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of Asia, and yet, that, during all this time, they were satisfied with only transitory symbols of greatness, and never conceived the idea of leaving behind them durable monuments of their power, which should hand down their name to many generations ? They must have heard of the vast structures erected in Egypt, and of the splendid palaces, and stairs, and pillars, and other edifices, with which the Assyrian monarchs adorned their cities. They were not lacking in genius, or in the desire for knowledge; on the contrary, their minds investigated the highest subjects, and whatever was of interest to humanity in general, they regarded as of importance to themselves.
But, it may be said, the Hindus borrowed their architecture from the Assyrians; or the architecture of the two races was of a common origin. Both suppositions may be true; and, in my opinion, it is almost certain, that, in whatever.way it was brought about, both countries in some respects followed the same models. Whether Assyrian or Persian sculptors were the architects of the earliest Hindu buildings, is open to question; but, if they were, it seems absurd to suppose that they should have erected edifices altogether of wood, while in their own country the public buildings were, to a large extent, of stone; especially seeing that various kinds of durable stone were easily procurable in India. If, on the other hand, the architects were natives who had learnt the principles of their art chiefly from Assyria or Persia, or from a common source, it appears equally strange that they should have perpetuated the construction of wooden buildings in India for centuries
after they must have known them to have been abandoned in other countries, and to have given place to vast edifices of wood and stone combined, covered with carvings and sculptures.
We arrive, therefore, at this conclusion, that, as there is every reason to believe that solid buildings partly if not entirely of stone were erected in India several hundred years preceding the third century B.C.,—the earliest date, as already remarked, of any monuments hitherto discovered, -the probability is, that, if a diligent search were instituted, some fragmentary remains of them would be found. It is a circumstance highly favourable to the prosecution of this search, that the ancient abodes of the Aryan race in India have been, for the most part, well ascertained. All these places will, I hope, in the course of time, be thoroughly examined, and every object of interest tending to throw any light on the subject before us, or on the ancient history of India generally, noted and described.
It is natural to believe, that, primd facie, Benares offers as fair a field for archæological investigation in regard to the earliest forms of Hindu architecture as any city in India. It is confessedly true, however, that no very ancient remains have yet been found there; but the reason may be, because they have not been properly sought after. Only within the last few years, so far as I am aware, have any inquiries been made, in a regular manner, after old buildings in Benares. Mr. James Prinsep, the great Indian archæologist, was a resident in the city for about ten years; but it does not appear that he made any important discoveries in it. His “Views of Benares” are chiefly of a popular cast, and do not give evidence of any extensive observation or research of this nature. Major Kittoe, the late Government archæologist, and the architect of the Government College,-a beautiful Gothic structure in the suburbs of the city,—although interesting himself in the excavations of Sárnáth, some three miles to the north of Benares, did not, so far as is known, examine the city itself. Indeed, so inattentive was he to its claims to antiquity, that he removed many cart-loads of heavy stones, some of which were curiously carved, from Bakaríyá Kund, on the confines of the city and not more than a mile from the college which he was erecting, without reflecting that they might possibly be relics of ancient buildings formerly situated on that site. As a fact, they were originally connected with a series of Buddhist edifices covering perhaps as much space as those structures the foundations and remains of which are found at Sárnáth. A third archæologist, Mr. Thomas, late Judge of Benares, and a distinguished numismatist, trod in the same footsteps, only taking interest in the coins discovered in the city and in the Sárnáth explorations. As instances of ruthless spoliation, I may here remark, that, in the erection of one of the bridges over the river Barna, forty-eight statues and other sculptured stones were removed from Sárnáth and thrown into the river, to serve as a breakwater to the piers; and that, in the erection of the second bridge, the iron one, from fifty to sixty cart-loads of stones from the Sárnáth buildings were employed. But this vandalism hardly equals that of Babu Jagat Sinh, who, in the last century, carted away an entire tope, or sacred tower, from the same vast store-house, with which he built Jagat Ganj, a ward or district in the suburbs of the city.
The chief reason why Benares has been thus neglected is, in my judgment, attributable partly to its great extent, and partly to the general ignorance as to the position of its ancient portions; and, consequently, the explorer, in commencing his task, has been in considerable doubt where to begin. Now, it is necessary to state, that much of the existing city has been erected in comparatively modern times, and, with the exception of an occasional bit of old frieze or cornice, or a broken bass-relief or statue, inserted into recent walls, deposited over drains, or lying neglected by the side of the road, there is nothing of an ancient character visible throughout a very large section of it. Yet all the northern quarter of the city, a district little frequented by European visitors, exhibits in abundance isolated specimens of architectural remains of various stages of antiquity. Independently of a few separate buildings, or parts of buildings, here and there to be seen, of an early style of Hindu architecture, sculptured stones of many kinds are distributed amongst the walls and foundations of the modern houses, and in all places wherever solid masonry is required, in such great profusion, that it is impossible not to believe that on this site stood an older city or, at least, a portion of it. Moreover, the very scattered nature of these remains shows that a considerable period has elapsed since they occupied their proper places in their own original edifices. It might be utterly impracticable to collect the entire materials of any one building; but this is not necessary, seeing that the age of a building can be commonly determined by observing merely a fragment of its ruins. In the case, however, of ancient Hindu remains, so little has been done in their investigation, especially in comparing one with another, that the question of their antiquity cannot be at once decided.
From an ignorance of primitive types, mistakes of five hundred or a thousand years or upwards may be easily made. In judging, therefore, of the age of the relics found in Benares, we have, in reality, very little to guide us.
If there be anything in the argument based on the simplicity of a style, or on its ornamentation, as bearing on its greater or less antiquity, then we can predicate of the buildings which formerly stood in this part of Benares various stages of antiquity.
Some of the capitals, pillars, bases, architraves, and mouldings are most severely simple in their type, while others are crowded with ornamentation; and both species are very different from the styles in modern use. The first species is, doubtless, the forerunner of the second, but at what interval, it is at present impossible to affirm.
There is no question that a large proportion of the ancient remains in Benares are of Buddhist origin, but of various epochs; and, in some cases, those on the same site are of different ages. For instance, the Buddhist monastery and temples, of which traces are found at Bakaríyá Kund, differ in their styles of architecture. Of the two small temples, parts of which, though possibly altered and transposed, are still standing, the