Edward Frederick Leveson-Gower.

Bygone years; online

. (page 13 of 21)
Online LibraryEdward Frederick Leveson-GowerBygone years; → online text (page 13 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

us good food and many amusements. Wrestling
is his chief pastime. Himself a Hindu, he treats
impartially Hindu and Mohammedan wrestlers,
between whom great emulation exists. The best
wrestlers, who sat looking on in rich dresses, are
great favourites. Some were fine-looking men.
Afterwards antelopes and rams fought. I liked the
Rajah for his concern when a branch of a tree
broke on which some spectators were perched,
and his satisfaction when he heard that none
were hurt.

Three more days brought us to Delhi, which
from its size and its history has been the most
famous place in all India; but there is not much
to see there. We were not allowed to enter the
huge palace, England's relations with the Mogul
being then already much strained. We were
assured it contained nothing interesting, which
I believe is not true. The Jumma Musjid is a
magnificent mosque, with its lofty minarets and
fine colonnades all in perfect proportions. In the
afternoon the streets became very gay, filled with
people of all countries in a great variety of
costumes — marriage processions, Nautch girls,
elephants, and tumblers. Sir Theophilus Metcalfe '
invited us to his house, where we spent three
pleasant days. He had two agreeable daughters,
one of whom was married, the other having been
with us on board the Haddington. They were
pretty, musical, and merry. The house contained

^ Sir Theophilus John Metcalfe, born 1828, died 1883 ; fifth Baronet
and nephew of Lord Metcalfe.

1850-51] DELHI 193

the best library I had seen in India, a large
collection of prints, a billiard-table, a backgammon
board, and a whist-table.

The last day we spent at the Kutub, one
of the wonders of India. We drove there in
a carriage drawn by a couple of camels. They
went eight miles an hour, and would keep up
that pace for a great distance. The Kutub is
a tower of great circumference at the base, but
diminishing gradually, with storeys marked by
different styles of ornament and richly sculptured
balustrades. One storey is fluted, another with
projecting angles, and a third with alternate
angles and flutings. But this can give no idea
of its beauty and grandeur, which must be owing
to its fine proportions and its exquisite masonry.
At its base are scattered ruins of a Hindu
temple older than the column, a number of
pillars richly sculptured, and fine arches. There
is likewise the unfinished base of a second Kutub.
We breakfasted, and passed the hot hours of the
day in an old tomb hard by, fitted up most com-
fiDrtably by Sir Theophilus with another billiard-
table and a profusion of books. On our way home
we saw several tombs — one with a tank into which
men and boys jumped from a height of sixty-five
feet, another of very beautiful marble, and the
immense one of Hummayoun, the father of Akbar,
which is large and stately, but without much
ornament and in decay. For fourteen miles round
were the ruins of the old town of Delhi, the
most desolate sight — nothing but mounds of brick,
with occasional deserted tombs and temples.



On our return to Anrra we found Mr. Thomason
established there with his handsome daughter. He
had a high reputation for ability, and his adminis-
tration of the provinces under him was much
praised. Socially I found him sententious and
formal. His position was in some respects the
greatest in India ; his period of office was un-
limited, and he had nearly the whole patronage of
the immense district he governs. The court paid
to him is immense, and has, I fancy, from the
little I saw of him, turned his head. I paid a
last visit to the Taj, and was more enchanted with
it than ever.

On March 9th we left Agra. Laurence Oliphant,
who came with Jung Bahadur to Nepaul, had agreed
to accompany us to Bombay. We made up a large
party. One hundred and twenty followers were to
go with us all the way to Poonah. One was a
cook, some were palkee bearers, and others carried
our luggage or torches. They were fine-looking
men, extremely civil, and never were guilty of the
least offence or offered the slightest difficulty,
although we could not speak their language. I
think it would be difficult to find such a well-
behaved set of attendants in Europe.

