Bernier, François, Travels in the Mogul Empire A.D. 1656-1668

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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  Page 247  

DEHLI AND AGRA                        247

places. The dwellings of the Omrahs, though mostly
situated on the banks of the river and in the suburbs, are
yet scattered in every direction. In these hot countries
a house is considered beautiful if it be capacious, and if
the situation be airy and exposed on all sides to the wind,
especially to the northern breezes. A good house has its
courtyards, gardens, trees, basins of water, small jets
d'eau in the hall or at the entrance, and handsome sub¬
terraneous apartments which are furnished with large fans,
and on account of their coolness are fit places for repose
from noon until four or five o'clock, when the air becomes
suffocatingly warm. Instead of these cellars many persons
prefer Kas-kanays,^ that is, small and neat houses made of
straw or odoriferous roots placed commonly in the middle
of a parterre, so near to a reservoir of water that the
servants may easily moisten the outside by means of water
brought in skins. They consider that a house to be greatly
admired ought to be situated in the middle of a large
flower-garden, and should have four large divan-apart¬
ments raised the height of a man from the ground, and
exposed to the four winds, so that the coolness may
be felt from any quarter. Indeed, no handsome dwelling
is ever seen without terraces on which the family may
sleep during the night. They always open into a large
chamber into which the bedstead is easily moved in case
of rain, when thick clouds of dust arise, when the cold air
is felt at break of day, or when it is found necessary to
guard against those light but penetrating dews which
frequently cause a numbness in the limbs and induce a
species of paralysis.

The interior of a good house has the whole floor covered

^ Khaskhas, the roots of a plant, Andropogon nmricatus (Retz.),
used for the well-known screens which are placed in the doorways of
houses in India during the hot winds, and kept constantly wetted, so
that the external air enters the house cool and fragrant. Rooms or
khanahs, the kanays of Bernier, are sometimes made of these khas¬
khas mats.
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