Schlagwort-Archiv: sightseeing

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“.

Jaipur, 4 March 1893

I spent the free time until reliable news about the confirmation of a tiger arrived to see the sights of Jaipur, in the main the museum owned by the maharaja and managed by  Dr. Hendley. The museum is located beyond the city walls in the gorgeous city park of around 28 ha and made an excellent impression by its wealth and suitable organization of its objects as well as their surprisingly good condition. The museum shows that Dr. Hendley guards his assigned treasures with lust and love and works with fervor on the collections.

In the spacious halls of the ground floor are all sorts of industrial art products of India arranged by states and production locations and clearly grouped. Of the products of primitive manual labor of the natives such as very simple ornaments and idols to the very precious products of industrial art, all stages and phases of the development of industrial art are demonstrated.

On the first floor is a rich natural science collection. This serves especially to educate the natives with direct objects as Dr. Hendley works from the correct principle that this sort of education has the strongest sustaining influence. In this departments are skeletons and cross sections of house animals, illustrations of their illnesses, their food — in another room one finds all poisonous snakes of India, the most common medicinal plants, the materials used for construction etc. Each object is suitable described on a sign and hosted in a systematically correct and easily comprehensible manner.

A special department presents with terracotta figures that have been very artistically modelled and extremely accurately painted scenes of popular life in India in a vivid representation. A cabinet  displays in this way all the trades of India, another one presents popular customs, marriages, banquets and funerals; a cross section of a house shows its rooms and its occupants doing their daily activities. All sorts of fakirs with their sick forms of self-inflicted harm are shown too. To my satisfaction Dr. Hendley was ready to arrange a collection of such models and send them to Vienna.

Around the museum, the maharaja’s zoological garden extends itself as an additional treasure of the city park. This vivarium made a very favorable impression on me not only by its cleanliness but also by the good looks of the animals, a sign of their especially good care: Even more so as the animals in the zoological gardens of India which I have already visited,  were all not well cared for. Large aviaries contain numerous and very interesting birds among them species of magpies and cuckoos with colorful glittering feathers, as well as swamp and water fowl of all kinds. The family of carnivores is very completely represented. As are the monkey species among whom a baboon (Hamadryas) stands especially high in the public’s favor as it, very mean, making the most horrible faces, bombards all spectators to their vivid pleasure with stones and sand. A nice house containing tame otters and a collection of deer deserve a special mention.

Exciting was a fight between two rhinos in which the two thick-skins had turned some sort of disagreement into an especially bitter fight, that only ended by the intervention of some caretakers armed with poles. Strange is the local custom to paint the rhinos fully in a gleaming black color.

The visit to the zoological garden was followed by a visit to the industrial art school in the city where, similar to Tellery’s institute in Delhi, a  large number of workers were occupied in the production of ornaments and artistic objects. In a drawing room boys were instructed for their future profession in drawing models.

Returned to the residence we learned — for fast delivery of news from the hunting area a relay service between it and the city had been established — that due to the cool weather no tiger had been confirmed. We therefore hunted black-bucks in the surrounding area of the city.

Already during the drive to Jaipur I had noticed the multitude of black-bucks out of the railway wagon and their strong horns, an observation whose correctness this hunt confirmed. As the males were not only much stronger but also more numerous than in Hyderabad. The hunting ground was a reserve of the maharaja where nobody but him and the resident were allowed to shoot. But it seems neither of these gentlemen were eager hunters of the game. That is why the black-bucks here were not as timid as elsewhere. I used a terribly bumpy ox cart for the hunt in whose presence the game did not flee. I communicated with the driver of the cart who was extremely talkative and offered many stories by miming as well as possible.  In this manner I bagged next to a small pond a young black-necked stork, some Indian bar-headed geese (Anser indicus), as well as eight black-bucks and one Chinkara- gazelle, the latter one with a coup double on that one and a black-buck. Many of the bagged bucks were truly capital specimens. The other gentlemen who had hunted in various directions returned with nine black-bucks.

At the end I hunted along the stream and bagged two beautiful sky-blue colored purple swamphens (Porphyrio poliocephalus), a valuable addition to my collection.

After the dinner attended by Mrs. Peacock with her daughters, numerous weapons dealer arrived in front of the residence and displayed their treasures and enticed us to purchases.

Links

  • Location:  Jaipur, India
  • ANNO – on 04.03.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy „Gönnerschaften“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents the opera  „Merlin“.

Jaipur, 3 March 1893

The festive receptions in India follow one another: but the resemble one another as little as do the cities. Each reception offers a new spectacle of oriental splendor and originality in which the characteristic peculiarity of the state or its ruler are expressed. On the platform of Jaipur were waiting the maharaja Sir Mahdo Singh Bahadur, the vice-royal agent of Rajputana Colonel Bradford, the resident of Jaipur Colonel Peacock and the state dignitaries. After the mutual salutations and presentations we drove in a ceremonial wagon for a half hour through one of the strangest and interesting cordons.

The maharaja does not provide any troops for the Indo-British government. There also is no English garrison in Jaipur. In case of war, however, the state has the obligation to provide 400 two-wheel transport wagons with a 1000 well trained ponies and 666 men. A detachment of this train had been organized next to the station —  the men in green uniforms — to form the cordon.

The infantry and cavalry of the maharaja which continued to form a cordon are a ludicrous and colorful horde. Among the infantry stand next to teenagers old men with silvery beards; the guns some of which carried on defective straps others on ropes were some of the most ancient almost incredible systems, even including flintlock and wall guns;  the uniform which is designed after European troop patterns was noticeable by a state of pitiful deterioration into rags despite the occassion of a parade. The officers  looked — if this was possible — even worse than the men; the orders did not seem to make much impression on the detachments. The state of the cavalry was not better, the horses small and badly kept, the saddles nearly desolate in condition, The look of the troops of the maharaja tells at first sight that he, despite being a Rajput, shows no interest in his army. He prefers to spend all his time, it is said, in the harem.

A splendid impression, however, did make the entourage and servants of the maharaja which wore very colorful clothes and carried sticks with flags which had stripes in various colors. My question about the meaning of the different colored stripes was answered that they are marks of victories. For every victory achieved by a Rajput prince he received from the Grand Mughal the right to decorate the emblems and flags with special clearly defined color stripes to commemorate the victories won. These stripes are thus something comparable to the honorful decorations of the German heraldry or the special decorations that ornament the flags of some of our regiments.

After the servants came around 300 court musicians who made hellish noises with a great variety of instruments. Especially prominent was a choir of a mounted wind section some of whose tubes were over 3 m in length — true trumpets of Jericho. Then followed the court shikaris and the servants in charge of the menagerie,  in green uniforms armed with rifles; plus the court armorer with the rifles of the maharaja and the most splendid pieces from the armory — precious guns, gorgeous lances, spears, horns etc. The procession concluded with the stable: numerous, glitteringly attired well fed horses, mostly beautiful Indian stallions, fantastically painted and decorated elephants with gilded haudas and precious blankets. Finally in great number, „court camels“ and as teams for wagons „court oxen“. The latter ones were covered in green or red blankets and ha their horns gilded for the occasion or wrapped in green cloth. Multiple music bands placed in different spots rendered our anthem in all kinds of key and tempi.

To the sound of the thunder of a three-cannon battery we entered the English residence where we set up our quarter as guests of the maharaja. In front of the gates of the palace stood an honor guard — consisting of thieves. This elite formation of Jaipur has been recruited from among the robbers who terrorized the land. The maharaja could only end this terror by transforming the thieves into an uniformed life guard, a process that is not without analogy in some places at home which shows that poachers can become forest rangers.  The Jaipur thieves discovered that their new job offered a reasonably pleasant life with little hardship and relinquished their former trade and now stand guard in front of public buildings.

In the residence I was received by Mrs. Peacock, the wife of the resident, with her two daughters and their educator. I and Wurmbrand were housed in the palace itself while the other gentlemen had a tent camp near by. With respect to the understandable desire for more comfort and greater quietness I would have preferred to join the others in the tent camp, but this was not according to Mrs. Peacock’s wishes who did want to take charge of our hospitality and common entertainment. This probably means we will be forced to spend the evening in the awful dress coats, after we have returned tired from the hunt, and dine and talk with the ladies dressed in grand gala according to the English style instead of being able to chat with the gentlemen in an open atmosphere about the day’s events.

The maharaja had escorted me to the residence and wanted to pay me his official visit after a short break which he used to make a tour of the garden. This could only take place after a short delay as the reloading of the three-cannon battery under whose thunder the visit should happen took longer than expected. Finally the first shot rang out. The maharaja arrived and the ceremony of offering attar and pan as well as the garlanding proceeded as usual.

Tall and of a hearty stature, the maharaja is an impressive man which was even made more apparent by the rich clothes and the gorgeous jewels — he wore besides other precious gems a gorgeous sabre sprinkled with large diamonds. The physiognomy of the prince however showed an expression of complete passiveness. I missed the fire in his eye which the smart eyes of noble Rajputs tends to sparkle and believed those willingly who said that the maharaja was a compliant tool in the hands of England. Adopted by his predecessor Ram Singh (1835 to 1880) the current prince of Jaipur, from a sideline of the ancient dynasty of the Kachwaha-Rajputs,  he has inherited their blood but not their drive.

The earlier Kachwaha princes still knew how to conquer by arms the territory that their tribe ruled over since 967, to enlarge and preserve it as well as to improve the capitals of the land, Amber and Jaipur, by the peaceful arts to metropoles whose buildings can compete with the most famous works of Indian architecture in size and beauty. Thus the splendor of Amber, once the seat of the Minas and after their subjugation for nearly seven centuries (until 1728) the capital of the territory that is now called Jaipur,  created by the marble buildings of Man Singh and Siwai Jai Singh was the envy even of the Grand Mughal Shah Jehan. Jaipur built by Jhai Singh II., „the astronomer“ (1699 to 1742) is one of the most beautiful places of India thanks to its elegant beauty — due to the regularity of its layout and due to the luxurious buildings, palaces and gardens.

