Page images

high-walled enclosure, the large number of images which meet the eye on both sides and in front is somewhat amusing. Most of them, though not all, are of diminutive size, and are placed in separate shrines, in groups of five, ten, twenty, and upwards. On the left, by the wall, are two temples, one of which is surmounted by a low spire or steeple, and the other by a small dome; and the tiny deities to whom they are dedicated are partly deposited upon the floors of the temples, and partly inserted into the walls. Figures of bulls, likewise, intended for these gods to ride on, are placed near. On the right-hand side is a series of shrines occupied by assemblages of idols. There is, also, an image looking like a huge club, which is not honoured with a residence, but stands apart from all the shrines. It is made of stone, and is three feet high above its base, and ten inches or a foot in thickness. Its name is Kot-Lingeswar, from the circumstance that its surface is supposed to have a koți or ten millions of the emblems of Siva carved upon it. The actual number cut out on the superficies of the stone is not more than a few hundred; but the Hindus are not particular in their definition of numbers.

In the south-west corner, a peepul tree grows, near the foot of which, in a chapel or niche attached to its trunk, is a figure of the monkey-god Hanumán; and, close by, two images of Ganeś and Sítalá (or the goddess of Small-pox) have been let into the wall. On the south side, a small shrine contains the black ugly figure of the goddess Bárnarasi, presented, I was told, by Raja Banár, a reputed old Raja of Benares. There are other deities, but smaller in size, in the same shrine, such as Gaņeś and the Sun; but these appear to hold a subordinate position in the place.

In front of the porch of the Trilochan temple, which stands in the middle of the enclosure, is a double temple. Each division is open on its three sides, and, from the number and assortment of its idols, is a veritable pantheon. It would be curious to know the reason for making such collections of deities. I believe it is simply whim or caprice, similar to that which prompts children to accumulate a large number, and a great variety, of playthings. It is, also, evidently, a childish motive which has dictated the methodical, not to say picturesque, arrangement of idols on the floors of temples, and around the walls of their enclosures. In regard to some collections of idols, however, there is no doubt that they have been gradually made by the worshippers in the temples in which they are found, who, in their zeal, have presented idols, as well as money and other gifts, to their favourite shrines.

The porch of the Trilochan temple is painted red, and is sustained by eight pillars, four in front, and four attached to the wall behind. Its roof is embellished with pictures; and on the floor, directly opposite to the entrance of the temple, is a bull, in white marble, in a recumbent posture. Two bells are guspended in the porch, which are struck by the worshippers, after performing their devotions. The wall of the temple, adjoining the porch, exhibits several curious objects. There is a figure of Gaņeś, in white

[ocr errors]

marble, in a niche in the wall on the left; and near it a painting, representing Nának Shah, the Guru or spiritual guide of the Sikh race. As the Sikh religion is regarded, by the Hindus, in the light of a heresy, it is strange that they permit such a picture to decorate the walls of one of their principal shrines. In a niche on the right are two black figures of Náráyana or Vishnu, and his wife Lakshmí.

Here is, likewise, a remarkable painting, representing the divine vengeance executed on sinners in hell. In the foreground is the River of Death, through which persons are seen endeavouring to make their way to the other side. Some are left alone to buffet with the waves in their own strength; while others, who, when living in this world, supported Brahmans, are helped across by the sacred cow, who swims before, and drags them along by her tail, which they grasp fast hold of with their hands. This explanation was given by the priests; for, really, no cow was visible as the attendant on any one. As soon as they are landed on the opposite shore, the new arrivals are represented as immediately led away: and the remainder of the picture consists in a delineation of the punishment of the wicked. The priests stated that the poor wretches are first judged, and then punished according to their deeds. In one place, a consciencestricken sinner, who has recently emerged from the stream, is seen strongly resisting the hand of the executioner, who is dragging him away by the leg. In another is an enormous vessel, full of boiling ghee or clarified butter, into which the wicked are plunged. Here and there, executioners are standing, armed with prodigious clubs, with which they cruelly belabour their helpless and despairing victims. One conspicuous object in the picture is a pillar of red-hot iron, on the top of which lies a writhing and agonizing mass of humanity. This punishment is reserved exclusively for those who have been guilty of adultery and uncleanness.

The interior of the temple is very simple, and is exceedingly dirty and foul. A brazen cistern, with knobs at each corner, is let into the floor; and, in the middle of it, stands the emblem of Siva, who is here called Lingeswar; and near it is Siva's wife, Párvati. A small oil lamp is kept constantly burning not far from the idol, whose daily supply of water and flowers,—the offerings of his worshippers,—would be enough, did he possess the flesh and blood of a human creature, to suffocate and drown him.

Quitting this spot, and proceeding to Trilochan Ghát, we pass a beautiful little temple, situated at the corner of two streets, lately built by Kunú Sáhu. Its porch is supported on pillars, the elegant carving of which displays much taste and skill. Immediately opposite this is a large temple, in a quadrangle, also new. Above the ghát is a small shrine, containing a number of old images; and, a short distance down the stairs, are two more, in the walls of which idols of great age are inserted. I may here remark, that the neighbourhood of the Trilochan temple abounds with shrines.

The Trilochan Ghát is called, also, the Pilpilla Tirth, or place of pilgrimage. After bathing in the Ganges, at this ghát, the pilgrim, in order to perform this peculiar pilgrimage, proceeds to the Panchgangá Ghát, and bathes again in the river; and then, finally tracing his steps to the Manikarņiká Well, washes in its loathsome waters. These ablutions being terminated, the poor deluded man is taught to believe that his sins have all been forgiven. There are two low turrets at the Pilpilla Ghát, between which the pilgrim must bathe, as the water beyond has no special sanctity.

This ghát is the last of the stairs, leading down from the city to the river, made entirely of strong masonry. The gháts to the north are constructed, in part, of a less durable substance, that is, from below towards the river; although, in the upper portions of these even, the stairs are solid, like the others. A short distance higher up the stream is Gáe Ghát, jutting out a little beyond the bank.

Two other temples in this neighbourhood are, possibly, of the same era as the Trilochan fane. The first is the temple of Nirbuddheswar, situated only a few steps to the south-east of this structure. It is an exceedingly plain edifice, without ornament or embellishment, and is, evidently, not much visited, except by pilgrims, and on festival days. The other is the temple of Ad-Mabádeva, at the entrance of which is a tiny shrine, faced with an iron grating. A priest from Trilochan was leading the way into the enclosure, when I felt myself irresistibly detained by the curiosities in this shrine. I observed several small pillars covered with silver tinsel, and, also, a figure of Hanumán gaudily painted in red, yellow, white, and black colours; while, on the floor, other idols were lying. In this cage-like place


« PreviousContinue »