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BENARES, THE SACRED CITY

beginning of the sixteenth century. The raised terrace in front of the mosque is built upon some very much older structure, which Sherring suggests might have been a Buddhist vihâra or temple-monastery. This, however, is mere conjecture. On equally substantial grounds it might be supposed to be one of the public halls for the discussion of philosophical and religious subjects which existed in Buddhist and pre-Buddhist times. It is quite possible that the whole quadrangle in which the mosque stands originally contained a number of Brahminical, or perhaps Jain, temples and monasteries of many different periods, such as are often found grouped together in places considered especially sacred by any sect of Hindus. In the northern side of the city there are several Muhammadan mosques which have been built out of the remains of old Jain, Buddhist, or Brahminical temples or monasteries. The most interesting and picturesque of these is opposite to Kâsi railway-station. The Muhammadans, in converting it to their own use about one hundred and twenty years ago, gave it a symmetry suggestive of a Greek or Roman temple.

There are several other mosques of the same kind in the same part of the city. The Arhâî Kangûra mosque is a large one in the quarter bearing that name, constructed in the same way from abandoned or demolished Hindu or Buddhist buildings. In the roof of the second story a slab is inserted, upon which is a long Sanskrit inscription, and the date 1191 A.D., showing that it originally belonged to a Hindu temple or monastery. The Muhammadans, iconoclasts as they were, have been more respectful to ancient art in Benares than British utilitarians like the district

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MUHAMMADAN TOMB

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officer mentioned by General Cunningham,' who carted away a quantity of statues and carved stones excavated from Sarnath to strengthen the foundations of the bridge over the Barna.

"l'ithin the area of the old Raj Ghat Fort, and not far from Kâsi station, is one of the few original Mu.

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hammadan buildings in Benares which are specially noteworthy for architectural beauty. This is a fine monument, as rich in colour as cloisonné enamel, the whole surface of the exterior and interior being decorated with tiles, in the style which the Muhammadans introduced into India from Persia and Central Asia. It is the tomb of Lal Khan, a minister of a former Raja of Benares.

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BENARES, THE SACRED CITY

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This form of decoration with coloured tiles and tile mosaic is closely related to the stone and marble mosaic and inlay which the Saracenic architects employed when they established themselves in countries where the latter materials were plentiful. The gradual change from tiles to marble mosaic and inlay can be easily traced in the Muhammadan buildings in Delhi and Agra, ending in the decoration of the Taj Mahal, which has been attributed to Italian designers on evidence which does not bear careful scrutiny.

The tomb at Raj Ghât was originally surrounded by a garden, but only the four corner towers of the enclosure now remain. The Moguls usually built their own tombs in gardens which were used as pleasuregrounds when their owners were alive, and consecrated to religion and the memory of the dead afterwards—an old Tartar custom which they brought with them into India. In the planting of the gardens they symbolized life with Aowering trees and shrubs, and death and eternity with the evergreen cypress tree.

About a mile to the west of Raj Ghât, at the junction of the Ghazipur road with the Raj Ghât road, there are a large tank in a ruined state, called Kapilmochan Tank or Bhairo-ka Talao, and vestiges of ancient buildings of considerable extent, interesting to the archæologist, but not otherwise attractive. On a great terrace above the tank is the Lât Bhairo, already alluded to, which is believed to be the fragment of one of the columns put up by Asoka to commemorate some event in the life of Buddha, or to record a proclamation of the faith. The Hindus in later times built a temple there dedicated to Bhairo, the god-magistrate of Benares. Aurangzib destroyed the temple and

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HINDU-MUHAMMADAN RIOT

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built a mosque in its place. Since then the terrace has been a frequent battle-field for contending Hindu and Muhammadan. factions.

The Hindus, after the destruction of their temple, continued to worship the låt, which was then about 40 feet high, as an emblem of Shiva. They were permitted to do so by the Muhammadans on condition that the custodians of the mosque received a share of the offerings. About the beginning of the last century the jealousy between the rival religionists led to an outbreak in which the lât was thrown down and broken to pieces. The circumstances which caused the disturbance are such a fruitful source of serious riots even in the present day that the details given by a contemporary writer' may be interesting. It so happened that at the Mohurram, the great Muhammadan festival, and the Holi, a somewhat licentious celebration very popular with the lower classes of Hindus, the processions of both parties, inflamed with religious excitement, bhang, and alcohol, met in the streets, and, as usual on such occasions, neither party would yield a passage. A free fight followed, and the Muhammadans were beaten. In revenge some of them rushed to the courtyard of Aurangzib's mosque and overthrew the sacred lât of Bhairo, while others seized a sacred cow and killed it on the ghâts, mingling its blood with the water of the Ganges.

Now there was a tradition that the lât had been originally much higher. It was said that it had been gradually sinking, and that, when the top became level with the ground, all nations would become of one caste, or, in other words, all Hindus would be out

"Rev. William Buyers in Recollections of Northern India.

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206 BENARES, THE SACRED CITY casted. The overthrow of the lât was interpreted as a fulfilment of the prophecy, and the outrage on their deepest religious sentiments roused the whole of the Hindu population to fury. Headed by the Brahmin priests, the sannyâsin, and all the religious devotees .of Benares, a furious mob seized any sort of weapon within reach. A general massacre of the Muhammadans and the destruction of every mosque in the city was only prevented by the intervention of the British authorities. At this crisis the native Sepoys behaved splendidly. Many of them were Brahmins, whose sympathies were entirely with their co-religionists; but, nevertheless, when posted to guard the mosques, they never wavered for a moment in loyalty to their officers, but kept off the infuriated mob at the point of the bayonet. us

Order was at last restored, but the excitement remained for many days afterwards. The double sacrilege was regarded by the Brahmins as a stain which might have destroyed the sanctity of the city as a place of Hindu pilgrimage. The scene which followed is thus described by Mr. Buyers: "All the Brahmins of the city, many thousands in number, went down in deep sorrow to the river-side, naked and fasting, and sat on the principal ghâts, with folded hands and heads hanging down, to all appearance incon: solable, and refusing to enter a house or to taste food".

After two or three days' fast, however, they, yielding to the persuasion of the magistrates, and others who . went to comfort them, decided that Ganges' purity was inviolable, and that the desecration of the city could be purged by a series of costly ceremonies...

The chief English official who brought the unhappy

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