[Observations on the Journey from Mandou to Agrah]

As a considerable period had elapsed since I had an opportunity of visiting the province of Gûjerat, I felt a desire now I was in the neighbourhood to view it in its present state, and I accordingly quitted Mandou, after making the neces­sary preparations, and proceeded in that direction. When my father had completed the subjugation of the province, he had particularly enjoined every member of his court to erect at different stations on the frontiers convenient buildings, with gardens attached, and every requisite whether for repose or recreation. Now when we approached the capital of the province, the first place at which I encamped happened to be the villa and gardens of Khaun Khanan, close to the suburbs of Ahmedabad. Kheyr-ul-Nessa Begum, the daughter of that nobleman, who was present among the inmates of my harram, now came to me, and stating her wish to entertain me in these gardens of her father, requested that I would remain upon the spot for a few days, while she expedited the necessary arrange­ments for my reception. With a request which had its source in such motives of kindness I could not refuse to comply, and I accordingly continued encamped in the neighbourhood. I must not omit to observe by the way, that it was during that season of the year in which, from the effects of the cold weather, most trees and shrubs usually shed their foliage, and are equally bare of leaf, and fruit, and blossom.

In the course of five days, by employing various artificers of Ahmedabad, to the number of four hundred individuals, in different branches of decoration, she had so effectually changed the appearance of the gardens, by making use of coloured paper and wax, that every tree and shrub seemed as abundantly fur­nished with leaf, and flower, and fruit, as if in the very freshness and bloom of spring and summer. These included the orange, lemon, peach, pomegranate, and apple; and among flowering shrubs, of every species of rose, and other garden flowers of every description. So perfect, indeed, was the deception produced, that when I first entered the garden it entirely escaped my recollec­tion that it was no longer the spring of the year, nor the season for fruit, and I unwittingly began to pluck at the fruit and flowers, the artificers having copied the beauties of nature with such surprising truth and accuracy. You might have said, without contradiction, that it was the very fruit and flower you saw, in all its bloom and freshness. The different avenues throughout the garden were at the same time furnished with a variety of tents and canopies, of velvet of the deepest green; so that these, together with the verdure of the sod, con­trasted with the variegated and lively tints of the rose and an infinity of other flowers, left altogether such an impression on my mind, as that in the very season of the rose I never contemplated in any place, garden, or otherwise, any thing that afforded equal delight to the senses.

From this scene of fascination and enchantment I was not permitted to with­draw myself for three days and as many nights; during which, independently of the delicious repasts on which we feasted, the females of my harram by whom I was accompanied, to the number of four hundred, were each of them pre­sented with a tray of four pieces of cloth of gold of the manufacture of Khoras­saun, and an ambertchei, or perfume-stand, of elaborate workmanship and considerable value; none of which presents could have been estimated separately at a less sum than three hundred tomauns.* What the begum presented to myself on the occasion, in jewels, pieces of the richest fabric for my wardrobe, and horses of the highest value for temper and speed, could not have amounted to a less sum than four laks of rupees. In return, I presented her with a chaplet of pearl of the value of five laks of rupees, which had been purchased for my own use, and a bulse of rubies worth three laks more: I also added one thousand horse to the dignity already possessed by her father. In conclusion, what was thus exhibited in one short week, and in the very depth of winter, for my recre­ation, by the daughter of Khaun Khanan alone, could scarcely have been accom­plished by the united genius and skill of any hundred individuals of the other sex, chuse them where you may.

When I at last entered the metropolis of Gûjerat on this occasion, I caused the buildings erected by my father for the greatest part, such at least as in my eyes appeared unworthy of his memory, to be demolished, and others of greater magnificence to be erected in their stead. I remained in the province for a pe­riod of five months, amusing myself in the sports of the field, and making ex­cursions to view the different parts of the country. It is but justice to say, that its chief city, Ahmedabad, must be considered among the most renowned in Hindûstaun, when it is remembered, that during the time of the refractory Mirzas, who furnished so much employment to the armies of my father, an im­perial nuggaurah, or noubet, sounded from five different quarters of the place, indicating the residence of as many independent sovereigns; and its magnitude may be further estimated by the fact, that it is surrounded by sixty-one suburbs, each separately as large as a moderate-sized town, and each governed by its own separate magistrate. There were moreover, at the time, in the different bazars of the city, not less than five thousand bankers’ or money-changers’ shops: from all which circumstances taken together, we might with a single glance of the eye, conclude as to the greatness and opulence of this very magnificent city.

