« AnteriorContinuar »
This building, in point of design and execution, is one of the most extensive, elegant, commodious, and perfect works, that was ever undertaken and finished by one man.
To this celebrated architect the emperor Shah-Jehan gave the title of Zerreer Dust, or jewel-handed, to distinguish him from all other artists. This extraordinary man, knowing the impatience of the emperor, and the peculiar situation of the intended structure, on the precarious banks of the river, after laying a strong foundation, secreted himself for twelve months, nor could the strictest search by imperial mandate discover his retreat. At the expiration of that period, he voluntarily appeared in the hall of audience, and throwing bimself on the emperor's clemency, declared that he had absconded from the fear of being urged by his majesty to proceed with the superstructure before he had sufficiently proved the solidity of the foundation. Of this being now perfectly satisfied, he was ready to fulfil the imperial command.
On each side, and behind the mausoleum, is a suit of elegant apartments, also of white marble, highly decorated with coloured stones. The tombs and other principal parts of this vast fabric, are inlaid with wreaths of flowers and foliage in their natural colours, entirely composed of cornelians, onyxes, verdantique, lapis-lazuli, and every variety of agates, so admirably finished as to have rather the appearance of an ivory model set with jewels, just delivered from the artist's hand, than an edifice which has withstood the inclemency of the elements a hundred and fortyseven years.
ARRIVAL AT AGRA.
Journey from Agra to Gou Ghaut-Secundra, tomb of Akber
Ceremonies at the first public visit to Mhadajee Sindia—Bhindera Bhund - Dieuisthans-Singular gosaing- Visit to Shah Aalum, emperor of Delhi-Rebellion of Gulam Kaudir-Journey from Muttra to Delhi-Ameer's palaces—Zenana--Jumma musjid-Mausoleums— Tomb of Khan Khanna-Palaces on the banks of the Jumna-Return to Sindia's camp.
On Sir Charles Malet's arrival at Agra, some difficulties arose, with respect to his meeting with Mahdajee Sindia, who was then encamped at Muttra, about twenty-eight miles from the city, with Shah Aalum, the degraded emperor of Delhi. The purport of this intended meeting was to concert with Mhadajee Sindia the best mode of completing the establishment of the embassy to the court of Poonah, in the manner most compatible with the interests of the English and the views of this great chieftain, through whom those interests had been for some time conducted with the Peshwa of the Mahratta empire. This predicament,
, certainly of considerable delicacy, was soon cleared of its obstacles, by the address of Mr. James Anderson, then resident minister from the governmentgeneral of India, with Mhadajee Sindia.
On the 13th of May Sir Charles received a letter from Mr. Anderson, dated at Sindia's camp, informing
him that two Mahratta chiefs of rank and consequence, were deputed to wait upon him, and conduct the embassy to the camp near Muttra.
The same evening Appajee arrived at Agra with a party of cavalry, and presented himself at Taje Mahal, having left his colleague with a much larger escort at Gou Ghaut, twelve miles from Agra. In consequence of this arrangement, and the cattle and attendants being well refreshed, the baggage was ordered to proceed on the following day; and on the 16th they left the terrestrial paradise surrounding the Taje-Mahal, and commenced their journey towards Sindia's camp. A melancholy scene, of ruin and desolation, similar to that already described, marked the first part of their progress from the royal gardens, through the suburbs and environs of Agra.
About half-way from thence to Gou Ghaut, or Ox-ford, they came to Secundra, celebrated for the mausoleum of Akber, situated within a large enclosure, resembling a park, shaded by noble trees, and entered by four handsome gates, leading to the roza, in the centre, which is a magnificent structure, inlaid with different coloured marble, agates, and precious stones, extremely rich and costly, but rather in a heavy style ; the part most ornamented is on the uppermost terrace, and having no cover, is entirely exposed to the weather; it is exquisitely finished, and the platform of black and white marble. The tomb itself is of plain white marble. The interior of the arch at the principal entrance is adorned with verses, expressive of the founder's extensive fame, and numerous victories, with moral reflections on the instability of human great
INTERVIEW WITH SINDIA.
The road from thence to Gou Ghaut was extremely pleasant: Sir Charles was met there by Mhadajee's Sindia's duan, with a large party of horse to escort him to camp; he also received a letter from Mr. Anderson to express Sindia's wish that he would proceed as fast as convenient, being very desirous to have a personal interview. They arrived there the next morning, and found the Mahratta camp greatly enlarged by that of the emperor Shah Aalum ; who had appointed Mhadajee Sindia his vackeel ul mulluck, an office in the Mogul empire superior to the vizier Aazim. Mr. Anderson was also encamped near Muttra as English minister with the Mahratta chief, and was invested with powers to treat and negociate with the last aged monarch of the imperial house of Timur. His suite consisted of a surgeon and a British officer in command of the two companies of sepoys
which composed his guard.
The preliminaries of the ceremonial of the first meeting being arranged, the morning of the 20th was appointed for Sir Charles Malet's introduction to Mhadajee Sindia. Sir Charles and Mr. Anderson were mounted on the same elephant, and the gentlemen of their suite on others, or in palanquins. Mr. Anderson was escorted by a party of horse, appointed as a standing guard by the Mahratta chief; Sir Charles was attended by his own escort of horse and foot. They were met by Mhadajee Sindia some hundred yards from his tent, accompanied by his principal chiefs, a party of sepoys, a body of cavalry, and several elephants: he there alighted from his elephant, and being extremely lame, was supported by two persons as he approached to embrace Sir Charles Malet, and
the other gentlemen, in the order they were introduced by Mr. Anderson. He then preceded them to the durbar tent, where Sir Charles delivered Sindia a letter from the governor of Bombay. General conversation ensued, in which the Mahratta chief took a principal part, and in the course of it a gun of his own making was handed round for approbation, which was very liberally, and not undeservedly bestowed, if it really was of his construction. But although he certainly has a turn for mechanics, the gun was rather supposed to have been the production of the artificers whom he employs than of his own hands.
After the presents had been distributed, and the usual formalities performed, the English gentlemen proceeded to their tents. On examining the khelauts, or presents, from the great Maha rajah Mhadajee Sindia, the serpeych (an ornament for the turban) presented to Sir Charles Malet was found to be composed of false stones; the horse and other articles of mean quality. The presents to the gentlemen of his family were two pieces of coarse chintz, a pair of very common shawls, an ordinary turban, and a piece of the cheapest keemcab.
On the 26th Sir Charles went to Bhindera Bhund, a town about seven miles from Muttra, in high estimation with the Hindoos, and particularly celebrated as the birth-place of Crishna, the Apollo of India, in the Brahmin mythology. The town is rather large, pleasantly situated on the banks of the Jumna, on which, also, for near a mile in length, extends a range of small buildings called Dieuisthans, little Altars or Temples, with steps down to the water from each, for the convenience of the inhabitants, and religious pilgrims who