The history of the land tells about countless feats of arms as well as of many smart and brave princes. Finally conquered by the superior forces of the Grand Mughals, the princes of the kingdom Amber-Jaipur knew to sustain their power in becoming the key commanders of the Mughals whose armies they led to victory which are remembered today as we learned during our arrival by the flags of the Jaipur troops.

Later Jaipur, whose princes had become tired of the rule of the decadent Mughals, asked the maharattas to come as liberators into their lands and was involved in the long feuds which ended only with the subjugation of the maharatta states by the English. Already in the year 1803 did the maharaja of Jaipur notice the shift in politics and enter into a relationship with the Anglo-Indian power. British troops helped the Rajputana states to liberate themselves from the rule of the maharattas.

Thus at least returned to independence in a way  the state of Jaipur has been a welcome ally at the side of England and entertains the best relations with the Anglo-Indian crown since the government of Ram Singh and clearly since the accession to the throne of the current maharaja. At present Jaipur provides, as stated previously, only supply troops to the contingent of the Anglo-Indian army. The local armed forces — around 1000 artillerymen with 281 cannons of all kind in 31 forts, 16.000 infantrymen and 4500 cavalrymen — are as the keen eye already observed during the arrival badly armed, clothed and mounted. At least they could defend their territory with these troops in case of a war and given the size of the population and the rich means of the land they could be easily increased in size and better equipped.

On an area of 39.500 km2 with two million inhabitants, Jaipur is thanks to a thoroughly plain landscape well supplied with water and thus very fertile. Thanks to its numerous industrious and mercantile population it is one of the most booming states of Rajputana. The annual income of the maharaja is said to be 4.5 million guilders in Austrian currency.

As soon as the maharaja had left with a silent greeting I drove, having again waited for the firing of the cannons, guided by the sound of their thunder to the city to the palace of the prince where I had to pay my return visit. As the way to the palace was quite long and lead in an avenue to the city gate as the residence was located at considerable distance outside the city.

Jaipur is located at the foot of a range of hills which are part of the spurs of the Arawali mountains. This range of hills encloses the city on three sides. The city stands on the ground of a former sea basin that borders to the south first on irrigated gardens and then on sandy terrain. Here a steep incline protects the city by an elevated fort, the hill range descends towards the norths and holds at the edge of a wooden gorge the old residential city of Amber. The location of Jaipur in the valley basin open to the south offers the nearly 160.000 inhabitants of the city enough space for further expansion. The river in the west of Jaipur that leads into the Chambal river, the large pond Man sagar, artificial water containers and fountains supply the city and its green surroundings with drinking and industrial water. The water of the upper river, the favorable climate, the cleanliness of the broad flagstone roads, the numerous gardens, the large squares, the road illuminations — all these advantages combine to make Jaipur a very healthy city.

In Jaipur that was like all Rajput cities was heavily fortified and enclosed by a tall wall two strange aspects are remarkable: namely the broad streets built at right angles which seemed to belong more to a modern city than here and the shared rose colored paint of the houses. The latter tastelessness dates back to the visit of the Prince of Wales when on the order of the maharaja all buildings had to be painted in the same color, even though, it is said, many houses had had interesting old frescoes. Thus the maharaja Ram Singh’s preference for rose or more correctly strawberry colors has soiled the whole city. Also of poor taste is a sign of „Welcome“ that is visible from every spot in the city and had also been painted for the honor of the Prince of Wales into the mountain side in giant dimensions with white rocks and white oily colors. For my honor, the sign had been refreshed.

O the day of our arrival colors by the way played a role in another aspect in Jaipur. They celebrated at the moment over several days the so called Holi feast, a spring feast of the Hindus that starts with masquerades and dances and often escalates into real orgies in which huge quantities of alcohol are consumed. The activity of the feast consists mainly in the citizens throwing a red powder called  phag or abir at each other — the left overs of the colors used by the priest to decorate the idol of Krishna during the feast. The consequence is that the majority of the population presents itself with their faces and clothes covered in red powder. Even though the color red is preferred in this joke, dark-blue, green and yellow are not frowned upon either. One can even see boys during the Holi feast covered in hideous manner in all colors of the rainbow go from house to house in the company of music bands. The maharaja uses to participate on the first day by personally throwing powder in the streets.

It is told that the maharaja of Indor tested a very strange summary practice during the last feast of Holi to provide his women the pleasure of being dusted with red powder at the same time. He had the women led to a courtyard, loaded a cannon with red powder and fired it into the poor beings of whom around twelve died for this „joke“.

The maharaja received me, expecting my return visit, surrounded by his dignitaries in an open hall of pillars of the palace. At the court of Jaipur, they have this laudable practice of having lots of dancers perform in front of the throne chairs during state visits. A spectacle that attracts naturally all attention of the people present and thus permits to limit the exchange of courteous phrases to the minimum necessary.

Still during the performance, a message arrived that confirmed the presence of a tiger close to the city and that we should make haste to go to the hunting ground. Quickly we made our compliments to the maharaja and rushed to the residence to get rifles and hunters and then drove South-east for about 7 km beyond the city to a spot where horses were waiting for us. On the way we drove past numerous ruins of temples and palaces among which that ancient one that rises out of a pond is particularly noteworthy.

Following a well maintained road on horseback we crossed the picturesque hilly countryside. In the first valley which we entered after going over a ridge of the hill range is a pond enclosed by tall trees in a nice manner. The pond is closed by an embankment that holds back the water coming down from the hills. Above the pond, on an incline of the wooden hill rises the now deserted palace built by Man Singh in the year 1600 at the time when Amber still was the capital of the kingdom and was inhabited by the maharajas. The short time left did not allow us to visit the interior of this famous building, its courts, halls and pavilions. From outside we could only observe the huge dimensions of this princely palace with its long multi-storeys that reminded me of the buildings in Jodhpur and Gwalior.

The city of Amber, located at the western end of the pond,  is destroyed in the largest part today and bare, only a few priestly families live around a few of the numerous palace and temple ruins that are grouped picturesquely between leafy trees. Their pointy domes, pillars, small towers and terraces are characteristic for the former greatness and beauty. Almost completely preserved are the ancient city gates as well as the fortifications which run in a zig-zag from strategically selected points in the back of the city on the hills.  These forts with their numerous small works and watch towers which send their flanking walls with crenellated watchtowers out into the valley look down as if in proud grief upon the remains of the once so splendid Amber, which now is dead and deserted, a solemn monument to the spectator about the fate of large cities.

The road became worse and more stony so that we could advance only step by step until we finally arrived at the hunting ground where we mounted elephants. The location of the drive — a jungle-like overgrown mountain side that led into some sort of valley basin — was promising; less attractive were the artificial preparations made and which were not fit for a tiger hunt. There were two large hunting platforms made out of tall planks to which led a small sand covered foot path that had been slashed into the thick jungle. If one considers how long the natives must have used in their usual laggardness to construct such an installation and the noise they must have made in doing so must have reverberated across the valley. Thus there was no doubt that any tiger living here must have been disturbed greatly. It will also have had ample time to inspect those artificial installations closely so that it will never be in their proximity again.

The terrain was well enclosed; on the one side there was an old fortress wall on the other a rocky ledge and in the valley it was closed by a long row of elephants. The result of the drive went according to my misgivings. A large number of drivers had been used; among them multiple hundreds of soldiers which thrashed through the jungle with their sabres. Everywhere there was much shouting, small rockets were fired, music bands were playing — but the tiger made no appearance near the platforms on one of which I had taken up position while the other gentlemen were on the second one. For one moment, there had been a great commotion among the drivers. It was said that the tiger had escaped towards the rear. The drivers were sent back and forward again which they did at an even slower pace and with more prudence than before but with the same negative result as during the first time. When the drive ended, I bagged a sambar deer fleeing from the drivers nearby.

In the most wonderful moonshine we rode home. Like in a dream the quiet lake lay in front of us below the mountain castle and the ruins of the city — a view that partly compensated for the hunting failure.

Links

  • Location:  Jaipur, India
  • ANNO – on 03.03.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Emperor and the Empress paid a visit to beautiful Chillon castle in Switzerland. The Empress shopped a lot, considered habitual by the reported.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a drama „Deborah“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents again Gounod’s „Margarethe (Faust)“.

Jodhpur, 1 March 1893

While the larger part of our group rode out for a morning pigsticking, I wanted to hunt close to Jodhpur with Wurmbrand on the advice of a few shikaris. We drove about 3 km outside the city in the company of the resident who did not participate actively in the hunt due to his fragility. There we were received by the drivers and the hunting master, a very young man whose disheveled looks made him half a shikari but we later learned that he occupied the position of a commander of all the infantry in Jodhpur.

The hunting ground was a sandy moor with sparse bushes. Only now and then there was a field or ein dry area with high grass. At first we met only an incredible number of reddish brown rats that had their burrows in the sand and hurried around without interruption. Then there were numerous quails in the high grass of whom I shot quite a few. Otherwise it looked quite bleak in regard to the promised game. I then shot some eagles and falcons that were of species unknown to me.  Finally not even the quails made their appearance any more so that after wading for over three hours I was returning not much satisfied to Jodhpur when a herd of chinkara gazelles became visible in the distance. We quickly decided to appropriate a wagon with a zebu ox team in whose cover we approached the shy game so that I could bag a strong male.

Excited by my hunting success, the shikaris now led us to a new hunting location where we met a number of gazelle herds and shot some bucks and females at a distance. In the heat of the hunt, the hunting party had spread out so that the individual shooters were no longer aware of the others and fired vividly at the gazelles but in the direction of the other hunters.  This resulted in bullets criss-crossing the air and everyone, even those that might be great heroes otherwise, thought their safety in flight.