At Gwalior we received a cordial welcome from
Sir Richmond Shakespeare, which was doubly
agreeable after Mr. Thomason's cold reception.
Sir Richmond is a distinouished officer who has
seen interesting service. He took some Russians,
who had been seized at different times on the
Caspian Sea and sold to the Khivans, all the way
from Khiva to St. Petersburg. The gratitude

1850-51] GUNAH 19s

of the poor prisoners, particularly one who had
been away from his native land sixty years, made
it, he said, a pleasing duty. There were more than
a hundred. Four only refused to return, having
married Khivan women. Sir Richmond, too,
was the officer who rescued the prisoners in
Cabul, among whom were Lady Sale and Lady
Macnaghten. At Gwalior we went to the Durbar.
The Rajah, Holkar, is only seventeen, very good-
looking, but dull, caring for nothing but shooting.
He has a stupid Minister, but a not ill-governed

At Gunah we received a visit from Captain
Burlton, who commands a body of irregular cavalry
belonging to Scindia. He is a famous sportsman,
and proposed taking us in search of a tiger, assuring
us there was nothing to fear from the sun,
owing to our being more than 2,000 ft. above the
sea. We accordingly set out soon after breakfast,
three on an elephant and one on horse-back.
The elephant was a most captivating beast, so
gentle in its paces and so intelligent. Those
brought up for sport are in these respects very
superior. Immediately round Gunah there is a
good deal of cultivation, but beyond, a continual
open jungle on very undulating country. About
two miles off we dismounted, and were stationed
at different points, the beaters walking up to us
as in English cover-shooting. They had a couple
of drums and kept an excellent line. At the first
place I squatted under a bush with Captain
Burlton ; Oliphant was perched close to us on a
tree, and Egerton and Grosvenor were a hundred


yards off! I was told to remain motionless, because
if I moved or spoke a tiger coming to us would
certainly turn. I was not on the whole sorry to
hear this. I got tired of watching and was be-
ginning to be absent, when my attention was
directed by a pull of my coat by a boy behind
me to a hyena who was trotting away about
twenty yards off He was going a good pace.
He was a very large one, and at first from his
colour I thought he was a tiger, but soon recognised
him from the shape of his neck. My companion
levelled his gun, which made him turn quickly
round. We then both fired, and I hit him — but
alas ! in the least mortal part of his body ; and
though it made him flinch he pursued his way.
What a pity that I cannot modestly say at dinner-
parties, "We had no sport in India; I only killed
a hyena ! "

In the next beat we saw a large herd of wild
boars, but not quite near enough to fire. They
were so large that at a distance I thought they
were bears. Later Grosvenor shot a deer, and
we endeavoured to smoke a panther out of a cave,
but he knew better.

The next morning we started earlier. The first
few hours produced little amusement. One
" nylgharree " was shot by a Sirdar — a fine
animal, half deer and half cow, of a blue colour —
and Captain Burlton shot a deer. As we
were going to our breakfast-place we came upon
a river partly dried up, with a number of wild-
fowl about. Two barrels were let off at them,
which proved a misfortune. On the top of a

1850-51] A TIGER HUNT 197

woody bank on the side of the river were a quantity
of small birds, hovering about and seeming dis-
turbed. Captain Burlton said, " There must be
some animal there. I should not wonder if it is
a tiger. It must either be one, or a cat or an owl."
He had just spoken when news came that a man
perched up in a tree had marked one in that
spot. Beaters in the greatest silence were sent
beyond the place, and we quickly scrambled up
the bank. The Captain made us each climb a
tree. He placed himself on a ledge of a rock,
which might have proved a dangerous position. I
had some difficulty in climbing up my tree, but
got ten feet from the ground. Above me, on the
top branches, was one of the Sirdars. The beaters
advanced, but no tiger appeared, and we then
had the mortification to discover that he had
slipped away, probably frightened by the report
of the two guns fired off at the wildfowl. No
more game was met with that day. We lamented
our bad luck, though for those who go after tigers
on foot I think a blank day may not be the
worst luck. But I believe the pluck shown by
Englishmen out sporting in India inspires the
natives with respect, and that their ridding the
villagers of such bad enemies earns their gratitude.
I enjoyed my two days' exercise extremely,
and at the following stage much regretted the
refreshing wind and innocuous sun of Gunah.
This was, too, a delightful break in this very
monotonous journey, for to be boxed up from
morning to night for thirteen successive days in
a small building is, in spite of companions, books,


backgammon and piquet, a wearisome business.
Our next break was at Indore, the Capital of the
dominions of Holkar, one of the great Mahratta
chiefs. A carriage sent by Mr. Hamihon, the
Resident, met us at a distance of twenty miles
from the town. He was particularly civil. We
had a bungalow to ourselves, but it smelt of paint,
and my bed was full of bugs, which made me regret
my comfortable palkee, which only harbours a few
fleas. There was nothing much worth seeing at
Indore. We remained there two whole days, to
allow our bearers to come up and get our linen
washed. One morning we took a ride about the
town, and visited some of the Royal tombs, which,
in comparison with the Mohammedan ones, are very

