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up most of the space from one side to the other. The carving upon them is not particularly striking; but the dome and tower glittering in the sun look like vast masses of burnished gold. They are, however, only covered with gold leaf, which is spread over plates of
copper overlaying the stones beneath. The expense of .
gilding them was borne by the late Maharaja Runjeet Sinh, of Lahore. The tower, dome, and spire terminate, severally, in a sharp point. Attached to the first is a high pole bearing a small flag and tipped with a trident. The temple of Bisheswar, including the tower, is fiftyone feet in height. The space between the temples of Bisheswar and Mahadeva, beneath the dome, is used as a belfry ; and as many as nine bells are suspended in it. One is of elegant workmanship, and was presented to the temple by the Raja of Nepal.
Outside the enclosure, to the north, is a large collection of deities, raised upon a platform, called by the natives
‘the court of Mahadeva.’ They are, for the most part,’
male and female emblems. Several small idols likewise are built into the Wall flanking this court. Theseare evidently not of modern manufacture. Their age, however, does not seem to be known. The probability is, that they were taken from the ruins of the old temple of Bisheswar, which stood to the north-west of the present structure, and was demolished by the Emperor Aurungzeb in the seventeenth century. Extensive remains of this ancient temple are still visible. They form a large portion of the western wall of the Mohammedan mosque, which was built upon its site by this bigoted oppressor of the Hindus. Judging from the
proportions of these ruins, it is manifest that the former temple of Bisheswar must have been both loftier and more capacious than the existing structure; and the courtyard is four or five times more spacious than the entire area occupied by the modern temple. The architecture of the ruins seems to be of a mixed character, and composed both of J aina and Hindu orders. Indeed, it is not impossible that a few slight traces of Buddhist architecture might be detected, also. What makes this latter supposition plausible is, that, on three sides of the perpendicular face of the terrace on which the mosque stands, Buddhist pillars, of a simple and very early type, forming recesses or rooms, but which were, originally, in all probability, cloisters, are distinctly visible.
The mosque, though not small, is by no means an imposing object. It is plain and uninteresting, and displays scarcely any carving or ornament. Within and Without, its walls are besmeared with a dirty whitewash, mixed with a little colouring matter. Its most interesting feature is a row of Buddhist or Hindu columns in the front elevation. The presence of this mosque, located, from motives of insult, in a place held so sacred by the Hindus, and around which their closest sympathies are gathered, is a constant source of heart-burnings and feuds both to Hindus and Mohammedans. The former, while unwillingly allowing the latter to retain the mosque, claim the courtyard between it and the wall as their own. Consequently, they will not permit the Mohammedans to enter the mosque by more than one public entrance, which, instead of being in front of that building, is
situated on one side of it. The Mohammedans have many times wished to build a gateway in the midst of the spacious platform in front of the mosque; but, although they once erected one, they were not suffered to make use of it, on account of the excitement that the circumstance occasioned among the Hindu population, which was only allayed by the timely interference of the Magistrate of Benares. The gateway
still stands; but the space between the pillars has been
filled up. A peepul tree, adored as a god, overhangs both the gateway and the road; but the Hindus will not allow the Mohammedans to pluck a single leaf from it. The Government, as a kind of trustee of the mosque, still pays, periodically, or did so not long since, the interest of money belonging to it, deposited in the Treasury, notwithstanding the Act lately passed forbidding such a practice.
Between the mosque and the temple of Bisheswar is the famous well known as Gyan Bapi or Gyan Ki'ip, “well of knowledge,” in which, as the natives believe, the god S’iva resides. Tradition says, that, once on a time, no rain fell in Benares for the space of twelve years, and that, in consequence, great distress was experienced by the inhabitants. In order to provide water for the people, and so to relieve them from the terrible calamity which had befallen them, a Bishi,— one of the mythical beings, not exactly divine, and certainly not mortal, who, to the number of many thousands, are reverenced by the Hindus,—grasping the trident of S’iva, dug up the earth at this spot, and forthwith there issued from beneath a copious supply of water. S’iva, on becoming acquainted with the circumstance, promised to take up his abode in the well, and to reside there for ever. It is stated, moreover, that, on occasion of the destruction of the old temple of Bisheswar, a priest took the idol of the temple and threw it down for safety. The natives visit this well in multitudes, and cast in water or flowers, and other offerings, as a sacrifice to the deity below. The compound mixture thus produced is necessarily in a constant state of putrefaction, and emits a most disgusting stench. The well is surrounded by a handsome low-roofed colonnade, the stone pillars of which are in four rows, and are upwards of forty in number. The building is small, but has been designed and executed with considerable taste. It is of very recent date, having been erected in the year 1828, by “Sri Maut Baija Bai,” widow of “Sri Maut Dowlat Rao Sindhia Bahadoor,” of Gwalior.
Immediately to the east of this colonnade is the figure of a large bull, about seven feet high, cut in stone, dedicated to the god Mahadeva; and a few steps further east is a temple built in honour of the same deity. The bull is a gift of the Raja of Nepal; and the temple, of the Rani of Hyderabad. On the south side of the colonnade is an iron palisade, in the enclosure of which are two small shrines, one of white marble, the other of stone, and between them a scafl'olding of carved stone, from which a bell is suspended.
Standing in this courtyard, the chief objects in which have been thus briefly described, and looking beyond in a north—westerly direction, the eye falls on a temple about
sixty feet in height, situated one hundred and fifty yards distant from the mosque. This is Ad-Bisheswar, that is, the temple of “ the Primeval Lord of All.” The natives in the neighbourhood all regard this shrine as of an epoch anterior to that of the old Bisheswar, the ruins of which, as already stated, form a constituent portion of Aurungzeb’s mosque. Hence the name attached to it. This temple is surmounted by a large dome, the decaying condition of which is visible in the gaps on its outer surface, caused by the falling away of broad thick flakes of the cement of which it is composed. The temple below, however, which is faced with slabs of stone as far as the base of the dome, has lately been extensively repaired by a tobacconist in the neighbourhood, named Ganpat, who has embellished its interior with paintings traced on the walls, making them look fresh and modern. There is really nothing in this temple of an ancient character; but, on the eastern side of the enclosure, the ground becomes considerably elevated, and upon it stands a mosque built of very old materials, the pillars of which date as far back as the Gupta period, and possibly earlier. May not these old stones and pillars be remains of the original Bisheswar? Formerly a communication was open between the enclosure of Ad-Bisheswar and the courtyard of Aurungzeb’s mosque already described ; but is now closed.
Kasi Karwat, a sacred well of some repute, is situated a short distance to the east of Ad-Bisheswar. Besides the vertical opening, there is a passage leading down to the water, which formerly was traversed daily by religious Hindus desirous of approaching the holiest part