After this cheerful episode, I drove to Mandur, located about 5 km to the north of Jodhpur in the hillside. Once the prosperous residence of the princes of the kingdom of Marwar,  the city decayed having been devastated repeatedly during the wars of the Rajputs since Rao Jodha had shifted his residence to Jodhpur. Today only parts of the former palace and fort as well as the burial grounds and grave monuments of the princes remain. Eight of those grave monuments are in good condition. They lie close to each other and display a mix of different styles, reminding me of Sas Bahu temple in Gwalior in their main style. These are Jaina buildings on whose exteriors everywhere appear numerous figures from the Indian sagas.

On the spot where those mausoleums stand is the place where the princes after their death and their wives were burnt. The 120 wives of the maharaja Jaswant Singh, however, are said to have regarded the fire death as a holy duty so that they marched on foot to the distant Kabul where their lord and master had died to be burnt there as the saga tells it. The most outstanding cenotaphs are that of maharaja Takat Singh (died 1873), on whose grave the princely family and the dignitaries offer sacrifices and presents twice per year as well as those of Rao Maldeo, Mota Radscha Ude Singh, Sur Singh and Dewal (sanctuary) Ajit Singh, remarkable by its beautiful architecture and size .

Between the fruit gardens one sees the remains of the former palace. There stood surrounded by high shadow giving trees a sort of pavilion decorated with cut out ornaments from Agra. Then followed parts of buildings and temples with deep now ruined water basins. A certain contrast to the otherwise quiet places and rooms is formed by a temple still visited by believers today which has awfully painted high reliefs in vermilion and gold leaves of the faces of the goddess Kali, Krishna and the elephant god. A wild looking fakir with a mane sits here chanting renouncing the world on a raised stone, living from alms.

The temple continues the well conserved gallery of gods and heroes with images of the first Rajputana princes in larger than life lightly painted high reliefs made out of plaster which is glazed over by stone ware. All princes have fierce expressions and are on horseback with rich weapons as well as various attributes of their power. The creator of these works of art seems to have made a mistake in the coloring of the horses as all horses are either sky-blue or rose-red. Of interest is the observation that the clothes, weapons, jewelry and armor of the riders who used to wear them hundreds of years ago differ but little from those in use today.

While the pulsating life of people in western countries brings change at a fast pace that lead to deep changes in various areas, the native culture and art in India changes but little even during the passing of centuries.  This slow progress of the popular culture rests both on the reason that culture and art have deep roots dating back to ancient times and that the Indians cherish their traditions and customs partly due to their deep connection with religion partly due to the caste system which transmits everything from generation to generation.

On the way back to our camp we were approached by a brother of the maharaja, Kishur Singh, a very jovial gentleman with a friendly smile in front of his country house. He greeted us which made me sacrifice another handkerchief to the sandalwood oil and I was finally covered with flowers and garlands like an opera diva by Kishur and all his entourage.

In the evening the full moon spread its mild light over our camp, the fort and the many surrounding fortifications which rose in ghostly shapes on the horizon. A deep quietness only now and then broken by the howls of a jackal or the chirp of a little owl. After I had completed the letters to be sent home, I wandered around for a long time in thoughts and dreams among the outworks of the fort.

Links

  • Location:  Jodhpur, India
  • ANNO – on 01.03.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Austrian Emperor is travelling incognito as a „Bavarian Prince“ to Switzerland to meet the Empress. After a short stop in the morning in Zurich, the Emperor arrived in Territet at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. The Emperor will probably stay there until the 5th of March. Arm in arm, the Emperor and the Empress walked to the Hôtel des Alpes.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a drama „Die Ahnfrau“ (as a replacement), while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents „Der Postillon von Longjumeau“.

Jodhpur, 28 February 1893

Next to Ajmer the railway meets the spurs of the Arawali mountains that constitute the western border of the huge plain of the Ganges river. Composed out of shale, quartz and gneiss, the Arawali mountains is remarkable geologically through its folds, geographically due to its separator role between East Rajputana and the plains of Marwar which already are part of the desert or more correctly the basin of the Thar desert. The ridge of the Arawali may once in an earlier era have constituted the sea coast in which the hill lands of Jodhpur may have been an island. Scarcely cultivated and inhabited, poor in water and rich in sand, this part of West Rajputanas we were crossing apparently has the same landscape character as the land around Alwar. The valley of a width of 16 to 24 km seem to be enclosed by mountain ridges; cultivated land alternates with extended areas of moors that offer domicile where sweet water and bushes provide drink and cover  to whole packs of wild boars as well as gazelles and black-bucks.

From far away we could already see, across the empty plain, the sandstone hills, the castle hill, the fort and individual palaces of Jodhpur. At 9 o’clock in the morning our train rolled into the station.

On the platform we were received by Jaswant Singh Bahadur, the maharaja of Jodhpur or as his reign is also called of Marwar, the British resident Colonel Abbott and the dignitaries of the powerful Rajput princes. All wore their fashionable national costumes; the dress of the maharaja was decorated with precious emeralds and rubies. The reception was sparkling in any dimension. Outside the station a large crowd was expecting us while troops formed a cordon. These soldiers as well as our escorts were part of the cavalry regiment which the maharaja provides to the English government. Richly decorated elephants with valuable gild-embroidered blankets and the princely stable have also been present en pleine parade. The cavalry regiment looks splendid and is the most beautiful I have yet seen in India. Made up of through and through well bred persons  on excellent mostly local horses. The uniform consists of a white coat with salmon red belts and white trousers, light gray turbans with a silver aigrette; the armament were lances with pennons and carbines – a picturesque sight.

The conversation with the maharaja, who seems to be around 50 years of age and has a shaggy black beard and looks sinister into the world, was dragging itself out as Crawford had to translate every word into Hindustani.

The Rajputana state Marwar or Jodhpur, apparently founded by Rao Siaji, a nephew of maharaja Jaj Chands, king of Kanauj on the right bank of the Ganges river. Founded in the year 1211 AD it has since been conspicuous for the bravery of its princes and warriors.

Among the princes of Jodhpur are most remarkable: Rao Jodha, the founder of the new capital named after him, Jodpur (1459); Rao Maldeo, during whose reign the Grand Mughal Akbar made war on Marwar (1561); Rao Maldeo’s son, Chander Sen who resisted the Grand Mughal for 17 years; Rao Ude Singh, who was given the title of Mota Raja and new lands by the Grand Mughals; Sur Singh (died 1620) and Gaj Singh, whose son (died 1638), called Dalthamban, »the defence of the enemy«, both great warriors; the equally learned and militant Jaswant Singh who came to power in 1638 and was feared even by Aurengzeb, and finally Takat Singh (died 1873), of a side line of the ruling dynasty who chose the English side during the uprising of 1837. The son of Takat Singh is the ruling maharaja, under whose government  Jodhpur,  with a few cloudy exceptions,  has been associated with England by a peace treaty in the year1803 and remains faithful to the British crown, has undertaken modern reforms and continues to bloom in a peaceful manner.

We saw then the descendant of the Rathors, Jaswant Singh, a principal tribe of the old Aryan sun dynasty, a great nephew of the sun kings whose actions are sung about in the national epic Ramayana, whose cities and residences used to fill the area of the two rivers Ganges and Yamuna in the distant past. The not especially numerous Rajputs are of a noble blood and are not only acknowledged by the people but also by old English  genealogical works as the descendants of the glorious dynasty of the very ancient sun kings.

The house of Jaswant Singh is among the blooming powerful and respected royal houses of  Rajputana and is able to trace his lineage to truly royal blood. Still despite the marriage arrangements between the members of the house and the Mughal dynasty there have been  repeated conflicts and wars between Jodhpur and Udaipur as the ruling family of Udaipur, also proud about its pure blood lineage, considered any relation with the Jodhpur dynasty that was now related to the house of the Grand Mughals as a misalliance. This conflict could only be resolved in the manner that the sons from marriages with princesses from the house of Udaipur were given precedence in the succession among the princes of Jodhpur.

The state of Jodhpur covers around 95.000 km with about three million inhabitants among which are 86 percent Hindus, in the majority Rajputs, 10 percent Jainas and 4 percent Muslims. Grain, opium, some cotton, tobacco and sugar cane, fruit, cattle, hides and wool, marble ware from Makrana, as well as salt are the main product of the land. Great salt deposits are at the bottom of the basin which are laid bare by weathering out. During the rainy season the basin forms the Sambar lake of 480 km2. The commercial exploitation of these deposits that produce on average 300.000 English tons of table salt annually  has been transferred to the English government in the year 1870. It manages and exploits this largest of all Indian salt works in a rational manner.

A few irregulars excepted, the army numbers 256 artillerymen with 75 usable guns, 3162 cavalrymen on horses and camels and 3653 infantrymen. Plus the maharaja provides a regiment of 600 cavalrymen for the use of the English government — perhaps the best mounted and equipped troops in the Imperial Service Troops in India, the contingents of the Indian princes under supervision by the English government.

Besides the ceremonial carriage on the right rode the maharaja’s brother, Maharaj Adhiraj Colonel Sir Pratap Singh, the all powerful reformer of Jodhpur who combines an number of titles in his person. He is the first minister (Awal Musahib) in charge of the administration and commands also all the troops of his brother whose advisor he is in all manners. An  energetic, expressive face confirms the chancellor and generalissimus of Jodhpur’s capabilities in all his jobs. He rode a beautiful English thoroughbred that he has bought on the occasion of the jubilee of the queen in England. On the left of the carriage rode Harji Singh, an adjutant of the maharaja, an exceptionally beautiful young man who excels in all kinds of sports, namely at polo and pigsticking, as a true Rajput confirming edginess and endurance an is said to be unsurpassed in his performance. A born rider, he makes an excellent figure in the saddle has enviable posture and seems to have merged with his horse.

In some kind of garden, Paota Bag, close to Rai-ka Bag,  the residence of the maharaja in the East of the city, a tent camp had been set up in Indian splendor and waste of space that formed a small city of its own, like the others already used. In my house completely covered with precious rugs I found a number of Geneva play clocks and works which seemed to be a special preferred toy of the maharaja. In front of the tent camp a park-like avenue with water fountains, marble statues and shade-giving trees; everywhere stood wagons, riding horses even bicycles at our convenience; complete caravans of camels carried without interruption water in large gourds to bind the nasty dust.