One afternoon we paid a visit to the Rajah.
He was a young man of eighteen, who was put
on the throne by Mr. Hamilton. The previous
Rajah died without any offspring, and Lord
Ellenborough was anxious to annex the country,
but desisted, having enough on his hands with
Scinde and Gwalior. So he made Mr. Hamilton
choose among the relatives some promising youth,
not an eldest son, so that he should have no idea
of hereditary rights, and that he should feel he owed
everything to the English Government. The young
man chosen fulfilled these conditions, and was
educated under the superintendence of Mr. Hamilton,
who was all-powerful — in fact, the real king of the
country. He lived like a prince, though he had
lately reduced his establishment. I never saw such
a tribe of servants, who pestered us with their

1850-si] INDORE 199

salaams, and there are thirty horses in his stables.
On Sunday evening we walked over to see them,
and were followed by six servants. How little
notion have we in England of the way in which
kingdoms are disposed of in this part of the world.
The Rajah is fond of reading, is very steady,
knows all about his affairs, and is a good shot
and rider. He lately made an excursion incog, to
Agra and Delhi, and his great ambition is to pay
a visit to England. He speaks English, but his
knowledge of our country is limited. He asked
Grosvenor if there were many elephants and tigers
there ; if the land did not all belong to the same
person ; if Lord Westminster had an income of
twenty lakhs of rupees (^200,000) ; if he had a
good many troops in his service ; and how many
elephants he owned. When Grosvenor had to
confess that his father possessed neither troops nor
elephants, he must have fallen in the estimation of
his questioner. We were first led upstairs, where
we sat cross-legged on the floor. A Nautch girl
was singing a favourite Indian song, the only one
I have heard at all like a tune, and reminding me
of Robin des Bois. We then descended into a hall
looking on the courtyard, where a curious scene
awaited us. There were several fire-engines, which
squirted a yellow and red liquid on successive sets
of men who came to pay their respects to the
Rajah. The first set of about a hundred squatted
contentedly on the ground whilst they were watered
like flowers, and then a quantity of red dust was
thrown over them. The other set stood up so that
no part of their persons escaped. We were offered


red balls to throw at the people, but refrained, as
we were warned that if we began they would
retaliate, and that we should be in an instant one
mass of red. Oliphant was sadly tempted, but I
entreated him to keep quiet, as I had only two
suits of clothes, and one had to be washed. This
ball-throwing ceremony takes place once a year,
and half the inhabitants go about with their clothes

The next morning we started at half-past five,
having forty miles to go in a carriage. Indore
is on high table-land, and about twelve miles from
it we reached two very steep descents through a
rather romantic country of hill and jungle. The
heat was trying between Indore and Asirgarh, and
Grosvenor was very unwell. The latter place
is perched on the top of a hill rising abruptly
800 ft., with but two very steep roads up to
it. We were taken in bv Colonel Smee, the Com-
mander of the fort, where we spent three days in
order that Grosvenor might recruit his strength by
quiet and the cool breezes. We took a pleasant
walk round an old fort. I asked our host if there
was anything to be seen in it. " Yes," he said ;
" there is an old gun, and that is all except the
place where the English made the breach when
they took the fort." — " But are there no views? " —
" Oh yes. There are beautiful views on all sides,
if you like that sort of thing." — We were made
members of the mess, and fared there in a style
which might perhaps have awakened the anger of
Sir C. Napier. There was a drunken old Colonel,
and a German band-master, who has achieved

1850-51] CAVES OF AJUNTA 201

wonders in making his men, who have no idea
of music, play better than the average of European

