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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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1 entry, paper

Fri 19. [19 December 1902] Up at 6.30 and at 7.30 started for Sarkhej
passing outside the town walls where a great market of straw was
being held and of bullocks, over the Sabarmati a wide sandy river
bed with narrow streams in it in which people were washing, watering
bullocks and buffaloes and spreading out red dyed strips of cotton.
So along a long avenue full of monkeys. Sarkhej is a marvel. A great
tank edged with palaces tombs and mosques, all deserted and
falling into decay. The tomb of Mahmud Bagurra and his Queen, and
the court of the mosque make an exquisite water front, with windows
jutting out over the tank and carved stairs leading down into it. The
boys jump from the roofs into the tank. Behind is the tomb of Garj
Bakhosh with a court in front of it containing a columned pavilion and
trees. The whole is a wonder of .......... It is all Hindu built, contains no
true[?] arch[?]. The domes are therefore very low. On the other side
of the tank are 2 ruined palaces and behind a neat arrangement of
excavated ponds to feed the central pond. So home to breakfast.
(The green parrots were flying about the white marble court of the
mosque.) At breakfast turned up - the Rittmeister and a friend! I didn't
know him but he recognised me saying "You said you had never
been in India and I heard you talking Hindustani - I knew no one could
do that but you." After {lunch} breakfast we met Mr Schuster and fell
into his arms. I had a room today - the Millers leaving it for the night.
H. [Hugo] remained to rest and I went out walking through the
wonderful town, photographing and watching the people. I made my
way out at the gate by Sayyid 'Alam by the Sabamati [Sabarmati]
river and visited a ruined mosque on my way back I ran a thorn into
my foot and made it bleed and had to retire into a mosque went to
have it washed - the people were most sympathetic and kind. I met
the Rittmeister and a friend! So back and after tea we drove out with
Mr Schuster to the modern Jain temple which I thought very
disappointing, the work poor and bad. Then to Dada Hari's wells, a
wonderful place, 3 stories [sic] of columned galleries underground
ending in a carved[?] octagonal well. The water ran all along the
bottom under the galleries. Behind them is a well[?] ruined temple
which must have been very lovely for the carving is very delicate. H
and I then drove to the Panjropol where we saw some very mangy
beasts, dogs cats monkeys goats bullocks, all ownerless and being
kept by the Jains, but oh so badly kept! There is also - but this we did
not see! - a room for fleas and other horrid insects, lest catching one
on your person you should be tempted to kill him. So in the dark to
the Muhafiz Khan and the Jamma where 2 long lines of people were
saying their prayers in the courtyard, with one in front leading the
prayers. The Faithful washed in the tank and then hurried across to
join the praying lines. Meantime the sky flared red behind the
mosque. A last red twilight visit to the Rami Sipari and so home to a
bath and dinner with Mr Schuster. We got into our carriage about
10.30 and were off at 11.30 sleeping peacefully all night.

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