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Jaipur, 5 March 1893

We first heard the Sunday mass in a small chapel and then drove, while it was raining, to the palace of the maharaja to undertake a detailed visit. The rain negated any chance of a tiger hunt that day. In the middle of the city and fully enclosed by crenelated wall, the complex of palaces, towers, halls, courtyards, stables, parks, gardens, ponds, which is called the „Palace of the Maharaja“  and has mostly owes its existence to Jai Singh covers a large area, whose long side is about 800 m wide. The favorable impression the whole complex makes at first sight by its size, the number and picturesque organization of the buildings, the charm of the tree and flower gardens is much lessened once one takes a closer look at these preciosities. Everywhere there are signs of major neglect. On most buildings, the original pure style has been crippled as the tasteful ornaments that had been nobly put in place have been augmented during the past and in modern times in a tasteless way or poorly restored. The pillars in the reception hall have been painted by a dilettante with amateurish designs in yellow and green, Hundreds of pigeons house without disturbance in the stone decorations of the hall. There one can see buildings that have been completely abandoned to decay. There one tries to resist the  natural deterioration by covering burst walls with a quick sky-blue paint job. Just next to the gorgeous garden equipped with water fountains and marble pathways, pigs and lean cows wallow themselves in a dung hill.

Our path led us to the stable in whose riding hall a number of well fed local horses with beautiful figures were presented in the usual manner in which the equerry worked rather merciless with a hard hand in order to achieve the levades, pirouettes, piaffes etc. Finally a pair of fat white horses were chased around at full speed in the longish courtyard of the stable until the poor animals, panting and puffing, had done their duty in displaying us sufficiently their velocity and performance. The saddle storage room was notable only by its colorful saddles and harnesses.

From the armory emerged a pestilential odor and a whiff of stale air. O, the sweet smells of India!

From the armory we made a kind of distance march across the gardens and garden houses of the palace to get to the famous crocodile ponds. These ponds are built as a square and contain dirty green water in which the crocodiles seem to feel especially comfortable. Due to the low temperature the animals were invisible at our arrival, but a guardian promised to attract them by plunging a piece of ox liver on a rope onto the water surface, shouting sweet words to his charges such as „come, my dear brother, come!“ The „brothers“ did not seem to have a desire for the bait, however, as they didn’t move and only meter long giant turtles snapped their heads out of the water to catch the tasty bait only to quickly disappear again. Finally after a long period of shouting a crocodile emerged out of the muddy water and slowly came on land to eat the liver there. In the next smaller pond, six large crocodiles were sunning themselves on the muddy banks, while long legged plovers whizzed around them.

The reverence of the crocodiles is taken so seriously here that the relatives did not help a young woman who fell into the crocodile pond and was being attacked and crying for help. They left her to her own fate instead of saving her in order not to injure the holy animals.

As no news about the tiger had arrived in the residence towards noon we went again hunting in the surroundings of the city. Following again the stream where I had bagged two purple swamp hens I bagged five more specimens of this beautiful species. When I also shot a jungle boar which was fleeing from me in the swamp, this was considered a hunting offense by the English gentlemen who were escorting me as they reserve these animals for the  pigsticking — analog to shooting foxes on English holy ground dedicated to fox hunting. They implored me vehemently  to never again to perform such a misdeed.

We had just started to hunt  black-bucks  when a rider on a foaming horse arrived with the news that a panther had been surrounded. Quickly we rushed to the city to fetch Kinsky who had remained behind only to unfortunately encounter a terrible omen — the wife of the resident wished us „Good luck“, thus destroying any hope for us hunters about a favorable outcome of the hunt.

The panther had been confirmed in a valley basin close to the city to where elephants took us, namely to the foot of a ridge which we climbed up not without difficulties due to pebbles. Having reached the top, the shooters occupied two ridges above the valley basin covered with stones and bushes. On the third ridge a thick defense of drivers had been set up which descended towards the panther with the intent of pushing the panther at me or if that didn’t work and it would break through towards the rear against other shooters. The plan therefore was not bad. Its execution was even more deplorable.

The shikaris pointed out the spot where the panther had been resting and from where the drivers which advanced with as much prudence as much slowness with shouts and stone throws made him flee so that I had a view of about 200 paces onto the opposite ridge through the bushes where I should be able to see it. The next moment it should have stepped into the open field where I could take aim at it. Unfortunately, a shikari posted next to me suddenly shouted „Chita“ (panther) to warn the drivers. Then these send a hail of stones and rocks against the feared animal. The panther reverses his direction. I fired at random at a distance of around 300 m. Prónay and Clam followed my example — unfortunately without success, in full flight the panther had crashed through the defense of the drivers and had disappeared.

