Further yet lay the artificial lake of Meer Alam, reflecting the palace of Baradari and the russet plain, infinite as far as the eye could reach towards the north, where other superb mausoleums were visible in their whiteness.

Dewani Khas, the great hall of audience, on columns open on all sides to the sky and landscape, overlooks a pit about thirty paces away where tigers and elephants fought to divert the sultan and his court. At the threshold is a large block of black marblethe throne of Akbar the Great. At the time of the incursion of the Jats, who drove the emperor from his palace, as soon as the usurper took his seat, the stone, the legend tells, split and shed blood; the iridescent stain remains to this day. From the roof, consisting of terraces between cupolas, there is a view of many temples glorified in the golden sunset, and nearer at hand stand ten[Pg 123] imposing columns, very tallthe last remaining vestiges of the rajah's elephant-house.

SRINAGAR The ceremony now begins. The dastour chants his prayers, throwing handfuls of rice all the time[Pg 17] over the young couple. A sheet is held up between the two, and a priest twines a thread about the chair. At the seventh turn the sheet is snatched away, and the bride and bridegroom, with a burst of laughter, fling a handful of rice at each other.

The ugliest of these palaces is that of the Maharajah, with galleries of varnished wood, of which the windows overlooking the river are filled with gaudy stained glass. In the garden is a pagoda painted in crude colours crowned with a gilt cupola; the zenana has bright red walls striped with green, and in the grounds there is a cottage exactly copied from a villa in the suburbs of London. The Prince of Morvi came before sunrise to take us to the temples of Satrunji. On the way we outstripped carts packed full of women and children in light shimmering muslins. They were all making a pilgrimage to the sacred hill, singing shrill chants in time to the jolting of their springless vehicles,[Pg 70] and broken by oaths and imprecations at the stoppages occasioned by our expedition.