a dull chant. The
door was half opened and I was beckoned, but to enter alone.

On the threshold I was desired to take off my shoes, because I was going
into the presence of a holy man. As I crossed the forecourt fresh and
ferocious shouts rang out; a curtain was lifted, and in a room scarcely
lighted by a tiny window, the air thick with smoke, I could just make
out a number of men, all standing, very excited, gesticulating wildly,
and once more they shouted their savage cry.

At the back of the room the master of the house squatted on the floor,
dressed in green richly embroidered with gold, and on his head was a
vase-shaped cap or tiara of astrakhan. Near him, in an armchair, sat a
perfectly naked fakir, his breast covered with jade necklaces. His face
was of superhuman beauty, emaciated, with a look of suffering, his eyes
glowing with rapt ecstasy. He seemed to be entranced, seeing nothing but
a vision, and intoxicated by its splendour.

Then starting to his feet, and stretching out his arm to point at me, he
poured forth invective in sharp, rapid speech. The words flowed without

"Dog! traitor! cruel wretch! eater of meat!----"

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.

"Kali?" he asked.

"No; the Virgin Mary."

"What is the Virgin Mary?"

"The mother of Christ."

"Ah, your Kali, then?"

"No; Kali is a cruel, bloodthirsty goddess, while the Virgin----"

He interrupted me:

"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."

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.

Another fakir, a young man, had come to sit at the elder's feet, and
when I had finished my business the "holy man" began to knead his
disciple's muscles, wringing and disjointing his arms and dislocating
his left shoulder; and, as if in mockery of my distressed expression, he
bent the lad's back inwards till his face was between his heels, and
left him for a long minute in that torturing position.

When at last the boy was allowed to return to his place in a corner he
sat quite still, his eyes staring stupidly and shedding large tears,
though not a muscle of his face moved.

In the close-shut room the air, loaded with scent and smoke, was quite
unbreathable; musicians playing behind a partition added to the
irritating effect of all this perfume and noise.

As I was leaving, the fakir rose amid the cries of all the people, who
clamoured for his blessing. He silenced them by a sign, then laying one
hand on my shoulder, after looking at my medal--

"Farewell," said he, "and may the Almighty protect you, for you look

The throng outside had increased; Abibulla could scarcely make way for
me to the end of the street, and for a long time I could still hear the
cries that reached us at a distance.

Off next morning to the Khyber Pass. The road lay across the vast
monotonous plain, richly productive all the way from Peshawur to the
foot of the hills. At one end of a field some men had spread a net and
were beating the field towards the corners with a heavy rope that broke
down the tall oats; before long the birds were seen struggling under the
meshes, but they were soon caught and carried away in cages.

Outside the fort which guards the opening of the pass there was
confusion; a mad scurry of men, running, shouting, hustling. Quite a
complicated _mêlée_ of animals bolting, elephants and camels let loose
and impossible to overtake, but caught at last.

After the delay, which in India is a matter of course, the caravan set
out--the last to go; for during the past three months no European had
crossed the pass, and in consequence of misunderstandings with some of
the rebel tribes to the north, even the natives were prohibited
henceforth from going to Cabul.

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.

Suddenly there was a panic among the horses; they shied, reared, and
bolted across the fields, and the road being cleared, the elephants
belonging to the Ameer of Cabul went by, to march at the head of the
caravan. Next came a thousand camels, also the Ameer's; like the
elephants, they carried no baggage, but on the back of one female was a
young one, tied into a basket, born only the day before, all white and

Asses followed, oxen and more camels, loaded beyond their strength with
old iron, tin pannikins, a whole cargo of goods in cases from Manchester
and Sheffield--so badly packed that things came clattering down as the
beasts pushed each other amid oaths and blows.

Women porters came on foot, hidden under bales, nets full of crocks,
faggots, and trusses of hay. Children, and women in sarees--fine
ladies--had nothing to carry; some were wrapped in _yashmacks_,
shrouding them from head to foot with a little veil of transparent
muslin over their eyes.

And to close the procession came more soldiers.

After inspecting my little permit to visit the Khyber, the officials at
the fort had placed in my carriage a soldier of the native Khyber
rifle-corps, six feet six in height, placid and gentle. When I got out
of the carriage to walk up a hill he would follow a yard or so behind,
and watching all my movements, looked rather as if he were taking me to
prison than like an escort to protect me.

We left the caravan far behind. In the gorge with its rosy-pink soil the
silence was exquisite, the air had the freshness of a mountain height,
and quite inexplicably amid these barren rocks, where there was not a
sign of vegetation, there was a scent of honey and almonds.

Children were selling whortleberries in plaited baskets; they came up
very shyly, and as soon as they had sold their spoil hurried back to
hide in their nook. Further on a little Afghan boy, standing alone and
motionless by the roadside, held out three eggs for sale.

At a turn in the road the view opened out to a distant horizon; the
plain of Peshawur, intensely green in contrast with the rosy tone of the
foreground; and far away the Himalayas, faintly blue with glaciers of
fiery gold in the sun, against a gloomy sky where the clouds were

Between the cliff-walls of the defile, in a sort of bay, stands Ali
Musjid, a little white mosque where travellers tarry to pray.

Deeply graven in the stone of one of the walls is the giant hand of Ali
the Conqueror, the terrible, who came from the land of the Arabs,
killing all on his way who refused to be converted to Islam. And he died
in the desolate Khyber, where all who pass do him honour, and entreat
his protection on their way.

Above the mausoleum a fort with battlements towers over the pass, "an
impregnable position," the guides tell us.

A company of the Khyber Rifles are quartered there in the old buildings
and the officers' deserted bungalows; over all hangs an atmosphere of
icy desolation and overpowering melancholy. Above our heads a flight of
eagles wheeled against the sky.

As we stood up there the caravan for Cabul came in sight on the road
below, and slowly disappeared wrapped in dust, with mechanical
steadiness and without a sound. After that came the other train of
travellers from Peshawur, singing to the accompaniment of mule-bells,
every sound swelled by the echo. Children's laughter came up to our
ears, the scream of an elephant angry at being stopped--even at a
distance we could still hear them a little--and then silence fell again
under the flight of the eagles soaring in circles further and further
away as they followed the caravan.

Close to us on each level spot of the scarped rock was a little
fortified look-out where three or four soldiers kept watch, with here
and there a larger tower, reached only by a ladder, and in these six or
eight men.

Beyond this point among the mountains the road seemed to vanish, to lead
nowhere, lost in pale red among the red cliffs, as if it stopped at the
foot of the rocky wall.

As we went back we found the roses carried in the morning by the Persian
strewn on the ground in front of the Ali Musjid, and over them a flock
of birds with red beaks were fluttering.

