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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Chirol, Valentine
India ยป Delhi

28.7040592, 77.1024902

Mon 5. [5 January 1903] Up at 6.30, Gilbert arrived at 7.30 and we got
off a little before 8 and rode down to the Ajmer Gate and so to Safdar
Jung's tomb where we drew rein and looked in - a fine big mass, bad
in detail. Some lovely pavilion tombs out to the left. Then on to the
Kutab where we arrived at 9.30 and ordered breakfast. All the roads
had been watered for the Connaughts. Breakfasted and walked
round. Up the Minar which is a lovely tower, rising in diminishing
stories, diminishing in height and breadth, with a bold gallery at the
top of curls. The lower stories [sic] are divided into valves
alternatively round and sharp angled and all covered with carved
patterns and lovely inscriptions, the upper are all round valved and
the top most of all white marble. Lovely view from the top over
countless Delhis. Lalkot at our feet with a broken wall round it and to
the S. many shrines and tombs, one of the latter a domed[?] pavilion
of a beautiful shape. We then went down and jostled into the whole
Connaught party. The Minar was built by Altamsh to celebrate his
victory over Hindus in the beginning of the 13th cent. The mosque is
150 years earlier built by Kutub ed Din and a most lovely bit of Hindu
Muhammadan architecture. It is built on Rai Pithora's Hindu temple
and many of the columns are Hindu - you can see Jaia Tirthankers -
dancing figures of votaries on them. The lines of arches, none of
them true arches are exquisite in shape and finish. Before these
stands the famous Iron pillar which the inscription dates 1052. The
tomb of Altamsh stands outside in one corner, most beautiful noble[?]
and severe[?] in red sandstone covered with inscriptions and with a
lovely kibla of carved marble discoloured with age. It used to be
roofed after the Jaur[?] plan and is the earliest Indian tomb. The Alai
Minar stands within the court; it is only a stump having been intended
to be higher than Altamsh's Minar, but was abandoned. The Alai gate
we cd not see properly because of the Connaughts but it looked most
lovely, a portico covered with carving. The tomb of Adham Khan is a
beautiful free standing pavilion. Gilbert had 2 Patiala Saises [sic],
one of whom rode with us on a donkey, and a camel sowar, all
charming people. They had brought down Bara Jemil, a beautiful
Arab, the day before as a change of horse for him. We left the Kutb
about 1 and rode to Tughlakhabad, 5 miles along an avenue. Bara
Jemil kicked my pony badly. He was very fresh and difficult to
manage, especially with H. [Hugo]'s mare of the party. The fort is the
most surprising thing in India, an immense place, all built of solid red
sandstone with walls and bastions sloping in and giving one an
astonishing idea of strength. The walled town was 4 miles round; the
citadel is doubly walled and fortified. It contains many long sloping
passages for fighting men and horses. We went up to the topmost
point, eat sandwiches and oranges and looked over the plain strewn
with dead cities. The day was most pleasant for riding with a good
deal of cloud. To the SE is a detached fort 'Adilabad, built by
Tughlakh's son and near it connected by a causeway which runs over
what is a lake in the barsat is Tughlakh's tomb, a kind of little fort with
insloping walls and door jambs like an Egyptian building and a great
stone dome. It is the epitome of savage ferocious strength. Even the
marble lacework above the doors is so strong that it looks like prison
gratings. I noticed that the decoration of rose embossed semi circles
which is a feature of Mogul architecture, runs round the top of these
arches also. Tughlakh was a Turki slave who murdered his Hindu
master and founded a bloody kingdom which lasted for a hundred
years and was put to an end by Timur early in the 13th cent. He
sacked the town and put man woman and child to the sword. The
grim tomb stands in the plain, the southernmost outpost of all the
many Delhis. We rode back by a small road, crossing bridges which
were half broken down; all the way was lined with ancient tombs. We
saw also the paper[?] of the maxim guns used here on the recent
manoeuvres. Then we turned into the Grand Trunk, past Humayun's
tomb and masses of great monuments and walled cities. At Indraput
we said "This must be Delhi", but it was the Delhi of 2000 BC. We got
in at 4.45 after a most successful day, Arthur and Mr Chirol dined with
us. We talked after of the insoluble problems of India, amongst others
of the education of princes. They make them as English as possible,
send them to Colleges and Universities, bring them back to marry a
purdah lady and rule Hindu subjects, with whom, if the education is of
any use at all, they are completely out of touch. ...... Baroda's[?] son
who has just returned from Baliol and says he won't marry at all rather
than marry one of his own women. You can't educate the women
because they oppose it so violently and are backed by most of the
men. Then these princes are asked to rule and behave like kings -
and at every turn find themselves brought up against and stopped by
Imperial interests. Bikanir [Bikaner] is by way of being a perfect
European and is a fine[?] gentleman so that you forget he is a Hindu.
He astonished one of his guests by pressing a dish on him and
saying "This was made by my favourite wife." Gilbert told me a nice
tale of a man who passed an immense string of camels. He stopped
and asked one of the camel drivers how many there were, to which
the man answered with a wave of the hand "As many camels as there
are in the world, so many are there here!"

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