In the prince's stables were a long row of brood mares and superb stallions; and then a hundred or so of colts were turned out into the yard—mischievous, frisking things, romping against each other, suddenly stopping short, and wrapped ere long in white dust, which fell on us, too.The same ubiquitous terminus on a sandy plain, remote from everything; then a drive jolting through bogs, and we reached the dirty, scattered town crowded with people who had collected round a sort of fair with booths for mountebanks, and roundabouts of wooden horses.
The Rajah being absent we were allowed to see everything. On the upper floor is the Ranee's dressing-room. All round the large room were glass wardrobes, in which could be seen bodices in the latest Paris fashion, and ugly enough; and then a perfect rainbow of tender opaline hues: light silks as fine as cobwebs, shawls of every dye in Cashmere wool with woven patterns, and[Pg 53] gauze of that delicate rose-colour and of the yellow that looks like gold with the light shining through, which are only to be seen in India—royal fabrics, dream-colours, carefully laid up in sandal-wood and stored behind glass and thick curtains, which were dropped over them as soon as we had looked. And crowding every table and bracket were the most childish things—screens, cups and boxes in imitation bronze, set with false stones—the playthings of a little barbarian. A coloured photograph stood on the toilet-table between brushes and pomatum-pots; it represented the mistress of this abode, a slender doll without brains, her eyes fixed on vacancy.Above a large fan-palm the pale fronds of a talipot soar towards the sky, gracefully recurved like enormous ostrich plumes. A fluff, a down, of flowers clings to the stems of the magnificent crest, a delicate pale cloud; and the broad leaves of the tree, which will die when it has blossomed, are already withering and drooping on the crown. Then, in the clearings made by the recent decay of such a giant, falling where it had stood, and crushing the bamboos and ph?nix that grew round its foot, the flowers sprang in myriads—great sunflowers, shrubs of poinsettia, with its tufts of red or white bracts at the end of a branch of green[Pg 132] leaves, surrounding a small inconspicuous blossom, and tall, lavender-blue lilies.
High on a hill, one with the rock, are built the temples, up to which is a flight of steps hewn in the stone itself. At every stage, or nearly, are little shrines with images of Ganesa, the elephant-headed god, or of Ananta, the sacred serpent, decked with flowers, the mindi flower, which has[Pg 108] a strong scent of pepper. In some places the whole temple, as vast as a cathedral, is hewn out of the hillside; the columns in elaborate and intricate patterns, the niches and altars wrought with inconceivable toil and patience, not a scrap added or stuck on. In the dim distance is a huge red statue of Siva, wreathed with flowers.
The fourteen hundred and fifty-two gods of the Ja?n paradise are represented on a sculptured pyramid under a pagoda: little tadpoles of white stone crowded together, two black dots showing for eyes in the middle of the round featureless faces; on one side a more important god, sitting alone, has a rather less elementary countenance.
On the threshold I was desired to take off my shoes, because I was going into the presence of a holy man. As I crossed the forecourt fresh and ferocious shouts rang out; a curtain was lifted, and in a room scarcely lighted by a tiny window, the air thick with smoke, I could just make out a number of men, all standing, very excited, gesticulating wildly, and once more they shouted their savage cry.In the mystery of a polychrome temple, whose walls are closely covered with sculptured bas-reliefs of gods in the shape of men or animals, is a relic, the sacred tooth of Buddha; and all about the precious object, which is enclosed in a series of shrines within impenetrable walls, there is no sign of respect, but all the noise and bustle of a fair, a perfect turmoil of hurrying, chattering folk, whose only anxiety is to keep unbelievers away from the sacred spot.
Towards noon the mass of Kinchinjunga again lifted its head above the clouds, now white with a dust of rosy gold or violet on the snow in the shadows; and again, as the clouds swept across, of every changing tint of steel and copper, pearl and sunshine, till, following on the ardent glory of sunset, a purple and living fire, like a flame within the very substance of the ice-fields, all died into[Pg 153] mysterious blueness under the broad pure light of the moon.
An interpreter translated to the accused the questions put by the judge, who understood the replies, though he was not allowed to speak excepting in English.
Inside the temple long arcades connect the shrines sunk in the thickness of the walls, gloomy recesses with images of Vishnu and other idols; where the corridors or arcades cross each other there are vast halls with a sculptured roof supported by thousands of columns. In one of these halls there is a chariot full of divinities. The wheels, the horses, the highly-venerated images, are all of marble very delicately wrought, and amazing after the coarse caricatures on the outside. In the courts again, under sheds, there are cars; one of enormous size in black wood carved with innumerable figures and interlacing patterns; pendant ornaments of the same wood sway in the wind. The solid wheels, without spokes, small and having huge axles, seem made not to turn, and the shafts, to which a whole army of the faithful harness themselves on the occasion of a high festival, are long and as thick as masts.[Pg 114] Another car, past service, lay slowly rotting in a corner; almost all its images had vanished, and its canopy had fallen off; it was almost completely hidden under aristolochia in blossom.And suddenly, emerging from the ruins, we came on a Moslem street with high walls, windowless, and waving plumes of banyan and palm trees rising above the houses.详情
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