CHAPTER XV. JOURNEY FROM DELHI TO BOMBAY CONTINUED.
2nd March. Furdapoor, a small village at the foot of beautiful mountains. As the poor oxen began to be wearied with travelling, the driver rubbed them down every evening from head to foot.
3rd March. Adjunta. Before coming to this place we passed a terrible rocky pass which might be easily defended. The road was very narrow, and so bad that the poor animals could scarcely make any way with the empty cars. On the heights of the pass, a strongly fortified gate was placed, which closed the narrow road; it was, however, left open in time of peace. The low ground and the heights on the sides were rendered inaccessible by strong and lofty walls.
The view became more delightful at every step: romantic valleys and ravines, picturesque masses and walls of rock lay on both sides, immeasurable valleys spread themselves out behind the mountains, while in front the view swept over an extensive open plain, at the commencement of which lay the fortress of Adjunta. We had already reached it at about 8 o'clock in the morning. Captain Gill resides in Adjunta, and I had letters of introduction to him from Mr. Hamilton. When I expressed a wish, after the first greeting was over, to visit the famous rock temples of Adjunta, he deeply regretted that he had not received a letter from me four-and-twenty hours sooner, as the temples were nearer to Furdapoor than to Adjunta. What was to be done? I was resolved upon seeing them, and had but little time to lose, so I decided upon retracing my way. I only provided myself with a small stock of provisions, and immediately mounted one of the horses from the captain's stable, which brought me past the rocky pass in a good hour. The road towards the temples here turns off to the right into desolate, barren mountain valleys, whose death-like stillness was unbroken by the breathing of an animal, or the song of a bird. This place was well calculated to raise and excite expectations.
The temples, twenty-seven in number, are excavated in tall perpendicular cliffs, which form a semicircle. In some of the cliffs there are two stories of temples, one over the other; paths lead to the top, but these are so narrow and broken, that one is frequently at a loss where to set the foot. Beneath are terrible chasms, in which a mountain stream loses itself; overhead, the smooth rocky surface extends several hundred feet in height. The majority of the temples are quadrangular in form, and the approach to the interior is through verandahs and handsome gateways, which, from being supported on columns, appear to bear the weight of the whole mass of rock. These temples are called "Vihara." In the larger one I counted twenty-eight, in the smallest eight pillars. On one, and sometimes on both side-walls, there is a very small dark cell, in which most probably the priest lived. In the background, in a large and lofty cell, is the sanctuary. Here are gigantic figures in every position; some measure more than eighteen feet, and nearly reach to the roof of the temple, which is about twenty-four feet high. The walls of the temples and verandahs are full of idols and statues of good and evil spirits. In one of the temples, a battle of giants is represented. The figures are above life size, and the whole of the figures, columns, verandahs and gateways, are cut out of the solid rock. The enormous number and remarkable beauty of the sculptures and reliefs on the columns, capitals, friezes, gateways, and even on the roof of the temples, is indeed most astonishing; the variety in the designs and devices is inexhaustible. It appears incredible that human hands should have been able to execute such masterly and gigantic works. The Brahmins do, indeed, ascribe their origin to supernatural agencies, and affirm that the era of their creation cannot be ascertained.
Remains of paintings are found on the walls, ceiling, and pillars, the colours of which are brighter and fresher than those of many modern works of art.
The second class of temples have an oval form, and have majestic lofty portals leading immediately into the interior; they are called chaitya. The largest of these temples has on each side a colonnade of nineteen pillars - the smallest, one of eight; in these there are no verandahs, no priest's cells, and no sanctuaries. Instead of the latter, a high monument stands at the extremity of the temple. Upon one of these monuments an upright figure of the deity Buddha is sculptured in a standing position. On the walls of the larger temple gigantic figures are hewn out of the solid rock, and under these a sleeping Buddha, twenty-one feet in length.
After I had wandered about here for some hours, and had seen enough of each of the temples, I was led back to one of them, and saw there a small table well covered with eatables and drinkables, inviting me to a welcome meal. Captain Gill had been so kind as to send after me a choice tiffen, together with table and chairs, into this wilderness. Thus refreshed and invigorated, I did not find the return fatiguing. The house in which Captain Gill lives at Adjunta is very remarkably situated: a pleasant little garden, with flowers and shrubs, surrounds the front, which commands a view of a fine plain, while the back stands upon the edge of a most fearful precipice, over which the dizzy glance loses itself among steep crags and terrible gorges and chasms.