Then at Peshawur again in the evening, girls, with groups of soldiers in
red jackets or Scotch kilts; the common women were horrible, whitened,
with loose shirts and tight-fitting trousers. One alone sat at her
window wreathed about with _mindi_ flowers in the crude light of a lamp.
The others accosted the passer-by, laughing and shouting in shrill

In one room we heard music--guzlas, drums, and a vina. There were three
dancing-girls. At first they only performed the Indian "goose-step," the
slow revolutions growing gradually quicker. But urged by the soldiers
who filled the room and beat time with their sticks on the floor, the
nautch-girls marked their steps, wriggled with heavy awkward movements,
and tried to dance a Highland jig, taught by two Scotch soldiers.

A dark street corner where there were no shops. Under a canopy
constructed of four bamboos thatched with straw, a young man in a
light-coloured dhoti was sitting on a low stool; about him were women
singing. Presently one of them came forward, and dipping her fingers
into three little copper pots that stood on the ground in front of the
youth, she took first oil, then a green paste, and finally some perfume
with which she touched seven spots--the lad's feet, knees, shoulders,
and turban. Then she wiped her fingers on the saree of the bridegroom's
mother--for he was to be married on the morrow--who was standing behind
her son.

After her another woman repeated the ceremony, and then they went away,
still singing. This went on for part of the evening. When it was all
over they went to eat rice at the bridegroom's house, and meanwhile the
same ceremony had been performed with the bride, whom her neighbours had
taken it by turns to anoint and perfume, in a house closed against
prying eyes.

When the dead are to be honoured in this land each true believer lays a
pebble as homage on the tomb, and the dead man's repute is estimated by
the size of the pile of stones that covers him.

Not far from Peshawur a legend had arisen concerning a certain Guru,
that the holy man now underground grew taller every year by a foot, and
the heap of stones grew longer day by day, till the English authorities
had to interfere and place a guard of soldiers to check the encroachment
of the tumulus on the high road.


We left Rawal Pindi in a tonga. The night was black, the carriage had no
lamps; but now and again, at the sound of the driver's horn, dark
masses--baggage camels, scarcely distinguishable in the gloom--made way
for us to go past at a gallop.

We changed horses every five miles; ill-kempt little beasts, and only
half fed, who got through their stage only by the constant application
of the whip, and shouts from the sais standing on the step; when
released from harness they stood forlorn and hobbled off, lame of every
leg, to their stables with no litter. Day broke, a dingy grey, dark with
woolly cloud and heavy rain; a wall of fog rose up around us, while the
road was uphill towards the mountains.

The fog seemed to turn to solid smoke, impenetrably black, wrapping us
in darkness which was suddenly rent by a red flash, blood-red, ending in
a green gleam. The mist retained a tint of sulphurous copper for some
time; then a second flash, and far away among the lurid clouds we had a
glimpse of the Himalayas, pallid purple with green shadows against an
inky sky. The thunder, deadened by the masses of snow and very distant,
rolled to and fro with a hollow sound, frightening the horses which
struggled uphill at a frantic pace. And the dense fog closed round us
once more, a dark green milkiness streaked with snow, which was falling
in large flakes formed of four or five clinging together like the petals
of flowers. Then it hailed, which completely maddened the horses, and
then again snow, and it was literally night at ten in the morning when
at last we reached this spot and the shelter of a bungalow.

The storm raged on all day, bringing down clouds that swept the earth
and yawned in cataracts, to the awful roar of the thunder that shook the
foundation of rock.


A day in the tonga. Early in the morning through snow, and past forests
where huge pines were felled by yesterday's storm; then, after
descending a hill in a thaw that melted the clay soil into red mud, we
came to a felted carpet of flowers as close as they could lie, without
leaves; violets, and red and white tulips swaying on slender stems. And
here again were the song of birds, and fragrance in the soft, clear air.

Halting at noon at Kohala, we found a barber in the open street shaving
and snipping his customers. In a cage hanging to the bough of a tree
above his head a partridge was hopping about--black speckled with white,
and gold-coloured wings. It had a strident cry like the setting of a

As soon as the last customer's beard was trimmed, the barber took down
the cage and carried the bird to another spot whence we could hear its

Above the road lie dark cliffs; a rose-coloured waterfall of melted snow
tumbled mixing with the clay--pink with lilac depths, and the foam
iridescent in the sunbeams. The ruins of a large temple of green stone
carved with myriads of fine lines stood in solitude at the edge of a
wood, and the background was the mountain-range, the Himalayas, lost in
the sky and bathed in blue light. Only a portico remains standing--a
massive, enduring frame for the infinite distance of snow-capped giants.
The stones have lost their hue; they are darkly streaked by the rains
and a growth of grey and purple mosses, and russet or white lichens have
eaten into the surface.

All the architectural details are effaced; parasites and creepers have
overgrown the old-world carvings.


Still the tonga; uphill and down, over the hilly country, with a horizon
of dull, low mountains, and the horses worse and worse, impossible to
start but by a storm of blows. Towards evening a particularly vicious
pair ended by overturning us into a ditch full of liquid mud. The sais
alone was completely immersed, and appealed loudly to Rama with shrieks
of terror. Abibulla on his part, after making sure that the sahibs and
baggage were all safe and sound, took off his shoes, spread his dhoti on
the ground, and made the introductory salaams of thanksgiving to the
Prophet, while the coolie driver returned thanks to Rama.

The hills are left behind us; the plateau of Cashmere spreads as far as
the eye can see, traversed by the glistening Jellum, that slowly rolling
stream, spreading here and there into lakes.

Trees shut in the flat, interminable road, and it was midnight before we
reached Srinagar, where I found, as a surprise, a comfortable house-boat
with inlaid panels, and a fragrant fire of mango-wood smelling of

The large town lies along the bank of the Jellum; the houses are of
wood, grey and satiny with old age, and almost all tottering to their
end on the strand unprotected by an embankment. The windows are latticed
with bent wood in fanciful designs. Large houses built of brick have
thrown out covered balconies and verandahs, supported on tall piles in
the water, and on brackets carved to represent monsters or flowering

The ugliest of these palaces is that of the Maharajah, with galleries of
varnished wood, of which the windows overlooking the river are filled
with gaudy stained glass. In the garden is a pagoda painted in crude
colours crowned with a gilt cupola; the zenana has bright red walls
striped with green, and in the grounds there is a cottage exactly copied
from a villa in the suburbs of London.

The muddy waters reflected the grey houses and the roofs of unbaked
clay, on which the winter snows were melting in black trickling drops.

In the streets the people, all wrapped in long shawls of a neutral
brown, were only distinguishable amid the all-pervading greyness by
their white head-dress. Men and women alike wear the same costume--a
full robe of dirty woollen stuff with long hanging sleeves, and under
this they are perfectly naked. The rich put on several such garments one
over another; the poor shiver under a cotton wrapper. And all, even the
children, look as if they had the most extraordinary deformed angular
stomachs, quite low down--charcoal warmers that they carry next their
skin under their robe.

At the bazaar we were positively hunted as customers; the clamour was
harassing, and everything was displayed for sale in the open street,
while the owner and his family crowded round us and hindered us from
going a single step further.