Some more nights without adventures or incidents
brought us to Fardapur, the nearest station to
the caves of Ajunta, where we found an empty
bungalow, belonging to Captain Gill, an officer of
the Madras army, who is employed by the East
Indian Company to make sketches of the caves.
He was not there, but had left the bungalow at our
disposal. It was rather late to go on to the caves
and return from them that morning, so we decided
on riding to them, a distance of three miles, in
the afternoon, taking with us our " resies," a sort
of stuffed coverlet and pillows, with materials for
making tea, intending to sleep in one of the caves.
These, which we only reached shortly before
dark, are all cut on one side of a ravine. They
extend about half a mile, one half looking east,
the others north. They are in a continuous line,
offer a strange but ugly appearance when first seen,
and certainly are not tempting bedrooms. We
fixed upon a very shallow one, which was the most
airy, and the least inhabited by birds or bats. It
was too dark to examine them that night. Our
horses were picketed below in the dry bed of the
river, with fires round them to keep off the wild
beasts. We had ours lighted near the entrance
of the cave to boil our water, got chairs and a
rickety table from a cave in which Captain Gill
had been working, lighted our candles, and were
very cheery. We chose our resting-places, laying
our resies on the rocky floor in front of a double row


of massive columns of beautiful and grand propor-
tions. I could not at first sleep in so strange a

When there was sufficient light we hurriedly-
visited the caves. They are of every variety
of shape, some with circular roofs in ribs, most
with verandahs with large square pillars all round.
Their shapes are imposing, and as you look
at them they seem to increase in size. The
smell from the bats in the largest one was so offen-
sive that I could not remain long in it. There is
much beautiful carving, with much, of course, that
is grotesque. The fresco paintings are in parts in
good preservation, and some of beautiful execution,
immeasurably superior to Indian art of the present
day. The history of these caves is unknown.
The learned differ about them in nearly every
respect, except that they belonged to the Buddhist
religion. It is supposed that the workmen came
from Egypt, as many of the ornaments are pre-
cisely similar to those in Egyptian temples. The
objection is that in Egypt there are nothing but
profiles, whilst at Ajunta there are full faces. ^

We left Ajunta the same evening, after seeing
a pretty mosque in which the Duke of Wellington
wrote his despatches after the battle of Assaye.

The next morning we reached a tent sent with
provisions and servants to meet us by Colonel
Twemlow from Aurangabad. The heat in it was
the worst we have known, ioo° Fahrenheit. I

' There are few things in India better worth seeing than these caves,
and yet I find few travellers ever visit them — fewer now than formerly,
as they are distant from the line of the railway.

1850-51] CAVES OF ELLORA 203

always had my thermometer on the table, which is
the worst possible place, as the knowledge of the
temperature often makes it feel hotter.

On the 5th we reached a village lying just
above the caves of Ellora. Colonel Twemlow
received us here in an old tomb which has been
fitted up by the officers at Aurangabad, and
which, from its high dome, is cool. The view
from it over a large extent of country is one
of the finest I have seen in India. Immediately
under a place called Roza are cut the caves of
Ellora. They are twenty-three in number, and
extend for a mile and a half, being farther from
each other than those of Ajunta. We did not
visit all. The first we saw were regular caves —
one with a dome-shaped roof, another of two
storeys, and a third of three storeys, very simple,
with wide verandahs and large, square pillars.
These are less fine than the similar ones at
Ajunta. We then went to the greatest wonder
of all, the Kailasa. It appears that the Brahmins
objected to having their temples in caves — and
therefore cut round the Buddhist caves, making
them into temples standing apart from the rock.
The Kailasa is a large temple, thus sunk, as it
were, into a pit, the facing of the old temple
being left as a screen. It is an extraordinary place,
and the labour it must have cost to cut the whole
of this temple out of the solid rock is appalling
to think of We saw another, not so large
but as elaborately carved. It is a vast, square
cave, with forty gigantic pillars at equal distances
from each other, and all of similar shape. It


is approached through immense crevices and per-
forations in the rock. I have been on the whole
disappointed in these caves. They excite more
wonder at the labour they cost than at any
beauty they display. The Dherwara is the only
one at Ellora that appeared to me grand, and,
on the whole, I think these caves, though
more wonderful, less attractive than those at

We started at two the next morning for the
fortress of Daulatabad. This is one of the most
famous of all the Indian forts. It is on a small
rock, rising abruptly, and its whole circumference
is scarped to the height of i8o ft. The only
way up to it is by steps, cut in the tunnels of
the rock. At the top of one of them is a sort
of iron cover. When we got down we were
rewarded by some of the most famous grapes in
India, but very inferior to those grown in England.
There is a large bit of ground enclosed at the
foot of the fort, with three distinct walls. A
beautiful tower reminds one of the Kutub, dimin-
ishing in girth as it rises and ornamented with rich
balconies and with blue tiles ; but is now falling
into decay.

