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gether with the turrets, is out of the perpendicular, and has a remarkable appearance. In some places the stones are more than two feet apart. The people residing in the neighbourhood say, that the ghát has sunk some ten or twelve feet in all, and that, inasmuch as stair after stair continually, though slowly, vanishes, they know that the subsidence is still going on. The ghát was built by Baija Bai, the same lady who erected the colonnade round the Gyán Bápí well ; but it is not yet com
; pleted, and there is no hope that it ever will be.
The temple of Bșiddhkál, situated on the northern side of the city, is interesting, both for its antiquity and extent, as well as for the singular legends connected with its primitive history. It formerly possessed twelve separate courts or quadrangles; but now only seven are in existence, and several of these are fast falling into ruin. Indeed, the aspect of the entire building is that of decay. The site of the other five courts, and of the gardens once attached to the temple, is occupied by dwelling-houses. When this shrine was in its glory, it must have been a place of some magnificence. The pile of buildings now standing has a hoary appearance, the effect of which is greatly increased by its ruinous condition. The tradition respecting the origin of the temple is, that, in the Satjug, an old Raja in ill-health visited Benares, and there diligently performed ascetic rites, and religious ceremonies. The god Mahadeva was so gratified with the piety of the old man, that he not only healed his sickness, but also caused him to become young again. In honour of this deity, therefore, the Raja erected the present
temple, and gave it the name of Briddhkál, a corruption of two Sanskrit words, briddha,' or more properly, vriddha,' and 'kála,' the former meaning old, and the latter, fate. Mahadeva endowed it with two remarkable properties; the one, that of healing disease, and the other, that of prolonging life. The temple is one of the oldest in the city, and stands on the boundary of Benares Proper,-indisputably the most ancient portion of the existing city, where it unites itself with Kásí, a less ancient portion.
On ascending the steps, and traversing the passage running from the doorway to the inner part of the edifice, we are met by a red figure of Mahábír, the monkey-god, standing within a shrine at the corner of a court into which the passage leads. Close by, to the right, is a small temple dedicated to the goddess Kálí, a small black deity cut out of stone, dressed in a red garment, with a garland of flowers hanging from the neck. In front of her is a hollow space, in the form of a square, for the residence of Mahadeva; and outside of it is a bull, for the god to ride on.
To the right of Kálí, leaning against the wall, are figures of Gaņeś and Párvatí ; and to the left of the latter are images representing Bhairo, the Sun, Hanumán, and Lakshminarayan or Vishņu, and his wife Lakshmí. Immediately opposite to the temple of Kálí are two wells. The first is shallow, and contains putrid water, whose disgusting fetor fills the entire court. Into this well sick persons, and those wishing for long life, plunge their bodies. The former also take various medicines, and resort to other useful means for regaining
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their health ; and, should they recover, the foul well gets the credit of their restoration. Should the disease, however, be of an obstinate character, such as leprosy or elephantiasis, they must constantly bathe in the well for a period of twelve years. Instead of showing us a man who had been cured, they brought a leper who had strongly-defined marks of leprosy on his legs. He was trying the efficacy of the bath, and said he was better than when he had first arrived. The water of the well is reported to be impregnated with sulphur, in which case it would, doubtless, be very serviceable in some diseases, especially those affecting the skin. In conjunction with washing in this well, it is necessary also to drink of the water of the second well, which, unlike the other, contains sweet water, and has a raised parapet round its mouth. Near the wall of the court is a collection of stone deities, all representing the linga. They are nine in number, of which several are, apparently, very old. Two stone figures of satís have also been placed here, in commemoration of the self-immolation of widows on this spot in former times.
To the right of the court is a small square, with a temple in the middle, dedicated to Mahadeva. A serpent is entwined about the chief idol, which is called Nágeśwar, or the Serpent-god. The central deity is surrounded by others of smaller stature. Passing beyond this square, we come to another, in which two peepul trees and one neem tree are growing. This quadrangle has no temple in it, but is used as a residence for devotees. Close by is another quadrangle, the residence of the deity Briddhkál. The shrine within contains two
compartments, one of which Bșiddhkál occupies. He sits in a cistern, while, over his head, hangs a small brass vessel, filled with water, which drops through a hole upon him, without intermission. Though only a plain stone or linga, he is regarded as a very sacred object. In a niche in the verandah is an antique image of the elephant-headed god Gaņeś. There is another shrine in the area of this quadrangle, flat-roofed, and containing an image of Hanumán.
Returning to the court, in which the wells are situated, and passing through a corridor to the north, we come to a small enclosure, the walls of which are in a dilapidated condition. Here are two shrines, of considerable interest on account of the singular legends associated with them. That on the right is called Márkaņdeswar. Márkaņda was a Rishi, whom Mahadeva, it is said, for his piety, endowed with immortality ; and who, in acknowledgment of the honour, dedicated this temple to Mahadeva. That on the left is called Daksheswar, the legend respecting whom fills several pages of the Kásí-khanda. The tale, as revealing some strange events connected with the domestic life of the ruling god of Benares, is worth recounting. Raja Daksh, one of the heroes of the story, is still famous in Benares, and was, no doubt, a real personage.
. The wife of Siva, it seems, although a goddess, dies like common mortals; but, unlike them, shortly after her death, she is born again into the world, and, assuming another name on arriving at maturity, is always married to the same husband, namely, Mahadeva or Siva. On one occasion, the story goes, Mahadeva