Ahmedabad, capital of the province of Jujarat, once the greatest city of India, and formerly "as large as London," is the first stopping place on the conventional tour from Bombay through the northern part of the empire, because it contains the most perfect and pure specimens of Saracenic architecture; and our experience taught us that it is a place no traveler should miss. It certainly ranks next to Agra and Delhi for the beauty and extent of its architectural glories, and for other reasons it is worth visiting. In the eleventh century it was the center of the Eden of India, broad, fertile plains, magnificent forests of sweet-scented trees, abounding in population and prosperity. It has passed through two long periods of greatness, two of decay and one of revival. Under the rule of Sidh Rajah, "the Magnificent," one of the noblest and greatest of the Moguls, it reached the height of its wealth and power at the beginning of the fifteenth century. He erected schools, palaces and temples, and surrounded them with glorious gardens. He called to his side learned pundits and scholarly priests, who taught philosophy and morals under his generous patronage. He encouraged the arts and industries. His wealth was unlimited, and, according to local tradition, he lived in a style of magnificence that has never been surpassed by any of the native princes since. His jewels were the wonder of the world, and one of the legends says that he inherited them from the gods. But, unfortunately, his successors were weak and worthless men, and the glory of his kingdom passed gradually away until, a century later, his debilitated and indolent subjects were overcome and passed under the power of a Moslem who, in the earlier part of the sixteenth century, restored the importance of the province.

Ahmed Shah was his name.

He built a citadel of impregnable strength and imposing architecture and surrounded it by a city with broad streets and splendid buildings and called it after himself; for Ahmedabad means the City of Ahmed. Where his predecessor attracted priests and scholars he brought artists, clever craftsmen, skilled mechanics and artisans in gold, silver, brass and clay; weavers of costly fabrics with genius to design and skill to execute. Architects and engineers were sent for from all parts of the world, and merchants came from every country to buy wares. Thus Ahmedabad became a center of trade and manufacture, with a population of a million inhabitants, and was the richest and busiest city in the Mogul Empire. Merchants who had come to buy in its markets spread its reputation over the world and attracted valuable additions to its trades and professions. Travelers, scholars and philosophers came to study the causes of its prosperity, and marvelous stories are told by them in letters and books they wrote concerning its palaces, temples and markets. An envoy from the Duke of Holstein gives us a vivid account of the grandeur of the city and the splendor of the court, and tells of a wedding, at which the daughter of Ahmed Shah married the second son of the grand mogul. She carried to Delhi as her dower twenty elephants, a thousand horses and six thousand wagons loaded with the richest stuffs of whatever was rare in the country. The household of the rajah, he says, consisted of five hundred persons, and cost him five thousand pounds a month to maintain, "not comprehending the account of his stables, where he kept five hundred horses and fifty elephants." When this traveler visited the rajah he was sitting in a pavilion in his garden, clad in a white vestment, according to the Indian code, over which he had a cloak of gold "brocade," the ground color being carnation lined with white satin, and above it was a collar of sable, whereof the skins were sewed together so that the tails hung over down his back.

Among the manufacturers and business men of Ahmedabad in those days, as now, were many Jains - the Quakers of India - who belong to the rich middle class. They believe in peace, and are so tender-hearted that they will not even kill a mosquito or a flea. They are great business men, however, notwithstanding their soft hearts, and the most rapid money-makers in the empire. They built many of the most beautiful temples in India, in which they worship a kind and gentle god whose attributes are amiability, benevolence and compassion. The Jains of Ahmedabad still maintain a large "pinjrapol," or asylum for diseased and aged animals, with about 800 inmates, decrepit beasts of all species, by which they acquire merit with their god. And about the streets, and in the outskirts of the city, sitting on the tops of what look like telegraph poles, are pigeon houses; some of them ornamented with carving, other painted in gay colors and all of them very picturesque. These are rest houses for birds, which the Jains have built, and every day basins of food are placed in them for the benefit of the hungry. In the groves outside of the city are thousands of monkeys, and they are much cleaner and more respectable in appearance than any you ever saw in a circus or a zoo. They are as large as Italian greyhounds, and of similar color, with long hair and uncommonly long tails, and so tame they will come up to strangers who know enough to utter a call that they understand. Our coachman bought a penny's worth of sweet bread in one of the groceries that we passed, and when we reached the first grove he uttered a cry similar to that which New England dairymen use in calling their cattle. In an instant monkeys began to drop from the limbs of trees that overhang the roadway, and came scampering from the corners, where they had probably been indulging in noonday naps. In two minutes he was surrounded by thirty-eight monkeys, which leaped and capered around like so many dogs as he held the sugar cake up in the air before them. It was a novel sight. These monkeys are fed regularly at the expense of the Jains, and none of God's creatures is too insignificant or irritating to escape their comprehensive benevolence.

One of the temples of the Jains, the Swamee Narayan, as they call it, on the outskirts of the city, is considered the noblest modern sacred building in all India. It is a mass of elaborate carving, tessellated marble floors and richly colored decorations, 150 feet long by 100 feet wide, with an overhanging roof supported by eighty columns, and no two of them are alike. They are masses of carving-figures of men and gods, saints and demons, animals, insects, fishes, trees and flowers, such as are only seen in the delirium of fever, are portrayed with the most exquisite taste and delicacy upon all of the surface exposed. The courtyard is inclosed by a colonnade of beautifully carved columns, upon which open fifty shrines with pagoda domes about twelve feet high, and in each of them are figures of Tirthankars, or saints of the calendar of the Jains. The temple is dedicated to Dharmamath, a sort of Jain John the Baptist, whose image, crowned with diamonds and other jewels, sits behind a beautiful gilded screen.

