CHAPTER XV. JOURNEY FROM DELHI TO BOMBAY CONTINUED.
As Captain Gill had learnt that I wished to visit the famous fortress of Dowlutabad, he told me that no one was admitted without the permission of the commander of Auranjabad; but, to spare my going out of my way (as the fortress lies on this side of Auranjabad), he offered to send a courier there immediately, and order him to bring the card of admission to me at Elora. The courier had to travel altogether a distance of 140 miles - 70 there and as many back. I looked upon all these attentions as the more obliging, as they were shown to me - a German woman, without distinction or attractions - by English people.
4th March. At 4 o'clock in the morning, the good captain joined me at the breakfast table; half an hour later, I was seated in my waggon and travelling towards the village of Bongeloda, which I reached the same day.
5th March. Roja is one of the most ancient towns of India. It has a gloomy aspect; the houses are one story high, and built of large square stones, blackened by age; the doors and windows are few in number and irregularly situated.
Outside the town lay a handsome bungalow with two rooms; but, as I was informed that it was occupied by Europeans, I decided upon not going there, and took up my quarters for the night under the eaves of a house.
The country between this and Adjunta is a flat plain; the parched heaths and poor jungles are interspersed with beautiful plantations. The land near Pulmary was especially well cultivated.
6th March. Early in the morning, I mounted a horse for the purpose of visiting the equally-renowned rock temples of Elora (ten miles from Roja). But, as it frequently happens in life that the proverb, "man proposes and God disposes," proves true, such was the case in the present instance - instead of the temples, I saw a tiger-hunt.
I had scarcely left the gates of the town behind, when I perceived a number of Europeans seated upon elephants, coming from the bungalow. On meeting each other, we pulled up, and commenced a conversation. The gentlemen were on the road to search for a tiger-lair, of which they had received intimation, and invited me, if such a sport would not frighten me too much, to take part in it. I was greatly delighted to receive the invitation, and was soon seated on one of the elephants, in a howdah about two feet high, in which there were already two gentlemen and a native - the latter had been brought to load the guns. They gave me a large knife to defend myself with, in case the animal should spring too high and reach the side of the howdah.
Thus prepared, we approached the chain of hills, and, after a few hours, were already pretty near the lair of the tigers, when our servants cried out quite softly, "Bach, bach!" and pointed with their fingers to some brushwood. I had scarcely perceived the flaming eyes which glared out of one of the bushes before shots were fired. Several balls took effect on the animal, who rushed, maddened, upon us. He made such tremendous springs, that I thought every moment he must reach the howdah and select a victim from among us. The sight was terrible to see, and my apprehensions were increased by the appearance of another tiger; however, I kept myself so calm, that none of the gentlemen had any suspicion of what was going on in my mind. Shot followed shot; the elephants defended their trunks with great dexterity by throwing them up or drawing them in. After a sharp contest of half an hour, we were the victors, and the dead animals were triumphantly stripped of their beautiful skins. The gentlemen politely offered me one of them as a present; but I declined accepting it, as I could not postpone my journey sufficiently long for it to be dried. They complimented me on my courage, and added, that such sport would be extremely dangerous if the elephants were not particularly well trained; above all, they must not be afraid of the tigers, nor even stir from the spot; for, if they ran away, the hunters would be upset by the branches of the trees, or be left hanging upon them, when they would certainly become the victims of the bloodthirsty animals. It was too late to visit the temples today, and I therefore waited till the next morning.