|CHAPTER 4 -- The route
from Surat to Agra by Burhanpur and Sironj.
[] .... Navapoura is a large village full of weavers, but *rice* constitutes the principal article of commerce in the place. A river passes by it, which makes the soil excellent, and irrigates the rice, which requires water. All the rice which grows in this country [=basmati rice] possesses a particular quality, causing it to be much esteemed. Its grain is half as small again as that of common rice, and when it is cooked, snow is not whiter than it is, besides which, it smells like musk, and all the nobles of India eat no other. When you wish to make an acceptable present to any one in Persia, you take him a sack of this rice....
[] *Burhanpur* is a large, much-ruined town, the houses of which are for the most part thatched. It has a large castle still standing in the middle of the town, and it is there that the Governor resides. The government of this province is so important that it is conferred only upon a son or an uncle of the emperor, and Aurangzeb, who now reigns, was for a long time Governor of Burhanpur during the reign of his father. But since it has been realized how much can be yielded by the province of *Bengal*, which formerly bore the title of kingdom, as I shall elsewhere indicate, its government has become the most important in the Empire of the Great Mogul.
There is a considerable trade in this town, and both at Burhanpur itself and in all the province an enormous quantity of very transparent *muslins* are made, which are exported to Persia, Turkey, Muscovie, Poland, Arabia, Grand Cairo, and other places. Some of these are dyed various colours and ornamented with flowers, and women make veils and scarfs of them; they also serve for the covers of beds, and for handkerchiefs, such as we see in Europe with those who take snuff. There are other fabrice, which are allowed to remain white, with a stripe or two of gold or silver running the whole length of the piece, and at each of the ends, from the breadth of one inch up to twelve or fifteen-- in some more, and in others less-- it is a tissue of gold, silver, and of silk with flowers, and there is no reverse, one side being as beautiful as the other. If those which they export to Poland, where they are in great demand, have not at both ends at least three or four inches of gold or silver, or if this gold and silver becomes black when crossing the ocean [] between Surat and Hormuz, and from Trebizonde to Mangalia, or other parts of the Black Sea, the merchant cannot dispose of them except at great loss. He ought to take great care that the goods are well packed, and that they are secured from damp; this, for so long a voyage, requires much care and trouble.
Some of these fabrics are all banded, half cotton and half gold or silver, such pieces being called ornis [=mantles]. They contain from fifteen to twenty ells, and cost from one hundred to one hundred and fifty rupees, the cheapest being not under ten or twelve rupees. Those which are only about two ells long serve ladies of rank for the purpose of making scarfs and veils which they wear on their heads, and they are also sold largely in Persia and Turkey. They make, also, other kinds of fabrics at Burhanpur, and there is hardly another province in the whole of India which has a greater abundance of *cotton*....
I am reminded here of a strange commotion which arose at Burhanpur in the year 1641, when I was returning from Agra to Surat. The origin of it was, in a few words, as follows [] The Governor of the Province, who was the Emperor's nephew on his mother's side, had employed as one of his pages a young man of handsome appearance and fairly good family, who had a brother who lived as a *Dervish*, and for whom all the town entertained much veneration. One day . . . the page, observing that the Governor was about to commit an offense [of sexual assault], stabbed him three times in the stomach, slaying him before he could open his lips to cry aloud. This done, the page left the palace without allowing any sign of emotion to appear on his face, the guards at the gate thinking that the Governor had sent him on some message.
The Dervish, having learnt from his brother what had happened, in order to preserve him from the fury of the people, and to disclose at the same time the infamy of the Governor, ordered all the other Dervishes, his comrades, to seize the banners of Muhammad [=probably the 'alams or standards carried during Muharram] which were planted about the *mosque*, and at the same time they called upon all the Dervishes, *Faqirs* and others, who were good Musalmans, to follow them. In less than an hour a multitude of rabble assembled, and the Dervish, taking the lead with his brother, went straight to the palace, crying out with all their might, "Let us die for Muhammad, or let them give up to us that infamous person in order that dogs may eat him after his death, as he is not worthy to be interred amongst Musalmans."
The guard of the palace was not able to resist such a multitude, and would have yielded to them, if the *Darogha* of the town with five or six nobles had not found an opportunity of making themselves heard, and of appeasing the people, by warning them that they should have some respect for a nephew of the Emperor, and so induced them to withdraw. The same night the body of the Governor was carried to Agra, together with his *harem*, and Shah Jahan, who then reigned, having heard the news, was not in the least distressed, because he inherited the property of all his subjects, and he even bestowed on the page a small appointment in Bengal.....
[] .... Before proceeding further, it should be remarked that throughout this work wherever the word "sera" [*sarai*] occurs, it signifies a great enclosure of walls of hedges, within which 50 or 60 thatched huts are arranged all around. Here there are some men and women who sell flour, rice, butter, and vegetables, and who make it their business to prepare bread and cook rice. If by chance any Musalman arrives, he goes into the village to seek for a piece of mutton or a fowl, when those who supply the food to the traveller clean out for him the room which he wishes to occupy, and they place in it a small bed of girths [*charpoy*], upon which he spreads the mattress which he carries with him on his journey....