The flood of my discontent heaped upon the cowardly shikaris and drivers was interrupted by a shikari who rushed in to report that the panther had been surrounded in another valley. Now a wild chase started: each shikari picked one or two shooters and a number of drivers and ran with those blindly to some point at the edge of the valley or the ridge. Everyone claimed to have seen the panther. The drivers advanced without planning, shouting and crying here, hitting the bushes there out of which emerged only terrified blackbirds, there like titans sending rocks tumbling down into the valley. The shooters had to go down into the valley as soon as they had reached their position on the ridge, only to ascend another ridge. Soon it was said that the panther was in the valley, soon that it was in the hills. Against the prevalent confusion, the resident who was in charge of the hunt was powerless so that the events took their turn without direction. Only after the sun had disappeared behind the mountains, we succeeded to restore some sort of order and to arrange a halfway planned drive. Unfortunately, it was all in vain. Not a trace of the panther, and only a sambar deer became the victim of a bullet fired by Clam.

Returned to the residence, we participated in the dinner there with the ladies of the house but not without apprehension that our tiredness took its toll on our being able to contribute to an entertaining conversation.

Links

  • Location:  Jaipur, India
  • ANNO – on 05.03.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. In his inaugural speech to congress, President Cleveland of the United States proclaimed that his government will do the utmost to sustain the financial credit during these volatile times.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays „Die Ahnfrau“ in the afternoon and „Kriemhilde“ in the evening, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents Mozart’s opera  „Die Zauberflöte“.

Delhi, 16 February 1893

After a night not spent in comfortable warmth we arrived early in the morning in Delhi while it was raining and cold. O, often praised and often rebuked heat of India, where are you?

Delhi, „the Rome of Asia“, is the oldest, largest and also the most sparkling city of the Punjab, of India even, and had been the pompous residence of the Grand Mughals. Since 1803 under British rule it is considered holy by the Hindus by the Yamuna river, to be venerated by Muslims for the spectacular Shah Jahan mosque. Modern Delhi, North-northwest of Agra, on the right bank of the Yamuna fills in the wide fertile and climatically favored plain towards the north which is surrounded by the Mewat hills on the one side and the river on the other. Since ancient times, this urban, strategically and commercially important place has been settled.

These settlements have switched their location during the centuries — soon filling this, soon that part of the plains — and have been abandoned time and again to decay so that modern Delhi , a city of around 200.000 inhabitants, represents but a small part of all that what constituted Delhi during the different periods. The circumference of the Delhi is no less than 155 km!

Even though Dehli is the junction of multiple railway lines, on a navigable river and close to well irrigated lands and even though it is today the most active and largest trading and industrial city of the whole Punjab, it has nevertheless been pushed down to the status of a provincial city by the British government probably due to political considerations from the fatal insurrection of 1857.

The downpour which came to greet us with many tears did not prevent us after a short rest in our quarters, the Metropolitan Hotel, to undertake a sightseeing tour of the city The city forms nearly a semi-circle where the part of the river forms the  diameter.

We first turned to the fort which contains the old palace of the Grand Mughals. It is situated in the eastern part of the city high above the Yamuna and is so similar ot the fort at Agra that it can be called a miniature copy of it. It is built out of red sandstone and enclosed by a 2,5 km long wall and a ditch and ornamented with beautiful gates. The highlight is naturally that part of the interior which contains the palace of Shah Jahan. While Akbar mostly took residence in Agra and Lahore, Jahan transferred his residence to Delhi, where he lived in the north of the city where also his ancestor Humayun had lived and founded a new Delhi which he called Shah-Jahanabad.

Like the fort of Agra, the one in Delhi also contains splendid palaces, halls, rooms and mosque. But their number is much smaller than in Fort Agra as the English destroyed, after the suppression of the great rebellion of 1857 which had started in Delhi with the murder of the local Europeans by Shah Bahadur, a large part of the buildings of the fort to build barracks and batteries in their stead.

Entering through the music hall (Nakar khana or Naubakhana) we first saw the two rooms intended for receptions The large reception hall Diwan-i-Am is open on three sides and carried by pillars made out of red sandstone. It is decorated everywhere especially the throne and the wall behind it and rises out of a niche are decorated with painting and delicious mosaics.

I can’t approve the renovation undertaken by the English government recently on many of the walls on this and other monuments  Even if the motif of this beginning is to be applauded, it seems to go too far. In my view the original old surface decorations, if painted if mosaics,  and may it already be much damaged should be left in the otherwise unchanged halls and has more style than the imitations with their fresh gold splendor and their loud color which replace the faded and crumbling but original ornamentation. But the question how far a renovation of damaged art may go is continually debated by the experts which are for the complete restoration of the original form and the subconsciously not less sensitive layman. I recall here the clean-up of the patina from the inner walls of St. Stephen’s cathedral. This restoration has awakened the desire of a large crowd for the return of the former almost mythical darkness which gave the cathedral a strange quiet beauty. Likewise I would consider it a sacrilege to add the missing arm to the statue of the Venus of Milo as has been planned.