A half hour after my arrival the maharaja appeared in a sparkling attire surrounded by dignitaries and his personal guards to pay his official visit to me which went according to the local protocol. He and I on two throne chairs. On the right of us the European, on the left of us the Indian entourage; some translated phrases as a binder. During an artificial break, the English resident rose and presented me to the Indian courtiers. I then handed attar and pan to the maharaja, garlanded him with flowers and offered him a few drops of the mean sandalwood and rose oil on his handkerchief. Official visits are usually the only occasion for Indians to use this object of civilization. Usually they are satisfied with simpler means.

The visit had to naturally be followed by a return visit, to which I was escorted by two native gentlemen to the residence of the maharaja under the uninterrupted saluting thunder of the batteries at the court of justice, a building constructed only recently in Indian style.

This palace is a strange round building with also round projecting towers which resembles a greenhouse or an exhibition pavilion. The glaring white paint blinds the eye by its reflection of the sun light. In the souterrain were open galleries for horses. On a very steep stone ramp without steps which led directly to the first floor, my friend Jaswant Singh received me, while his soldiers presented arms in the courtyard and a regimental band played our anthem as a quick polka. The first floor of the palace contains only a round reception hall with small side rooms which are decorated with rather tasteless European images and knick-knacks. The return visit differed from the visit to the maharaja only that it was my turn to suffer in that I was marked with sandalwood oil and chewed betel for the first time accepting the danger of having my teeth turn red. I found it incredibly hot and tasting acerbic as well as making thirsty.

Among all the natives of India which I have seen up to now I prefer the Rajputs of which only relatively few are of pure blood descent whereas every other Hindu who has come into wealth and honor tries to add to his luster by an apocryphal Rajput pedigree. The men are tall, strong, lean with black mustaches and full beards which they brush upwards in an original manner and even bind around their ears. They have a martial, soldierly posture differing positively from the rest of the mostly flabby and casual Hindus. Their bearing is striking at first sight and is probably due to their century-old occupation in wars. Always the various princes and tribes, even neighboring villages, have lived in wild feud amongst one another. Always there was war,  raids and bloody enterprises. Even today where not even ten thousand true Rajputs are serving in the English Sepoy army, every male Rajput carries his sharp sword. Even the coachman on his seat carries a sword in his belt. Also the character of the land is witness to the struggles of times past as every city, even every small village, every palace is fortified with walls, ditches and bastions in the most inventive way. On numerous mountains one can still see ring walls and observation towers as well as small castles which the individual princes had built against the raids of their unruly neighbors.

The martial character of the Rajputs is apparently linked to their excellent riding skills. Nowhere have I seen such skilled natural riders, so good and well kept horses as in Jodhpur. During the present peaceful time the Rajputs are devoted to riding sports and are  keen in pigsticking, as well as polo in which they beat all Englishmen thanks to their riding skills. Most prominent in riding activities are Sir Pratap Singh and Harji Singh, as well as Major Beatson, a charming and brave officer who has assimilated to the local customs and passions, rides together with the natives and enjoys their special confidence and respect. He has been sent to Jodhpur three years ago to organize the Imperial Service Troops of this state. Major Beatson told me that it was a true pleasure working with the people of Jodhpur. They had shown so much goodwill and it had been very easy to build an excellent troop.

The rest of the day was spent in visiting the city and its sights. The city has around 60.000 inhabitants and is situated on the southern foot of the mountain ridge which rises out of the plain. It is enclosed by a long wall with seven gates. First I guided my steps to the bazaar, the place in Indian cities where the soul of the people displays itself in its original manner and offers rich material for the ethnographic collector.

Jodhpur is remarkable as the location of a developed commercial activity which is performed by a notable part of the inhabitants as overall an important part of the population of India is actively seeking employment in the enterprises of various industries.

Trade of all kind, from the trade in field products against simple goods up to the speculation in world trade goods and railway stocks, mortgages and bills of exchange is the job of around ten million Indians of different races, castes and confessions. The merchants who deal wholesale and do money-lending are since ancient times Mahajan, »big men«, as are the grocers, traders, marketeers, peddlers all organized in castes according to industry and united in guilds and associations. The influence of them in commerce is so important that for the main trading spots even European firms join them.

Ranked below the Brahmins and the Rajputs, the nobles, the bankers (Parikh) as well as the merchants (Rakam bechnewala) and money changers (Sarraf) play as an important role in the cities as the retail traders (Churdafarosh), the resellers, the shop keepers and the money lenders do in the plains. The kings of the Indian trade are the Parsi merchants whose bills of exchange are respected in the Anglo-Indian empire as well as in London and in the Chinese harbors. For the wealth and the munificence of these Parsis numerous public buildings and foundations are testimonies. The most numerous of the traders‘ castes are those of the Baniyas who mostly engage in export. The most original figures are among the Bandscharis, a sort of freight handlers who are well armed and brave and travel across the country in ox caravans.

Across Thar desert on whose edge lie the growing cities of Rajputana move from Afghanistan, Herat, Kabul, Ghasna, Kandahar and from Kelat in Baluchistan trading caravans to the enticing rich lands between the rivers of Hindustan, guarding their wares, their animals and women with care and looking in the sandy hills for fountains, bushes and prairie grass; making a stop where peasants in the scarce villages have dug for drinking water to irrigate gardens and offer a drink to humans and the animals. Hyenas and wolves are criss-crossing the plains of Thar; more dangerous than the predators are the Rajput thieving knights for the caravans and the herds in their meadows. Living in their tiny old castles and ambushing with their men and ambushing the retail traders and the shepherds to plunder them.

How important the development of the trading spirit in Marwar has been since ancient times, is shown in the name of all traders in North-western India which are called Marwani, derived from  Marwar (Jodhpur). Today, however, Marwar has long lost its importance as a focal trading location in North-western India. Instead it is neighboring Ajmer with its Jaina merchants and its famous bazaar palaces which is reputed to be the  main money market of Rajputana.

Still there is much activity going on in the bazaar of Jodhpur among sellers and buyers, whereas the sellers are divided into categories in the different parts of the bazaar or more precisely in their own bazaars. We walked through the bazaar of the cobblers and tanners, situated outside the city gate. The cobblers and tanners are among the lowest castes as they are considered unclean due to them treating the hides of holy animals. Furthermore we visited the bazaar for metal wares, that of the money changers and the food sellers etc.

In the middle of the city I had multiple opportunities to admire the rich ornaments on the fronts of the stone house as well as the beautiful gates decorated with metal. Nearly every house looks like a work of art. Multiple larger palaces of rich Rajputs are notable by their extensive ornamentation and which often includes on the right and left side of the gate stone elephants with mahaut and hauda at an impressive size. Many days one could spend to observe the original and interesting forms of the houses and memorize them.

My sightseeing led me, accompanied by a cheering and shouting crowd into a side street where a native made a sign to approach to show us an old strange fountain which is built in three levels one on top of the other formed by pillars and whose water levels leads through fifty steps. The water seemed bad and foul. That, however, did not hold back a number of Hindu women to bath in the fountain in very airy costumes and to wash their clothes. In this activity, these naiads of Jodhpur were not only disturbed in their activity and work but had to endure the sneering laughter of the crowd which had followed us to the fountain.

One peculiarity of Jodhpur is the small number of religious buildings. A few larger temples apart, among which it is worth to mention the temple that contains the university of Telaiti-ka-mahal, one can see only now and then small house chapels dedicated to the elephant god. The reason for this is the character of the Rajputs who despite religious beliefs were opposed to the creeping influence of the Brahmins and therefore did not encourage the construction and maintenance of temples.

In this the inhabitants of Jodhpur are supported by their current minister Maharaj Sir Pratap Singh who is trying to limit the bogus activities of the Brahmins who are intent on exploiting the believers.

Sir Pratap Singh, a widely travelled man who had visited also our own imperial city and knew to talk about it with pleasure displays a keen knowledge of human nature, a clear view and practical sense. It is due to him that the pomp of the marriage ceremonies that used to take days and vere always very costly even ruinous even for very wealthy families has been forbidden by the government and the act of marriage made into a simple procedure. For the execution of this reform, Sir Pratap Singh himself gave a good example by having his daughter marry without festivities and on the day of marriage had the groom and bride kneel and gave them his blessing and declared them man and wife. This clearly simple procedure served as a drastic example for the population in combination with the general prohibition, so that the wasteful and often quite raw traditional marriage feasts in Jodhpur have come to an end.

Through various small alleys in which always curious faces stared out of the houses, we came to the foot of the mountain on which lies the fort with its towers, walls and palaces proudly looking down upon the city. Majestically it rises a nearly impregnable castle with 100 m high walls and strong towers on stone cone. whose northern face falls almost vertically to the plain. A steep, paved path covered by the gates led close to the dropping sides of the stone in numerous curves in a zig-zag manner up to the fort. Every gate on this ascent has living quarters for the guards and is armed with antiquated guns. Some of the external gates are covered with iron spikes like in Gwalior which also serve the purpose to defend against charging elephants during a siege.

As my companion, Major Beatson, a thorough expert on the history of Jodhpur, told me that in an earlier attack on the fort it proved futile to crash one of the gates due to these iron spikes. Finally a number of courageous Rajputs had bound cloth around the eyes of their horses to get past this obstacle and rode with force against the gate and the lower iron studded planks and crashed through even though it crushed horse and rider in the breach.

On the walls of the uppermost gate through which one enters the interior of the fort one can see the impression of tiny female hands. These hand signs covered in golden and silver colors is a reminder of a sad chapter in India’s moral history, about Sati or the burning of widows whose incredible practice is derived from the the voluntary death in the fire of Sati the niece of Brahma and is considered so holy by orthodox Hindus even today so that despite the actions of the English governments which punishes promoters of Sati as murderers a case of widow burning happened not long ago. Here in the castle of Jodhpur every widow of a maharaja put her hand colored red upon the white washed wall before she went up to the pyre. These only marks of their earthly presence of their female being destroyed by fire was seen as a sign of marital fidelity and embellished with gold and silver for the highest veneration. What horrible pain of death had these poor victims of fanatical blindness  to endure on their last walk. What anguish had these youthful hearts of these poor women to go through in view of the burning pyre amidst a shouting crowd, whose hot flames would soon consume her cruelly and turn her into a heap of dead ashes!