[] .... *Sironj* is a large town, of which the majority of the inhabitants are Banian merchants and artisand, who have dwelt there from father toson, which is the reason why it contains some houses of stone and brick. There is a large trade there in all kinds of coloured *calicoes*, which they call *chites* , with which all the common people of Persia and Turkey are clad, and which are used in several other countries for bedcovers and table-cloths. They make similar calicoes in other places besides Sironj, but the colours are not so lively, and they disappear when washed several times. It is different with those of Sironj; the more they are washed the more beautiful they become. A river [a tributary of the Betwa] passes here, of which the water possesses the property of giving this brightness to the colours; and during the rainy season, which lasts four months, the workers print their calicoes according to patterns which the foreign merchants have given them, because as soon as the rains have ceased, the water of the river becomes more turbid, and the sooner the calicoes are washed the better the colours hold, and become brighter.
There is also made at Sironj a description of muslin which is so fine that when it is on the person you see all the skin as though it were uncovered [=*ab-i ravan*]. The merchants are not allowed to export it, and the Governor sends all of it for the Great Mogul's seraglio, and for the principal courtiers. This it is of which the sultanas and the wives of the great nobles make themselves shifts and garments for the hot weather, and the King and the nobles enjoy seeing them wearing these fine shifts, and cause them to dance in them....
[] .... Callabas [Kalabagh?, anyway a town on the old Deccan road something like 100 miles south of Gwalior] is a large town, where formerly a great Raja [] resided who paid tribute to the Great Mogul. Generally, when caravans passed it, the merchants were robbed, and he exacted from them excessive dues. But since Aurangzeb came to the throne he cut off his head, and those of a large number of his subjects. They have set up towers near the town on the high-road, and these towers are pierced all round by several windows where they have placed in each one the head of a man at every two feet. On my last journey, in 1665, it was not long since this execution had taken place when I passed by Callabas; for all the heads were still entire, and gave out an unpleasant odour.
From Callabas to Akmate, 2 *coss*; Akmate to Collasar [Kolaras], 9 coss. Collasar is a small town, of which all the inhabitants are idolaters. As I was entering it, on this final journey, there arrived there also eight large pieces of artillery, some forty-eight pounders, the others thirty-six pounders, each gun being drawn by twenty-four pairs of oxen. A strong and powerful elephant was following this artillery, and whenever there was a bad spot from which the oxen had difficulty in drawing it, they made the elephant advance, and push the gun with his trunk.
Outside the town, for the whole length of the high-road there are a number of large trees which they call mengues [*mangoes*], and in several places near these trees you see small *pagodas*, each of which has its idol at the entrance. This elephant, passing in front of one of these pagodas, near to which I was encamped, and where there were at the door three idols of about five feet in height, when he was close by, took one with his trunk and broke it in two; he then took the next, and threw it so high and so far that it was broken in fouur pieces; while as for the third, he knocked off the head with a blow of his trunk. Some thought that the driver of the elephant had ordered him to do so, and had given him the signal; this I did not observe. Nevertheless, the Banians regarded it with an evil eye, without daring to say anything, for there were more than 2,000 men in charge of the guns, all of them in the Emperor's [] service; and Musalmans, with the exception of the chief gunners, who were Franks-- French, English, and Dutch. The Emperor [Aurangzeb] was sending this artillery to the province of Deccan, where his army was opposed to the Raja *Shivaji*, who had pillaged Surat the previous year , as I shall have occasion for describing elsewhere....
[] .... *Gwalior*, a large town, is like others ill-built, in the manner of India. A small river passes it. It is built along the side of a mountain which lies to the west, and towards the top it is surrounded by walls with towers. There are in this enclosure several ponds formed by the rains, and what they cultivate there is sufficient to support the garrison; this is why this place is esteemed one of the best in India. On the slope of the mountain which faces the north-west, Shah Jahan built a pleasure-house, from whence all the town is visible, and it is fit to serve as a fortress. Below this house there are to be seen several images in bas-relief, sculptured in the rock, all of which have the forms of demons, and there is one, among others, of an extraordinary height [*the Imperial Gazetteer on Gwalior's huge Jain images*].
the Muhammadan kings have taken possession of these countries [*Moguls*],
the fortress of Gwalior has become the place where they send princes and
great nobles for safe custody. Shah Jahan having ascended the throne by
treachery, as I shall relate in the course of my narrative, caused all
the princes and nobles whom he believed to be able to injure him, to be
arrested, one after the other, and sent them to Gwalior, but he allowed
them all to live and to enjoy their revenues. Aurangzeb, his son, does
just the contrary; for when he sends any great noble there, at the end
of nine or ten days he causes him to be poisoned, and he does this so that
the people may not say that he is a sanguinary monarch. As soon as he had
in his power Prince Murad Bakhsh, his younger brother, whom he encouraged
to take arms against his father Shah Jahan, and who, being Governor of
the Province of *Gujarat*,
had proclaimed himself Emperor, he had him placed in this fortress, where
he died. They have erected in the town an appropriately magnificent tomb
for him [though he is actually buried in the fort itself] in a mosque,
which they built for the purpose, with a great court in front, all surrounded
by vaults under which there are several shops. It is the custom in India,
when they build a public edifice, to surround it with a large market-place,
with an endowment for the poor, to whom they give almost daily, and who
pray to God for him who has caused the work to be done....
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