Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/24

This page has been validated.



and trees, temples, towers, and widely-spread ghauts, which form the beautiful panorama through which he is gliding. As yet the novelty of this extraordinary method of navigating the Ganges has not worn off in the eyes of the native population on its banks; crowds are drawn up to survey the marvellous spectacle, and every employment is suspended while the fire-ship shoots rapidly along.


The river Ganges, in its progress through the plains, waters many spots of remarkable beauty, but in the whole course of its brilliant career it can scarcely boast a more splendid landscape than that in which the rocks of Janghera form so prominent a feature. Standing boldly out in the stream, near a place called Sultangunge, in the province of Behar, this picturesque pile forms a grand and beautiful object; it consists of several masses of grey granite heaped one upon the other in a very picturesque manner, and forming ledges and terraces which are the sites of several small temples. In some places a crevice in the rock has afforded room for the roots of a magnificent tree to expand, and to crown with bright foliage the romantic height.

Janghera is supposed, in former times, to have been united by an isthmus to the shore; but the rapid river continually rolling down, has worn a passage for itself between, and the rock is now completely isolated. This place has been considered, during many ages, to be particularly holy; and, accordingly, from time immemorial fakeers have established themselves upon it, deriving a considerable revenue from the donations of the pious voyagers of the river. A ghaut or landing-place has been constructed at the back of this rock, and rude stairs conduct the pilgrims who are desirous to perform their orisons at the hallowed shrine, to the pagoda at the summit dedicated to Naryan, who figures as the principal deity of the place. There is an idol of him in the temple that crowns this beautiful pile, and his image, together with those of Vishnu, Sceva, and others, is carved in different parts of the rock.

The leading fakeer preserves a dignified seclusion, and is to be seen as silent and as motionless as the idol himself, seated on a tiger skin, and unencumbered with any covering except the chalk and ashes with which he is plentifully dedaubed: he has, however, more active followers in his train, who are at the trouble of collecting the tribute which he endeavours to exact from all the passers-by, whatever their religious persuasion may be. These fellows push out from the rock whenever the state of the water will permit, and follow the voyagers with their importunities. But when the river is full, and the current, strengthened by the melting of the snow, comes down in one sweeping flood, there is no loitering under the rock of Janghera, and a vessel sailing up with a strong wind, against this tide, makes rather a perilous navigation as it stems the rapid waters. In going down the Ganges at such a period, we pass the rock like an arrow shot from a bow, only catching a transient glance of its picturesque beauty; but when the river is low, and the current flows gently, we may pause to view it at our leisure, many persons landing to pay a visit to the grim occupant of the pagoda.