Page images

antiquity. These slabs were, doubtless, taken from dilapidated buildings in the neighbourhood. A thorough examination of them, especially of the more ancient among them, would, I am satisfied, not be unproductive of interesting results. The wall was also repaired by Mr. Prinsep about thirty years ago.

At this well the Nág or Serpent is worshipped. In a niche in the wall of one of the stairs is a figure representing three serpents; and, on the floor, is an emblem of Mahadeva in stone, with a snake crawling up it. The well is visited, for religious purposes, only once in the year, namely, on the 24th and 25th days of the month Sáwan, when immense numbers of persons come to it, on pilgrimage, from all parts of the city. The women come on the first day, and the men, on the second. They offer sacrifices both to the well and to Nágeswar, or the Serpent-god.

Near the wall of the stairs, on the south side, stands a large peepul tree; and at the foot of it are several old mutilated images, one of which has extensive carvings upon it. There is, also, å small low temple close by, containing figures of Hanuman and other deities. Outside the door of the temple are two strange antique idols, in bass-relief. One has, apparently, four legs, and is graced with a nimbus. The other is in an erect posture, with a chatr or umbrella over its head. I have grave doubts respecting the Hindu origin of these idols and of some of the mutilated images referred to above.

In the adjoining Mahalla of Jaitpurá, a short distance from the Serpent's Well, is the temple of Bageswari. Her face consists of a compound of eight kinds of metal, which is of a pale hue, and highly burnished. She wears on her head a large crown, surmounted with balls, like the coronets of the nobility. Her person is covered with a cloth; and from her neck depend several garlands of flowers. The goddess is seated on a lion in a recumbent posture. These figures are in a chapel in the inner chamber of the temple, which appears to have been once painted of a silvery white. The verandah leading to this chamber contains paintings, in fresh glaring colours, representing mythical subjects of great interest to the credulous Hindu. In the small quadrangle is a stone statue of a lion, the váhan or riding animal of the goddess, which was presented to the temple by Lál Bahadar Sinh, Raja of Amethi. This Raja has dedicated four similar statues of the lion to the service of the principal deities of four other temples in Benares : one is in the temple at Durga Kund; a second is in the Chausațhí-deví temple, in the Bengali Tola; a third is in the Siddhimátá-devi temple, in the Bulhánálá; and a fourth is in the possession of the Gujarati Pandit Gor Ji, awaiting its ultimate destination. In the niches in the wall of the quadrangle are various divinities. In one are three figures, representing Rám, Lakshman, and Jánakí, cut in black stone or marble. In another is an old figure of Agwán, the porter of Bágeśwarı; and by his side is a second figure, still older, about whom no one could give any information. A third niche holds the goddess Bindhyachalá, seated on the back of a lion. In a chamber in one corner of the enclosure I observed a large red idol, which I soon discovered to be the ill-formed Ganes. On one side of this chamber is a row of images, and, on the floor, a singularly-carved figure, called Naugrah, which embodies in itself all the planets. On the exterior face of the temple-wall is a niche, four or five feet in height, which is filled up by the god Hanumán. He is painted bright red, and stand with hands folded; while on one shoulder sits the god Rám, and, on the other, his brother Lakshman.

In sight of this temple are two others, namely, the temples of Jwarahareswar and Siddheswar, which, together with Bageswari, are regarded as old places of pilgrimage. Jwara signifies fever; hara, destroying or conquering : so that Jwarahareswar is famous for his supposed power of dissipating fever. The worshipper, on approaching the idol, vows, that, should he recover, he will present to it dúdhbhangá, that is, dúdh or milk; bháng, leaves of hemp; and sweetmeats, mixed up together. Siddheswar professes to grant ability to consummate any undertaking in which a man may wish to engage.

Near these temples are several tombs to devotees, and also a number of mutilated. figures, which, it is said, have been dug up in this neighbourhood. Several of these are placed together on a small mound of earth. They are not all worshipped, which is rather strange, considering how prompt the Hindus are to worship carved images of every kind. But the reason of their not being worshipped is, I imagine, because they are so unlike the idols that are now found in Hindu temples. They are more delicately sculptured, and are


chaste in their design, than the productions of modern Hindu art: indeed, their superiority in this respect is exceedingly noticeable. To what epoch they ought to be ascribed, it is not easy to say. I question if they are Hindu sculptures at all, and should be disposed to assign a Buddhist origin to most, if not all, of them. I was much struck with one stone, which seemed to represent, at least, two undeniable emblems of Buddha. The apex of the stone was ornamented with a circle, with radii diverging from the centre, in other words, with the Buddhist wheel. Various stones built into the wall, in this quarter of the city, are, likewise, elaborately carved. These, it is possible, are connected with the same era as the figures just referred to.



BENARES, Kásí, and Kedár, the three Grand Divisions of the city.- No

Old Hindu Temples in Benares.—Puranic Character of the Kásí division of the City.—No trustworthy information concerning Ancient Buildings to be obtained either from Hindus or from their sacred writings.--Preference of the Old Fanes by Pilgrims.- Trilochan Temple.—Legends respecting Trilochan.--The Idolater's idea of the benefit resulting from Worshipping in this Temple.--Kot-Linges

Nának Shah, the Sikh Guru. '- Painting in the Trilochan Temple, depicting the Punishments of Hell.— Trilochan Ghát.---Gáe Ghát.-— Temples of Nirbuddheswar and Ád-Mahadeva.—Gor Ji, the Gujarati Brahman.


WHILE the terms Benares and Káśí are alike applied to the entire city, yet some of the natives divide it into three great portions, namely, Benares, Kásí, and Kedár, to which they assign three distinct epochs. The most ancient is Benares, the northern division of the present city. To the south of this is Káśí, of less antiquity ; and, to the south of Káśí, Kedár, which is, comparatively, of modern date. From what source this notion has been derived, it is impossible to say; nevertheless, it is, I believe, for the most part, correct. We shall see, in a future chapter, that the ancient Buddhist remains at Bakariya Kund are situated on the northern side of the city, or in Benares Proper. In addition, there are, in this quarter, other spots, with which I am acquainted, where Buddhist ruins are to be found.

It is a remarkable circumstance, that, in the modern city,

« PreviousContinue »