Inside the shops everything was piled together. The same man is at once
a banker, a maker of papier-mâché boxes--_papi-machi_ they call it
here--and of carpets, a goldsmith, tailor, upholsterer--and never lets
you go till you have bought something.

The bargaining was interminable, something in this manner:--

"How much for this stuff?"

"You know it is _pashmina_?"

"Yes, I know. How much?"

"It is made at thirty-five, twenty, fifteen rupees."

"Yes. But how much is this?"

Then follows a long discussion in Hindi with the bystanders, who always
escort a foreigner in a mob, ending in the question--

"Would you be willing to pay thirty-five rupees?"


"Then twenty-eight?"

And the figures go down after long discussions, till at last the
question as to whether I know the worth of pashmina begins all over

This morning, at Peshawur, down come the police on my houseboat--three
of them--and their leader explains matters. Abibulla interprets.

I have no right to stay in Cashmere without the authorization of the
Anglo-Indian Government, and ought to have handed such a permit to the
police on arriving. I have none--no papers whatever.

The matter was evidently very serious. The three constables consulted
together in an undertone, and then went off after desiring that I would
forthwith telegraph to Sealkote and bring the reply to the police

Abibulla saw them off with great deference and a contrite air, and
watched their retreat; then, as I was about to send him to despatch the
message, he was indignant. The police! What could they do to a sahib
like me? It was all very well to frighten poor folks--it was a sin to
waste money in asking for a reply which I should never be called upon to
show--and so he went on, till I made up my mind to think no more of the
matter. And whenever I met the chief at the bazaar or by the Jellum, he
only asked after my health and my amusements.

So, after waiting for the reply of the gentleman whose business it was
to give me this free pass, seeing that he could not make up his mind, I
left the town without it.

At Srinagar you live under the impression that the scene before you is a
panorama, painted to cheat the eye. In the foreground is the river;
beyond it spreads the plain, shut in by the giant mountains, just so far
away as to harmonize as a whole, while over their summits, in the
perpetually pure air, hues fleet like kisses of colour, the faintest
shades reflected on the snow in tints going from lilac through every
shade of blue and pale rose down to dead white.

At the back of the shops, which lie lower than the street, we could see
men trampling in vats all day long; they were stamping and treading on
old woollen shawls, fulling them to take off the shiny traces of wear,
to sell them again as new goods.

"Export business!" says Abibulla.

On the sloping bank to the river stood a large wooden mosque falling
into ruins. In front of this building was a plot full of tombstones,
some overthrown, some still standing on the declivity.

In the evening, lamps shining out through latticed windows lighted the
faithful in their pious gymnastics. A moollah's chant in the distance
rose high overhead, and very shrill, and in the darkness the stars shed
pale light on the tombstones mirrored in the black water; a plaintive
flute softly carried on the sound of the priests' prayers. Down the dark
streets the folk, walking barefoot without a sound, and wrapped in
white, looked like ghosts.

Our boat stole slowly past the palaces, where there were no lights,
through the haze rising from the river, and all things assumed a
dissolving appearance as though they were about to vanish; all was
shrouded and dim with mystery.

To-day a religious festival; from the earliest hour everybody had donned
new clothes, and in the afternoon in the bazaar there was a masquerade
of the lowest class--embroidered dhotis, white robes, light-coloured
turbans displaying large discs of green, red or blue. The men, even old
men, ran after each other with bottles of coloured water, which they
sprinkled far and near. One indeed had neither more nor less than a
phial of violet ink, which, on the face and hands of a little black boy,
shone with metallic lustre. One boy, in a clean garment, fled from a man
who was a constant beggar from me, and who was pursuing him with some
yellow fluid; and the fugitive was quite seriously blamed for
disregarding the will of the gods and goddesses, whose festival it was.

Two days after, the people would burn in great state, on an enormous
wood pile, an image of Time, to ensure the return next year of the
festival of colours.

All day long in front of the houses the women were busy clumsily
pounding grain with wooden pestles in a hollow made in a log; stamping
much too hard with violent energy, they scattered much of the grain,
which the half-tamed birds seized as they flew, almost under the women's
hands. And then the wind carried away quite half the meal. But they
pounded on all day for the birds and the wind, and were quite happy so
long as they could make a noise.

Two old women had a quarrel, and all the neighbourhood came out to look

Words and more words for an hour, till one of them stooping down took up
a handful of sand and flung it to the earth again at her feet. The
other, at this crowning insult, which, being interpreted, conveys,
"There, that is how I treat you! like sand thrown down to be trodden
on," covered her face with her sleeves and fled howling.

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

In the depths of a deserted temple in the bazaar, amid heaps of rags,
bones, and colourless _debris_, dwelt an old man, a very highly
venerated fakir, motionless in his den, while around him were gathered
all the masterless dogs of Srinagar, who allowed no one to come near him
and flew at anybody who tried to enter the temple.

At a goldsmith's I stood to watch a native making a silver box. He had
no pattern, no design drawn on the surface, but he chased it with
incredible confidence, and all his tools were shapeless iron pegs that
looked like nails: first a circle round the box, and then letters and
flowers outlined with a firm touch that bit into the metal. He had no
bench, no shop--nothing. He sat at work on the threshold of his stall,
would pause to chat or to look at something, and then, still talking,
went on with his business, finishing it quite simply at once without any

In the coppersmiths' street was a booth that seemed to be a school of
art, where little fellows of seven or eight were engraving platters and
pots with the decision of practised craftsmen.

Some more small boys, a little way off, were doing embroidery, mingling
gold thread and coloured silks in patterns on shawls. They were
extremely fair, with long-shaped black eyes under their bright-hued
pointed caps, and their dresses were gay and pretty, mingling with the
glistening shades of silks and gold. And they were all chattering,
laughing, and twittering as they worked, hardly needing the master's

A man by the roadside was mixing mud with chopped straw; then when his
mortar was of the right consistency he began to build the walls of his
house between the four corner posts, with no tools but his hands. A
woman and child helped him, patting the concrete with their hands until
it began to look almost smooth.

We set out from Srinagar in an ekka, drawn at a trot by our only horse.
The driver, perched on the shaft almost by his steed's side, dressed in
green with an enormous pink pugaree, flogged and shouted incessantly.
The monotonous landscape went on and on between the poplars that border
the road, extending as far as the blue circle of distant Himalayas. The
valley was green with the first growth of spring; as yet there were no
flowers. And till evening fell, the same horizon shut us in with
mountains that seemed to recede from us.

We stopped at a bungalow by a creek of the Jellum that was paved with
broad lotus-leaves, among which the buds were already opening their pink


By three in the morning we had started on our way. At the very first
streak of day, in front of us, on the road, was a snow-leopard, a
graceful supple beast, with a sort of overcoat above its grey fur
spotted with black, of very long, white hairs. It stood motionless,
watching some prey, and it was not till we were close that it sprang
from the road with two bounds, and then disappeared behind a rock with
an elastic, indolent swing.

