[Decisions Involving Urban Planning and Religious Institutions]
The city of Agrah, it were almost superfluous to observe, is one of the greatest in Hindustan; and being defended by a citadel of great antiquity, my father had caused such citadel to be thrown down, and a new fabric of hewn stone to be erected on the site, as will be noticed in another place. I shall here only remark further, that the city is built on both banks of the river Jumnah, that part which is situated on the hither, or western side, being four kôsse in breadth and ten kôsse in circumference, and that on the opposite side being not more than two kôsse in breadth, and three kôsse in circumference.The multiplicity of noble structures erected on all sides, such as mosques of superior magnitude, baths, spacious caravanserais, and splendid private palaces, are to an extent that would place it on a par with the most celebrated cities in Irâk, Khorassaun, and the famed territory beyond the Jeyhoun (the Oæure), the ordinary dwellings of the inhabitants being built, for the greater part, three and four stories high. Such is the immensity of the population, that from the hour of evening prayer to the close of the first quarter of the night, the throng is so densely wedged, that it is not without the utmost difficulty the people can pass and repass along the streets.
As an attempt to ascertain in some degree the extent of this multitudinous population, I directed Melek Ally, the kotwaal, a superintendant of police, one day to make a tour through the city, and count the individuals assembled in the different maarekahs, or theatres for athletæ or pugilists; and his report was, that in none of these places did he find assembled less than two and three thousand persons, although it was neither the first of the new year, nor any of those days of public rejoicing on which it was usual for the people to appear abroad for amusement. From this it is considered that some estimate may be formed of the enormous multitude which thronged the city in every quarter. Add to this, that every day through the year there were conveyed to the place by boats along the Jumnah not less than ten thousand loads of fuel, and yet for dirrems it would be difficult to purchase a single branch, so rapid was the demand. For nearly eight months, moreover, which is the duration of the dry season, or the interval between the periodical rains, not less than five and six thousand horses for sale daily enter the city from Kabûl and the countries in that direction; and such is the rapidity with which they are disposed of, that not one is to be purchased on the succeeding day. In short, I do not know in the whole world, in magnitude and the multitude of its inhabitants, there is any city to be compared with the metropolis of Agrah.
With regard to situation, it lies in the second of the seven climates, with Kanouje to the east, Nagour to the west, Sumbul to the north, and to the south Chandeiry. [The imperial narrator introduces here the verses composed by Karuffy, a poet of Shirauz, in praise of Agrah, in the time of Akbar, when speaking of the palace of Sultan Khorrom, afterwards the Emperor Shahjahaun: which it is quite unnecessary. as well as tedious, to repeat.]
Agrah was, however, a city of considerable magnitude, even prior to the supremacy of the Afghans, and it is spoken of in terms of admiration by a poet of Gheznîn, in the time of Mûssaoud, the son of Ibrahim, the twelfth of the race of Sebectegîn, Mahmoud Ghazi being the fourth. With regard to the river Jumnah, we learn from the writings of the Hindûs, that it has its source in these mountains, which, from the intensity of the cold, are inaccessible to the approach of man without the greatest difficulty. When it first makes its appearance near Hasserabad to the north-west, it rushes with such impetuous force, that an elephant would be swept away like a straw. From the foot of the citadel of Agrah it bends its course in the direction of Bengal.
