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beauties to grow upon you, as they are sure to do: and if you would see it at its highest perfection, go at full moon, or early in the morning when the cold grey twilight softens and mellows its perfect whiteness. There is about it an elegant simplicity, a chaste grandeur, a rich harmony, which cannot but charm at first sight, and which, the oftener and the longer it is looked upon, tend more and more to make it that thing of beauty' which is a joy for ever.'

Not far from the Bridge of Boats, on the left bank of the river, there is a building, which but for the proximity of the peerless Tâj, would rank perhaps as the first building in or around Agra for uniqueness and beauty combined. It is the mausoleum of Itmud-oo-Dowlah, the prime minister of Akbar. Like the Tâj, it is of marble, much inlaid, and stands on a raised basement. But in size it is much inferior: it is oblong, whilst its more renowned neighbour is square, and it is surmounted by canopies in the place of domes. Its marble screen-work equals in delicacy and beauty that of the tomb of Noor and Shah Jehan, though the inlaid work will not compare, either in minuteness or finish, with the exquisite mosaics which adorn that unrivalled mausoleum.

Akbar did much to beautify his favourite city, and to leave behind him fit monuments of his greatness, nor did he leave out of his list of handsome buildings a mausoleum for his own remains.

Five miles from Agra, is Secundra Bagh, where the great monarch is himself entombed. The mausoleum stands, like the Tâj, and like almost every other Mogul building of the same period, in the centre of a large square garden, which is surrounded by a high wall, a lofty gateway being inserted in the middle of each side of the square. It is a massive pile of dark-red sandstone, this stone being hard enough to



bear cutting into screens and elaborate cornices. On the summit of the building, which is of six storeys, is a small quadrangle, surrounded by pillared cloisters, all of white marble. In the centre of the quadrangle is the marble tomb of Akbar, richly carved, the ninety-nine Moslem sacred names, or attributes of God, forming part of the carving.

The Hindus and Mussulmans, though excelling, as shown in these buildings and those at Benares, in carved designs and scroll-work, seldom seem to attempt figures of animals or men. As to the Mussulmans, it is against their creed to represent in sculpture any living thing; but with the Hindus no such obstacle exists, and yet anything beyond a grotesque or atrociously ugly representation of an animal or man we have not yet seen in their carving. With flowers just the reverse is the case; much of the inlaid work in the Tâj represents flowers with a skill equal to that of Florentine mosaics; and in Akbar's palace in the fort at Agra there are several ceilings on which are some flowers in fresco, excellently painted.

No traveller should go to Agra, even for a few days, without spending one day, at least, in a drive to Futteh poor Sikri, and an examination of the ruins there. The distance is twenty-three miles, along a flat and tolerably well-laid road.


We commit ourselves to a buggy, and are to change horse-if undersized screws' are worthy of the nametwice on the road. As we get out into the open country, we meet bullock-carts trailing slowly in towards the city, the drivers sitting apathetically on the shaft, and looking as if they would be quite content to travel at even half the slow pace at which they are actually moving.

We pass through one or two mud villages, where there are naked little urchins running or rolling across the road, and mongrelly pariah dogs ready to bark furiously at the

passing Feringhie. Our second horse comes near being a cause of broken bones to us, for, choosing to back instead of go forwards as soon as he is harnessed, he pushes the buggy off the road and down the low embankment at the side; but by jumping out one at each side, in apparently indecorous haste, we rob the Agra surgeons of two interesting cases, and after some trouble succeed in getting the horse and ourselves over the rest of the journey.

Futtehpoor Sikri was occupied as a royal residence by Akbar, before he set up the seat of his empire in Agra. The remains of what was once the scene of all the pomp and display of a Mogul court are very extensive.

