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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

The Writer's Longest Journey

The Writer's Longest Journey.

The longest journey I ever made was from England to India, returning by way of China and Japan. I landed at Bombay, where I met some kind friends and visited the wonderful temple and admirable sculptures cut in the rocks of a great cave in the Island of Elephanta. Being on the shore of the Arabian Sea, and the scenery inland begirt by mountains, Bombay appeared to me to be a much more agreeable place to live at than the low-lying city of Calcutta, on the other side of Hindostan. The public buildings and institutions are of a high order and well maintained. A considerable section of the inhabitants are Parsees, descendants of the ancient fire worshippers of Persia, some of whom are rich merchants, highly respectable in character, and benevolent, public-spirited citizens. From Bombay I travelled by railway to Agra, where, like all other travellers, J was charmed by the sight of the glorious Tagh-Mahl, a magnificent edifice of pure white marble standing 'midst a beautiful and well-kept garden on one side of the city, along a wide promenade, overlooking the river Jumna. This exquisite monument, whose beautiful dome reaches far up towards the sky, was reared to the page 74 memory of an amiable wife by a Mogul Sultan. It is both externally and internally so adorned and delicately constructed as to be regarded as one of the finest specimens of ornamental architecture in the world; and there are also mosques and other monuments in Agra and at Delhi of great beauty and imposing grandeur. At Lucknow and Cawnpore the scenes of horror, suspense, and cruel death of so many of our countrymen and countrywomen during the Indian Mutiny have been changed into public gardens, adorned with becoming monuments to the memory of the victims. Of all the grand objects of natural scenery which I have seen the Himalaya Mountains are the most sublime and impressive. Viewed from Darjeeling, their peaks, rising to the height of 28,000 feet, covered with everlasting snow, on a base of green forest, appear like a celestial encampment, and impress the mind with a profound sense of awe and reverence for the Creator of the Universe, of whose power and glory those lofty and grandly shining mountains seem to be a magnificent and fitting emblem. From Darjeeling I travelled down to Calcutta by way of Benares, where I saw a good deal of the religious customs of the Hindoos at the temples of their sacred city and still more sacred River Ganges. Crowds of men and women are to be seen bathing in its waters or casting flowers and the ashes of their dead into the rapid stream. I sailed from Calcutta to Singapore, which I found much page 75 extended from what it was in my earlier visits, and from Singapore I went on to Hong Kong, from which flourishing English colony I made excursions to Macao and Canton.