The small reception hall, Diwan-i-Khas, in the fort of Delhi is a open pavilon completely made out of marble and decorated with golden ornaments and pietra-dura. On its east side once stood the famous golden peacock throne covered with precious gemstones (Tacht-i-taus), which Nadir Shah, the Persian conqueror of Delhi, has taken away as the proudest piece in his war booty in 1739. In the same area are the Grand Mughal’s private chambers and the female quarters filled with marble as well as the baths.

On the west side of Diwan-i-Khas stands a gracious building. the pearl mosque (Moti Mesjid), very artfully built out of gleaming white marble and ornamented with reliefs and delicate ornaments., despite its small dimensions. But its artistic creation and the wealth of its decoration makes it highly remarkable. The bronze gate of the mosque is a repoussé master work, a craft still very successful in India.

It would not have taken much guesswork by the company S. J. Tellery & Co. which has its main subsidiary and manufacture of art objects here that we would come and visit them. Above the gate of the company was a triumphal arch decorated with bands in Austrian and Hungarian colors as well as sentences which proclaimed in large golden letters“Hoch“ and „Eljen“. We found here mostly the same objects which we had already seen in Bombay and Calcutta, art objects and curiosities from all Indian regions but of such diversity and choice that the shopping urge was triggered to the utmost and turned into an insatiable craving.

I used the afternoon to visit the famous mosque Dschama Mesdschid in the southern part of Delhi. It is the largest and most beautiful Muslim place of prayer in India. Mighty open stairs on whose steps linger all kinds of merchants and agents lead to the grand gates which allow access to the foreyard of the mosque. This foreyard is a square of 99 m lengthwise and is enclosed on three sides by pillar pathways with corner kiosks which form from the outside seen the first floor of the high wall built out of red sandstone. The fourth side of the courtyard is the mosque itself on an area of 2243 m2. The gates mentioned above bear above the keel arch of the entrance galleries and pointed domes above which rise lean marble minarets with pointed peaks.

The mosque was built in 1658 in the same style as the one in Agra and here too are above the facade three domes with minarets  while the main part is built out of red sandstone. The domes and the peaks of the two high minarets are made out of marble. The sometimes inharmonious mixture of red and white lessens the total impression considerably; I particularly disliked that the white marble plates of the domes alternated with rows of black stones. A motif I hadn’t seen before I found on the minarets as the foot of each was formed by a marble flower calyx out of which rises the lean tower which is patterned along its whole length by vertical stripes that end at the top in a leafy crown.

In one corner of the pillar hall of the mosque we saw the actual sanctuary, a delicate marble shrine with the relics of the prophet. In artless containers that resembled those used by insect collectors to store their beetles are here preserved: a fire-red hair from the prophet’s beard, the worn slippers of Mohammed, lines from the Koran in the handwriting of the Imams Hussain and Hassan and — as we hunters would call this — the „track“ of Mohammed, i.e. his foot print in clay.

From the mosque we marched through the main street of Delhi, the long Chandni CHauk, where shop follows shop, shouts, noise of every kind, pitches and bargaining is heard everywhere so that the senses my be numbed.

The bazaar has like the whole city and like Agra an unmistakable Muslim appearance. The vivid streets of Delhi presents us with types and dresses which we could not find in Calcutta for example. The main contingent of the crowd in the bazaar are Muslims with colorful turbans and embroidered kaftans, veiled Muslim women with colorful pants and colorful cloths. In between these figures move Hindus and in noticeably large numbers Afghans. It was interesting to see this tall, strong figures, those energetic even sullen faces of the bearded Afghans. The confident demeanor, the strong posture of these highland sons made it believable that each man of this untamed, predatory and war-loving people has as little respect for his own life than that of other men and if fate demands it will step forward quietly to either murder or be executed.

At Tellery’s, where I returned after the end of the glittering bazaar, I visited the workshops in which the art objects were made by hand without assistance of any machine by very skilled native workers in a relatively short time. I would not have expected to see such effort and skill among the otherwise quite indolent Indians. It is however, a compatriot from Vienna who leads the enterprise with a strong grip. In the workshops for rugs eight to ten-year-old Hindu boys produce the most beautiful textiles, while in a separate room out of various wood types are carved wonderful works completely in free hand style. Metal workers produce gorgeous containers out of silver, copper and bronze.The clay modelers perform miracles without having gone to school. They form all types in India plus the scenes, processions and groups from the life of the different native populations in beautiful clay figurines. The individual figurines are truly artistically completed and of a highly naturalistic manner. Every fold in a cloth, every vein in the skin is fully life-like formed.

The evening saw us reunited in the Metropolitan Hotel, which left much to be desired, at a indigestible dinner in rooms which were rich in doors, windows and draft.

Links

  • Location: Dehli, India
  • ANNO – on 16.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria has found a bride during his visit of Europe’s courts: Princess Marie-Louise of Bourbon. Franz Ferdinand’s journey does not offer similar opportunities. The Austrian and Hungarian manufacturers have decided to raise their prices of candles and soaps. The excuse are pig fat production capacity problems in the United States.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy “Die Biedermänner“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing Rossini’s „Der Barbier von Sevilla“.