After our pass through the gate we met a guard consisting of artillerymen. From here it continued between high walls to the palace which was inhabited from the time of Rao Jodha, the founder of the fort (1459), to Takat Singh (died 1873) by the maharajas. The exterior of this sandstone building has been richly decorated with ornaments whose delicate patterns reminded me of the wall ornaments in Agra. The interior of the palace holds rich treasures, precious weapons, gems and jewels.

Even though the weapon collection is displayed in a semi-dark room, we were still able to survey the weapons collections, especially the very rich and interesting collection. Next to the entrance all, the visitors to this admirable collection will notice that strangely formed lances and beautifully carved powder horns made out of ivory or sea shells. Furthermore there were multiple splendid specimens of those characteristic Rajput swords in numerous display cases. Plus outstanding blades richly in-laid with gold  as well as knives with beautiful stone grips. A completely gilded armor reminds one in the construction and  the painting of the desired kind reminds people that they were promised certain advantages.

The most valuable in the armor hall are the rifles which show the development of guns in Rajputana from ancient times to the present. Arquebuses of the most primitive kind with narrow short barrels are examples of the first guns. Then followed a number of muskets with flintlock mechanisms and strangely crescent-shaped barrels of whose form I was unaware. The rifles used by the maharajas for hunting are decorated over and over especially on the locks and the barrel with rich gold ornaments. From the smallest carbine to the long duck hunting rifles, all types and all kinds of Indian guns are represented. Among the newer hunting rifles one finds many European makes here which despite its oriental splendor have been crafted in London or Suhl. Finally there also shields, spears, lances and strangely shaped maces.

Remarkable is the content of the safely kept treasury. The range of the collected valuables can be explained by the fact that the maharajas of Jodhpur, despite ruling over only a small territory, have participated in the campaigns across half of India under the Grand Mughals Akbar, Jehangir, Aurengzeb and temporarily have been vice-kings of Dekhan, Mahva and Gujerat. As mighty warlords, governors and courtiers, the maharajas acquired partly as spoils of war partly as gifts these treasures which would be the pride of every imperial palace. The value of the precious stones, jewels and pearls in the treasury of Jodhput is said to be many millions but remains unknown as the superstitious belief of the Rajputs prevents the creation of an estimate which is said to bring ill luck. A single collier of emeralds and pearls with diamond drops in the size of dove eggs which the son of the maharaja wore during my reception may be worth  400.000 to 500.000 guilders. Of such colliers, the treasure counts at least a dozen. At its side are sparkling a number of diadems one of which, decorated with gorgeous diamonds and rubies, was particularly impressive. Furthermore there are six display cases filled with the most valuable agraffes, bracelets, braces, rings and jewels of all kinds. Marked by the clarity, fire, color, pure water, in short all the advantages, the precious stones held here gain in value and beauty by their tasteful fittings. Shields, dinner services and fittings out of pure gold, real gems of the enamel industry of Jaipur, ceremonial harnesses made out of silver for horses and elephants, silver and golden tent poles complete the glittering collection of the treasury whose splendor and pomp is characteristic for the court of Jodhpur.

The remaining rooms of the castle palace whose architectural and ornamental decoration is due to the maharajas Takat, Ajit and Abhey  offered our now already quite demanding eyes not much that is remarkable. Only a thoroughly in gold decorated chamber with facet mirrors whose wall ornaments should drastic scenes from Indian sagas and the lives of the maharajas is worthy of mention here. A true joy was the panoramic view from the flat roof of the palace over Jodhpur and the surrounding area. Towards the south and east one can see the sharply delineated bare mountains covered in walls and castles. Towards the north and west extends the plains of the Thar region in whose yellow glittering area cone-shaped hills surrounded by areas of blue air emerge like giant mole hills. At our feet, all around the abruptly falling sides of the castle hill is the city of Jodhpur.

The sight from there is captivating and unique. We miss the grandiose lines, the audacious profiles, the melting colors of the high altitude mountain panoramas, but it still makes a strong impression on us by its immense area and its moody colors. Painted yellow in yellow, criss-crossed by glowing points, the melancholic plain extends as far as the human eye can see.

We watched the streets of Jodhpur and the houses  and the stone walls with their bastions which encloses the city. As the main fortification, like an eagle’s nest in the midst above the city towers the castle hill which rises opposite but still within the enclosing walls in the north of the fort where a high stone ledge rises that has been integrated into the system of fortifications as from that position the fort on the castle hill can be taken under fire and has been damaged.  In consideration of this and the fact that more modern further reaching guns can threaten the fort from that knoll, the ruling maharaja has given the order to level the knoll. During our visit in Jodhpur the execution of this gigantic task had already been started. To completely secure the fort, a battery is being built on the northern side which fully covers its area.

Between the knoll and the castle hill lies a small lonely valley in which a large number of undecorated grave monuments are visible — these are the monuments of brave warriors killed during the sieges of the fort, enemies and friends alike have been buried there. The struggle which has cost those men their lives was about water, which broke out about the pond in that valley, apparently valuable enough to spill blood to gain water in this area with scarce sources of water.

Military memories were awakened by the main battery of the fort situated on a small rock ledge which is called „peacock tail“ due to its form (Mordhaj) ; as here on the platform of the main battery there are laying under the open sky all kinds of strange guns from Ahmedabad, Ghasipur and elsewhere.  Each of these guns has a different caliber, an element which must have complicated their use. Similar is only their „beautiful“ pitch black paint. There we were also presented also some kind of mitrailleuse or infernal machine which looked like a peaceful seeding machine. The native artilleryman told me with a smile that the firing of these guns is difficult and may prove more damaging to the crew than to the enemy. Despite all of this, the maharaja is said to be very proud about his battery.

We could observe closely the activities and the swarming in the city below from this spot as the air was completely clear despite the considerable height we were in. We could even hear the usual shouts and noises of the citizens of Jodhpur common to all Indian cities.

Really impressive are the round bastion-like buttresses of the palace that descend below the windows down into the valley. On one of these round pillars I was shown the spot where the maharaja had climbed down on a rope during the night to secretly go to the city while he was still being under close supervision by his educators. For the return to the fort, the palace of his fathers, he used the same means of communication. Given the height difference of around  150 m between fort and valley which the young gentleman managed to cross with only a rope, we congratulated the climber on his imperturbability. The strings that attracted him so powerfully to the city so that he did not fear from such a daring undertaking must not have been less strong than the rope which held him during his descent and climb.

On a less strange serpentine road than the one we used in the ascent to the fort we descended to the city, crossed Jodhpur and went to a large field of grass outside the city walls where a game of polo was to be played in my honor. I was fascinated and enchanted by the skill of the local players and some of the Englishmen living in Jodhpur. Among all, the riding skills of Harji Singh and minister Sir Pratap Singh who counted more than fifty years but sent his horse flying like a young man and Major Beatson were all outstanding.

Despite the sharp turns and parades at the quickest pace, the players did not handle their horses roughly. They instead guided them with an astonishing smoothness and skill. We watched the captivating game for more than an hour and half.

Then it was time to return to the camp as the maharaja had announced his presence at a gala dinner at my place but he did not eat with us as a devout Hindu but only appeared at the end of the dinner when the mutual toasting started. Here the toast of the maharaja was not said by him personally as he did not speak English but by minister Sir Pratap Singh in his stead. An interpreter also translated the exciting conversation I had with the maharaja who despite his gruff exterior proved to be a friendly and witty gentleman.

After the dinner a large „nach“ feast surprised us. For that purpose a huge tent of a diameter of nearly 60 m had been set up in which the dancers performed in torch light and to monotonous music their not very moving art. The usual nasal singing was also not missing. The maharaja keeps a whole legion of dancers whose beauty is highly questionable. Age-wise all stages are represented in the court ballet corps of Jodhpur from children to matrons. In one aspect these ladies are different than the other representatives of dance in India, namely by them wearing an almost frightening number of skirts that turns their appearance into moving bells and that swirl around during the dance. Very comical was the enthusiasm of an elderly chief director or dancing master who pushed those ladies who wanted to take a break due to their exhaustion back into the round dance.

Links

  • Location:  Jodhpur, India
  • ANNO – on 28.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a drama „Kriemhilde“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents „Bastien und Bastienne“ as well as „Freund Fritz“.

Alwar, 19 February 1893

At 7 o’clock in the morning I was awakened with the news that we would soon arrive in Alwar. I dressed quickly and observed the changed landscape through the window of my compartment — steep hills rising out of the plain everywhere. They are stony and only covered with little vegetation. Some have sharply marked forms and contours. In the fields beside the railway tracks are prancing around numerous holy peacocks.

The state of Alwar ruled by a prince dependant on the British is one of the states of Rajputana, that large territory in the Northwest of continental India between the Yamuna and Indus river which reaches to the Tharr desert, the „Indian Sahara“, on whose border important developments took place. Among the nineteen protectorates of Rajputana, divided into seven British agencies, I name as especially remarkable: Jodhpore, Marwar, Jaipur, Mewar, Bikanir, Dholpur, the already mentioned Bhartpur and Alwar. Ajmere is already part of British territory.

Alwar, located in an area lacking water at the foot of a 400 m high conical hill topped by Fort Alwar and covered by a pointy mountain range has been founded at the end of the last century by Pratap Singh — from the house of Naruka descended from Udaikaran of Jaipur (1367 to 1388) — a vassal  prince of the maharaja of Jaipur. Insubordinate and ambitious, Pratap Singh emigrated and fortified himself on the spot where now stands Alwar and founded the still existing state after the Grand Mughal of Delhi had granted him a charter. Alwar’s princes are part of the parvenus and can not claim, though of noble blood, famous ancestors like for instance the Maharaja of Jhodpur who can apparently trace his lineage back to the  fourth century or like the prince of Udaipur whose ancestors have verifiably ruled already in the eighth century.