For our noonday rest I took shelter under a wood-carver's shed. On the
ground was a large plank in which, with a clumsy chisel, he carved out
circles, alternating with plane-leaves and palms. The shavings, fine as
hairs, gleamed in the sun, and gave out a scent of violets. The man,
dressed in white and a pink turban, with necklaces and bangles on his
arms of bright brass, sang as he tapped with little blows, and seemed
happy to be alive in the world. He gave us permission to sit in the
shade of his stall, but scorned to converse with Abibulla.

A man went past in heavy, nailed shoes, wrapped in a flowing dhoti; he
carried a long cane over his left shoulder, and as he went he cried,
"Soli, soli, aïa soli." All the dogs in the village crowded after him
howling; and in the distance I saw that he was walking round and round
two carriages without horses, still repeating "Soli, soli."

Last year he and his brother had gone into the mausoleum of a Moslem
saint with their shoes on; both had gone mad. The other brother died in
a madhouse, where he was cared for; this one, incurable but harmless,
went about the highways, followed by the dogs.

When we left he was in a coppersmith's shop, singing with wide open,
staring eyes; his face had a strangely sad expression while he sang a
gay, jigging tune to foolish words that made the people laugh.

We met a native on horseback; a pink turban and a beard also pink, with
a round patch of intensely black skin about his mouth--white hair dyed
with henna to make it rose-colour; and a lock of hair that showed below
his turban was a sort of light, dirty green in hue, like a wisp of hay.
The rider, well mounted on his horse, was deeply contemptuous of us,
sitting in an ekka--the vehicle of the vulgar; and he passed close to
us muttering an insult in his pink beard trimmed and combed into a fan.

On the river-bank were some eagles devouring a dead beast. One of them
fluttered up, but came back to the carrion, recovering its balance with
some difficulty, its body was so small for its large, heavy wings. Then
they all rose together straight into the air with slow, broad
wing-strokes, smaller and smaller, till they were motionless specks
against the sky, and flew off to vanish amid the snowy peaks.

A forest in flower: Indian almond trees white, other trees yellow, a
kind of magnolia with delicate pink blossoms; and among these hues like
perfume, flew a cloud of birds, black, shot with glistening metallic
green, and butterflies of polished bronze and dark gold flashed with
blue, and others again sprinkled with white on the nacreous,
orange-tinted wings.

Whenever our green driver meets another ekka-driver they both get off
their perch and take a few puffs at the hookah that hangs in a bag at
the back of the vehicle.

A smart affair altogether is this carriage! two very high wheels, no
springs, a tiny cotton awning supported on four sticks lacquered red,
and sheltering the seat which has three ropes by way of a back to it.
Portmanteaus and nosebags are hung all round, and even a kettle swings
from the near shaft, adding the clatter of its cymbal to the Indian
symphony of creaking wheels, the cracking whips, the driver's cries of
"_Cello, cello_," and Abibulla's repeated "_Djaldi_," all intended to
hurry the horse's pace.


A great crowd round the bungalow and along the road, and a mass of
sepoys and police, made Abibulla remark:

"It must be the tax-collector to bring such a mob together."

But for once he was mistaken.

A tonga arrived just as we drove up, bringing an English official,
travelling in his own carriage; gaiters, shooting jacket, a switch in
his hand. He seated himself outside the bungalow in a cane chair, close
by mine. Out of a case that was brought before him a hatchet and a
pistol were unpacked, documentary evidence of the crime into which he
was to inquire.

And then, under the verandah, the accused were brought up: an old man
and a youth, father and son, both superbly handsome, very tall, erect,
haughty, in spite of the hustling of the armed men and the heavy chains
that weighed on them; and after bowing low to the judge they stood
towering above the crowd of witnesses, soldiers, and native
functionaries, in magnificent dignity and calm indifference.

Then, as it began to grow a little cool, the inquiry was continued
indoors, whither the table was removed with the papers and the weapons,
and, with great care, the magistrate's "soda." The two culprits were
brought in and out, and in and out again, sometimes alone, sometimes to
be confronted with the witnesses, who, almost all of them, had the fresh
stains of the festival on their garments.

One of the police in charge had a whip, and when he was leading away the
old man, holding his chain he "played horses" with him, to the great
amusement of the bystanders, and even of the old fellow himself.

All round Domel there were fields of lilac lilies among the silky young
grass, and the cliffs were hung with a yellow eglantine exhaling a
penetrating scent of almonds.

There was a large encampment round the bungalow that night: tents for
the soldiers, and under the vehicles men sleeping on straw; others
gathered round the fires, over which hung the cooking-pots, listening to
a story-teller; and in a small hut of mud walls, with the door hanging
loose, were the two prisoners with no light, watched by three dozing


The road lay among flowers, all-pervading; in the fields, on the rocks,
on the road itself, pink flowers or lavender or white; bright moss,
shrubs and trees in full bloom, and hovering over them birds of changing
hue and golden butterflies.

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
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.

And then night, the real night, transparently blue and luminous with
stars, appeared above the last cloud that vanished with the last clap of
thunder. Unspeakable freshness and peace reigned over nature, and in the
limpid air the mountain-chains, the giant Himalayas, extended to
infinity in tones of amethyst and sapphire. Nearer to us, lights
sparkled out in the innumerable huts built even to the verge of the
eternal snows, on every spot of arable ground or half-starved grass

In the evening calm, the silence, broken only by the yelling of the
jackals, weighed heavy on the spirit; and in spite of the twinkling
lights and the village at our feet, an oppressive sense of loneliness,
of aloofness and death, clutched me like a nightmare.


From Kusshalgar we were travelling in a tonga once more. The landscape
was all of steep hills without vegetation; stretches of sand, hills of
clay--lilac or rosy brick-earth scorched in the sun, green or brown
earth where there had been recent landslips, baked by the summer heat to
every shade of red. There was one hill higher than the rest, of a
velvety rose-colour with very gentle undulations, and then a river-bed
full of snowy-white sand, which was salt.

And from every stone, and in the rifts in the rocks, hung stalactites,
like glittering icicles, and these too were of salt.

There was always the same torture of the horses, too small and too lean
for their work, galloping the five miles of the stage and then stopping
dead on the spot, incapable of moving, hustled by the fresh team that
rushed off on its wild career.

At the end of the day one of the beasts could do no more. A shiver ran
through the limbs of the poor thing, which, as soon as it was released
from the shafts, lay down, a stream of blood staining the pale sand;
and in an instant, with a deep sigh, it was stiff in death.

The sun cast broad satin lights on its bay coat, already dry; the light
hoofs, the pretty head with dilated nostrils gave the creature
dignity--it looked like a thoroughbred, really noble in its last rest;
while the vultures and kites hovered round, waiting for us to be gone.


A plain of dried mud, dull grey, with scarcely a tinge of yellow in
places; all round the horizon softly undulating hills which looked
transparent, here a tender blue, there delicately pink, in flower-like
hues. One of them, rising above all the eastern chain, might be a
fortress, its towers alone left standing amid the general wreck. To the
west the highest summits were lost in the blue of the sky, identically
the same, but that the peaks were faintly outlined with a delicate line
of snow.

