CHAPTER XIII. ALLAHABAD, AGRA, AND DELHI.
ALLAHABAD - CAUNIPOOR - AGRA - THE MAUSOLEUM OF SULTAN AKBAR - TAJ-MEHAL - THE RUINED TOWN OF FATIPOOR - SIKRI - DELHI - THE MAIN STREET - PUBLIC PROCESSIONS - THE EMPEROR'S PALACE - PALACES AND MOSQUES - OLD DELHI - REMARKABLE RUINS - THE ENGLISH MILITARY STATION.
From Benares, Mr. Law and myself travelled in a post-dock to Allahabad. The distance, which amounts to seventy-six miles, occupies about twelve or thirteen hours. We left the sacred town on the 7th of January, 1848, at 6 o'clock in the evening, and early in the morning found ourselves already near Allahabad, at a long bridge of boats which here crosses the Ganges.
We left the post-dock, and were carried in palanquins to the hotel, about a mile further on. When we arrived there, we found it so occupied by some officers of a regiment on the march, that my travelling companion was received only upon condition that he would content himself with a place in the public-room. In these circumstances, nothing remained for me but to make use of my letter of introduction to Dr. Angus.
My arrival placed the good old gentleman in no little embarrassment: his house was also already filled with travellers. His sister, Mrs. Spencer, however, with great kindness, at once offered me half of her own sleeping apartment.
Allahabad has 25,000 inhabitants. It lies partly upon the Jumna (Deschumna), partly on the Ganges. It is not one of the largest and handsomest, although it is one of the sacred towns, and is visited by many pilgrims. The Europeans reside in handsome garden-houses outside the town.
Among the objects of interest, the fortress with the palace is the most remarkable. It was built during the reign of the Sultan Akbar. It is situated at the junction of the Jumna with the Ganges.
The fortress has been much strengthened with new works by the English. It serves now as the principal depot of arms in British India.
The palace is a rather ordinary building; only a few of the saloons are remarkable for their interior division. There are some which are intersected by three rows of columns, forming three adjoining arcades. In others, a few steps lead into small apartments which are situated in the saloon itself, and resemble large private boxes in theatres.
The palace is now employed as an armoury. It contains complete arms for 40,000 men, and there is also a quantity of heavy ordnance.
In one of the courts stands a metal column thirty-six feet high, called Feroze-Schachs-Laht, which is very well preserved, is covered with inscriptions, and is surmounted by a lion.
A second curiosity in the fort is a small unimportant temple, now much dilapidated, which is considered as very sacred by the Hindoos. To their great sorrow they are not allowed to visit it, as the fort is not open to them. One of the officers told me that, a short time since, a very rich Hindoo made a pilgrimage here, and offered the commandant of the fortress 20,000 rupees (2,000 pounds) to allow him to make his devotions in this temple. The commandant could not permit it.
This fortress also has its tradition: - "When the Sultan Akbar commenced building it, every wall immediately fell in. An oracle said that he would not succeed in its erection before a man voluntarily offered himself as a sacrifice. Such an one presented himself, and made only one condition, that the fortress and town should bear his name. The man was called Brog, and the town is, even at this time, more frequently called Brog by the Hindoos than Allahabad."
In memory of the heroic man, a temple was erected near the fortress, under ground, where he is interred. Many pilgrims come here annually. The temple is quite dark; lights or torches must be used on entering it. It resembles, on the whole, a large handsome cellar, the roof of which rests upon a number of plain columns. The walls are full of niches, which are occupied by idols and figures of deities. A leafless tree is shown as a great curiosity, which grew in the temple and made its way through the stone roof.
I also visited a fine large garden, in which stood four Mahomedan mausoleums. The largest contains a sarcophagus of white marble, which is surrounded by wooden galleries extremely richly and handsomely decorated with mother-of-pearl. Here rests the Sultan Koshru, son of Jehanpuira. Two smaller sarcophagi contain children of the sultan. The walls are painted with stiff flowers and miserable trees, between which are some inscriptions.
One part of the wall is covered with a small curtain. The guide pushed it with great devotion on one side, and showed me the impression of a colossal open hand. He told me that a great-great- uncle of Mohamet once came here to pray. He was powerful, large, and clumsy; when raising himself up, he stumbled against the wall and left the impression of his sacred hand.
These four monuments are said to be upwards of 250 years old. They are constructed of large blocks of stone, and richly decorated with arabesques, friezes, reliefs, etc. The sepulchre of Koshru and the impression of the hand are much venerated by the Mahomedans.
The garden afforded me more pleasure than the monuments - especially on account of the enormous tamarind-trees. I thought that I had seen the largest in Brazil, but the ground, or perhaps the climate, here appears more favourable to this species of trees. Not only is the garden full of such magnificent specimens, but there are beautiful avenues of them round the town. The tamarinds of Allahabad are even mentioned in geographical works.