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The site of Gour a Wilderness.
dabad, Malda, and other places, for the purpose of building. These bricks are of the most solid texture of any I ever saw; and have preserved the sharpness of their edges, and smoothness of their surfaces, through a series of
ages. The situation of Gour was highly suitable for the capital of Bengal and Behar, as united under one government: being nearly centrical with respect to the populous parts of those provinces; and near the junction of the principal rivers that compose that extraordinary inland navigation, for which these provinces are famed; and, moreover, secured by the Ganges and other rivers, on the only quarter from which Bengal has any cause for apprehension.'
The axe and the plough have been at work during the last fifty years to reclaim the jungle, the forest, and wastes of India. But it is doubtful whether they shall ever be applied to clear the wilderness that has formed on the site of Gour, and attracts only sportsmen for tiger-bagging and pig-sticking. The antiquary cannot be expected to carry on his researches amid the haunt of wild beasts and snakes—in the abode of pestilence and death.
Where giant weeds a passage scarce allow
To halls deserted, portals gaping wide :' though few spots an be more interesting than the one on which stand the hoary and dear ruins of the magnificent monuments of Gour. The author of the Ryax Assulateen, written in 1787-8, took considerable pains to ascertain his dates by visiting Gour, and reading the inscriptions on the different buildings. Sir Charles Wilkins, Librarian to the East India Company, published a set of engravings of the ruins of Gour. There is also a correct plan of the city deposited among the records of the India House. Of late, the ruins of Gour were shown in a photographic exhibition.
Three causes-the removal of the capital, the desertion of its old bed by the Ganges, and the unwholesomeness of the region-have contributed to turn Gour into a wilderness. It is impossible to pass it,' says Heber, without recollecting that what Gour is, Calcutta may any day become, unless the river in its fresh channel should assume a fatal direction, and sweep in its new track our churches, markets, and palaces (by the way of the Loll Diggy and the Ballighaut), to that Salt Water Lake which seems its natural estuary.' This is a sad homily for our house-owners and municipal debentureholders.
Far below Glour, but still high in repute, is Rajmahal, which possesses an interest derived from many historical recollections and storied associations.' The poet in his
ardour may say
'Hail, stranger, haill whose eye shall here survey,
The path of time, where ruin marks his way ;' but there is nothing to realize preconceived notions. The city, founded by Rajah Maun Sing and adorned by Sultan Shooja, which at one time rivalled Delhi in splendour and luxury, and rung with the melody of the flageolet and tambourine,' is now a dismal jungle filled with the moans of the midnight bird and the shrill cries of the jackal. Up to a recent day there were many vestiges of the works of Raja Maun, of the palace of Sultan Shooja, of the stone-roofed and delicately-carved balcony described by Bishop Heber as 'still retaining traces of gilding and Arabic inscriptions, and of mosques, gateways, and other buildings. They have all disappeared—many of them having been blasted by gunpowder to make room for the Railway works. The place has scarcely any interest for the traveller, and forms only wretched knots of huts dispersed at considerable and inconvenient distances from each other. The only recommendation of the town is its pretty situation upon a high, steep bank, from which the Himalayas are visible on a clear morning, and below which the Ganges, 'as if incensed at being obliged to make a circuit round the barrier of the hills,' sweeps with great violence, and, chafing in wrath, sometimes rends away several acres of ground. The beautiful, blue, and woody hills are about five miles inland.
It was on the opposite shore to Rajmahal, that Surajau-Dowla happened to be detected and seized by his enemies. In his flight from Moorshedabad towards Patna, he became oppressed with hunger, and landed at the cell of a poor Mahomedan dervish on the bank of the river opposite to Rajmahal. Thirteen months before had this dervish been deprived of his ears by the order of the fugitive tyrant, and he had good reason to remember his person, and recognize him in his disguise. Receiving his guests courteously, and setting about to prepare a dish of kicheery for them, he privately sent off a man across the river, and leading a brother of Meer Jaffer to the fugitive's hiding-place, had him seized and conveyed to Moorshedabad to revenge the loss of his ears.
From Rajmahal, we carry the reader on board the India General Steam Navigation Company's steamer Agra with the flat Chumbul. It was on a bright sunny afternoon that we turned our back upon the desolate city of Rajmahal, and when we were fairly embarked Sahilgunge.-Secreegully.—Terriagurry Pass. 97
upon the wide expanse of water, the vessel parted the foaming waves with her bow, and rode triumphantly upon them like a thing of life.' It is something to experience the pleasures of dashing up the classic waters of the Ganges in a steam-boat at the rate of four miles an hour, out-blustering the winds and waves, not caring a nonce for the gods presiding over them. In about two hours we passed by Caragola, opposite to which is Sahibgunge, sprung into a picturesque town in a wild moorland. Next we approached the Mootee Jhurna waterfall, which is seen tumbling down the mountain in beautiful cascades. Towards evening we were moving close to Secreegully, and high on the summit of the rocky eminence gleamed the white tomb of the Mussulman saint and warrior.
"The tomb,' says Heber, 'is well worth the trouble of climbing the hill. It stands on a platform of rock, surrounded by a battlemented wall, with a gate very prettily ornamented, and rock benches all round to sit or pray on. The chamber of the tomb is square, with a dome roof, very neatly built, covered with excellent chunam, which, though three hundred years old, remains entire, and having within it a carved stone mound, like the hillocks in an English churchyard, where sleeps the scourge of the idolaters.'
The famous Terriagurry Pass is better seen from the train, which runs past by the foot of the slate-built fort that formerly guarded the entrance. The narrow pass, about a quarter of a mile wide, is flanked by two isolated cliffs that afford a commanding position from their lofty,