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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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Wed 4. [4 February 1903] And we arrived at Benares [Varanasi] at 9
AM after a very comfortable night. Mrs Sanders met us and drove us
to the bungalow where we found Mr S. and Miss McVean, a sort of
sister in law. Nice house and delightful garden. We breakfasted,
washed and dressed and sat in the Verandah writing letters and
talking. She told us about Annie Besant who has a Hindu College
here and goes about with a posse of Hindus who adore her. She
rides in a long flowing habit. At 3.30 we all drove to Sarnath. The
Tope is very interesting, the lower part of it ornamented with a band of
sculpture in low relief, geometric patterns and a fine flowing
arabesque of acanthus leaves. There are mounds which mark the
position of the Vihara. Near it is a modern Jain temple and away in
some trees a Hindu temple. There is another mound not far off with
what looks like a modern brick tower on it. Lots of trees about in the
cornfields, so that it looks not too unlike the Deer park. Most of the
sculptures in a little shed near seem to be Jain or Hindu. So to the
club to tea. Made the acquaintance of Mrs Sweeney the doctor's wife
and Mrs Ridici who is married to an Italian and comes from Barnard
Castle. So home. Lovely roses in the gardens and lemons. After
dinner Mrs S. sang very prettily and Hugo played. Mrs S. was the
daughter of an old General, came out to India at 17 and married at 18.
She and 4 of her sisters were sent to England together, 4 more
children were born in India, one died without her having ever seen it.
When she came out, a sister was sent home. She has never in her life
been all together with all her brothers and sisters. Mr S. tells me the
Arya Somaj is mainly political - and violently seditious.

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