In the midst of its numerous population it contains, however, an extraordi­nary proportion of thieves and vagabonds of every description, so inured to robberies and violence, as not to be deterred from their profligate habits of life by the severest measures that I could devise; not even though I have occa­sionally ordered two and three hundred a day to be cut off by various modes of execution. From these circumstances, so notorious has been the insecurity of the roads in Gûjerat, and so much have travellers of every class and description been exposed to inconvenience and danger, that a native of that seat of the muses, Shirauz, on one occasion, on his arrival at Agrah gave vent to his feel­ings in these four lines: “I have traversed, through the blessing of Him who to none is accountable, roads of which the soil is saturated with human blood. Well may he be said to have obtained a renewal of life, who had escaped a living man from the perils of Gûjerat.”*

To conclude my observations on Gûjerat, I shall here add, that the province is altogether a month’s journey in compass, the frontiers covered with tracts of forest and woody hills, not to be traversed by man without the greatest difficulty, these being the haunts of wild beasts, and animals of many strange and uncommon varieties. At the period I was about to enter the province from Mandou, on the occasion recently referred to, I directed Nour-ud-dein Kûly Khaun to furnish himself with what sums of money he might require from the treasury, and through the forest tract on that side prepare a passage for the imperial armies; and that officer, with twenty thousand pioneers, succeeded in a short time, with their saws and hatchets, in cutting a road a bow-shot wide across the whole line of forest, through which we passed with perfect ease and safety.

From Ahmedabad to the sea-coast is a distance of three days’ journey; and as I had long wished to view the wonders of the deep, I now proceeded to Khambaït, or Cambay, at the head of the gulf of that name. Here I caused to be constructed on piles, to the distance of a league within the sea, a large stage or pier, which I secured against the impulse of the waves by anchors of a thousand and two thousand maunns’ weight. From this, for seven days and as many nights, embarking on board of the ghraubs, or prowed vessels employed on these coasts, I enjoyed in all its perfection the amusement of fishing.

Leaving Cambay and its sea-beaten shore, I directed my course next towards the city of Oujein, one of the most ancient in the whole territory of Hindûstaun. On the banks of a large lake of fresh water near the city, and which washes the foot of the castle walls, I caused on my arrival to be erected, for my accommodation, a pavilion of the largest size, and of the best architecture of the country; and here I remained, hunting and making excursions to various parts of the neigh­bourhood, for the space of forty days.

While I remained at Oujein on this occasion, an instance of atrocious and sanguinary turpitude occurred, of which the history of crime happily furnishes but few examples.

A certain Moghûl had resided for some time in the place, employed, as was supposed, in the pursuit of some commercial concern; and he was, it seems, in the habit of inviting such females as he observed to be addicted to liquor, to meet him in some of the gardens in the vicinity, where he told them they would find and experience from him such a reception as would surpass their most luxurious expectations.

The women thus invited usually arrayed themselves in their richest orna­ments, and thus repaired to the place of appointment; where, as it afterwards appeared, it was the practice of the villain first to reduce them to a state of intoxication, and then to murder and strip them of their ornaments, with which he returned to his own residence. This he was permitted to continue for many a week, until he had by these nefarious means contrived to amass treasure to the amount of five-and-forty thousand tomauns.*

At last one of the women thus invited, after arraying herself, as was his rule to stipulate, in her richest ornaments, proceeded to the place of assignation accompanied by a groom and female attendant, and, according to appointment, found the Moghûl expecting her arrival. After entertaining the unhappy woman until midnight, he then made her drunk with liquor; and having murdered both the groom and her attendant, returned, and putting a bow-string about her neck, finally strangled her; and having thus consummated his atrocious design, re­paired with his blood-stained spoil to his own abode.

His villany, by some means or other, was at last detected, and the diabolical ruffian, together with the body of the woman he had murdered, and the ornaments of which he had stripped her, were brought before me. I ordered the kotewaul, or lieutenant of Kleir, to make search in the house of the murderer, conceiving that something more might be discovered of the property of his unhappy victims. As I suspected, they brought from thence two chests or boxes, which on being opened in my presence, proved to contain not less than seven hundred sets of female ornaments, all of gold, taken from the unfortunates whom he had thus immolated in the gratification of his detestable avarice. As soon as this circumstance was made public, the relatives of the deceased laid claim to and received the property; and I commanded that the perpetrator of this horrible villany should be immediately led to the great plain, where, as an awful example, he was torn piece-meal with red-hot pincers.