As we reached Bunnoo green cornfields extended as far as the eye could
see, under mulberry trees just unfolding their leaves. Numberless
channels of water irrigated the land; the bed of the Kurrum alone,
quite white, was flecked here and there with blue pools, and was
presently lost in the rosy distance of the hills on the Afghan frontier.

The natives here were an even finer race than those at Peshawur, and
more uncultured, never bowing when we met them, but eyeing us as we
passed as if they were meditating some foul blow.

And in the evening at mess--a dinner given in honour of a regiment
marching through--news was brought in that close to Bunnoo, in the
Kurrum valley, two travellers had been murdered in the night.

The dinner-table was covered with flowers--Maréchal Niel and Gloire de
Dijon roses--but enormous, as big as saucers, and of such a texture,
such a colour! a tissue of frost and light; and round the table, which
was loaded with silver plate, were grey and red uniforms. Strains of
music were wafted in through the open windows from the regimental band
playing slow waltz-tunes a little way off.

As soon as dessert was removed two lieutenants got up, and seizing a
couple of drums played away with all their might, while some other
officers, under the pretext of dancing a Highland fling, cut the most
amazing capers. When the band had left the fun went on to the sound of
the banjo, lasting late into the cool night, all in the highest spirits.

When I went away home to the fort, where I was living with my friend
Lieutenant F----, the sentinel's challenge, the tall grey walls casting
sharp shadows on the courtyard silvered with moonlight, and another
sentry's cry; and still, in contrast with the cheerful evening, I could
remember nothing but the tonga post-horse--a thing so frequent in this
land of fanatics, so common that no one gives it more than a passing

Before daybreak, before the _réveillée_, the moollah's prayer roused the
Sikhs, of which two regiments were quartered in the fort; and till it
was broad daylight, till the sun had chased away shadows and sadness, I
still felt the melancholy, the twilight sense of uneasiness left by that
slow and plaintive chant.

In the afternoon the soldiers tilted on horseback, four on a side. They
tried to unhorse each other; two or three would attack one, succeeding
at last in rolling him off under his charger, while they in their turn
were attacked by others, ending in a _mêlée_, where the victors and the
vanquished left fragments of their thin shirts.

Then there were races of baggage-mules, and competitions of speed in
harnessing horses and in striking the tents. Finally the English
officers rode a race, and then the prizes were distributed--money to the
men and blue pugarees with gold thread to the native officers.

In the middle of the course was a stand, and there, with the officers
and civil functionaries, were four English ladies who had accompanied
their husbands to this remote station. They thought of their dress and
took care of their babies, living among these Sikhs whom the native
priests are perpetually inciting to rebellion, and seeming to have not
the least fear of danger.

When the road was made through Bunnoo a pile of stones was heaped up in
the middle of the village. The Moslems finally persuaded themselves that
this was a saint's grave; and they come hither to perform their
devotions, planting round it bamboo flagstaffs with pennons, and adding
to the mound the stones they piously bring to it day by day.

The heat to-day has suddenly become stifling; the low clouds veil the
colourless sun, and the flowers, which yesterday were still lovely, are
now withered and pallid, and only give out their scent in the evening,
when it is cool again.

Two more murders; one a squalid business with no motive--a man killed as
he was on his way to gather his rice-harvest. Sixteen hill-men attacked
him at once, riddling the body with bullets.

The other victim, the night watchman of a neighbouring village, was
suspected of treachery towards the hill-tribes in a recent skirmish. One
ball through the head had killed him, and his arms had been cut off.

At the polo-match in the evening the band played, and three ladies were
present; in sign of the spring having come, a basket was hung to the
branch of a tree, full of straw kept constantly wet by the coolies, and
containing sundry bottles of soda-water.

Next day was kept as the spring festival. Every man had a rose stuck
into his turban, and a shirt embroidered in gold on the shoulders and
breast. The women appeared in stiff and gaudy veil cloths, bedizened
with trumpery jewellery. Everybody was gay; a little excited towards
evening by arrack, and dancing, and singing to the eternal tom-toms.
Even the fiercest men from the hills, with black turbans and enormously
full calico trousers that once were white, and shirts embroidered in
bright silks, had set aside their ferocious looks and stuck roses in
their pugarees, smiling at those they met.

At mess there were two newly-arrived officers, come from Tochi; they had
been attacked on the road in the night by sixteen men. The driver and
the horse were killed; they themselves had not a scratch, and they told
the story very much at their ease, relating the comic features of the
incident--how a bullet had lodged itself in a pot hanging to a mule's
pack, and the frightened creature had kicked "like mad."

After sunset, in every garden, on every hedge, wherever there had been a
scrap of shade during the afternoon, there was a perfect burst of
flowers, opening in the cooler air and scenting the night. Round one
bungalow the rose trees, overloaded with flowers, hardly had a leaf, and
in the grass, violet and lavender larkspurs grew as tall as maize
plants. Yellow stars gleamed in the tangle of creepers over the
verandahs, and on a tree that looked as if it were dead blossoms
glistened in the moonlight like polished steel.

In the plain the sowars were performing an Indian fantasia. Charging at
a gallop, their wide sleeves flying behind them, they swept past like a
whirlwind, aiming with their lances at a peg of wood stuck into the
ground. Whenever it was speared there were frantic shouts and applause
from a crowd of spectators, packed in the best places. In a cloud of
dust, growing steadily thicker and hanging motionless over the riders,
the performance went on, its centre always this same peg of wood,
replaced again and again, exciting the enthusiasm of connoisseurs till
the last ray of light died away.

The natives, to keep their money safe--it is always in coin, never in
paper, which is not much trusted in these parts--either bury it or have
it wrought into trinkets, worn by the women and children. Quite little
ones of five or six, and perfectly naked, have round their neck
sometimes three or four strings of gold pieces, or pierced silver rods
as thick as a finger--and then one evening the child does not come home,
and in some dark corner the poor little body is found bleeding, the
jewels gone.

A Sikh, an old soldier, not long since bought a few acres of land; to
pay for it he produced 800 rupees in silver, and on his wives, whom he
brought with him, were 3000 rupees' worth of jewels.

A little study of manners, as related to me by my neighbour at dinner:--

A native judge is sitting cross-legged on a little mat in his house. A
petitioner appears of the lowest caste, a _Sudra_. The judge, quite
motionless, watches the man unfasten his sandals, rush up to him, and
with a profound bow touch his feet in sign of submission. For a man of
higher caste, a _Vaysiya_, the ceremonial is the same, only instead of
running forward the visitor walks up to the judge and merely pretends to
touch his slippers. Then comes a kshatriya advancing very slowly; the
judge rises to meet him half-way, and they both bow.

In the case of a Brahmin it is the judge who hurries to the threshold,
and affects to touch the priest's feet.

