« PreviousContinue »
water of the Gangá. This act of double sacrilege was looked on, by the Brahmans, as having destroyed the sacredness of the holy place, if not of the whole city, so that salvation in future might not be attainable by pilgrimage to Benares. They were, therefore, all in the greatest affliction; and all the Brahmans in the city, many thousands in number, went down, in deep sorrow, to the river side, naked and fasting, and with ashes on their heads, and sat down on the principal gháts, with folded hands, and heads hanging down, to all appearance inconsolable, and refusing to enter a house or to taste food. Two or three days' absti-. nance, however, tired them; and a hint was given to the magistrates and other public men, that a visit of condolence and some expression of sympathy would comfort them, and give them some excuse for returning to their usual course of life. Accordingly, the British functionaries went to the principal ghát, and expressed their sorrow for the distress in which they saw them, but reasoned with them on the absurdity of punishing themselves for an act in which they had no share, and which they had done all they could to prevent or avenge. This prevailed; and, after much bitter weeping, it was resolved that 'Gangá was Gangá still, and that a succession of costly offerings from the laity of Benares,—the usual Brahmanical remedy for all evils,—might wipe out the stain which their religion had received, and that the advice of the judges was the best and most reasonable. Mr. Bird (tho chief English official in Benares), who was one of the ambassadors on this occasion, said that the scene was very
impressive, and even awful. The gaunt, squalid figures of the devotees, their visible and, apparently, unaffected anguish and dismay, the screams and outcries of the women who surrounded them, and the great numbers thus assembled, altogether constituted a spectacle of woo such as few cities but Benares could supply.'”
Formerly, a large annual melá or fair used to be held on this venerated spot; but, of late years, the place has been well-nigh abandoned, so that even the melá fails to attract more than a few dozens of people.
By the side of the Kapilmochan Tank a narrow road branches off from the high road, at right angles to it, and runs on to the river Barna, which it crosses, and thence winds, through the country, to the city of Ghazeepore. Judging from the depth to which it occasionally sinks, as compared with the fields on either side, it must be of considerable antiquity. The road is traversed by large numbers of people, and may be regarded as one of the chief outlets of the city in this direction. In the dry season a dam is thrown up across the Barna, over which passengers are permitted to pass, on the payment of a small toll ; in the rains the river becomes swollen and deep, and, consequently, the traffic of the road is conveyed over by means of a ferry. In olden times a spacious bridge, erected by the Mohammedan rulers of the country, spanned the river at this place, but fell into decay, and, eventually, into utter ruin. Its foundations are still visible in the bed of the stream; but they are very limited in extent. A few years ago most of the stones of the ruined bridge were taken away, and utilized for the erection of the present Barna bridge, connecting the civil with the military lines. It has seemed to my mind a somewhat inconsiderate policy, on the part of the local authorities, that, while collecting a revenue from the ferry and the dam, they have never projected a new bridge, but have left the entire northern boundary of the city, for the space of between three and four miles, without any proper and adequate means of communication with the country beyond the Barna. Further up the river there is the Iron Bridge, and also that already alluded to; but these are too far off to be of any real benefit to the inhabitants of the city on the one side of the Barna, and of the numerous villages on the other side, throughout the whole of the tract to which I am referring, except by their making a considerable detour; and this, on account of the great distance to be traversed, is, I fear, in the case of many of them, impracticable.
Hat-The Old Fort-Raja Cheit Singh : History of his Insur
and of the Proceedings of Warren Hastings in Connexion
SCA Ghát is interesting on account of its connexion
insurrection at Benares in the time of Warren
the downfall of Raja Cheit Singh, the former Sf Benares, and the destruction of his family, which ved that event. When Cheit Singh rebelled against British Government, he was residing in a strong fort ilt upon the banks of the Ganges, above the Sivála
Warren Hastings was, at the time, living in the garden house of Mádhodás, situated in the Ausánganj Mahalla, nearly three miles off, on the western side of the city. The history of this famous insurrection is
as follows. Raja Cheit Singh, although a great noble, exercising · considerable power and authority throughout his exten- . sive domains,—in virtue of which he might, perhaps, be regarded as possessing a jurisdiction similar to that of many European princes, yet was not, in truth, a reigning monarch, or even a great tributary chief. He had no authority beyond what he derived from the East
India Company; and his vast estates did not pay tribute, but a fixed annual rent, to the British Government. Warren Hastings says, “ that his father, Balwant Singh, derived the degree of independence which he possessed during the latter part of his life from the protection and intervention of our Government. His son, Cheit Singh, obtained from our influence, exerted by myself, the first legal title that his family ever possessed of property in the land of which he, till then, was only the Aumil, and of which he became the acknowledged Zemindar by a Sannad granted to him by the Nabob Shujah-ud-Dowlah (king of Oude, whose dominions, in those days, extended as far as Benares), at my instance, in the month of September, 1773. On the succession of the Nabob Assof-ud-Dowlah, the rights of sovereignty which were held by him over the Zemindary were transferred, by treaty, to the Company. Those rights were indisputably his, and became, by his alienation of them, as indisputably the Company's; and every obligation and obedience which is due from a Zemindar to the superior magistrate, by the constitution of Hindustan, became as much the right of the Company from Cheit Singh as it had been due to his former sovereign, with the additional ties of gratitude for the superior advantages which he was allowed to possess with his new relation. The unexampled lenity of our Government in relinquishing to him the free and uncontrolled rule of his Zemindary, subject to a limited annual fine, and the royalties of the Mint, administration of justice and police, ought to have operated as an additional claim on his fidelity, but evidently served to stimulate his