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TRAVELS OF A HINDOO.
Norember 1.-UP at dawn to proceed to Futtehpore Sicri. Indeed, fate must have destined us to try all sorts of carriages, for the one that was to take us on this morning had to be drawn by a camel. There was the gharry waiting at the door with the head of the camel on a level with the head of the coachee, and affording an oddity for a caricature in Punch. But it is the extreme obedience of the animal, and the unflagging equableness of its pace, that must have always recommended the camel in a long journey, and that fast wore out the prejudices which had been at first felt against our utterly strange mode of travelling.
In passing by the artillery practice-ground, we were reminded of the tomb of the Empress Jodh Bai, that at one time stood there, ranking among the architectural curiosities of Agra. But the walls and magnificent gateways that surrounded it, had been first taken away
and sold by a thrifty government, and then the tomb itself was experimentalized upon for a practical lesson in mining. No palliation can ever be urged to defend an outrage upon the dead-far less can any plea extenuate the act of blowing up into the air the remains of a woman, no other than Akber's favourite Sultana, to whom 'the people of India owed much of the good they enjoyed under his long reign, by inspiring not only her husband, but the most able Mahomedan minister that India has ever had, with feelings of universal benevolence.'
From Agra to Futtehpore Sicri is twenty-four miles, or a good six hours' drive in a gharry. The whole way,' says Fitch, ‘resembled a market, as full as though a man were still in a town.' To confirm this, numeroas mosques, tombs, and houses, all more or less in. ruins, still occur along the road. But much of the country appears to have been brought under the plough, and turned into fields for rice crops and the growth of other staples.
Futtehpore Sicri was something like the Windsor Palace of Akber. The town is situated on the crest of a hill, rising abruptly from the plains to the height of a hundred and fifty feet, and enclosed by a high stone rampart with battlements and towers, five miles in circuit. The whole extent of this space, in its present state, is one scene of desolation, strewed more or less with the ruins of broken columns, valls, gateways, and porticoes, in huge fragments of stone and masonry. Formerly, a great part of the surrounding low country
had been laid out in an extensive artificial lake, twenty miles of circumference, the dam of which is still traceable in many parts. The hill at first was little frequented by men, and on its top lived in seclusion a boary and holy fakir, under the name of Sheik Salim. But few places in India have become famous under more romantic circumstances than Futtehpore Sicri. The Emperor Akber was of an age verging upon thirty. He was then monarch over the fairest provinces of Hindoostan Proper. But he was unhappy on the score of having no child in his royal household. From physical causes, little understood in that age, all his offspring died in their infancy. To avert such domestic calamities, parents in all ages have either sought the aid of charms, or the intercession of gods. In ancient Rome, the ladies wore the phallic emblem to overcome their sterility. It was a mango-fruit, given by a Rishi to Jarasindh's father, and eaten by his mother, which begot that famous Maghada Prince of old. To this day, very often do barren Hindoo women, and those • who lose their children in the cradle, repair to the most reputed shrine of Shiva in their neighbourhood, and by fasts and vigils insure his blessings for progeny. In the place of gods, Mahomedan saints have dispensed similar favours to matrons of their nation. By domestic afilictions, the greatest minds are so unnerved as to follow the practices of the common herd. In his parental yearnings for a son, Akber undertook, in conformity with the prevalent superstition of the day, a pilgrimage to the shrine of Joinuddeen of Ajmere.
There is not a greater name in the category of Mahomedan sainthood than that of Moinuddeen, who was a Persian of Cheest, but whose holy dust remains in Ajmere. To make such a pilgrimage, it is a necessary condition, however, for its efficacy, that the pilgrim should go on foot, and be accompanied by his wife. Akber himself was a famous walker, who could travel on foot thirty or forty miles in a day. But it was beyond the power of a woman to accomplish a journey of three hundred and fifty miles at such a rate. It was, therefore, broken in easy stages of three coss, or six miles a day. That the begum might not hurt her feet, , carpets were spread on the road. That her purdanashin honour might not suffer, künnäts or cloth-walls were raised on each side of the way. High towers of burnt bricks were also erected at each stage, to mark the places where they rested in their imperial progress. In this manner did the royal pair proceed to the destination of their journey. On arrival there, the Emperor made a supplication to the saint, who at night appeared to him in his sleep, and recommended him to go and entreat the intercession of the holy old man, who lived on the top of Sicri. This was Sheik Salim, then ninetysix years of age. To him the Emperor came, and he was assured that his Begum Jodh Baie would be delivered of a son, who would live to a good old age. The Empress happened to be pregnant about the time, and remained in the vicinity of the old man's hermitage, till the promised boy was born, and called after the hermit, Mirza Salim-the future Jehangeer of Indian
history. They show you to this day “the little roof of tiles, close to the original little dingy mosque of the old hermit, where the Empress gave birth to Jehangeer.'
By himself, the hoary Sheik was a sufficiently venerable-looking man, but he now appeared doubly or trebly so in the eyes of Akber, who thereafter took up his residence at Futtehpore Sicri, and founded a magnificent town upon its height. By building, planting, and digging, the rock was converted into a scene rivalling the splendours of Agra. Often, from the glare and dust of that city, did Akber retire to this suburban retreat, to breathe purer air, and enjoy lovely rural sights. Here were his vast stables, his hawking establishments, and the kennels of his dogs. Here was the stud of his shikaree elephants. Here did he make himself jovial with his favourites, and spend life in slippers. And here always he left his harem when he set out on his expeditions. To this day the whole hill bears marks of terraces, gardens, wells, cisterns, and palaces, which 'give a more melancholy sense of desolation than ruins that appear to have mouldered away under the natural touch of time.'
The most striking object of all at Futtehpore Sicri is a colossal gateway, one hundred and twenty feet in height, and the same in breadth. The span of the arch is forty feet broad, by sixty feet high. In Sleeman's opinion, 'the beholder is struck with the disproportion between the thing wanted and the thing provided. There seems to be something quite preposterous in forming so enormous an entrance for a poor diminutive