Colonel C---- went out shooting wild duck on a pool close to Bunnoo with
a native, whose horse, led by a servant, came after them. But when they
came to the native gentleman's village he mounted, and returned the
civility of the salaaming people, who till then had avoided recognizing
him, regarding the fact that a kshatriya had come on foot as sufficient
evidence that he wished to pass incognito. Then, when they were out of
the village, the native gentleman dismounted and walked on with the

When a Sikh is beaten and surrenders he takes off his turban and lays it
at the conqueror's feet, to convey that with the turban he also offers
his head.

When a native comes to ask a favour he brings a few rupees in his hand,
and the patron must take them and hold them a few minutes. A retired
Sikh trooper had come to see his son, now a soldier in the regiment, and
met the colonel, who asked him whether he could do anything for him, to
which the other replied:

"Can you suppose I should have insulted you by coming here without
asking you some favour?"

The want of foresight in the people here is amazing. A servant earning
five rupees a month got his son married, a child of fifteen, and for
this event he bought fireworks on credit, and at enormous interest,
which would cost him three years' wages.

"How do you expect to pay?" asked his master, an officer.

"I shall pay as much as I can myself, and by-and-by my son will earn
money, and we shall pay between us."

The highest peak of the chain that overlooks Bunnoo looks like the ruins
of a fortress. A legend, which must have had its origin at some time
when a man-eating tiger lurked in the neighbourhood, relates that it is
the lair of a ferocious ogre always on the look-out for prey. Nothing on
earth would induce any of the natives to go up the mountain; nay, for a
long distance even the plain is not too safe.

All the men carry fighting quails in little cages made of a net
stretched over a wooden tray and cone-shaped at top. Towards evening, in
the shade of the houses, at the street corners, in the
courtyards--everywhere, there is a group betting on the chances of a
fight. The birds taken out of the cages at first turn slowly round each
other, their beaks close together. Then a spring, a flutter of wings and
flying feathers; the quails strike and peck, aiming at the head, and
then suddenly they seem quite indifferent and turn round and round
again, picking up grain from the ground. When a bird is killed at the
end of a battle, its eyes blinded and its breast torn open, it is
considered a fine, a noble spectacle, and amateurs will talk of it for a
long time. As a rule, after a few rounds one of the birds tries to get
away. Then its owner pricks its neck with a knife, and the gasping
creature dies slowly in the dust, the blood oozing drop by drop.

A very good quail that is often the victor, is worth eight or ten
rupees. At a funeral a day or two since one of the bearers had his quail
in a cage hanging from his girdle--a champion bird he would not part

A man in the fort always struck out the hours on a gong, very slowly, in
the heat of the day. Twelve at noon was interminable--one, two, three
were so feeble as to be scarcely audible. And then when it was cooler
and the tom-toms could be heard in the distance, the strokes had a queer
dislocated rhythm, and sometimes even a stroke too many, smothered in a
hurried roll.

The sweepers, the saises, the bearers, the whole tribe of noisy, idle
servants--men, women, and children--all sleep out of doors in the hotter
weather. And all day long the camp-bed, the two mats, and half a dozen
pots, which constitute the whole furniture of a family, move round the
house with the shade, only settling down after dark.

The moon at night shed an intense light, warm and golden. There was
scarcely any shadow, and in the quivering atmosphere the flowers poured
out their perfume on the cooler air. Frogs croaked a _basso continuo_ to
cries of night birds, and a sort of roar, very loud but very distant,
almost drowned the concert in the fort close by.

White clouds grew opalescent against the deep, infinite, blue-velvet
sky, and their edges next the moon were fringed with silver. The stars,
of a luminous pale green like aqua marine, seemed dead and had no

Then, another day, the air was leaden, too heavy to breathe. The
mountains of the gem-like hues had lost their glory; they were of one
flat tone of dusky grey, and further away were lost to view, invisible
in the dead monotony of the colourless sky. The silence was oppressive;
there was not a bird in the air, and a strange uneasiness scared the
beasts, all seeking a shady refuge.

Music in the evening, in the gardens which surround the library, the
chapel, and the tennis 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.

Gauze and muslin dresses moved gracefully about against the background
of bamboos and roses. Light footsteps scarcely bent the grass; the
ripple of talk, with its sprinkling of Indian words, was sweet and
musical. Fireflies whirled above the plants making little tendrils of
light; there was dreaminess in the air--an anticipation of fairyland to
which the music seemed the prelude.

And to and fro on the ramparts, the sentry, in an uniform of the same
hue as the sun-baked bricks, paced his beat, invisible but for a needle
of light on his fixed bayonet; till when crossing a patch of light he
was seen like an apparition, lost again in the shadow of the wall.


A station on the road--the delightful days at Bunnoo left far behind.

The night was spent in travelling: an oppressive night of crushing heat,
with leaden clouds on the very top of us; and next day, in the blazing
sunlight, nothing seemed to have any colour--everything was white and
hot against a blue-black sky that seemed low enough to rest on the
earth. Wayfarers slept under every tree, and in the villages every place
was shut, everything seemed dead. It was only where we changed horses
that we saw anyone--people who disappeared again immediately under
shelter from the sun.

Very early in the morning we met a many-coloured caravan of men, women,
and children riding astride on asses, amid baskets and bundles. They
were on their way to a wedding: they had stopped to rest for the last
time; and alone, far from the merry, noisy group, a "bad woman" sat down
on a stone. She was on the way to the same festival, and was allowed to
travel with the caravan for succour in case of need; but she was not
permitted to join the party.

Towards evening the sky turned to a dull, dark green, and in the sudden
gloom down came the rain in floods, tremendous, solid, for about five
minutes; then as suddenly it was as hot as ever again, dry and

Seen through the blue glass under the low, broad carapace that covered
the carriage, the landscape circled past, the colour hardly subdued to
that of Europe; even in the dusk, with the windows open, everything was
still intolerably, crudely white, with reflections of fiery gold.
Everything vibrated in the heat, and at the stations the walls after
baking all day scorched you when you went near.

About Lahore, all among the ruined temples, the crumbling heaps of light
red bricks sparkling with mica, there were fields of roses in blossom
and of ripe corn. Naked coolies were labouring in the fields, gathering
the ears one by one into quite small bunches; they looked like children
playing at harvesting.


Amid the cool rush of a myriad streams is a garden, the loveliest in the
world; the broad paths are shaded by cedars, banyans, palms, and crotons
with purple and orange leaves. Under the garlands of gorgeous flowered
climbers are hedges of roses of every shade, and shrubs starred with
lavender and blue. In the ditches, above the water-plants strewn with
petals like hoar-frost, grows a carpet of pale lilac cineraria.

The horizon is the Himalaya range; the slopes are covered with the
ribbed velvet of the tea plantations, and on one hill stand the
scattered bungalows of Mussoree, looking no bigger than pebbles.

My friend Captain McT----, with whom I stayed, had a house with a
peaked, reed-thatched roof. Round the verandah where we slept at night
hung festoons of jasmine and bougainvillea. Bamboos, phoenix, and
curtains of creepers at the end of the lawn made a wall of verdure,
fresh and cool; and through this were wafted the perfumes shed on the
air--the scent of roses and verbena, of violet or of rosemary,
according to the side whence the wind blew, mingling with that of the
amaryllis and honeysuckle in bloom close at hand. And in this quiet
garden, far from the bazaar where the darboukhas were twanging, birds
sang all night, and the fireflies danced in mazes from flower to flower.

