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Chunar,—Trimbukjee confined there.
and it is singular to remark that the history of the Mahratta power is comprised between two escapes—that of Sevajee, which led to its foundation, and that of Trimbukjee, which led to its dissolution. The slippery Trimbukjee was caught a second time, and lodged in the fortress of Chunar. He is confined with great strictness,' says Heber, “having an European as well as a Sepoy guard, and never being trusted out of the sight of the sentries. Even his bed-chamber has three grated windows open into the verandah which serves as guard-room. In other respects he is well treated, has two large and very airy apartments, a small building fitted up as a pagoda, and a little garden shaded with a peepul-tree, which he has planted very prettily with balsams and other flowers. Four of his own servants are allowed to attend him, but they are always searched before they quit or return to the fort, and must always be there at night. He is a little, lively, irritable-looking man, dressed, when I saw him, in a dirty cotton mantle, with a broad red border, thrown carelessly over his head and shoulders. I was introduced to him by Colonel Alexander, and he received me courteously, observing that he himself was a Brahmin, and in token of his brotherly regard, plucking some of his prettiest flowers for me. He then showed me his pagoda and garden, and after a few common-place expressions of the pleasure I felt in seeing so celebrated a warrior, which he answered by saying, with a laugh, he should have been glad to make my acquaintance elschere, I made my bow and took leave. He has been now, I believe, five years in prison, and seems likely to remain there during life, or till his patron and tool, Baja Row, may lessen his power of doing mischief. He has often offered to give security to any amount for his good behaviour, and to become a warmer friend to the Company than he has ever been their enemy, but his applications have been vain. He attributes, I understand, their failure to Mr Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay, who is, he says, “ his best friend, and his worst enemy," the faithful trustee of his estate, treating his children with parental kindness, and interesting himself in the first instance to save his life, but resolutely fixed on keeping him in prison, and urging the Supreme Government to distrust all his protestations. His life must now be dismally monotonous and wearisome. Though a Brahmin of high caste, and so long a minister of state and the commander of armies, he can neither write nor read, and his whole amusement consists in the ceremonies of his idolatry, his garden, and the gossip which his servants pick up for him in the town of Chunar. Avarice seems at present his ruling passion. He is a very severe inspector of his weekly accounts, and one day set the whole garrison in an uproar about some ghee which he accused his khansamah of embezzling; in short, he seems less interested with the favourable reports which he from time to time receives of his family, than with the banking accounts by which they are accompanied. Much as he is said to deserve his fate, as a murderer, an extortioner, and a grossly perjured man, I hope I may be allowed to pity him.'
Ancient Buildings of Chunar.
Proofs of the Hindoo antiquity of Chunar are seen on the highest point of the rock. They consist of an old Hindoo palace, which has a dome in the centre, and several vaulted apartments, with many remains of carving and painting. These chambers are dark and low, being purposely so built to exclude heat. On one side of this antique palace is a loftier and more airy building, with handsome rooms and carved oriel windows, which was formerly the residence of the Mussulman governor. There is an extraordinary well, about fifteen feet in diameter, and sunk to a very great depth in the solid rock. The ancient Hindoo or Mussulman stateprison is observed to consist of four small round holes, just large enough for a man to pass through, and leading to a subterranean dungeon, forty feet square, without any light or air. In a small square court, entered by a rusty iron door in a rugged and ancient wall, and under an old overshadowing peepul-tree, is a large black marble slab, which is said to be the spot where the Almighty is seated personally, but invisibly, for nine hours of the day, spending the other three hours at Benares, during which interval the rock ceases to be impregnable to an enemy. Tradition states this temple to contain 'a chest which cannot be opened, unless the party opening it lose his hand—four thieves having so suffered once, in an attempt on it.'
From the fort we went to the native town, which has houses all of stone, many of which are two-storied and verandahed. In the shops were exposed very fine black and red glazed earthenware, for which this
place is famous. Chunar is noted also for its finest tobacco.
The rail from Chunar to Mirsapore passes through a rugged hilly and woody country. Baber mentions it to have been infested by the wild elephant, tiger, and rhinoceros. Now, the region is haunted only by wolves, and, in rare instances, by bears. Many of the quarries, which from a remote period have been worked for buildings at Ghazipore, Benares, Chunar, Mirzapore, and almost the whole neighbourhood, are seen in the range of rocks along the foot of which the rail runs in a parallel. They have been quarried for ages, and whole towns have been built of their stones, but still no sensible diminution is marked in their size.
Reached Mirzapore. The long line of neat stoneghauts covering a steep bank, the vast number of richly. carved temples and pagodas, the handsome native houses, the elegant gardens and bungalows, and the thick crowd of boats of all descriptions, present an appearance of grandeur that rivals Benares, and indicates the opulence possessed by the largest and richest mart of traffic in the centre of Hindoostan. Nirzapore has no ancient importance or renown like Rajmahal, Bhaugulpore, Monghyr, Patna, Benares, but, excepting the last, it has eclipsed all the towns and cities in the Gangetic valley. It is not mentioned in the Ayeen Akbarry. Tieffenthaler describes it as 'a mart having two ghauts giving access to the Ganges.' It is laid down on Rennel's map published in 1781, but not mentioned in the accounts of the march of the British army from Buxar to Allahabad.
Mirzapore.-- Temple of Bindachul.
Mirzapore has grown and prospered under English rule within the
memory of living man, and as a mart of trade ranks next to the metropolis. Here is exposed for sale the corn, the cotton, and the dyes of one-sixth of India. Here, in the warehouses, are collected cloth-goods and metals for the consumption of near fifty millions of men. Here are manufactured various goods and the richest carpets. Bankers and merchants from all parts of Hindoostan and Central India are located here for business. The enterprising and thrifty Marwaree is attracted here, and returns home a rich man. The Bengalee, too, is in this great field of speculation and competition. There is no town in India which has risen like Mirzapore purely from commercial causes, unconnected with religion or the auspices of royalty. Much as Mirzapore has grown and flourished, it is destined to quadruple in population, wealth, and splendour, on the opening of the rail to Bombay.
In Mirzapore is seen the most beautiful chouk of all in India. The large square is enclosed by ranges of high stone-buildings, from which project elegant balconies over-hanging the market-place on all sides. There is also a superb serai. From a noisome tank, it has become a commodious accommodation for several hundred travellers, with towers at the corners, and a well and shrubbery in the centre.
This has been built at the expense of a benevolent native lady.
Four miles from Mirzapore is the Temple of Bindachul. Here is seen the only instance of Kali in all Hindoostan, who is the goddess of thugs and robbers.