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situated on one side of it. The Mohammedans have many times wished to build a gateway in the midst of the spacious platform in front of the mosque; but, although they once erected one, they were not suffered to make use of it, on account of the excitement : that the circumstance occasioned among the Hindu population, which was only allayed by the timely interference of the Magistrate of Benares. The gateway still stands; but the space between the pillars has been filled up. A peepul tree, adored as a god, overhangs both the gateway and the road; but the Hindus will not allow the Mohammedans to pluck a single leaf from it. The Government, as a kind of trustee of the mosque, still pays, periodically, or did so not long since, the interest of money belonging to it, deposited in the Treasury, notwithstanding the Act lately passed forbidding such a practice.
Between the mosque and the temple of Bisheswar is the famous well known as Gyán Bápi or Gyán Kúp, “well of knowledge,” in which, as the natives believe, the god Siva resides. Tradition says, that, once on a time, no rain fell in Benares for the space of twelve years, and that, in consequence, great distress was experienced by the inhabitants. In order to provide water for the people, and so to relieve them from the terrible calamity which had befallen them, a ķishi,one of the mythical beings, not exactly divine, and certainly not mortal, who, to the number of many thousands, are reverenced by the Hindus, -grasping the trident of S'iva, dug up the earth at this spot, and forth with there issued from beneath a copious supply of water. Siva, on becoming acquainted with the circumstance, promised to take up his abode in the well, and to reside there for ever. It is stated, more. over, that, on occasion of the destruction of the old temple of Bisheswar, a priest took the idol of the temple and threw it down for safety. The natives visit this well in multitudes, and cast in water or flowers, and other offerings, as a sacrifice to the deity below. The compound mixture thus produced is necessarily in a constant state of putrefaction, and emits a most disgusting stench. The well is surrounded by a handsome low-roofed colonnade, the stone pillars of which are in four rows, and are upwards of forty in number. The building is small, but has been designed and executed with considerable taste. It is of very recent date, having been erected in the year 1828, by "Sri Maut Baija Bai,” widow of “Sri Maut Dowlat Rao Sindhia Bahadoor," of Gwalior.
Immediately to the east of this colonnade is the figure of a large bull, abont seven feet high, cut in stone, dedicated to the god Mahádeva; and a few steps further east is a temple built in honour of the same deity. The bull is a gift of the Raja of Nepal; and the temple, of the Rani of Hyderabad. On the south side of the colonnade is an iron palisade, in the enclosure of which are two small shrines, one of white marble, the other of stone, and between them a scaffolding of carved stone, from which a bell is suspended.
Standing in this courtyard, the chief objects in which have been thus briefly described, and looking beyond in a north-westerly direction, the eye falls on a temple about sixty feet in height, situated one hundred and fifty yards distant from the mosque. This is Ád-Bisheswar, that is, the temple of “the Primeval Lord of All.” The natives in the neighbourhood all regard this shrine as of an epoch anterior to that of the old Bisheswar, the ruins of which, as already stated, form a constituent portion of Aurungzeb's mosque. Hence the name attached to it. This temple is surmounted by a large dome, the decaying condition of which is visible in the gaps on its outer surface, caused by the falling away of broad thick flakes of the cement of which it is composed. The temple below, however, which is faced with slabs of stone as far as the base of the dome, has lately been extensively repaired by a tobacconist in the neighbourhood, named Ganpat, who has embellished its interior with paintings traced on the walls, making them look fresh and modern. There is really nothing in this temple of an ancient character; but, on the eastern side of the enclosure, the ground becomes considerably elevated, and upon it stands a mosque built of very old materials, the pillars of which date as far back as the Gupta period, and possibly earlier. May not these old stones and pillars be remains of the original Bisheśwar? Formerly a communication was open between the enclosure of Ád-Bisheśwar and the courtyard of Aurungzeb's mosque already described; but is now closed.
Káśí Karwat, a sacred well of some repute, is situated a short distance to the east of Ad-Bisheswar. Besides the vertical opening, there is a passage leading down to the water, which formerly was traversed daily by religious Hindus desirous of approaching the holiest part of the well. A few years ago a fanatic offered himself in sacrifice to Siva, the god of the well, when the authorities caused the passage to be closed; but, on the priests representing that their revenues would greatly suffer, were it to be kept permanently shut, permission was given for it to be opened once a week, 'namely, every Monday.
This neighbourhood is exceedingly rich in temples of most elaborate workmanship. Some of them, from the summit to the base, are one mass of curious and intricate carving. Not that the designs represented on them, although in some cases elegant, display any very remarkable genius; yet the execution of them is a marvellous feat of chiselling. On the south side of Bisheswar stands one such temple. The gateways leading into the courtyard and into the fane itself are, both, profusely carved; and, in addition, the latter is crowded with figures intermingled with a multitude of short gilded spires.
Proceeding a little beyond these temples, we come to a small shrine dedicated to Sanichar, or the planet Saturn. The deity within, representing the planet, exhibits a silver head, beneath which depends an apron, or what has the appearance of such. The truth is, the idol is bodiless, and the apron conceals the want. A garland of flowers hangs from either ear, falling below the chin; while above the figure a canopy is spread, designed, I imagine, to illustrate the majesty of the god. It is said of this deity, that, for seven years and a half, he troubles the life of men in general, but that he exempts his own worshippers from the trials and disasters which, for this period, he brings on the rest of mankind.
A few steps further on is Anupúrņá, a goddess of great repute in Benares, inasmuch as, under the express orders of Bisheswar, she is supposed to feed ali its inhabitants, and to take care that none suffer from hunger. The people have a tradition, that, when Benares was first inhabited, Annpúrņá found that the task of feeding so many persons was too heavy for her. Filled with anxiety, she knew not what step to take. The goddess of the Ganges, or Gangá, generously came to her relief, and told her, that, if she would bestow a handful of pulse on every applicant, she herself would contribute a lotá (a brass vessel) full of water. Annpúrņá was comforted with the suggestion, in which she acquiesced; and the arrangement thus made produced the most satisfactory results. In honour of Annpúrņá, “the supplier of food,” a custom prevails among all classes, by which hundreds and even thousands of the poor are daily supplied with food. It is this. Those persons that can afford it put aside a quantity of pulse, and moisten it over night, and, in the morning, give it away, in handfuls, to the poor. Only one handful is given to each person; but, as he and all the members of his family can, each, procure a handful, after collecting a supply from a number of donors, they are able, by the middle of the day, to obtain, in the aggregate, a goodly quantity, which they first dry, and then either cook for food, or sell in the bazaar. I have been told that the great consumption, in this way, of this particular kind of grain is one reason why its price is so high in Benares.
On the ground in front of the entrance to the temple of Annpúrņá, beggars are seated, during most of the day,