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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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Sun Feb 1. [1 February 1903] Up at 7 and when H [Hugo] went to
church I drove off to Bindrabun [Vrindavan] which is the place where
Krishna sported with the Gopis - 9 miles off. Outside the town there is
an enormous new temple built by Jaipur, hardly finished. There is a
magnificent half completed temple, Govind Devi, at the entrance of
the town. It has no Sikra - if it ever had one or was meant to have one I
don't know - and is very large, cross shaped like a big cathedral, the
apse being a {temple} shrine sacred to Vishnu and continuing the
Saligram. The outer decoration is very good a mass of horizontal
lines of shade broken by beautifully elaborate porches and
balconied windows. Opposite is a big new temple of Govind Das
built on the Madura [Madurai] plan. I walked round the outer court
where I saw cells with Sadhus and Gokulastra Gosains - the latter
quickly curtained his cell when I looked in. Looking through the
doorway of the temple, I saw a huge gilded lat in front. Monkeys.
Every man and woman had the Vishnu mark, a big white flame on the
nose and two uprights reaching to the turban. A (mad?) beggar
followed me shrieking for bakhshish and saying "She has everything
and I nothing". Then to Jugal Kishor, much ruined and difficult to see.
The Jumna [Yamuna] is quite close to it. Then to Madan Mohan
which is also a fine place but much enclosed and so to Gopi Nath,
where there are 2 fine Sikras and an arcade of arches. Cells round
where Sadhus live. I went on my way to a new marble temple, very
hideous. So home. In the streets of Muttra [Mathura] I saw several
immense horses made of coloured papers spread over a wicker
frame - I saw them also in shrines together with highly coloured little
figures. Back at 11.45, lunched and set off at 1.15 for Dig. Went into
the churchyard while I was waiting for the carriage. Many of the
tombstones are very old, 1803. One lieutenant died in 1804 from
wounds received in the battle of Dig. The soldiers are buried in long
lines as if they were in review order. Some of their tombstones have
an angel bearing a harp and of marked Hindu type. Many children, 3
together of one family. The Khidmatgar[?] was in Africa with the 9th
Lancers. 13 miles from Muttra we reached Govardhan where we went
to see the cenotaph of Suruj Mull, the founder of the Bhartpur Jati
dynasty. A fine tank to the south of it with a ghat all round. Another
chattri and many temples and palaces surrround a second tank, a
very big one, the whole town clusters round it. Lots of cranes. This is
a sacred Krishna place, near Govardhan is the mountain which he
held up with his finger to shelter the shepherds at Indra's instigation.
So on to Dig, another 8 miles. A ruined mud wall surrounds it, but is
not nearly all filled with houses. There is a big fort built by Suraj Mull
and a lovely palace mostly built by him. We are lodged in the
Zenana. Delightful little rooms and roof terraces and balconies. The
doctor, head of the hospital, lent by the Brit. Govt. made me us
welcome with bunches of roses and walked us round the lovely
gardens in the dusk. We met a party of 3 second rate women called
Whily[?] who are staying here, and the Munshi Jawala Sabai (who
sent us his pamphlet about the town) and another of importance who
talked in English and a little Persian. The Doctor came in to see us
later. He is an Arya Somaj. He became one at Agra, going to their
lectures, his father is a worshipper of Vishnu and doesn't know he
isn't. He laments the want of education in women and is going to
educate his 2 daughters. He keeps his caste rules very strictly, eats
no meat or eggs, has a Brahman cook and a servant of lower class
(he is himself a Banya) and cd never travel to England. He says the
cooked food in the bazaars is by way of being prepared by
Brahmans. He declined to admit the sacred character even of the
Upanishads - nothing but the Veds for him. He rejected with scorn the
idea of the lower castes becoming Arya Somaj - where wd he get his
servants from? Dinner at 8.30 in a charming pavilion. The Dr told us
that the state used to be very prosperous, manufacturing salt - there
are brackish wells at Khumber. But 15 years ago, the English forbade
this manufacture as it is a govt. monopoly. Since when there has
been much povety and suffering. Bhutpore is a Jat state - not the only
one, there is one other I fancy. The present king is 3; we deposed his
father the other day for killing a servant he didn't like.

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