Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

the least, five thousand troops; there were also stables for five hundred horses.

The hall, which we converted into a dining room, was a square of sixty-three feet, opening in front to a pretty garden, and backwards to a large tank, paved with marble, for cold bathing. Two rows of handsome pillars in front gave it an elegant appearance; the roof of carved wood was beautifully painted. On each side of the hall was a central large room, and two smaller, the former with a cove roof, the latter under a dome. The pannels, walls, and ceilings of these rooms were all carved and painted with taste, the concave roofs ornamented with borders and compartments of chain-work, painted white, and the interstices filled with looking-glass. The windows were of a composition like isinglass, which only the nicest examination, or the touch could distinguish from glass. They had a peculiar light and airy appearance, disposed in a pretty tracery. The small recesses, which in most Indian buildings are formed in the walls, and generally produce a disagreeable effect, are in these rooms rendered ornamental by the well-adapted expedient of introducing fruit and flowers, painted in a brilliant style.

Some smaller apartments in a different quarter, which formed part of the haram, were entirely lined with looking-glass, and the octagonal columns around them covered with the same material. This range, when illuminated in the former profuse fashion of the Moguls, must have made a brilliant appearance. Belonging to this part of the zenana, I had, for the first time, an opportunity of seeing another species of eastern luxury, in the apartment called surd conna, or teh konna, which signifies in Persian, cool place, or below-ground place. To this we descended by a long flight of steps, and found it consisted of a subterraneous gallery, divided into three distinct rooms; the whole occupied a space seventy-eight feet long, by twenty-seven broad. The side divisions were raised two steps above the centre, which was entered through two arches, formed by marble pillars, exquisitely wrought; in front was a low elegant railing; and between the side rooms, within these marble arches, were three fountains, to cool the atmosphere, when the ladies were there assembled, such places being generally appropriated to the pleasures of the voluptuous Mogul, and his favourites in the haram. The whole of this singular apartment, the walls, pavement, and pillars are of delicate white marble; the concave domes which form the roof are richly painted, in such a manner as to produce the effect of blue and silver. The light is admitted by three lattices, so constructed as to prevent the rays of the sun.

The morning after our arrival we visited the jumma musjid, a noble building which does honour to the magnificent taste of its founder, the emperor Shah Jehan, who erected this superb edifice five years after the completion of the Taje Mahal at Agra. The entrances are all extremely grand, the lofty minars elegantly fluted, and the whole in good preservation. Besides the jumma musjid, are many smaller mosques; some with gilded domes make a dazzling appearance, the majority are of plainer materials, and many falling to deca}'.

Our limited stay at Delhi prevented us from seeing more of the city than came within the compass of this morning's ride. On leaving the jumma musjid, we proceeded through several streets,

VOL. IV. K

despicably poor, and thinly inhabited. Two or three of a larger size seemed more populous, were of considerable breadth, and occupied by the aqueduct already mentioned in the centre, now in a state of dilapidation.

The fort of Delhị has more the appearance of an ornamented wall, constructed round a royal residence, than a fortification against an enemy. To such an extreme has this expensive taste been carried, that all the towers, erected at stated distances along the walls of the fortress, are covered with domes of white marble. richly ornamented with gold.

The following morning we rode through the suburbs, to view the celebrated mausoleums. That of Humaioon is truly magnificent, and occupies a large space; the centre dome is uncommonly bold, and admirably formed, the lower part divided into numerous sepulchral chambers, each containing the tomb of some relation of the royal line, whose body is deposited beneath the platform. These chambers, connected with each other, penetrate the whole extent, and were individually appropriated to a descendant of the house of Timur. These are too numerous to particularise; but among them is the chamber of Allum Geer Saunee, father of Shah Aalum the present emperor; another containing the remains of his eldest son; a third of his sister. The tombs placed over the bodies are all of plain white marble chunam, the exterior sepulchres of white marble.

The mausoleum of Khan Khannah, or Lord of Lords, the vizier of Humaioon, stands near the sepulchre of his royal master. This edifice is said to be characteristic of its founder, constructed at a great expense without taste or elegance, and such was the

extraordinary dissipation and extravagance of Khan Khannah as to have become proverbial. He was originally a slave named Phaheem, Khan Khannah being his honorary title, which gave occasion to this proverb, peculiarly expressive in the Persian language; ** what Khan Khannah amasses, Phaheem squanders." The stories related of his boundless profusion are not less numerous than wonderful.

Within the compass of half a mile are several other large structures, sacred to the memory of Mogul ameers or nobles, and peers, or holy men, some of elegant proportion. That which most attracted our attention was a mausoleum, beautiful in appearance, and delightful in situation, at three miles distance, containing the remains of Munsure Ally Khan, grandfather of Asuph ul Dowlah; this is executed with great taste. On my return I missed the Delhi-gate, and wandered among the ruins, until I arrived at a portal into the city, on that side which is washed by the Jumna, which gave me an opportunity of seeing much the prettiest part of this ancient capital. On this face are a number of beauiful palaces and pavilions, situated in the midst of verdant groves; their gilded domes, and varied style of architecture, reflected in the clear stream gliding gently below the walls, fully compensated for my lengthened journey. The Jumna at Delhi is so extremely narrow, and the stream of so little depth, that I saw the washermen cross it in many places not higher than their middle. The opposite country is so extremely low, that in the rainy season it must be entirely under water.

The next evening (13th of June) we set off on our return to Sindia's camp, and instead of a magnificent palace, passed the night in a miserable roofless hut. The next evening brought us to our former pleasant quarters at Ooral, and on-the third day we arrived at Sindia's camp. Sir Charles having finished his public business with Mhadajce Sindia, through Mr. James Anderson, so far as related to personal communication, we remained there only two days, and then returned to our royal apartments at the Taje Mahal at Agra, where we arrived on the 18th.

The object of Sir Charles Malet's mission to Mhadajee Sindia having been accomplished by the conciliation of that chieftain to the establishment of his embassy at the court of Poonah, Sir Charles received orders early in July to proceed to Calcutta, there to receive the requisite powers and instructions from the Governor-General, Sir John Macpherson, who had succeeded Mr. Hastings since the commencement of the embassy, for carrying the negociations into effect. In consequence of these orders the escort of regular sepoys and native cavalry, also the elephants, horses, camels, and attendants which had hitherto been necessary, but would now become an encumbrance, were put under the care of Mirza Syed Mahomed, with orders to proceed to Gwalier, there to await the junction of such other camels and followers, as it might be necessary and practicable to return from Caunpore, from whence Sir Charles Malet and suite intended to embark on the Ganges, and proceed by water to Calcutta. On the arrival of the party from Caunpore, Mirza Syed was to conduct the whole from Gwalier to Surat.

Having thus completed every requisite previous arrangement,

« ForrigeFortsett »