On our way back to the hotel, in a park through which we had to pass, we suddenly heard overhead a shrill outcry proceeding from a banyan tree to which a number of vampires had hung themselves up. Clinging together side by side, like black rags, and hardly visible in the thick foliage, the creatures formed a sort of living bunch, creeping, swaying, and all uttering the same harsh, monotonous, incessant cry.
Beyond the outermost wall, when we had at last left it behind us, at the foot of the pile of terra-cotta-coloured bricks, were vast tanks of stagnant water, said to be inexhaustible. Near them was a shrine to Siva, with two small idols hung with yellow flowers, where an old Hindoo was praying devoutly; and then through a park of giant trees, and shrubs bright with strange blossoms, over which the parrots flew screaming.Outside, under a thatched screen, sits the punkah coolie, his legs crossed, the string in his hand; and as soon as everyone goes into the room he wakes up, rocks his body to and fro, his arm out in a fixed position, swaying all of a piece with a mechanical see-saw, utterly stupid. He will go to sleep lulled by his own rocking, and never wake unless the cord breaks, or somebody stops him.
At a short distance from Toglackabad, on a solitary rock, stands a square building of massive architecture, sober in outline, and crowned by a stone dome. It dwells alone, surrounded by walls; the mausoleum of Toglack, containing his tomb with that of his wife and his son, Mohammed the Cruel.When the last stone was placed, Shah Jehan sent for the architect and went with him to the top of the mausoleum."And how many die every day?"
A dome of smoke hangs like a vault over the fires, motionless, veiling the sun. The relations of the dead, sitting on their heels, gaze at the flames with an expression almost of indifference; no one weeps, and they converse calmly in no subdued tones.
In a long narrow bark, with a pointed white sail—a bunder-boat—we crossed the roads to Elephanta, the isle of sacred temples. Naked men, with no garment but the langouti, or loin-cloth, navigated the boat. They climbed to the top of the mast, clinging to the shrouds with their toes, if the least end of rope was out of gear, hauled the sail up and down for no reason at all, and toiled ridiculously, with a vain expenditure of cries and action, under the glaring sky that poured down on us like hot lead.The roof, upheld by a double row of stone blocks set on end, and somewhat atilt, weighs on the building, which is already giving way; and the next monsoon will destroy this marvel of the Ja?n to spare the trouble of military constructors—the builders of barracks.
The sweepers, the saises, the bearers, the whole tribe of noisy, idle servants—men, women, and children—all sleep out of doors in the hotter weather. And all day long the camp-bed, the two mats, and half a dozen pots, which constitute the[Pg 285] whole furniture of a family, move round the house with the shade, only settling down after dark.
At the bottom of a wide flight of steps flows the Ganges, translucent, deeply green, spangled with gold. The bathers, holding the little brass pots that they use for their ablutions, are performing the rites, surrounded by large yellow fishes spotted with green. Pink and white stuffs are spread to dry on the steps, flowers are scattered on the stream, long wreaths are floating down the river, curling and uncurling at the caprice of the current.In an alley of the bazaar girls were lounging in hammocks hung to nails outside the windows, smoking and spitting down on the world below.Then a man rose, and standing on the bayadères' carpet, he recited, in verses of equal measure, a sort of heroic legend, making his voice big, and emphasizing his words with grand gesticulation. One of the dancers spoke the antistrophe, and this went on interminably, till their voices gradually sank to mere hollow and expressionless intoning, while they swayed their bodies to and fro like children who do not know their lesson.
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At the end of the day one of the beasts could do no more. A shiver ran through the limbs of the poor thing, which, as soon as it was released from the shafts, lay down, a stream of blood staining the[Pg 274] pale sand; and in an instant, with a deep sigh, it was stiff in death.We visited a temple where the natives treasure the couch of the Guru Ram-Roy, a very holy and much venerated fakir.
The Jumna Musjid, in the middle of the bazaar, is a reminder of the mosque at Cordova. A thousand[Pg 63] unmatched columns stand in utter confusion of irregular lines, producing a distressing sensation of an unfinished structure ready to fall into ruins. Every style is here, and materials of every description, brought hither—as we are told by the inscription engraved over one of the lofty pointed doorways—from the temples of the unbelievers destroyed by Shah Mahmoud Bogarat, the taker of cities, that he might, out of their remains, raise this mosque to the glory of Allah. In the centre of the arcade a large flagstone covers the Ja?n idol, which was formerly worshipped here; and my servant Abibulla, as a good Moslem, stamped his foot on the stone under which lies the "contemptible image." Some workmen were carving a column; they had climbed up and squatted balanced; they held their tools with their toes, just chipping at the marble in a way that seemed to make no impression, chattering all the time in short words that seemed all of vowels.详情
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