Page images

destroying the delicate edge of the carvings. We trust the Government will not grudge a few hundred rupees for the thorough cleaning of this interesting specimen of Buddhist architecture. The inner stone wall and the modern pavement should, also, be removed.

, Besides these remains, there were, until quite recently, hundreds of stones lying about in the fort, bearing traces of great antiquity. In the mutiny, many of these were collected, and were utilized for the foundations of temporary barracks which were then erected. These stones may once have belonged to the monastery just described, when it existed in its integrity; but they may also have been portions of other contemporaneous buildings situated in its vicinity.

During the mutiny, Mr. Tresham, by Government order, blew up some ancient buildings standing near the monastery; and there are still the foundations of one

; remaining, which defied all attempts at its destruction. Mr. Horne also remembers a Buddhist temple, which was removed to afford space for barracks. .



Near Ráj Ghát Fort. A few hundred yards due north from the old gateway leading to the Ráj Ghát Fort, is a mound, of circumscribed extent, now used as a Mohammedan burial-ground; and on its summit are the ruins of, apparently, an old Buddhist temple. They consist simply of four pillars, richly carved with scroll-work, sustaining an ancient roof. At the corners of the shafts is the ordinary ornamentation, resembling a chain of lotos seed-pods. The capitals are

cruciform; and the bases are square, with embellished faces. The ceiling is very beautifully sculptured, and is composed of slabs over-lapping one another, with the centre stone crowning the whole, according to the primitive mode of Indian roof-building. This latter stone exhibits the expanded petals of a lotos-blossom; while eight out of the twelve triangular spaces, formed by the intersection of the slabs, are freely carved with the scroll-pattern. A few sculptured stones lie about the

ind : amongst them is an erect figure of Buddha, with garland and armlets, much mutilated. There are, also, three stone beams, or architraves, bearing the chessboard and spear-head patterns. In the small terrace, likewise, on which the ruin stands, are inserted four carved stones, taken, doubtless, from some ancient building formerly in the neighbourhood. The occurence of

. three or four plain cloister pillars, of the usual form, adapted by the Mussulmans as head-stones for graves, together with the carved architraves already spoken of, would seem to indicate that a small cloister for monastic purposes must, originally, have stood upon this mound, which was then terraced, and that its stones have, by degrees, been removed, both for building Mohammedan graves and for repairs in the fort.

Small Mosque in Buddon Mahalla.

In the Budáon Mahalla, near the Ráj Ghát Fort, a short distance south of the high road, there is a small mosque, -in an enclosure,—made up, to a great extent, of old remains. The building seems to have been curtailed from its original dimensions, leaving a ruined portion still standing on its southern side. The entire structure contains seventeen stone pillars, eight of which exhibit ornamental carvings, and, probably, belonged to a Buddhist chaitya or temple. There are, also, eight capitals inserted in the walls, without shafts and bases; and, besides, there are fragments of other capitals in various places. None of these old remains are in situ. They were brought, most probably, from some temple in the neighbourhood, -perhaps, indeed, from the mound occupied by the small ruin not far off, referred to in No. II.

[ocr errors]


Ancient Mound or Ridge running from near the mouth of the

Barná into the Adampura Mahalla. This very remarkable ridge extends for a long distance, and commences at the river Barná when at its flood. In the dry season, therefore, there is a stretch of low land lying between its extremity in that direction and the bed of the stream itself. The ridge is, manifestly, an artificial work, and was originally intended either as a wall to the ancient city, or as a rampart thrown up against it and the neighbouring fort of Ráj Ghát. The latter supposition was that held by Mr. James Prinsep, who imagined that it was cast up by the Mohammedans, in their attack upon Benares, and was specially directed against the fort. This supposition may be true, although it is difficult to perceive how it could have been of much service, whether in an attack on the fort or on the city, especially at a period when artillery was not in use. Had it reached as far as the river Ganges, we could understand how, by severing the fort


from the city, it might have been a source of danger to both; but the south-western extremity is not nearer the Ganges than a third of a mile or, perhaps, more. We are inclined to think, however, that this extremity was once connected with that river, but at a time far more distant than the Mohammedan conquest of India. On the whole, it appears not unlikely that this long embankment was the old boundary of the city in this direction, in the early periods of its history, and was, possibly, employed for offensive purposes by the Mohammedans, on the extension of the city to the south and south-west, and the consequent abandonment of this means of defence by the inhabitants. The embankment may have been carried on, originally, to the Ganges, in a straight line with its present direction; or, making a short circuit, it may have entered it by Tiliyá Nálá, on the banks of which are the remains of a Buddhist ruin, which will hereafter be described. In this case, a portion of it must have been thrown down, and swept away, to make room for the growth of the city; and there is good ground for supposing that the city extended, in a narrow band, on the banks of the Ganges, about as far as the Mán-Mandil Observatory, even, perhaps, before the Christian era. Should this idea be correct, it would follow that the most ancient site of the city of Benares was comprised within the limits of this wall, stretching across from the Barná to the Ganges, marking off a tongue of land as far as the confluence of the two rivers, and including the high land of the Ráj Ghát Fort, which was, in all probability, once covered with houses. The city must then have been of small compass, as compared with its existing dimensions, unless, as we believe, and as is indisputably certain, it crossed over to the right bank of the Barná.

That both sides of the river Barná were, in former days, better inhabited than at present, is somewhat substantiated by an examination of the ground on either side. Brick débris lies scattered about among the fields on the right bank of this stream; and old coins and broken stone images are, occasionally, found by the people, or are turned up by the plough; while, on the other or Benares side, old remains occur in the fort; and, likewise, below it, on the low land already referred to, blocks of stone, some of which are carved and exhibit ancient mason-marks engraved upon them, are still to be seen. Moreover, it is stated, in the Ceylon Annals, that, formerly, the city surrounding Sárnáth was continuous with, or a part of, Benares; which, if true, must have been at a period of remote antiquity. Indeed, these records carry us back to an epoch anterior to that of the historical Buddha, or Sákya Muni, and, therefore, perhaps, prior to the sixth century B.C.

Their statements must, of course, be received cautiously, and not as unadulterated authentic history. At the same time it is certain that there was a tradition amongst the Buddhists of India, conveyed thence by their missionaries to Ceylon, that, in remote ages, the city of Benares extended to Sárnáth.

In visiting this ridge, or embankment, it will be observed that the high road leading to Ráj Ghát cuts right through it; the earth of the cutting being used to raise the road above the level of the country. It is well

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »