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A great Fair.-Dinapore.
the fair consists of rows of booths extending in several streets, and displaying copper and brass wares, European and native goods, toys, ornaments, jewellery, and all that would meet the necessity or luxury of a large part of the neighbouring population. Numerous are the shops for the sale of grain and sweetmeats. Near five hundred tents of various size and patterns are pitched for the accommodation of the rajahs, zemindars, and merchants who come to the fair, and the canvas-city displays a scene of great gorgeousness. They are splendidly illuminated at night, and thrown open to all descriptions of visitors. Much money is expended on the nautch-girls, whose dancing and songs form the great source of Indian entertainment. Parties of strolling actors, dressed fantastically, ply to and fro, dancing and singing. The river affords one of the gayest spectacles of the fête. It is crowded with boats of all descriptions, fitted out with platforms and canopies, and lighted with variegated lamps, torches, and blue-lights. Upon them the guests are entertained with nautch. The Europeans visiting the fair add to its amusements by their pleasures of the turf. There is no more ceremony than that of ablution on the day of the full moon, and a poojah to the emblem of Heri-Hara, in honour of whom the mela is held.
The fair breaks up after a fortnight, and the place is left to its solitariness for the next twelvemonths.
Dinapore—the military station of Patna, and distant from it about fourteen miles, has only its barracks and the bungalows usual in a cantonment. Merely a passing view of it is enough to allay the curiosity of the traveller. Four miles north of Dinapore is the junction of the Soane with the Ganges. The alterations in the course . of the first river, and the small extent to which Patna has shrunk in modern times, naturally lead men to doubt at first the identity of that city with Palibothra. The vast and broad sheet of water formed by the confluence makes a grand sight, and is contemplated with no little pride when puny man has made the Soane
Tamely to endure a bridge of wondrous length,'
the reality of which has surpassed the fictitious Setabund of Valmiki.
Crossing the Soane bridge, the next place of note upon the rail is Arrah, situated in a fertile and wellcultivated country. It was at Arrah that 'a handful of heroes defended a billiard-room against drought, and hunger, and cannon, and the militia of a warlike region, backed by three regiments of regular infantry.'
Chuprah, on the left bank of the Ganges, has a pretty situation.
Tieffenthaler describes it as 'extending half a mile along the Ganges consisting of strawroofed buildings, and containing French, English, and Dutch factories. Hereabouts are the principal saltpetre works. But England's prohibition of the export of that article during the Russian war, hastened the ruin of that trade by rousing the energy of the Continental Powers to shake off their dependence upon England for saltpetre.
Five or six miles above Chuprah, the Ganges re
ceives the tribute of the Gograh--the Surjoo of the Ramayana. The junction of the two streams presents a 'noble appearance. The immense expanse raises an idea of the sea.
Our view was limited only to a circle of water all round us, and we gazed upon nothing but the sky and water—the distant trees beyond the limits of the circle seeming like a streak in the horizon.
Our progress had been most favourable the whole day. But the course of a vessel through the shoals and sand-banks of the Ganges, like the course of true love,' never runs smooth. In nearing Buxar, the steamer struck ground, and kept us at a stand-still for an hour, until it floated by dint of hard-hawsing, and extra pressure of steam now and then.
It was almost dusk when we reached and anchored before Buxar, and were permitted to have a mere glimpse of it from on board. The British power made its territorial progress in India like the Bamun Avatar of the Hindoos, taking long strides, and making its first step at Plassey, the second at Buxar, and the third almost at the frontiers of India. The battle No. 2nd fought here opened the way to Upper Hindoostan to their advance, and placed its fair provinces at their disposal. They were distributed like 'up-town lots' in a reclamation speculation, and Corah, Allahabad, and the Doab were given away to the ex-Shazada Shah Alum, Oude to Shuja Dowla—while the English took in their hands the key of the exchequer of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa. The fortress, occupied at the expense of nearly 5000 lives on both sides, is still in good order, and stands
upon an elevated ground, whence the view, upon a fine day, presents a scene infinitely gratifying to the
The eye rests on an extended plain, skirted by a broad winding river, chequered with exuberant fields of corn, groves of lofty spreading trees, and large villages; the whole combining some of the grandest objects in nature, and impressing the mind with cheerfulness and content. Forster mentions that on a small mount to the westward of the Fort of Buxar, an edifice, said to be erected to the memory of Ram, still exists, and that the Hindoos hold this monumental curiosity in a degree of estimation not inferior to that which the zealous and devout Catholics entertain for the holy House of Loretto. It would appear that Ram, whilst a youth, made a visit to this eminence and remained on it seven days. During this sojourn, some learned master of the science taught him the art of managing the bow, and truly wonderful are the feats recorded of his performance in after-times. The least meritorious of these exploits would, if duly detailed, produce the exclamation that Ram indeed drew a long bow.' In native tradition, the country hereabouts is called Bhojepooreah, or the kingdom of Rajah Bhoja—the great Necromancer-King of India.
Off Buxar, we passed a pleasant night upon the steamer. It was a night for romance, such as when
Troilus sighed his soul to absent Cressida. The moon had a pure, unclouded brightness. The river lay calm and tranquil as the bosom of innocence, and the gentle rippling of the water against the sides of the vessel
Ghazipore, -- the famous Rose Gardens.
made a lullaby to the ears, that brought on a refreshing sleep to digest a hearty dinner. Early next morning, the Agra weighed its anchor, and went paddling on to Ghazipore. Reached this town at three in the afternoon, and there was no more sailing that day on account of a telegram from Calcutta.
Many a time did we wish to see the town, that, says Heber, 'is celebrated throughout India for the wholesomeness of its air, and the beauty and extent of its rose gardens.' If, at last, an opportunity happened to gratify our wishes, it was only for the short space of three hours, during which no man can be sufficiently influenced to form his opinion of the salubrity or insalubrity of a place. It is not for us either to confirm or contradict the wholesomeness of the air of Ghazipore, in our stroll through that town for a couple of hours we did not taste any extra-bland airs followed by an extrakeenness of appetite, nor did we return from it catching an ague or jungle-fever. As for the famous rose gardens, the greatest of all curiosities at Ghazipore, where one may fancy himself in the reality of Sadi's Gulistan midst flowers and flowering shrubs, and where, as we have been told by one from personal experience, the opening of the countless buds is distinctly audible in the stillness of an evening; they were at a distance which made us very much regret missing them. In truth, we would have come away doubting the very existence of these rose-fields that occupy hundreds of acres, had not a number of men come to sell their rose-water, attar, and other perfumed oils at the coaling ghaut of the steamer.