Ahmedabad now has a population of about 130,000. The ancient walls which inclose it are in excellent preservation and surround an area of about two square miles. There are twelve arched gateways with heavy teakwood doors studded with long brass spikes as a defense against elephants, which in olden times were taught to batter down such obstructions with their heads. The commerce of the city has declined of late years, but the people are still famous for objects of taste and ornament, and, according to the experts, their "chopped" gold is "the finest archaic jewelry in India," almost identical in shape and design with the ornaments represented upon sculptured images in Assyria. The goldsmiths make all kinds of personal adornments; necklaces, bracelets, anklets, toe, finger, nose and ear rings, girdles and arm-bands of gold, silver, copper and brass, and this jewelry is worn by the women of India as the best of investments. They turn their money into it instead of patronizing banks. As Mr. Micawber would have expressed it, they convert their assets into portable property.

The manufacture of gold and silver thread occupies the attention of thousands of people, and hundreds more are engaged in weaving this thread with silk into brocades called "kincobs," worn by rich Hindus and sold by weight instead of by measure. They are practically metallic cloth. The warp, or the threads running one way, is all either gold or silver, while the woof, or those running the other, are of different colored silks, and the patterns are fashioned with great taste and delicacy. These brocades wear forever, but are very expensive. A coat such as a rajah or a rich Hindu must wear upon an occasion of ceremony is worth several thousand dollars. Indeed, rajahs have had robes made at Ahmedabad for which the cloth alone cost $5,000 a yard. The skill of the wire drawers is amazing. So great is their delicacy of touch that they can make a thousand yards of silver thread out of a silver dollar; and if you will give one of them a sovereign, in a few moments he will reel off a spool of gold wire as fine as No. 80 cotton, and he does it with the simplest, most primitive of tools.

Nearly all the gold, silver and tin foil used in India is made at Ahmedabad, also in a primitive way, for the metal is spread between sheets of paper and beaten with a heavy hammer. The town is famous for its pottery also, and for many other manufactured goods.

The artisans are organized into guilds, like those of Europe in ancient times, with rules and regulations as strict as those of modern trades unions. The nagar-seth, or Lord Mayor, of Ahmedabad, is the titular head of all the guilds, and presides over a central council which has jurisdiction of matters of common interest. But each of the trades has its own organization and officers. Membership is hereditary; for in India, as in all oriental countries, it is customary for children to follow the trade or profession of their father. If an outsider desires to join one of the guilds he is compelled to comply with very rigid regulations and pay a heavy fee. Some of the guilds are rich, their property having been acquired by fines, fees and legacies, and they loan money to their own members. A serious crisis confronts the guilds of Ahmedabad in the form of organized capital and labor-saving machinery. Until a few years ago all of the manufacturing was done in the households by hand work. Within recent years five cotton factories, representing a capital of more than $2,500,000, have been established, and furnish labor for 3,000 men, women and children. This innovation was not opposed by the guilds because its products would come into direct competition only with the cotton goods of England, and would give employment to many idle people; but now that silk looms and other machinery are proposed the guilds are becoming alarmed and are asking where the intrusions are likely to stop.

The tombs of Ahmed, and Ganj Bhash, his chaplain, or spiritual adviser, a saintly mortal who admonished him of his sins and kept his feet in the path that leads to paradise, are both delightful, if such an adjective can apply, and are covered with exquisite marble embroidery, almost incredible in its perfection of detail. It is such as modern sculptors have neither the audacity or the imagination to design nor the skill or patience to execute. But they are not well kept. The rozah, or courtyard, in which the great king lies sleeping, surrounded by his wives, his children and other members of his family and his favorite ministers, is not cared for. It is dirty and dilapidated.

This vision of frozen music, as some one has described it, is a square building with a dome and walls of perforated fretwork in marble as delicate as Jack Frost ever traced upon a window pane. It is inclosed by a crumbling wall of mud, and can be reached only through a narrow and dirty lane obstructed by piles of rubbish, and the enjoyment of the visitor is sometimes destroyed and always seriously interfered with by the importunities of priests, peddlers and beggars who pursue him for backsheesh.

The lane from the mausoleum leads into the courtyard of the Jumma Musjid, a mosque erected by Ahmed Shah at the height of his power and glory. It is considered one of the most stately and satisfactory examples of Saracenic architecture.

The most beautiful piece of carving, however, in this great collection is a window in a deserted mosque called Sidi Sayid. Perhaps you are familiar with it. It has been photographed over and over again, and has been copied in alabaster, marble, plaster and wax; it has been engraved, photographed and painted, and is used in textbooks on architecture as an illustration of the perfection reached by the sculptors of India. The design is so complicated that I cannot describe it, but the central features are trees, with intertwining boughs, and the Hindu who made it could use his chisel with as free and delicate a hand as Raphael used his brush. Fergusson, who is recognized as the highest authority on architecture, says that it is "more like a work of nature than any other architectural detail that has yet been designed, even by the best masters of Greece or the middle ages." Yet the mosque which this precious gem made famous is abandoned and deserted, and the courtyard is now a cow pasture.