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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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Sat 20. [20 December 1902] Got to Abu Road [(Kharari)] at [space left
blank], breakfasted and hopped into our tongas. The whole Welby
family and 2 American ladies were also going up. 4 miles of plain
and then we plunged into the hills, great steep wooded slopes
crowned with rocks of every sort of fantastic shape and a white shrine
on the top of all. We changed horses twice or thrice and dashed up
the hill at a wonderful pace. It was enchanting except for the dust. 17
miles to the Tonga station on the plateau on the top of the hill. Here
we got into rickshaws and dashed off to the Rajputana Hotel. The
gardens full of brilliant orange coloured bignonia, bougainvillia and
scarlet pointsettias. We found the Gascoynes who introduced us to a
nice Mr Savile who was recruiting up here. (He was at school with
Oliver and Eddie.) Mrs G. had a pass for the temples and we went
straight off after a cup of tea at 12. They were very much whitewashed
outside in honour of Lord Curzon's recent visit but inside untouched.
The first we saw was the latest, about 1200 AD. It was extraordinarily
elaborate, all the streets[?] carved and all the pillars and the domes -
which were of course false domes. The Jains put cloths over their
mouths before going into the temple and there were big brooms - I
suppose to sweep away possible animals lest they should tread on
them. We were not allowed inside the central temple, but we saw the
service going on and heard the chanting and presently some pious
worshippers made a terrific noise, enough to waken the most sleepy
Tirthankar, with drums and bells outside. They were all marked with
yellow ochre spots on the forehead and the figures of the Tirthankar
were marked with the same on various places. There was one lovely
boy dressed in a deep purple muslin cloth to the knees and with a
bright orange scarf thrown over his brown body and one shoulder.
The sun shining through the white marble cloisters was too lovely. But
the other temple a couple of hundred years earlier, is much more
lovely. The work is not so profuse but far more delicate and the
carving of the domes is beautiful beyond words. The pendent of the
central dome before the temple is a marvel of intricate delicacy.
Behind is a long chamber the whole length of the court filled with white
marble elephants. So home to lunch, after which the Gascoynes left.
Mr Savile walked with Hugo and me round the lake, the most
exquisite lake in the world with fantastic islands in it and rocky broken
shores and lovely foliage dropping into the water, the village perched
at the bend of it and Rajas houses high up on points of the rocks. He
took us out to a point from whence we looked west and north over the
plain like a great dim sea with ranges of hills rising out of it like islands
out of water and we looked away and away towards the Indian
Desert. I got my skirt full of prickles and a small naked goatherd
helped me to pick them out. Home by the other side of the lake -
jasmine and roses white and red growing wild and quantities of palm
trees. We went up to tea at the Club where we found a little colony of
English people and played Badminton with them. The Club was built
by various Rajas and the racquet court by Jaipure [Jaipur] "at a cost
of" I forget how many rupees as the inscription says. Very cold night
and a wind. Early to bed.

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