Again, when Sekunder Lodi was on his march from Dehly, which was at that period the metropolis of the Indian monarchy, for his attack on Gualeem, he came to Agrah, to which he immediately removed the seat of government from Dehly. And finally, when the Almighty Disposer of events thought fit in his wisdom to confer the empire of Hindûstaun upon our illustrious race, my ancestor the Emperor Bâber, after the defeat of Ibrahim, the son of Sekunder Lodi, the capture of Dehly, and subsequent reduction of Bengal, evinced his predilection for Agrah, by forming, on a spot on the opposite side of the Jumnah remarkable for the purity of the air, a spacious and magnificent garden. In one part of the garden he erected an elegant pavilion of hewn stone (green marble) of four stories, surmounted by a dome of twenty guzz in diameter,* and surrounded by a colonnade or gallery, the pillars of which were of polished marble, and the ceilings decorated with gold and lapis-lazuli, formed into beautiful figures of the most elaborate workmanship. Within the gardens, moreover, he planted a covered avenue, carried to the distance of two kôsse in length, all of sapaury trees, each of which grows to the height of fifty cubits,* the branches spreading at the top like an umbrella. In effect, for the formation of such an avenue, nothing can be better calculated than these lofty and graceful trees. In the centre of the garden (it might indeed without impropriety be called a park) he formed a basin one kôsse in circumference, the sides of which were faced all round with hewn stone, and in the centre of the basin he erected another pavilion of two stories, in which might be seated two hundred persons if necessary. The doors and walls of this also were decorated with beautiful figures of the most delicate designs, and the pavillion was approached by a convenient arched bridge of hewn stone. This garden extended altogether over a space of two hundred and fifty jerreibs,* and received the name of Bezugh-e-gûlaf-shaun —the rose-diffusing. In an angle of the garden he also erected a spacious mosque, with a vaulted well* attached. During the reign of the same illustrious monarch, many kinds of fruit foreign to the climate of Hindustuan were also introduced and planted in this garden. I shall mention one in particular, the ananauss* (pine-apple), being among the most delicious of those reared in the island of the Frengueis (or Portuguese); of which fruit this same garden has been known in a season to have produced nearly one hundred thousand.
Of other fruits which it produced in sufficient abundance, there were grapes of the most esteemed and delicious kinds, several kinds of apples, apricots of Suliman and Abbas, and beh-alu (some kind of plum), together with a variety of other sorts of fruits brought from Kabul and the parts of the west, hitherto strangers to the climate of Hindûstaun, but now cultivated with abundant success. Here also was introduced the sandal tree, peculiar to the islands of Zeir, or Zubberbad (Qu.). With regard to the Hindûstauny fruits, they were in such multiplied variety as it would be tedious to enumerate. Of flowers there was every sort of the rose, and particularly the musk and damask rose, together with the jessamin and gûltchemeily, the latter the most esteemed of Indian flowers. In short, the flowers and flowering shrubs introduced into the Gûlafshaun garden were in such endless variety as to surpass all powers of description.
The citadel or castle of Agrah, as already intimated, was rebuilt by my father from the foundation altogether of red hewn stone, with four principal entrances and two sally ports. It was, in fact, a monument of his power, so perfect in execution that one might almost venture to say it was a fabric shaped by the architect of eternal destiny from a single rock. The workmanship alone was completed at the expense of not less than one hundred and eighty-six laks of ashrefies of five methkals each.*
At the same time, emulating the example of their sovereign, every member of the court and subject of the empire, each according to his station, hastened to construct and lay out on the city and its environs mansions of the most sumptuous description, and the most beautiful gardens, so as to render the place altogether the object of universal delight and admiration. In very truth it is a wonderful city; and hence it is not surprising that in the esteem of mankind it has been placed on the same rank with Gualiar and Muttra, the latter the birth-place of Krishna, who m the Indian nations, in their ignorance, adore as the supreme being, and who, when they would speak in language of the highest praise, refer to these three places as surpassing all other cities in the known world.
I am here led to relate that at the city of Banaras a temple had been erected by Rajah Maun Sing, which cost him the sum of nearly thirty-six laks of five methkaly ashrefies.* The principal idol in this temple had on its head a tiara or cap, enriched with jewels to the amount of three laks of ashrefies. He had placed in this temple moreover, as the associates and ministering servants of the principal idol,* four other images of solid gold, each crowned with a tiara, in the like manner enriched with precious stones. It was the belief of these Jehennemites that a dead Hindû, provided when alive he had been a worshipper, when laid before this idol would be restored to life. As I could not possibly give credit to such a pretence, I employed a confidential person to ascertain the truth; and, as I justly supposed, the whole was detected to be an impudent imposture. Of this discovery I availed myself, and I made it my plea for throwing down the temple which was the scene of this imposture; and on the spot, with the very same materials, I erected the great mosque, because the very name of Isslâm was proscribed at Banaras, and with God’s blessing it is my design, if I live, to fill it full with true believers.