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one place several strange idols have been fixed into the walls, from which they jut out in bass-reliefs, and catch an occasional sprinkling of holy water, or flower blossoms, from the passers-by. Among them are the Naugrah, or planets, represented as deities. The temple of Duláreśvar, also, although modern, is worthy of notice. It was erected by a Bengali, named Sátu Bábú, more than fifty years ago, and is dedicated to Siva. It contains a large symbol of this divinity, in jet-black stone or marble, from which a slab, of the same kind of stone, projects at right angles. The lofty temple stands in the centre of the enclosure; and on either side is a row of seven temples, all built uniformly, with towers above, and conical symbols of Siva below. The god in each of the fifteen temples in this enclosure is decorated with a white streak, made with sandal-wood, which is renewed and obliterated daily.
At Chauki Ghát, on the banks of the river, is a peepul tree, part of the trunk of which is encompassed with masonry, to the height of several feet; and out of its centre the tree seems to spring. The pedestal thus formed is literally crowded with idols. Several are figures of snakes; and one represents the heads of five snakes in a row, the necks being erect, and the heads curved, as though in the attitude of springing. All are in stone; and the entire collection does not number fewer than fifty. In front of this peepul tree is the temple of Rukmeswar; and several other temples are close at hand. In Ahyabar Galí, a narrow street, is a banyan tree, which has a pedestal round its base, somewhat similar to that of the peepul tree just described; but, in this case, a small shrine is attached to the pedestal. Near it is an old figure of Gaņeś. In Kewal Galí a swing is hung up in what, at first sight, appears to be a shop. Beyond the swing, by the opposite wall, sits the tenarmed goddess Durga, with a crown on her head, decorated with gay clothing, and set off by a nimbus painted on the wall behind; her priest having intended her to look, not like a mere queen of earth, but like the queen of heaven. By the swing sits the priest, who, when so disposed, places in it some of the idols of the shrine, but not Durga herself, and gratifies them with a swing.
The idols and fanes in the Bengali Tolá, and, indeed, in this neighbourhood generally, are exceedingly
All the latter, with, perhaps, one exception, and most of the former, are of comparatively recent date. In regard to the temples, it is possible that part of the Tilubhandeswar temple may be old. The priest told me, that, at the back of one of the small shrines at the entrance to the temple, was an inscription, which stated that the temple was erected by a Raja upwards of four hundred and sixty years ago. He rubbed off part of the whitewash, in order that I might see a portion of it. The horizontal lines of the inscription, however, were intercepted by the idol in the shrine; and, therefore, it was impossible to interpret what was written. It would be interesting to have the entire inscription copied; for, if the temple is really of the date traditionally assigned to it, this quarter of the city must have been frequented, if not partially inhabited, at the same epoch. The few idols of an ancient appearance found in this part of Benares, prove, in themselves, nothing; as they may have been brought from other parts of the city, or, indeed, from elsewhere. Some of them are stuck into the walls, and the sides of houses, built ten or twenty years ago; while others are placed by the trunks of trees, planted within the memory of living men, or upon, or in, the walls of the pedestals of masonry formed round their base. Neither the Kedár nor the Kásí quarter of Benares contains, so far as my investigations have gone, any bona fide remains of ancient temples, such as the Trilochan or Benares quarter presents, unless it may be the walls of the former temple of Bisheswar, now part of a mosque, built by Aurungzeb, and the temple of Briddhkál, on the boundary between the Káśí and the Benares quarters. Still, it must be confessed, that time-worn idols do exist in the Kedár quarter, as well as in the two remaining quarters of Benares. These, no doubt, furnish a strong proof of the antiquity of the city itself, though not of this individual portion of it; and their existence, to a small extent, in it throws no light upon its real epoch. On the contrary, however, temples and other buildings which are stationary and immoveable, so long as they stand, do determine the era of their own neighbourhood, and furnish some reasons for supposing that other edifices may possibly be found near them, of equal antiquity with themselves.
DURGá Kund Temple. - Bloody Sacrifices; their meaning. - Sacred
Monkeys-Legend of Durg and Durgá-A Devotee.--Durga Kund or Tank-Kurukshetr Tálko or Tank-The Lolárik Kuán or Well. -Ancient Sculptures.
One of the popular and most frequented temples in Benares is that of Durga, wife of Mahadeva or Siva, situated at the southern extremity of the city. Bloody sacrifices are offered to the goddess in great abundance, by persons wishing to obtain her aid in cases of sickness, under the impression that she will accept the life of an animal in exchange for the life of a human being. Not that they have any notion whatever of atonement effected thereby, or of the sacrifices having any connexion with sin and its forgiveness; but their simple idea is, that the goddess delights in blood, that she takes pleasure in the sickness and death of mankind, and that she can only be appeased, if appeased at all, by an irrational creature being dedicated to her, in the place of a rational one, whom she had doomed to sickness or death. Sacrifices are also presented to her for all kinds of objects. For instance, men out of employment will offer a kid to Durgá, in order that, through her, they may speedily obtain work. Formerly, a small shrine was situated on this spot, in the midst of what, it is asserted, was then wild jungle: but it seems to have been very little resorted to; and it is far from clear when, or by what means, the shrine began to be famous. At the time that the new temple and tank were erected by the famous Marathi, Rani Bhawání, no
no doubt their splendid appearance constituted a strong reason why larger numbers were attracted to the place. Now, no Hindu in the neighbourhood, of any pretensions, to earnestness in his religion, neglects to visit the temple occasionally. Pilgrims, also, from a distance find their way to it. Throughout the day worshippers may be seen performing their devotions in the presence of the idol, while, every Tuesday, a melá or fair is held in its honour; and, on the Tuesdays of one month of the year, namely, the month of Sáwan, these melás are attended by an enormous multitude of people, who fill the road and spacious gardens adjacent to the temple.
Connected with the Durga shrine is what may, with as much appropriateness as is often attached to the word, be called the institution of monkeys. These creatures, -all living deities, gods, and goddesses, — literally swarm upon the private houses, and about the streets and bazars, in a wide circuit around the temple. They are of all sizes and ages, of all tempers and peculiarities, and, I venture to say, represent, in their aggregation, all the trickery and cunning of which monkeyhood is capable. I was told that they number one hundred thousand; but this, of course, is a great ex. aggeration. But that they amount to several thousand