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or place of pilgrimage, which, like other tanks in Benares, was frequented by many pilgrims, who worshipped in the temple and bathed in the pond. The jhil was drained, some years ago, by Mr. James Prinsep, the famous archwologist, when stationed at Benares. Its removal must, on sanitary grounds, be regarded as a beneficial measure; and no injury has been sustained by the people, as the river Ganges flows only a few steps off. The Machaudari Tirth is now abolished; and, consequently, the number of pilgrims frequenting the temple of Kamananath has greatly diminished.
IN the Iswar-Gangi street, situated in the Austinganj Mahalla or ward of the City, is the aristocratic temple of J ageswar,-—-more correctly, Yajeswara, ‘Lord of Sacrifice,’ that is, Siva,—to which all the nobility and gentry of Benares, from the Maharaja downwards, occasionally resort. Ascending a flight of steps, you enter the outer court of the temple, where are several shrines standing in a row, each of which contains an assemblage of small idols. This court forms a platform; and, as it is spacious, clean, and orderly, it serves as an agreeable lounge, in the cool of the day, for persons frequenting the spot. But the object of interest here is the temple of J ageswar, which is in a court of its own, walled in all round. The temple occupies a large portion of the enclosure; but there is, nevertheless, a narrow space between it and the walls, so that worshippers are able to carry out their favourite custom of traversing the circumference of the temple a multitude of times. The portico rests on pillars; and its floor is paved with small square slabs of polished marble. In the centre of the portico, facing the door of the temple, crouches a large bull, called N andi, the animal on which the god rides. But what would one fancy the size and form of the idol which the élite of Benares, its men of opulence, of illustrious birth, of intelligence, and education, reverently worship, and before whom they beat their heads upon the threshold, and even prostrate themselves upon the floor, and to whom they pay that supreme homage and adoration due only to the Lord God Almighty? It might be supposed that it was an object of surpassing splendour, with diamond-sparkling eyes, and a body of gold, adorned with garlands, necklaces, and bracelets, of costly value and of dazzling beauty. But its pretensions are of a very different order; for it is simply an enormous block of stone, round and black, six feet in height, and twelve in circumference. The tradition is, that, on one occasion, the gods assembled to perform a great sacrifice, and that out of the burning oblation issued S'iva, in the shape of this stone. Above the temple is a capacious spout, looking not unlike a chimney, placed immediately over the shapeless idol below. In the hot weather this spout is kept filled with water, which dribbles perpetually upon the god, through one or more holes in the bottom, and
keeps him cool. At the entrance to the temple from
the portico are two small shrines, one on each side of the door.
Adjoining the Ausanganj Mahalla is the Mahalla of Kasipura, where, at the junction of several narrow streets, stands a banyan tree, near which is a temple divided into two chambers. In one of these chambers, in a niche let into the wall, sits Kasi-devi, or the goddess of Benares. Pilgrims, making the tour of the city for the purpose of performing their devotions at its most celebrated shrines, do not fail to visit this tutelary deity. The spot is also interesting to the natives, as being, in their estimation, the centre of Benares, though it is exceedingly doubtful whether it is so in reality. A few steps bring us to the Karnghanta Talao, a tank named from the goblin Ghantakarna, ‘Bell-eared.’ This tank is in a quadrangle, between which and the neighbouring street a garden is situated. On descending a flight of steps, you enter the quadrangle. At the foot of the steps is a platform extending all round the enclosure; and from it is a succession of stone stairs leading down to the water of the tank. On the south side of the platform overlooking the tank are three temples, one of which, namely, that in the middle, is of considerable interest. It is dedicated to Vedavyas, the compiler of the Vedas, and is called Vyaseswar. The deified compiler is seated in a niche in the wall, and is decorated with a garland, and also with armlets and anklets. There is another temple, erected in honour of this famous man, in the palace of the Maharaja of Benares at Ramnagar; but there he is associated with Siva, and is worshipped through the emblem of the latter divinity, whereas, in the temple at Karnghanta Talao, he is represented by an image of his own. In the month of Sawan, multitudes of people, especially women, visit this tank, bathe in its unclean water, and worship the peepul, kadam, and banyan trees. A short distance to the north of Kasi-devi is the temple of Bhut-Bhairo or, more properly, Vishama-Bhairava; the former being the vulgar designation which the idol bears. Blnit means a demon; and Bhairo is the deified magistrate of Benares ; so that the idea is, that the god Bhairo delivers his worshippers from demons and other infernal beings. The idol is dignified with a moustache, the ends of which are curved after the most approved fashion; but it is, nevertheless, an ugly
object. The head and part of the neck are alone
visible, the remainder of the person being hidden by an apron which reaches above the head. The court in which this temple stands contains several other shrines, all which bear the marks of age upon them. Several of those curious blocks of stone found in various parts of Benares,—to which allusion has been made in a previous chapter,—of pyramidal shape, and presenting, on their surface, rude carvings of small temples, are lying about the enclosure. I counted as many as seven; and it is likely there are others. They are in various positions; several being erect, whilst some are standing out of the perpendicular, or are lying prostrate on the ground. There is no other place in Benares, I believe, which contains such an assemblage of these remarkable stones. On one side of the courtyard is a large emblem of S'iva, about which the following singular story is told. It is said, that, about six or seven years ago, a tree fell down at this place, and, on the spot where the trunk had stood, the emblem was found in the position in which it is now seen. The figure looks old; and it is not unlikely, that, in