Part Seventeen: Bharatpur and
Other Places In the Vicinity of Agra.
-- *Govardhan* -- *Muttra*
There are some other places of considerable
interest easily accessible from Agra, but it would be beyond the scope
of this book to describe them in detail.
Bharatpur.-- This place,
which has been often alluded to, is the capital of a native state of that
name, founded by the Jâts under Suraj Mal about 1750. The origin
of the Jât race is obscure, but probably they are of Scythian descent.
Some authorities have put forward a theory that the gypsies of Europe and
the Jâts are of the same race. They form a large proportion of the
population of North-Western India. Their religion varies with the locality,
but the Jâts who occupied Agra under Suraj Mal were Hindus.
In 1809, the fort at Bharatpur resisted for
six weeks a siege by General, afterwards Lord, Lake, who withdrew, after
four desperate assaults.
The Palace of Suraj Mal is at Dig, twenty-one
miles by road from Bharatpur. It was commenced about 1725, and is the finest
and most original of the Indian palaces of that period. The Jât chief
carried off to it a great deal of the loot from the Agra Fort.
Govardhan.-- The tombs
of Suraj Mal and his two Ranis are at Govardhan, a very picturesque place
about eight miles from Dig. There are also a number of very interesting
tombs and buildings of later date. Fergusson/17/
says of one of these, which was in course of construction when he was there
in 1839, that he acquired from its native architect more knowledge of the
secrets of art as practised in the Middle Ages than he had learnt from
all the books he had read. The same living architectural art is practised
all over Rajputana at the present day. The preference we show for the incomparably
inferior art of the mongrel eclectic styles we have imported into India,
is only a proof that there is something wanting in the superior civilization
and culture which we believe ourselves to possess.
There is also at Govardhan a very fine Hindu
temple, dating from the time of Akbar.
A great fair is held here every year about
the end of October, or beginning of November, on the occasion of the Hindu
Diwâli, or Feast of Lamps, one of the most beautiful and impressive
of all the Hindu festivals.
Muttra, the Mathora
of the Greeks, about fourteen miles from Govardhan, and within easy reach
of Agra by rail, is one of the most sacred places of the Hindus, from being
the reputed birthplace of Krishna. It is a great centre for the worship
Bindarâban, which is a very short distance further by rail, possesses
an old Hindu temple, dedicated to Govind Deva, or Vishnu, of the same period
as the other at Govardhan, and built by the same person, Rajah Man Singh
of Amber, an ancestor of the present Maharajah of Jaipur. Fergusson describes
it as one of the most interesting and elegant temples in India.
There is also a great Vishnu temple of the
last century, in the Dravidian style of Southern India, built by a Hindu
millionaire merchant. Krishna's childhood and early youth were passed in
the vicinity of Brindâban, and on that account it is held especially
sacred by the followers of the Vaishnavite sect of Hinduism, who flock
there in thousands on the anniversary of Krishna's birth, in the month
of Bhadon (August--September).
N O T E S
"History of Indian and Eastern Architecture."