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.

We visited a temple where the natives treasure the couch of the Guru
Ram-Roy, a very holy and much venerated fakir.

Every year pilgrims set up the tallest tree from the neighbouring jungle
in front of the sanctuary, and twist round it an enormous red flag. The
mast now standing was at least a hundred feet high, and held in place by
guys attached to banyan trees and houses standing near. Close to the
ground ties of coloured worsted, the offerings of the faithful, held the
crimson hanging to the pole.

The front of the temple is covered with paintings. Decorations in the
Persian style divide the panels, on which are depicted the principal
scenes from the sacred books of the Brahmins. There are two perfect
things to be seen here: two nude female figures standing, one white, the
other brown, exquisitely refined in colouring, admirably drawn in a
style reminding me of early Italian art; and then, just beyond these,
tasteless imitations of chromos--goddesses with eyes too large and a
simper like the advertisements of tooth-paste, and some horrible
caricatures of English ladies in the fashion of ten years ago holding
parasols like a nimbus.

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.

To the right of the forecourt is the high priest's room; lustres, glass
shades, gilt chairs, coloured photographs, incongruously surrounding an
antique silk carpet, soiled and stained.

At the end of the court, over which enormous bread-fruit trees cast a
cool shade, above some steps and a marble terrace where some musicians
were performing, stands the holy spot which we dared not go near. In the
dim light we could see a square object, red embroidered in gold--the
couch of Ram-Roy--and hanging to the wall a silver curtain. All this,
though perhaps it is but tinsel, looked at a distance and in the shadow
like brocade and magnificent jewels. Round the main building there are
four kiosks dedicated to the Guru's four wives.

The guardian fakirs who watch the sacred flag sat under a tree in front
of the temple. One of these, quite young, was beautiful beyond words. He
had taken a vow always to stand. Leaning on a long pole he rocked
himself without ceasing; for an instant he allowed his rapt eyes to rest
on the bystanders, and then looked up again at the plume of white
horse-hair that crowns the flagstaff. His legs were rather wide apart
and evidently stiff; he walked without bending his knees, and then as
soon as he stood still he rested his chin on his long cane, and swayed
his body as before.

A tea plantation--a garden of large shrubs pruned in such a way as to
secure the greatest possible growth of young shoots, and above the
delicate tea plants a shady hedge of fan palms and taller trees. The
leaves are gathered by day, spread in the evening on hurdles and left
for the night in open sheds. On the morrow they are first thrown into a
sort of bottomless square funnel which revolves on a board; rolled and
broken in this machine they are ready for drying. The tea passes through
twenty grades of increasing temperature, and in drying it gives out the
most delightful aroma--a mixture of sweetbriar, seaweed, and violets,
with a scent of tea too. The leaves are finally sifted, which sorts them
in four sizes into boxes containing the different qualities.

Coolies in white turbans were busy round the machines. They are very
skilful, but work with determined slowness as a mute rebellion against
the humiliating coercion of obeying a thing of wood and iron, and above
all of obeying it without stopping, for the ideal of every Hindoo is to
do nothing. And this rose to positive martyrdom when, in the absence of
our own servants, who were nowhere to be found, one of these craftsmen,
a Brahmin, strictly forbidden by his religion ever to touch the food of
the disbelievers, or even the vessels they use, was obliged to make tea
for us. Looking utterly miserable, the poor fellow weighed out the
leaves, put them into little antique earthenware pots, and poured on the
boiling water. A sand-glass marked how long the infusion was to stand.
He even brought us some pretty little crackle basins that looked as if
they had come out of some old-world convent pharmacy; but the poor man
could not bring himself to pour the tea out--he fled.

Close to a field that had just been reaped four oxen yoked abreast were
threshing out the grain, tramping round and round on a large sheet
spread on the ground. The driver chanted a shrill, slow tune; further
away women in red were gleaning, and a patriarch contemplated his
estate, enthroned on a cart in a halo of sunset gold.

The Ghoorkhas, small men and very active, young too, with Chinese
features, were practising gymnastics. And recruits were being drilled,
two of them barefoot, though wearing their gaiters.

Firmly erect in military attitudes, they moved like one man. All without
exception turn out capital soldiers.

The drill sergeant shouts the word of command in wonderful
English--_lept_, meaning left.

This native regiment, after many victories, was presented by the Empress
Queen with a sort of mace. A little shrine contains two crossed knives,
and is surmounted by three Ghoorkhas bearing a royal crown in silver.
This object is preserved in a case in the ammunition store. An officer
is appointed to guard it, and the soldier who took it out to show me
touched it really as if it had been the Host. And it is a fact that on
high festivals the soldiers come to sacrifice goats before the house
where this fetish is treasured.

After dinner, with the dessert, the head orderly of the mess marched in
with the decanters. He set them on the table, and then stood immovable
at his post behind the colonel's chair, shouldering his gun till
everybody had done, when he carried off the bottles with the same air of
being on parade.

Outside, under a thatched screen, sits the punkah coolie, his legs
crossed, the string in his hand; and as soon as everyone goes into the
room he wakes up, rocks his body to and fro, his arm out in a fixed
position, swaying all of a piece with a mechanical see-saw, utterly
stupid. He will go to sleep lulled by his own rocking, and never wake
unless the cord breaks, or somebody stops him.


At the bottom of a wide flight of steps flows the Ganges, translucent,
deeply green, spangled with gold. The bathers, holding the little brass
pots that they use for their ablutions, are performing the rites,
surrounded by large yellow fishes spotted with green. Pink and white
stuffs are spread to dry on the steps, flowers are scattered on the
stream, long wreaths are floating down the river, curling and uncurling
at the caprice of the current.

After bathing, during their long prayers to the gods of the river,
almost as sacred here as it is at Benares, the pilgrims threw grain to
the half-tame fish. Steering vigorously with their tails, the creatures
turned and rolled, making eddies of light in the water, and hurrying up
to the falling grain occasionally upset the equilibrium of some old
woman still taking her bath. At the top of the bank, in the blazing
sunshine, two fakirs, squatting in the dusty road, remained unmoved by
all this turmoil, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, absorbed in a fixed
thought which concentrated their gaze on an invisible point. The fall
of an old woman into the Ganges, with all the shouting that such an
incident entails in India, left them quite indifferent; they did not
stir, did not even glance at the river as the woman was taken out

There are temples all along the shore, poor little structures for the
most part. On the walls gaudy borders of crude colour serve to frame
chromo-lithographs representing the principal events of the Vedas. There
are but one or two sanctuaries built of marble, and very rarely have the
idols any precious jewels.

Beyond the temples is the merchants' quarter: a few very modest shops,
the goods covered with dust; and in the middle of this bazaar, a cord
stretched across cut off a part of the town where cholera was raging.