From Oujein, I now proceeded on my return towards Agrah, and in due course reached Futtahpour, where I remained for the space of four months, an alarming mortality then prevailing at Agrah. When, however, the mortality ceased, and the air began to be restored to its purity, I quitted Futtahpour, and took up my residence in the Dohrrah gardens, situated in the outskirts of the metropolis. These gardens had been formed by my father in the early part of his reign, and they contain within their precincts four separate pieces of water, each of them a quarter of a farsang, or about a thousand paces, in length and breadth, and each having on its bank a lofty and elegant pavilion. The gardens are, moreover, remarkable for a great many ancient cypress trees of extraordinary size; and it contains also fruit-bearing trees in the greatest number and variety.

Before I quitted these gardens for my final entry into Agrah, I considered it a sacred duty to visit the tomb of my father at Secundera, over which the buildings which I had long since ordered had been now completed, and, in truth, it exhibited to the view in all its parts an object of infinite gratification and delight. In the first place, it was surrounded by an enclosure or colonnade, which afforded standing for eight thousand elephants, and a proportion of horses, the whole being built on arches, and divided into chambers. The principal gate by which you enter is thirty cubits wide, by as many in height, with a tower erected on four lofty arches, terminating in a circular dome, the whole one hundred and twenty cubits high, divided into six stories, and decorated and inlaid with gold and lapis lazuli from roof to basement. This superb portico, as it may be called, has also on each of its four sides (angles probably) a minaret of hewn stone three stories or stages in height. From the entrance to the building in which reposes all that is earthly of my royal father, is a distance of nearly a quarter of a farsang, the approach being under a colonnade floored with red stone finely polished, five cubits wide. On each side of the colonnade is a garden planted with cypresses, wild pine, plane, and sûpaury trees (the betel-nut tree, or arek), in great number; and in the gardens on each side, and at the distance of a bow-shot from each other, are reservoirs of water, from each of which issues a fountain or jet d’eau, rising to the height of ten cubits; so that from the grand entrance to within a short distance of the shrine, we pass between twenty of these fountains. Above the tomb itself is erected a pavilion of seven stories, gradually lessening to the top, and the seventh terminating in a dome or cupola; which, together with the other buildings connected with it in every part of the enclosure, is all of polished marble throughout; and all com­pleted, from first to last, at the expense of one hundred and eighty lacs of rupees.* In addition to this I have provided that a supply of two hundred measures or services of food, and two hundred of confectionery, should be daily distributed to the poor from the sacred edifice, and that no strangers should ever be required to dress their own meals, though their number should amount to a thousand horse.

When I entered on this occasion the fabric which enclosed my father’s remains, such were my impressions, that I could have affirmed the departed monarch was still alive, and seated on his throne, and that I was come to offer my usual salutation of homage and filial duty. I prostrated myself, however, at the foot of the tomb, and bathed it with the tears of regret and sincerity. On leaving the venerated spot, and in propitiation of the pure spirit which reposed there, I distributed the sum of fifty thousand rupees among the resident poor. I then mounted my horse and proceeded into the castle of Agrah, to the saloon, or palace, which I had ordered to be there built for my own residence.

This pavilion, or rather saloon, rests upon the gate which opens on the river Jumnah, and is supported by twenty-five pillars, all covered with plates of gold, and all over inlaid with rubies, turquoises, and pearl. The roof on the outside is formed into the shape of a dome, and is also covered with squares of solid gold, the ceiling of the dome within being decorated with the most elaborate figures of the richest materials and most exquisite workmanship. The adjoining tower is a structure of four stories, all decorated in the same costly manner as I have just described, and is from top to bottom of an octagonal shape. Annexed to this latter structure is a small gallery overlooking the Jumnah, from whence, when so disposed, I have been accustomed to view the combats of elephants, neilahgaos, antelopes, and other wild animals. In another story in this building, more on a level with the river, I occasionally distribute to the ameirs of my court, in social communion, wine from my own goblet; and in this same gallery it is that those entitled to particular privileges are admitted to a seat in my presence.

There is, however, another saloon of general audience, to which all classes of the people, high and low, without exception, are admitted to my presence; but in this a recess is parted off by a lattice-work of gold; and at the front of the hall is formed an area, in which is erected a mohidjer (or balustrated stage perhaps) of the height of a man from the ground, also of gold, where the most distin­guished members of my court, princes of the blood, and nobility from the rank of one thousand to that of five thousand, are appointed to take their stand on occasions of state and ceremony. The area is covered all over with carpets of thirty and forty cubits, and above is a triple canopy of velvet wrought with gold, as a protection against the rays of a meridian sun. The lattice-work and plat­form are both of solid gold, and so contrived as to be easily taken to pieces, for removal from place to place, always forming a part of the imperial equipage or equipment, ready to be set up whenever necessary. I shall only add, that the quantity of three thousand maunns of gold* was expended in the fabrication of this article of the imperial appointments.