The same morning we continued our way to
Aurangabad, where we spent a night, the first
I had passed for a whole month in what deserves
the name of a bed, and greatly did I enjoy it.
During the night a native sergeant was murdered
in the bazaar. A private cut his head off in
a fit of jealousy and was willing to confess his
crime, but in imitation of the wisdom of our law.

185051] POONAH 205

was not allowed to do so. From Aurangabad
to Ahmadnagar we went in bullock-carts, which
are very disagreeable. Oliphant and I in one,
Egerton in another. Grosvenor prudently kept
to his palkee, which subsequent events made me
particularly glad of, for on arriving at the small
rest-house half-way he was taken very ill — a sore
throat which prevented his swallowing, great
retching, high pulse, and a sensation of numbness
in the limbs. He got worse and worse, and doubted
being able to proceed, which was most essential,
Oliphant and I started in the middle of the day
to find out the best doctor, or at least somewhere
to sleep, at Ahmadnagar. We got there in the
middle of the night. The Brigadier, to whom
we had a letter, was away, but we found a pleasing
young doctor, who offered to put up the invalid
in his only bed. Egerton and Grosvenor arrived
the next morning. You may conceive our relief
at finding there was no cause for anxiety — no fever,
but a sharp attack of bronchitis. The doctor's
house was cool ; he was a most kind and attentive
nurse, and Grosvenor soon got better. I left that
evening with Oliphant, and arrived at Poonah
next morning on our way to Bombay.

Poonah is extremely pretty, with a large artificial
lake with temples on its banks, a good deal of wood,
gardens bounded by walls, a very large temple like
a fortress on a commanding hill, and some moun-
tains beyond. I saw Keith, who came out with
us from England. His regiment is at a station four
miles beyond Poonah. He had a cool little house,
with plenty of soda-water. I went on in the middle


of the next day, and reached Panwel, on the edge
of the water, or rather mud, in time to be carried
on men's shoulders some way to a small boat which
took me to the steamer. Its decks were strewn
with natives asleep, and so closely packed that it
was afterwards necessary to walk upon them to get
along. I was shocked when daylight came to per-
ceive that half the natives whom I had trodden
upon, and whose noses I must have flattened, were
women. We only weighed anchor with the light.
The bay forms a most lovely lake surrounded
by mountains. A little more than an hour brought
us to the island of Elephanta and in sight of
Bombay. I got on shore by eight, and had some
difficulty in directing my palkee to Sir Erskine
Perry's bungalow. Along an esplanade by the
seaside were a number of bamboo houses, which
are put up at this season and taken down when
the weather becomes colder. It is the coolest
spot in Bombay. After an hour, when hunger
was overtaking me and I was losing my temper, my
servant H olden tripped in. A room was prepared
for me at Sir Erskine Perry's. He lives in the
courthouse, and I was perched very high up, most
comfortably, where sea-breezes abound.

The first evening I took a ride through the
native town, which is better built than any I have
seen, with houses three or four storeys high,
gaily painted, and verandahs with carved wooden
pillars. The Parsees form a large proportion of
the inhabitants. They are an energetic and in-
telligent race, and have been settled in this part
of India twelve hundred years, but have remained

1850-51] ELEPHANTA 207

a distinct nation. They are generally fair, and
have very peculiar, unmistakable features, long,
pointed, and projecting, and they wear high paper
caps. In the afternoon I drove to the Botanical
Gardens; then to the Government House, once
a Portuguese convent, large, and stuck in a hole
where sea-breezes cannot possibly come. The
Governor was by all accounts the most indolent of
men, and made no attempt to encourage improve-
ments, being fonder of billiards than of reform. On
Monday we made a delightful expedition to the
island of Elephanta. It is about seven miles off
across the bay. It is formed of two hills covered
with wood and is a lovely spot. The cave is fine,
and chiefly remarkable for one colossal three-headed
bust of the Hindu Trinity. We had an Irishman
with us who was intent on washing the cave,
and had brought a fire-engine with that object.
The natives were much amused with it, and in
ecstasies when he turned it on a fine group of
sculpture representing Krishna and his wife and

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryEdward Frederick Leveson-GowerBygone years; → online text (page 13 of 21)