The states of the Rajputana agency are as stated guided by the English. But this is exercised in a mild, considerate and friendly manner as the princes of Rajputana  (royal sons) in general look kindly upon England and namely because their territory filled with warriors acts as a buffer towards the wild Afghans.

The current ruling maharaja of Alwar, Jai Singh, the son and successor to Sawai Mangal Singh (died 1892), famous both as a rider and tiger hunter and as a competent ruler and soldier — the last quality has made him a colonel in the English army — is a  Rajputan from the „sun family“ of that Kachwaha tribe which has founded the throne in Gwalior and still prospers today in Doäb in the land between the rivers Ganges an Yamuna.

Jai Singh is said, even though he is only about twelve years old, to have behaved very dignified and highly energetically after the death of his father and the accession to the throne. There exists here the strange custom that the ruler has to shoot a hare at the accession to the throne in front of the assembled people; if he hits, this is considered good fortune. Should he miss, however, this would be a bad sign. At this oracle-like inauguration of his government, Jai Singh knew how to control himself despite the stress that overcomes such a young boy in such a case so that he succeeded in his prophetic master shot.

At Alwar station I was received by the youthful hero of that episode and also by the English agent in Alwar, Colonel Fraser, who supervised the government of the country during the minority of the prince together with a council of local dignitaries.  Members of the council were present too at my festive reception. Jai Singh is a handsome boy with an intelligent open face whose character can in my opinion best qualified as „nice“.

Outside the station a honor guard company of giant Rajputs with full black beards, a squadron of cavalry — the soldiers of both units in red coats and turbans  — and a music band had taken up position. The Rajputs were well selected representatives of the warrior-like beautiful men of the country who not so long ago performed martial fights in the manner of our medieval tournaments but have proved themselves as an excellent unit in the modern sense among the new Anglo-Indian direction. The army of Alwar numbers around 8000 men who are under the command of English officers. A whole row of splendidly ornamented government elephants with rich gear, colorful blankets and gilded haudas was also present. Next to them stood strange wagons from the maharaja’s stable, actually two wheeled carts with pointed roofs covered with colorful fixings and zebu oxen as teams.

Opposite of them, splendid horses were parading, on long leashes, with well coiffed manes and tails. Mostly stallions from the ranch nearby. Also a number of court shikaris some with ancient lances some with brand new English rifles had formed up to embellish the festivities. Furthermore there was a troop of camels that had, as I noticed for the first time, cannons or strong charges intended for trombones packed onto their humps. These cannons were later fired during our trip. A colorful vividly moving procession with true Indian pomp and circumstance!

The honorable archbishop of Agra had the kindness as it was Sunday to send me a Capuchin to read mass in a small Catholic chapel. The Catholic community of Alwar state counts all of eleven heads. The good Capuchin was a former subject of Our Majesty the Emperor — he had been born in the Venetian lands at the time of Austrian rule —  gave a simple warm speech after the church service  in which he praised our country and asked for the Lord’s protection for our monarch. I have to admit that it moved me to listen to a priest of my creed in the midst of deepest India, amidst millions of Hindus and Muslims, in a chapel of only a few square meters ch  and hear him pray for Our Majesty.

After the service we drove to the palace of Banni Bilas built by the third ruler of Alwar, Banni Singh, from the house of Naruka. The palace had been given to our disposition. This garden palace outside the city makes a good impression from outside and differs favorably from the otherwise tasteless palaces of the modern Indian era. In the middle of a well maintained park it combines different styles harmoniously  and is notable for the good arrangement of the numerous verandas and bays which make the building look graceful. In front of the main facade of the palace stands  a large marble basin in whose midst rises a kiosk-like marble balcony. The interior of the palace is naturally European in character and displays little taste. From the balcony of my room I had a nice view on the tops of the trees in the park and the stony mountains around the palace with their ruins and forts.

After many days of bad weather the sky had finally turned blue again and the sun was smiling down and warmed the frozen sons of the earth.  As the official program of the morning was complete I used the pause to write letters home. Towards noon I was presented a number of horses from the stable of the  maharaja, products of Indian breeding that is Marwari and Kattywari, the latter one nearly all foxes with tiger stripes on the legs and a dark eel strip on the back. The horses looked splendid, showed good posture, namely beautiful heads and had good but too small feet for their heavy bodies. A rider of the maharaja, a black Rajput, presented the horses and performed with each a small feat of high dressage: one piaffed, the other marched in lancades,  the third stood up on its rear legs, a fourth knelt down and other jokes of this kind.

In the afternoon I paid a visit to the maharaja in his palace called by the English „The Royal Palace“ or „The City Palace“.

Alwar too has, like all the cities seen in India, its peculiarities in its setup and way of construction. new or newly used motifs in decoration of the buildings, which gives the city a peculiar appearance. The variety of the impressions which the visitor receives from these different cities is an important attraction of the Indian city landscapes.I would like to compare it to the attraction of a changing variation of a theme. Especially notable is the palace built by Jeodan Singh (died 1874), the son of Banni Singh, which now serves for the widows of the former one. That palace has numerous small additions and porches with windows as well as delicate ornaments that look like carved ivory.

The youthful ruler received us amidst his dignitaries. In the usual manner we sat together for some time on richly ornamented gilded chairs opposite one another when the maharaja dedicated a copy of the monograph by Th. H. Hendley „Ulwar and its Art Treasures“ (London, W. Griggs 1888) to me, a splendid work which includes illustrations some in color of among others the most precious pieces of the weapon collection, the library and the treasury of Alwar.

On the suggestion of the resident, the maharaja showed me the weapon collection where an old custodian demonstrated the pieces in a comical way. He not only dressed up in them but performed opera-like fighting poses in them. We saw splendid swords with precious blades and gilded handles that had once cost 20.000 rupees as well as small hunting knives, daggers and chainmail shirts.

The largest treasure by far of the palace is the old manuscript collection of the library which have a gild foundation under the writing and include like our old bibles gorgeous miniature illustrations.  The latter ones are so delicately painted and so fresh in color that one finds only in the most outstanding of our medieval manuscripts. Yes, I might in some aspect place those higher as the perspective is realized much better, the understanding much deeper than the artworks produced at the same time at home. With special pleasure I looked at numerous pictures that illustrated legends of the gods or lives of earlier maharajas which showed feasts and precious hunts, battles and campaigns. The most valuable piece of the whole collection is a manuscript dating from 1848, a copy of „Gulistan“ („the rose garden“, one of two main works by the Persian poet Sadi from the 13th century), whose production cost more than 120.000 fl. in Austrian currency,  in part is artfulness is attributed to the skills of a German.

The special circumstance of European influence can confuse the native sense of beauty I could observe in the treasury where the custodians presented as their most outstanding piece a clock in Empire style similar to those built in Geneva. This one contained a singing hummingbird and stood on a silver table over which the imitating floods of water flowed over artificial fishes — an ugly  bauble.

Not much better is the situation of the paintings and ornaments of the palace rooms. While some walls are decorated with impressive portraits of the maharajas, one finds only European common pieces. In the first floor of the palace one is proudly presented a room that contains small mirrors an mosaics of painted ornaments.  Despite its small size, it took thirty years to complete the ornaments of the room.  The artistic work in another room has been going on for more than twelve years without a visible end in sight; even during the visit there were artists present who scraped and painted on their masterwork. Given the work-shyness of the Hindus one could not be surprised by the slow progress of the work. If the work is finally completed, it is praised not even by its maker as its effect is nothing more than handsome and can only be called somewhat exceptional.

What an agreeable contrast to those glittering artificial works is the view from the platform of the palace on its surroundings! Below us the pond of Pratap Singh with wide stairs leading to the water surface and ten kiosks standing on pillars rising out of the water which are connected by runways with the terraces at the edge. On the left side of the palace, the south side of the water basin, stands the delicate mausoleum of Bakhtawar Singh (died 1815); in the West is a Vishnu temple leaning on the castle hill as are the small sanctuaries on the Northern side which are shaded by trees; finally, the charming architectural impression is completed by the fortress walls and the glittering white towers of the castle hill. Steep hill sides with rocky parts and mighty blocks of stone in the background and above it the deep blue sky unite to create with all these buildings a new attractive scenery. Unfortunately we could not enjoy the view on the palace itself and the city as that platform would have offered a view into the women quarters too.

The maharaja accompanied me to the carriage in the horse breeding farm, a large courtyard-like building where multiple hundred stallions and mares, mostly in free range, are held. The animals are bound with rope on their rear legs which is a common custom in India and often leads to rope wounds on the legs and illnesses caused by this custom like hedgehog foot, mallenders etc. Among the horses there are numerous races present from Arab purebloods to the most common nag but for breeding purposes they use almost exclusively Arabs and Kattyvvari. The breeding mares are all bred locally, country stock.

During the visit to the horse breeding farm we were shown animal fights of all kinds, a favorite entertainment of the Rajputs.  Partridges, cocks, rams, which were especially selected strong and mean animals that fought with determination as well as back-bucks that fought one afte the other. Even quails were set up to fight and proved their mettle as the cocks incited by the display of a hen in a cage attacked each other hotly and hit each other with their beaks so that their feathers flew apart. The piece de resistance was however the fight between two buffalo bulls that attacked in blind fervor and tried to pierce one another with their strong curved horns. One of the combatants was soon wounded and bled strongly which made them even angrier. In the decisive moment, the two combatants were separated by the wardens so that the fight ended in a draw.  Very beautiful was the final to this bloody spectacle, the production of trained parrots that could truly do remarkable tricks; one of these smart birds performed like a rope artist while the other arranged glass pearls in a row on a thread. A third one loaded a small cannon and fired it on its own. I admired the courage of the small artilleryman who stood on the barrel in the smoke of the powder.