They comprise a large mosque with a very fine quadrangle in front of it, several palaces assigned to Akbar himself, his ministers, and his favourite wives, and a solid wall which runs round nearly the whole of the ruins. They are nearly all of a hard red stone, similar to that at Secundra Bagh. The palaces are built in a Hindu style of architecture, with angular columns, no arches, and projecting cornices; and two of them, that of Beerbul, and that of the Belatee Begum, are ornamented with a profusion of carving, both inside and out, which has preserved its freshness and clearness of outline most remarkably. But the gem of the ruins is the tomb of Sheik Selim, which stands in the great quadrangle in front of the mosque. It is a small building, 40 ft. in length by 30 ft. in breadth, surrounded by a verandah, and standing on a slightly raised basement. Built all of pure white marble, its sides consisting of a series of exquisite fret-work screens, the verandah supported on tasteful pillars, and the light roof taking the appearance of an elegant canopy, it stands out in beautiful relief against the red stone which composes the rest of the quadrangle; and when entered and examined, it shows a

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most thorough finish and delicate workmanship throughout.

Sheik Selim is said to have been an extremely holy Mussulman, who had taken up his abode in this then sequestered spot, and whose wisdom and virtues so attracted Akbar, that he built a palace hard by the good man's cottage. The Sheik then became one of Akbar's most trusty councillors, and when he died his grateful master raised to his memory this exquisite little building.

As we shall not reach Agra again till evening, we must try what tiffin' we can get at the 'dâk bungalow' here. These dâk bungalows throughout India are under Government management. They are provided along all the frequented lines of road; but they often consist merely of a couple of bare rooms, which will afford a traveller shelter, but nothing else. At Futtehpoor Sikri, thanks to the Moguls, the bungalow is an unusually good one, for it is the building which was formerly the counting-house of one of the palaces. Whether Akbar had a weakness for good dinners, and had a supply of culinary talent always in these quarters, we know not; but judging from the first-rate collation served up by the Khansama,' one would think that the place was still pervaded by the benign influence of imperial cooks. Not that the dishes are of orthodox Mogul type or name; we doubt if Akbar ever eat anything half so good as a pancake, and yet such is part of our fare in this remote spot.

Before driving back to Agra, we must see a living exhibition which Futtehpoor can produce among the ruins of a past age.

One of the walls of the great quadrangle abuts on the edge of the raised ground on which the ruins stand. The outer face of the wall is consequently higher than the inner, and measures, as nearly as we can estimate, fully 80 ft. At the foot of the wall, near the eastern end, is a small

tank of stagnant water, of a depth of 20 ft. or thereabouts. There lives in the squalid village of Futtehpoor Sikri a man rash enough, or skilful enough, to dive into this tank from the top of the wall, for a small bucksheesh.'. He performs the feat for our benefit, and accomplishes it with apparent ease. Standing on the edge of the wall, immediately above the tank, he seems to be calculating his distance, and taking in breath for a few seconds. He then gives a slight spring forward, and as he shoots down. through the air, keeps waving his arms and legs, apparently to preserve his balance. Just as he reaches the surface of the water, he closes his legs smartly, and brings his arms close down to his sides; then in he drops like a thunder-bolt, but coming up again almost instantaneously, strikes out for the side of the tank, and walks up to us for his reward. He is a short well-made man, apparently about twenty-five years of age, and though evidently quite used to the performance, he is quivering considerably from the shock of the dive.

A number of other natives, some of them young urchins of ten years, are meanwhile dropping into the tank from various heights, ranging from 10 ft. to 30 ft., in the hope of earning a smaller bucksheesh.' Like the first diver, they all go in feet foremost.

We drive back to Agra in the cool of the evening. To judge from most Englishmen who travel, one would think that one of their national characteristics was that of being always in a hurry. No sooner are the leading features and most interesting spots of one place seen, than off we go to another, cramming in one intellectual meal after another, and deferring the digestion of them till we have got through a whole series. We are afraid that we can claim personally no exemption to this rule. Having spent three days in, and around, Agra, we are off again early on the fourth day to Delhi.

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