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.

At every street-corner there were blocks of salt, which the cows and
goats licked as they went past.

On our way back through the temple-quarter a sudden wild excitement
possessed the worshippers and priests; out of a side street rushed a
large troop of monkeys, grey, with black faces. They galloped past in a
close pack and fled to the trees, shrieking shrilly. One, however,
lagged behind, bent on stealing some rice that had been brought as an
offering to a plaster image of Vishnu. A Brahmin stood watching the
monkey, and tried to scare it away with a display of threatening arms,
but he dared not hit the beast sacred to Hanuman, the god of the green
face. The creature, never stirring from the spot, yelled aloud, bringing
the rest of the pack back on to the roof of the neighbouring pagodas.
Then the ringleader, with a subdued, sleepy, innocent gait, stole gently
up to the tray of offerings. He was on the point of reaching it when the
priest raised his arm. This was a signal for the whole tribe to scream
and dance with terror, but without retreating. The performance seemed
likely to last; the bazaar and the temples were in a hubbub of
excitement; the doors of the shops and the sanctuaries were hastily
shut, till, at the mere sight of a man who came out with a long bamboo
in his hand, the whole pack made off and appeared no more, and Hardwar
relapsed into its somnolent sanctity.


In the train to Delhi the windows were screened with cuscus mats
constantly sprinkled with water, and so long as the train was in motion
the air came in cool, fragrant, and breathable. But whenever we stopped
in the desert which this country becomes just before the monsoon, melted
lead seemed to scorch up the atmosphere and shut the train in between
walls of fire.

Delhi appeared in the blinding light like an unsubstantial vision, white
against a bleached sky; and as we got nearer the city half vanished like
a mirage, blotted out and dim through a shifting cloud of dust.

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 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.

Then, in the magic of the evening, the air was saturated with fragrance;
invisible gardenias, amaryllis, and lemon-flowers perfumed the cool
night. On every side we could hear the quavering guzla, the sound of
tom-toms and tambourines. The streets were brightly lighted up and

A dancing-girl went by, wrapped in white muslin as thin as air, hardly
veiling the exquisite grace of her shape. Close to us, in front of two
musicians playing on the vina and the tom-tom, she began to dance,
jingling the rattles and bells on her anklets: a mysterious dance with
slow movements and long bows alternating with sudden leaps, her hands
crossed on her heart, in a lightning flash of silver necklets and
bangles. Every now and then a shadow passed between the nautch-girl and
the lights that fell on her while she was dancing, and then she could
scarcely be seen to touch the ground, she seemed to float in her
fluttering drapery; and presently, before the musicians had ceased
playing, she vanished in the gloom of a side alley. She had asked for
nothing, had danced simply for the pleasure of displaying her grace.

On our way back to the hotel, in a park through which we had to pass, we
suddenly heard overhead a shrill outcry proceeding from a banyan tree to
which a number of vampires had hung themselves up. Clinging together
side by side, like black rags, and hardly visible in the thick foliage,
the creatures formed a sort of living bunch, creeping, swaying, and all
uttering the same harsh, monotonous, incessant cry.

As we passed the sacred tanks, where a smell of decay filled the air
that still rang with the cries of the bats, our horses suddenly shied
and refused to go forward, terror-stricken by some invisible danger
suggested to them by that reiterated shriek or the corpse-like smell. A
very long minute passed as we sat in the carriage, a minute of dread
that left us quite excited by this mysterious peril of which we had
somehow felt the awe. Nor was it till we had left the great trees by the
tanks behind us that the impression wore off under the comforting light
of the stars.

With day came the grip of fire, the overwhelming 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.


A tea-party in the afternoon at the yacht club. The ladies in smart
dresses, the talk all of fashionable gossip--how far away from all I had
been seeing. An European atmosphere, where a touch of local colour was
only suggested by the native servants. The plague, the ruling terror
when I was last in Bombay, was forgotten; the only subject now was the
Jubilee, and the latest news from England arrived by that day's mail.

In the evening, on my way to dine with a friend by Malabar Hill, I could
hardly recognize some parts of the town: houses, a camp of little huts
and tents, a whole district had been swept away.

A wide open space covered with rubbish heaps was to be seen where the
sepoys' barracks had been, and where from the first the men had died of
the plague by hundreds. In one garden, a bungalow where a man had just
died was being burnt down--still burning. A party of police were
encouraging the fire, and a cordon of native soldiers kept everybody
else off.

A heavy, rusty-red cloud hung over the field of Hindoo funeral fires.
Tambourines and bells could be heard in the distance, and as we went
nearer the noise grew louder in the foul air, stifling and stagnant;
till when we got close to the place the noise and singing were frantic
and the smell of burning was acrid, sickening.

But at Byculla, in Grant Road, the street of gambling-houses, there was
a glare of lights; gaudy lanterns were displayed at the windows where
spangles and tinsel trinkets glittered. And then, between two brightly
illuminated houses where every window was wide open, there was the dark
gap of a closed house, in front of it a pan of sulphur burning. The
green and purple flame flickered grimly on the faces of the passers-by,
making their dhotis look like shrouds wrapping spectres.

In the side streets the natives lay sleeping on the bare earth in the
coolness of night. On every house were the spots of red paint that told
how many of the inhabitants had died of the plague; and the smaller the
house the closer were the dabs of paint, almost framing the door with a
chain of red spots.

A funeral came pushing past me in the silence of this sleeping district:
the body, wrapped in red, hung from a bamboo that rested on the bearers'
shoulders. No one followed him, and the group disappeared at once in the
deep gloom of the narrow alley.

I turned back into Grant Road, where bands of tom-toms and harmoniums
were hard at it, where the gamblers were stifling each other round the
roulette-boards in a frenzy of amusement and high spirits, eager for
enjoyment before hovering death should swoop down on them.

In a quiet, darkened corner a girl was lying on a bier, a girl of the
Brahmin caste, all in white, veiled by a transparent saree. By her side
an old man, a bearded patriarch, seemed to wait for someone. Then
another Brahmin came out from a little house, carrying the fire
wherewith to light the funeral pile in a little pot hanging from his
girdle. The two old men took up their burthen--so light that even to
them, tottering already towards their end, it seemed to be no weight.
They made their way cautiously, so as not to tread on the sleeping
figures strewn about the street, going very slowly in devious zigzags. A
dog woke and howled at them; and then, as silence fell, I could hear
again the dying sounds of harmoniums and tom-toms, and the clatter of
the games.


Bombay, towering above the sea in a golden glory--the tall towers and
minarets standing out in sharp outline against the sky, splendid in
colour and glow. Far away Malabar Hill and a white speck--the Towers of
Silence; Elephanta, like a transparent gem, reflected in the
aqua-marine-coloured water.

A rosy light flooded the whole scene with fiery radiance, and then
suddenly, with no twilight, darkness blotted out the shape of things,
drowning all in purple haze; and there, where India had vanished, a
white mist rose from the ocean that mirrored the stars.





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