Similar to the pigsticking, a panther sticking was arranged where a panther caught shortly before in the surroundings of Alwar was to be chased an killed with lances. To this purpose we moved on horse to a large open moor at the limit of the city where the panther was waiting in a cage. It took a long time before he left this protective shell and sneaked outside to flee in small jumps. Soon all riders took up pursuit but after only a few seconds an English captain pierced it in the flank before it could run at full speed. Now the animal crouched like a cat and tried to jump at the circling riders. A skilled strike with the lance by Prónay wounded it so strongly that it perished amidst further strikes. The English gentlemen stood around the poor panther with satisfaction while I could find no pleasure in such a way of hunting. There will never be a running pursuit as the panther will always crouch and be an easy target for a lance. But the English have a predilection for the chase and every kind of animal from the large nilgai to the jackal is chased. Had the panther perished by a bullet of mine I would have felt satisfaction as a hunter while the lance sticking brought out only laments in me about the destruction of a beautiful skin of the animal.

To inspect the two and three year old horses we rode away from the hunting ground to the courts of foals of the ranch. At the signal of a trumpeter a herd of 250 to 300 animals stormed out at full pace out of a pen, jumped over a high clay wall and ran up to the bar where the animals are fed barley, carrots and clover in the morning and the evening. Despite the apparently sufficient food, and all products of the stallion inspected earlier, the animals looked bad and namely thin; some are also, due to the non-noble blood of their mothers, underdeveloped and disfigured.

After our dinner at our palace to which all Englishmen living in Alwar attended, the illumination of the park and the ignition of a firework concluded the day.

Links

  • Ort:  Alwar, India
  • ANNO – on 19.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays „Medea“ and „Der Hexenmeister“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents the opera „Mephistopheles“.

Delhi, 18 February 1893

I had asked to visit an Indian prison. A wish that was granted most willingly by offering me the opportunity to visit a prison in the south of Delhi. We passed the Delhi gate, one of ten gates which are set in the 8,8 km long ring wall around the city. After a short ride through the field of ruins of old Delhi we arrived in front of the prison occupied by around 500 prisoners.

By a double lock gate which is comparable to a double wall we entered the interior and saw something like a formal city quarter of small ground floor buildings intended for housing the prisoners who are separated from each other so that no communication can take place among them while they are under precise supervision from certain central locations.

Generally it is the practice of keeping prisoners isolated for some time to get to know them, I might say, to study their character. In the individual cell the prisoner has to work, namely he has to fulfil a daily quota of grinding corn in a primitive way with two millstones and their hands.  Is he behaving well, he enters into a group cell and work. In the opposite case or if it is clear that the prisoner has a negative influence on his fellow prisoners, he will have to spend all his time in individual cells. Especially hard criminals and those who have escaped before are shackled with heavy iron bars on their feet and kept almost like wild beast in open iron cages on whose end is found a cell with an open hard bed. In one of those cells sat an old man who has broken out already thrice. He devised means to cut the thick iron bars — using wool threads and a mixture of oil, sand and glass splinters which he managed to procure. He rubbed a part of the iron bar for so long until he had worn it out and he could escape. Probably one of the greatest exercises in perseverance! Twice he was successful but the third time he has been caught. Another prisoner had built a key out of discarded lead within three months. But the artful tool has been discovered at the latest moment. An especially wild impression made two Afghans one of which was accused of murder. The other had been sentenced to 37 years of hard labor for a similar crime.

The individual cells contain a bed made out of clay with a stray mat and two covers. The rest of the equipment is a cup and the already mentioned millstone.

One part is reserved for boys among which one can see true rascals. Another part is for habitual criminals who have entered this holy halls repeatedly. A third part, finally, is for women among whom are a number of truly ugly and depraved ones.

The prisoners‘ dress is uniform: It consists of a covering cloth worn over a piece of linen wrapped around the middle of the body. To eat they receive from our point of view a very small ration  of two flat unleavened breads in the morning plus one eighth of a liter Dal (a type of bean) with butter and condiments, at noon a handfull of roasted wheat and in the evening green vegetables with two breads. And still the prisoners are well and look good.

According to the opinion of the prison director the only fault of the prison is treating the prisoners better than their life would be outside. Laments such as those made by the director can be heard also at home where comparisons are often made between the nice life in prison even for hard criminals compared to the life existence of our soldiers in their barracks. I can not really find fault that the humane treatment of hard criminals has gone too far and has lessened the impact of punishment.

I inspected all workshops where the prisoners execute tasks together with the simplest of tools. They produce cartonnage and earthenware, rugs and mats made out of reeds which grows near all rivers. I ordered a great number for the corridors of Konopiste. Their own clothing has to be produced by the prisoners themselves too.

After my return to the city, valuable time was lost in my misleading visiting the city museum of the institute which is in a desolate condition and stood next to Chandni Chowk street. It is difficult to present an overview of all the dirt, the overwhelming desolation an mixture of the motley mammals, birds, cloths, household items and other ethnographic objects. At least one could learn to see what a museum should not look like.

On revient toujours …  also once again paid a visit to Tellery to do some shopping, namely rugs.

Then we watched cock fights organized by natives in out hotel. As cruel this entertainment may be, it isn’t without attraction: with astonishing bravery and combativeness, even rage, the two brave roosters hit one another with beaks and spurs until one of them succumbed.

In the evening the train took us to Alwar, Northwest of Agra, Southwest of Delhi, which lies on the Rajputana-Malwa Railway including Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway that runs by the way of Ahmedabad to Bombay.

Links

  • Location: Alwar, India
  • ANNO – on 18.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The newspapers are gearing up to Pope Leo XIII’s 50th anniversary of consecration as a bishop (and 15th anniversary as pope) on 19th February.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing a comedy „Verbot und Befehl“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing Jules Massenet’s „Manon“.

Delhi, 17 February 1893

As many artillery horse teams had been sent from a neighboring town for pulling our wagons I used this fast means of transport to explore the ruins of Delhi and especially the famous Qutb Minar (Tower of Qutab).

The whole surrounding area of Delhi is a city of ruin composed of the ruins of former palaces and other buildings. Hard to grasp is the number of destroyed mosques, temples and living quarters whose traces and foundations are distinctly visible amidst the trees and bushes. It is the ninth city that rose since the Aryan immigration, always out of the ruins of the precedent city as each of the many conquerors first destroyed what had been there and then created a new and more important city in splendor and expansion. Out of the ruins rise rather many still halfway preserved buildings from the time of the Mughals. Mostly mosques, forts, now and then beautiful grave monuments and parts of palaces. Everywhere dome constructions rule and many of the domes are covered with predominantly blue glaze tiles.

The most beautiful among the monuments is the grave of Emperor Humayun (died 1556), a large building which has a dome in the middle and in the corners eight-sided non-equilateral towers. Among the grave stones, the one of Humayun is notable for its simplicity, a white marble kenotaph without inscription. Close to the grave stands another well preserved beautiful mausoleum which according to legend Humayun had had built for his favorite barber.

As far as history is concerned, the place in front of the mausoleum of Humayun is interesting as the last titular Grand Mughal Bahadur had surrendered there to the English during the rebellion of 1857. The death penalty for Bahadur was transformed into lifelong imprisonment in consideration of the advanced age of the last of the Grand Mughals who died in 1862. The two sons of Bahadur who were captured as well were killed during their transfer to Delhi as the officer in charge of the escort decided to shoot them personally with his pistol given that these important prisoners were on the verge of being liberated by the huge crowds surrounding the wagons.

The whole drive of 17 km from Delhi to Qutab Minar is lined with ruins, as mentioned, so that we looked around the whole time and were attracted by new views all the time.

Already from a distance Qutab Minar is greeting us from a small hill. From afar it looks like a giant factory smoke stack. Up close it causes amazement due to its gigantic forms which have survived soundly through so many centuries. The tower in the form of a round pillar is 84 m, the diameter at the base is 14,3 m, at the top only 2,7 m which can be accessed by a stair of 378 steps. The tower is segmented into five parts marked by galleries; the three lower ones, made out of red sandstone are grooved shafts, the upper two are made out of white marble ornamented with simple grooves. The base of the tower seems to be ornamented with chiseled out koran sayings that cover the grooves up to the first gallery.

About the origin and the purpose behind the construction of Qutab Minar multiple opinions exist. According to one version the tower was intended to serve as a mazina (tower of the muezzin) of the nearby but now ruined mosque Kutab-elIslam (»Pole of Faith«). Others proclaim to know that the tower was built at the end of the 12th century by a prince named Rai Pithora, so that his daughter could watch the holy Yamuna river from the top. An explanation which would be a tribute to the fatherly love of the builder. Another tradition says that Qutab Minar was built by the Hindus and later altered by the Muslims. The presence of numerous ruins of Hindu temples around the tower gives credence to the latter hypothesis, even though one has to note that the tower started by king Kutab-ed-din-Aibak (died 1210) was completed by his favorite slave and inheritor to the crown Altamsch.

Near the already mentioned ruins of the Hindu temples one focuses on  a splendid richly decorated gate constructed by  Ala-ed-din (1295 to 1313), once the entrance to the Kutabel-Islam mosque. Remarkable about this gate is the combination of Hindu architecture with the Muslim style in such a manner that the reliefs dating from older Hindu or Jaina temples are inserted into arches and freezes of the Indian-Saracenic style. Here the sentiment for art has surpassed racial hatred!

A strange object is the famous but controversial „iron pillar“ which is almost 7 m tall and apparently a composition of iron, copper, gold and silver but according to Thompson’s view actually made out of wrought iron. The inscription placed at half the the height of the pillar in Sanskrit preserves the name of the victorious raja Dhawa for all eternity who is said to have erected this „arm of his glory“ in the  4th century. Probably the pillar had once borne a Vishnu statue. A second inscription with the name of Anang Pal, the founder of the Tomara dynasty has originated the common tradition that the „iron pillar“ has been created in 1052 by Anang Pal.

