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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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1 entry, paper

Thurs 18 [18 December 1902] We had a very comfortable journey. I
woke about 7 to find ourselves in an absolutely flat country with great
grips in it and fields full of monkeys We arrived at Ahmedabad
[Ahmadabad] about 10 and I flew off with Mr Robertson and a friendly
Jain to see if we could get in to the Dak Bungalow - but we couldn't.
Came back to the station and breakfasted and H [Hugo] and I set out.
The wonderful streets of Ahmedabad! the houses built out on streets
of carved wood and all carved wood above, the bird[?] roots[?] in
marble or painted wood, the crowds of people carrying on all their
occupations in the street. We went first to the Jamma Masjd, a
magnificent ..... mosque. We entered by a tiny insignificant door and
found ourselves in a great court with a tank in the middle, arches all
round and the great triple doorway of the mosque at the end. Inside it
is a grove of pillars with a splendid covered gallery at one side
decorated with elephants etc. and supposed to come from a temple.
Opposite the mosque through an archway we went to see Ahmad's
tomb - he was the builder of the mosque - an exquisite marble
building with windows of pierced marble which filters the most lovely
soft gold light inside. We then crossed a bustling street in the hot sun
and went into a little court wherein is buried Ahmad's queen, peaceful
exquisite with walls a lacework of lovely stone and jasmine flowering
over the tombs. There was a funeral going on in the big courtyard of
the mosque as we passed - I stopped to photograph and quoted to
my guide Lo to God we belong and unto Him we return." It was
received with gratification. We next went to the Rani Sipri, a mosque
and ...... of the most perfect beauty, a marvel of delicate tracery. The
mosque merely an oblong building set with columns with 3 flat domes
not[?] ....... the level line of the entablature and 2 minarets the bases of
which are wonderfully carved. We stopped to visit the mosque of
Dastar Khan where there is a charming court with water tanks and a
pierced marble screen on one side. Next we drove through the Tin
Darwazah to the Bhaddar. We passed through the castle gate - it is
all enclosed with walls - and stopped to look at a tree which is the
home of tiny striped squirrels. They are fed on a platform beneath,
everyone who passes throwing them a little grain and are quite tame.
We drove on to Sidi Sayyid's Mosque where an old party with a
brilliant henna died [sic] beard showed us the famous windows. They
are almost too elaborate for stone but so exquisitely done that you
forget to criticise and are lost in the delicate {elaborate} intricate
beauty. We drove through the Bhadr and to the tomb of Shah
Wajehu'd Din, standing in a court by itself with no mosque - a little
building all of airy brilliant pierced marble. The lighting within was
indescribably lovely. As I sat on the step photographing an old
woman came up and haggled for water from the tomb. After much
bargaining she got it in an earthen cup and poured it carefully into a
basin. I said "is it good water?" She replied "It is indeed good.
Those who are blind, with this they see, and those who are deaf with
this they hear." We went down a sandy lane to a charming little
mosque which is either Sayyid[?] 'Alam or Sheikh Hassan - anyway
the tracery on the minarets was very lovely and there were some
exquisite bracketed windows outside. Then to the Rani's Mosque,
which is one of the best, the minarets and bracketed windows a
marvel of delicate work. Here H left me and drove home and I tried to
find my way to Muhafiz Khan in vain, getting back to the Rani where
our faithful cabman came back and fetched me. So to Muhafiz Khan
which is as magnificent as any. It stands with its back to the street so
that you realize the decorative value of the carved buttresses and
corbelled windows. The two great galleried minarets tower over it. At
this moment, the middle of the day, the sun had just left it and good
Muhammadans were peacefully sleeping in the shade within. So
home to lunch. We had absolutely no place to ourselves. I shared
the Ladies' Waiting room with Mrs Allcroft and to her great surprise
slept peacefully after lunch. Made friends with a funny old father and 3
elderly daughters, Welby by name. Cheerful people all just alike.
The whole Kingston party is here - I like the Gilletts very much - and Mr
du Pre who is very nice. After lunch we drove past the Kankariya
tomb[?] and through avenues full of L....... to Shah 'Alam an exquisite
deserted tomb and mosque. Shah Alam's tomb consists of a double
enclosure of pierced marble, the inner one having beautiful bronze
open work doors. Ostrich eggs and glass balls hung round the top of
the tomb. There is another very charming tomb in a second corner of
the enclosure. H and I climbed to the very top of the minarets and had
a beautiful view in the sunset. But Ahmedabad from the distance is
mostly factory chimneys. Drove to Haibat Khan which is interesting,
as a very early example of Hindus building for Islam. The minarets
are quite plain like little chimneys. So back and had a bath in the
waiting room and dined and went to bed in a 1st class carriage with
the Allcrofts next us and slept sound all night.

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