CHAPTER XVI. CONTINUATION OF JOURNEY AND SOJOURN.
AURANJABAD - PUNA - EAST INDIAN MARRIAGES - THE FOOLISH WAGGONER - BOMBAY - THE PARSEES, OR FIRE-WORSHIPPERS - INDIAN BURIAL CEREMONIES - THE ISLAND OF ELEPHANTA - THE ISLAND OF SALSETTE.
On the 7th of March, late in the evening, I reached Auranjabad. Captain Stewart, who lived outside the town, received me with the same cordiality as the other residents had done.
8th March. Captain Stewart and his wife accompanied me this morning to the town to show me its objects of interest, which consisted of a monument and a sacred pool. Auranjabad is the capital of the Deccan, has 60,000 inhabitants, and is partly in ruins.
The monument, which is immediately outside the town, was built more than two hundred years since by the Sultan Aurung-zeb-Alemgir, in memory of his daughter. It by no means deserves to be compared to the great Tadsch at Agra. It is a mosque, with a lofty arched dome and four minarets. The building is covered all round - the lower part of the outside with a coating of white marble five feet high; the upper portion is cased with fine white cement, which is worked over with ornamental flowers and arabesques. The entrance doors are beautifully inlaid with metal, on which flowers and ornamental designs are engraved in a highly artistic manner. Unfortunately, the monument is already much decayed; one of the minarets is half fallen in ruins. In the mosque stands a plain sarcophagus, surrounded by a marble trellis-work. Both have nothing in common with the great Tadsch beyond the white marble of which they are constructed; in richness and artistic execution, they are so much inferior, that I could not understand how any one could be led to make so incredible a comparison.
Near the mosque lies a pretty marble hall, surrounded by a neglected garden.
The reigning king would have removed the marble from this monument for use in some building in which he was to be interred! He requested permission to do so from the English government. The answer was to the effect, that he could do so if he wished, but he should remember, that if he had so little respect for the monuments of his predecessors, his own might experience a similar fate. This answer induced him to relinquish his intentions.
The pool considered sacred by the Mahomedans is a large basin, constructed of square stones. It is full of large pikes, none of which, however, are allowed to be taken; in fact, there is an attendant appointed to supply them with food. The fish are consequently so tame and familiar, that they will eat turnips, bread, etc., out of the hand. The rainy season causes the death of many of them: were it not for this fortunate circumstance, the pool would before long contain more fish than water. Since the English have come here, the attendants are said not to be so conscientious, and very often smuggle fish out of the pool into the English kitchens, for the sake of a little ready money.
After spending a very agreeable day, I took a hearty farewell of my friendly hostess, and continued my journey in a fresh waggon towards Puna, 136 miles distant.
9th March. Toka. The roads here began to be better, and there were bungalows to be had on payment of the ordinary fees.
10th March. Emanpoor, a small village situated on the summit of a chain of hills. I found here the handsomest bungalow I had seen during the whole journey from Benares to Bombay.
11th March. We passed the whole day in travelling through a barren country, over naked hills and mountains: the majestic solitary trees with the wells had already ceased at Auranjabad.
Towards noon we passed the very flourishing town of Ahmednugger, in the neighbourhood of which a large English military station is established.
12th March. The bungalow at Serur was too near, that at Candapoor too distant. I therefore decided upon taking up my quarters for the night under the eaves of a house.
13th March. In Candapoor there are some handsome Hindoo temples and several small Mahomedan monuments. Near Lony is a large English military station. I also found an obelisk erected there in memory of a battle won by 1,200 English against 20,000 natives.
14th March. Puna. I had endless trouble here to find Mr. Brown, to whom I had an introduction from Mr. Hamilton. The Europeans reside in all parts of the town, for the most part miles apart, and I had the misfortune to meet with some who were not the most polite, and did not consider it worth taking the trouble to give me information. Mr. Brown, on the contrary, received me as kindly as I could desire.
His first inquiry was whether any accident had happened to me on the road. He told me that, only a short time since, an officer was robbed between Suppa and Puna, and as he attempted to defend himself, was murdered; but he added that such instances were extraordinarily rare.
I had arrived about noon. After dinner, Mr. Brown conducted me to the town, which belongs to the East India Company. It contains 15,000 inhabitants, and is situated at the junction of the rivers Mulla and Mutta, over both of which handsome bridges are thrown. The streets are broad and kept clean; the houses, like those in Udjein, are furnished with false wooden walls. Some were painted all over, and belonged mostly, as I was informed, to fakirs, with whom the town swarmed.