I mention too the small grave with splendid ornamentation of Altamsch and the mausoleum of Adam Khan, a high eight-sided building covered by a dome. This Adam Khan, a descendant of the Timurides and one of the most outstanding generals of Akbar is said to have murdered the father-in-law of the Emperor before his eyes and to have been thrown from the terrace of the palace as a punishment for the crime. In consideration of Adam Khan’s service at the conquest of Sarangpur Akbar is said to have motivated him to construct this monument for his cousin who might have been executed too hastily.

We profaned the building by eating breakfast within its walls. Then we marched through the stony and thorny area to hunt. We split into two parties. Prónay, Stockinger and I chose the hill around Qutab Minar, while the other gentlemen followed a local shikari who had a charming tame gazelle with him to attract game.  The advance in these ruins proved difficult because of the sharp stones, the walls and the copious sharp thorns but our perseverance paid off. I bagged several Indian grey partridges (Ortygornis pondiceriana), as well as four painted sand-grouses (Pterocles fasciatus). After a long march, actually a continuous steeple chase over walls and stones, I returned home with our formidable artillery horse teams  to devote my evening to my writing. To this purpose a warming fire was flickering in the chimney while jackals howled outside my window in a strange concert.

Links

  • Location: Dehli, India
  • ANNO – on 17.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria whose upcoming nuptials was noted yesterday, is sick in bed in Vienna and will be confined to the bed during the next days. The crisis in France fills another three columns of text.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing a combination of three small pieces, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the ballet „Excelsior“.

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“.

Agra, 13 February 1893

The morning was again rather harsh, cold and rainy, very different from what one expects from „Indian weather“ so that we were clad in thick clothes and overcoats and still were cold in our cage palace.

We intended to go to Fatehpur Sikri and took along our rifles as the distance was 36 km, a decision we did not regret. The drive itself offered few attractions;  the road led through a monotonous flat land, now and then we drove through a poor native village and otherwise only saw a tree here and there in the fields so that we started counting the number of mile indicators to track the progress to our destination.

The fauna compensated the monotony of the landscape. Immediately after we had left the city, I shot a couple of large vultures (Gyps indicus and Gyps bengalensis) out of the carriage, also one of the often seen Egyptian vultures and some pariah kites. Shortly thereafter, still within the sights of the city, I bagged an eagle which I shot close to its nest; we identified it as an Aquila mogilnik, a so called Russian eagle. Also from its nest built on an avenue tree I shot a specimen of another eagle species, namely an Asian Tawny Eagle (Aquila vindhiana). Also two  honey buzzards (Pernis ptilonorhyncha), similar to our wasp buzzard, made their way into the rucksack. At a puddle on a tree sat two painted storks (Tantalus leueocephalus), which I took down with a lucky coup double. They were very beautiful large specimen with remarkbly pink red feathers on their wings. During the remainder of the journey I bagged common coucals (Centropus rufipennis), one Sirkeer Malkoha (Taccocua sirkee) and two white-eyed buzzards (Butastur teesa).

We finally reached Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar’s palace city, having followed the road that leads straight in a south-western direction. The foundation of the city in the year is explained in the following legend: Wandering in thoughts from Agra to the sandstone hill on which now stands the palace city, Akbar met there the fakir Selim Chisti, a sage and pious beggar who noticed the sad mood of the Mughal which was incomprehensible to the otherworldly hermit and looked for a reason why the mighty ruler was so sad. Akbar lamented that even though he was a mighty prince his reign was bound to disappear after his death. All the sons borne by his wife died soon thereafter in the child bed. „Build“, said the prophetizing fakir, „your palace on this holy hill sanctified by my prayers and make it your domicile. Nine moons after your entry through the gates of the new palace, you will have a heir whom heaven has promised long life, force and power. Your son will succeed you on the throne of the Grand Mughals.“  The prophecy came true. In the new palace of  Fatehpur Sikri was born Jehangir, Akbar’s heir.

With the exception of the parts of the palace city maintained by the British government, Fatehpur Sikri  is a ruin out of which rise walls, pillars, parts of halls and rooms and other decaying buildings — on the spot where Shah Babur had defeated the princes of Rajputana in open battle in the year 1527. As a sign of commemoration of the former size and beauty of the palace city it is enclosed by a high, crenellated wall of over 11 km in length, completely surrounding the hill of Fatehpur Sikri.

The main reason for the rapid decline and decay of Akbar’s palace city, a giant endeavor said to have employed thousands of men during many years — in contradiction of the legend which speaks of a fast construction of Fatehpur Sikris, is said to be that Akbar’s son did suddenly find the water and the air unpleasant and left the palace behind to the destructive powers of wind and weather. Fortunately under the Indian sky the decay of the buildings isn’t happening so fast that we couldn’t still see parts of Fatehpur Sikri in good condition.

Like other princely residences in India, there is true profligacy  in space and precious construction material. First entering Diwan-i-Am, we viewed the grand platforms and terraces enclosed by pillar halls that once had been the location of festive processions and shining receptions.  Near Diwan-i-Am is a platform that is said to have served for the Pachisi game. There are many mosques, ceremonial halls and living quarters of all kind which are constructed out of Fatehpur Sikri’s local red sandstone.

The most beautiful examples of how the artisans have used and decorated sandstone in the palace city is the House of the Turkish Queen (Stambuli Begum). Here there is no wall, no pillar, no space where there aren’t the finest of ornaments chiseled in. Not far away is the House of the Christian woman (Bibi Mariam Zumani); today without decoration, it once was called Sonahra Makan, that is the „golden house“ as it was painted and gilded inside and outside. Between the two houses of the women stands Chab Ghar, Akbar’s House of Dreams which has in its upper floor the simple sleeping chamber of the Grand Mughals.

North of Miriam’s house stands Panch Mahal,  storied terraces rising , original pillars, ornamented colonnades and the Diwan-i-Khas of Akbar. On the giant capital on the high splendidly chiseled pillar and ornamented with pilasters that rises in the middle of the hall is said to be the place of Akbar’s throne. This pillar is connected by a small stone stair to four sitting places in the four corners of the hall where the four viziers of Akbar would have taken their seats when Akbar spoke from his throne on his pillar. I could not resist imagining the comical situation of Akbar up on the small stair in the middle of the hall balancing on his pillar while the four viziers are cowering in their corner seats. As ridiculous as this appeared I could not forget that in this hall the well-being and woe of whole peoples was decided, that here many decisions were taken whose influence continues to be relevant today.

Most remarkable is furthermore a long covered corridor which leads from the female quarters to a rather distant gate from which the women of the Mughals could view the land of their lord and master, when he went out into the plain before the palace to hunt. Perhaps this activity would be artificially adapted to have more prey and be more interesting by overeager courtiers in similar manner to the Mughal’s fishing in Fort Agra …

A small snack we took in the former study of the Mughals and a short rest made us ready for new visits to the sights of the palace city. I would here raise the problem among the knowledgeable of aesthetics in relationship to the human physiology that nothing makes one as hungry and tired as a detailed visit of a large number of art objects.

Especially beautiful is Birbal’s palace — a Hindu minister of Akbar — a small two-storey building that has been so decorated inside and outside that it is either the smallest of all palaces or the biggest of all jewel chests according to Victor Hugo.

Much bigger but not less ornamented is the palace of the princess Jodh Bai in the middle of the palace city. She was a wife of Akbar and the mother of Jehangir. Without having to describe all the remaining monuments in and around the walls from the heyday of the Mughals, I still must mention the Dargah, the „holy square“ which contains the tomb of Sheik Selim Chisthi as well its mosque.

The Dargah, a rectangle, is enclosed by arched halls in whose midst is a pool. On the Northern end of the rectangle stands the tomb of Salim Chishti, the fakir whose prophecy has caused Akbar to build the palace city. While almost all buildings in the palace city are made out of red sandstone, the tomb is gleaming, a true miniature of the Taj of Agra, in blinding white marble so that I had to admire the beauty of the chasing, the splendid work of the cut marble lattices of the mausoleum. The lattices carry colored bands and colorful clothes given by pilgrims asking for children at the tomb of Selim Chisthi.

On the Western side of Dargah, it connects with the about 23 m high mosque. For the wealth of its ornamentation and its tasteful execution of the curved and interlaced ornaments of this mosque speaks the fact that I found a painter standing within who was copying these unique spatial decorations for a work which the British government will publish about the pearls of the Indian art.

When I left the mosque, an old muezzin, eager for baksheesh, gave an incomprehensible strange speech, shouted and gesticulated.

South of Dargah rises the famous 43 m tall victory gate of Buland Darwazab on a hill accessible by an open stair. A remarkably large number of wasp nests prevented our ascent to the battlements of the gate which is said to offer a great view.

At the foot of the gate, outside of the wall, is a walled basin close to the ruined baths to which every foreigner is led to assist productions which consist in natives jumping fearlessly and not without danger from the rim top to dive into the basin filled with water. Two days before our arrival, one of the natives was killed by performing a similar dive jump.

The surroundings of the mosque offered me ornithological catches. In the ruin field, I bagged a Laggar falcon (Falco jugger) and a rare Indian grey hornbill (Ocyceros birostris). The number of striped squirrels was astonishing. They scampered around on the stones and the trees.

The return drive was much more pleasant than the journey there as the weather had improved a bit and the sun peeked friendly from behind the clouds. On the return trip I shot, besides some vultures, a metallic gleaming stork with a white neck (Ciconia leucocephala) which resembles our black stork very much, as well as two marabous, one of which was an old male with snow-white breast and long fuzzy feathers.

In the palace at Agra I was expected by the archbishop Monsignore van den Bosch, with two of his priests, who paid me a visit. Belgian-born he has been working in India for a long time.

Links

  • Location: Agra, India
  • ANNO – on 13.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Emperor has given 10.000 francs for the relief of the victims of the earthquake on Zakynthos.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy “Verbot und Befehl“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing a comical opera „Gute Nacht Herr Pantalon“.