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Delhi's reign. He had good right, too, to mark the city with his own name, for he made it celebrated in history as the seat of the magnificent Court of the Peacock Throne. The fort he filled with an extensive palace and grounds, and with a number of houses which he built for his ministers and favourites. Now it is occupied by barracks, the Oriental despot's descendants having given way before British bayonets. There still stand, however, to remind one of the perished grandeur of the Delhi dynasty, the marble buildings which were once the halls of justice and audience—the Dewan-i-Aub and the Dewan-i-Khas.
The latter is remarkably handsome. It measures 100 ft. by 60, is open at the sides, and its roof is supported on four rows of scolloped arches, all inlaid. In the centre is a clear space where stood the Peacock Throne: at the corners of the pillars surrounding this open space is an inscription in Arabic, meaning, “If there is a paradise upon earth, it is this, it is this. This grandiloquent motto received an ironical confirmation when, in September 1857, the last of the dynasty was driven out from his paradise by the sword.
Outside the fort, but at only a short distance from it, is the Jumma Musjid, the great mosque of Delhi, and considered the finest in India. As in all other buildings of this kind, the mosque itself occupies one side of a large quadrangle; the other three are occupied by corridors or cloisters, each of them being pierced in the centre by a large gateway. The gateways of the Jumma Musjid are particularly fine, approached from the outside by broad flights of steps, and each one surmounted by a white marble dome. The quadrangle measures 100 yards each way. In one of its corners is a small shrine, where, with a superstition that recalls to one's mind the relics of Rome or Naples, are treasured a hair of Mahomet's beard,
THE JOU VSD.
the print of his foot in a block of marble, and some books written by his grandson!
If we ascend to the top of the mosque, we shall bare an extensive view over the whole city and its suburbs. We look over the native buildings, less crowded here than at Lucknow or Benares; over the fort, with its white Dewans inside ; and almost all round the city we can trace the dark red line of wall which gave our troops so much trouble, and cost so much blood, in '57. Beyond the city, to the east, we can trace the course of the Jumna, at this season shallow, and running slowly in narrow channels between broad sand-banks; to the north we can distinguish the Flagstaff Tower, standing on the low heights which were occupied by our troops during the seige of Delhi, and further to the east the scaffolding of an elaborate monument now being built to commemorate the capture; to the south we look over an immense stretch of country, of as large an acreage as London, Westminster, and Southwark combined, reaching from the city walls to a low barren ridge eight miles away, and covered with shapeless mounds and remnants of masonry--the site of ancient Delhi, or rather of several ancient Delhis, for the city seems to have had its position altered and to have been rebuilt more than once. Among the mounds and the piles of stone and rubbish we distinguish several domed buildings, mosques and tombs—the most conspicuous of which is the Tomb of Humayoon, the father of Akbar, with its lofty dome of marble. In the far distance, close up to the barren ridge, is a solitary tower, looking in the distance like a lighthouse out of place. That is the celebrated Khootab Minar, the finest tower of its kind in India, possibly in the world. We must
out and see it. Chartering a carriage, we start out in the cool of the morning and drive through three miles of native streets to
the Ajmere Gate in the southern wall. Outside this, we pass through eight miles of uncultivated land covered with remains of mosques, tombs, palaces, and walls, mingled with masses of broken bricks and mounds of soilcovered remnants-- ruin upon ruin-confusion worse confounded '--once alive with all the busy hum of men,' now abandoned to the foxes and the owls. As we draw near the Khootab, it seems to grow in height, and when we halt finally at the dak bungalow under its shadow, the tall column seems like a second Tower of Babel, eager to reach the very skies.
In shape it is circular, but its surface is relieved by a series of vertical ribs extending all round it, alternately angular and convex. Its height is 240 ft., nearly 40 ft. greater than that of the London Monument; but this great height again is relieved by four cornices, running round it and dividing it into five portions, or storeys, of lengths decreasing in a certain proportion from that of the lowest one. The cornices are handsomely carved, and the upper two storeys are faced with white marble, the rest being composed of red granite. The diameter of the column at the base is 50 ft.; from this it tapers very gradually and gracefully to a diameter at the summit of 12 ft. only. An ascent can be made to the summit by an interior spiral staircase of 370 steps, kept in very good repair; and all the way up not a single crack or sign of decay in the solid outer wall of the column can be found.
There is much uncertainty about its origin and date, but it is considered to have stood at least 500 years; and, judging from its soundness and solidity, it may stand twice as many more, provided no earthquake shake it, and no rude hands of men pull it down. Round its base are various remains of ancient Hindu buildings, some of them in a very ruinous condition, others with columns and
carvings still uninjured and clear. A short distance to the west, among some other ruins, are two or three tanks, where some of the natives from the neighbouring village will give the traveller, if he wishes it, a repetition of the Futtehpur Sikri diving performance, but from a lower height.
We can return to Delhi by Humayoon's Tomb, which stands some four miles to the eastward of the Khootab. It is well worth a visit for the sake of its chaste and simple architecture, its imposing proportions, and the elegance of its lofty dome.
It has a further interest attached to it also by the fact that it was from it that the last king of Delhi was carried off by Major Hodson and a few score horsemen in the face of as many hundred of the king's retainers, in September 1857. From the same building, too, on the day after the capture of the king, his two sons were carried off by the same intrepid officer, to be shot dead before they reached the city, on the signs of some resistance shown by the surrounding crowd.
We can spend part of an afternoon in Delhi in witnessing the performances of some of the celebrated jugglers of the place. We send a message to one of them, bidding him come to the hotel ; and he is not long in obeying the summons, bringing with him two women whom he calls his wife and daughter respectively.
He certainly goes through some very good sleight-ofhand tricks. He takes an earthen pot, full of earth, which is standing in the verandah of the hotel, and plants in it a mango-stone, covering it afterwards with a cloth frame shaped like an extinguisher. He proceeds with some other tricks, returns to the pot, uncovers it, and there is a young mango plant just appearing above the soil! He waters it and covers it up again, and in a short time displays it again, grown to double its former size! Such is the celebrated mango-trick, which in description sounds very marvellous; but, from the way he goes through it, fumbling a good deal with the cover, we have little doubt that two plants are ready folded up in the cover, and transferred to the soil at the moment of covering up.
Perhaps the best trick is one performed by the daughter, who mixes up three powders, red, yellow, and white, in a glass of water, drinks off the mixture, and in a short while returns the powders one by one from her mouth in their originally dry state!
Although we are in Delhi at the latter end of the cool season, we can quite imagine, from the tolerable sensations of heat we experience, that in summer these up-country towns are even hotter than Calcutta. An old resident at Agra tells us that in July last, when the weather was more than usually hot, the thermometer inside his house, with all the appliances of tatties, punkahs, &c., to moderate the heat, marked as a minimum for three nights in succession no less than 98° Fahrenheit, in the day of course going higher, the air all the time being heavy and dull, and filled with an almost impalpably fine dust.
These places so distant from the coast are also unprovided with the supplies of good American ice which are imported so successfully into Calcutta, and which are such excellent antidotes against the heats of the city. The inhabitants practise, however, an ingenious plan for remedying, to some extent, this defect. During the coolest part of the cold season a large number of shallow earthen pans or dishes are placed every night on some open piece of ground, each dish being filled with water to the depth of an inch or so, and raised a couple of inches from the ground on a bed of straw. By this means, the straw absorbing the radiation from the earth, ice is formed in the dishes during nights when a thermometer on the