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regular manner by the kotwal before his royal master. The agents of the kotwal are stationed all along the Panch-kosí road, and are the gods or idols located there, who are supposed to act as chaukidárs or watchmen over the entire boundary. The office of these watchmen is to ward off all evil from the sacred city, to contend with such enemies as they may meet with endeavouring to break in upon the outer inclosure, and to send in their reports to the god-magistrate Bhaironáth.
Bisheswar, in his capacity of idol-king of Benares, demands the homage of his subjects, and will not resign his rights to the other deities who thrung his dominions. His subjects must, first of all, worship him, and must bring their offerings to his shrine, of which he, or rather his rapacious priests, are exceedingly fond. Although without mouth or throat, his thirst seems to be great; for one of the most plentiful offerings presented to him is that of Ganges water, with which, in the hot season, he is kept perpetually drenched.
It is no matter of surprise, therefore, that Bisheswar should receive more adoration than any other idol in Benares. Not only the permanent inhabitants of the city, but also pilgrims and other travellers, may be seen pressing into the temple during the greater portion of the day. The worshippers are of all classes and conditions, and present a singular, and even picturesque, variety of appearance. Among the most prominent of these is, we need hardly say, the proud, half-naked Brahman,—with shaven head, save a long tuft depending from his crown behind, the sacred cord being thrown over one shoulder or ear, and the symbol of S'iva being displayed upon his forehead,—who performs his devotions with punctilious nicety. The faqir, too, in almost primitive nakedness, his hair dyed and matted together, and his body bedaubed with ashes,—though scarcely noticed by other people, arrests the attention of the stranger. Few of the men have much clothing upon their
persons; yet many of them, by their carriage, and by the jewels and gold with which they are adorned, show that they occupy a very respectable position in native society. The women are, for the most part, thoroughly clothed; and, some of them, occasionally, are profusely decorated with gold and silver ornaments studded with precious stones. All the worshippers carry offerings in their hands, consisting of sugar, rice, ghee (or clarified butter), grain, flowers, water, etc. One of the most beautiful of the flowers presented is the lotos, the form and colour of which bear some resemblance to those of a large tulip or water-lily.
Over the narrow doorway which constitutes the chief entrance to the temple, is a small figure of Gaņeś, upon which some of the worshippers, as they pass in, sprinkle a few drops of water. As one enters the enclosure, several shrines are visible. The worshipper pays his homage to any god, or to all, as he may elect; but he must of necessity approach the paramount deity of the place, that is to say, the plain conical stone already spoken of.
He makes his obeisance to the god either by bowing his head—his hands being folded in adoration – or by prostrating himself upon the ground; after which he presents his offering, and rings one of the bells suspended from the roof of the temple. This is to attract the attention of the god, -for it is possible he may be asleep, or otherwise occupied, ---and to fix it upon himself. The adoration of an idolater is sometimes distressingly solemn. His whole soul seems to be over-awed, but with what sentiments it is impossible to affirm ; and the solemnity, if any, is singularly transient, and lasts only so long as he is in the presence of the idol. It is difficult to analyse his feelings, or to affirm precisely that they are of this or of that nature: nevertheless, there can be little doubt that his mind is occasionally filled with dread and anxiety, amounting, it may be, to alarm. The idolater cherishes no love for the idols he worships, but, on the contrary, regards them as beings to be feared, and, therefore, to be propitiated by adoration and suitable offerings. Nearly all the worshippers engage in their devotions in a quiet, orderly, and decent manner, but with manifest perfunctoriness, and with little or no thought beyond the desire to perform thoroughly the task they have set themselves, even to the minutest particular.
The temple of Bisheswar is situated in the midst of a quadrangle, covered in with a roof, above which the tower of the temple is seen.
At each corner is a dome, and, at the south-east corner, a temple sacred to S'iva. When observed in the distance, from the elevation of the roof, the building presents three distinct divisions. The first is the spire of a temple of Mahádeva, whose base is in the quadrangle below; the second is a large gilded dome; and the third is the gilded tower of the temple of Bisheswar itself. These three objects are all in a row, in the centre of the quadrangle, filling 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. These are 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 Jaina 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