The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - 'Diary of a Tour in the Naga Hills, 1922-1923' by Henry Balfour

caption: Description of a sightseeing tour of Benares
medium: diaries
date: 17.12.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Sun. 17.
text: Arrived at Mughul Sarai Junction at 9.2 a.m. (R.T.) & changed to a train for Benares, leaving at 9.50 a.m. & reaching Benares at 10 a.m. I drove to Clarke's Hotel, which is very fair, quite clean. Bedroom with large bath & dressing room attached (12R. per day for board & lodging). Badly illuminated with oil lamps. Had a short walk in the morning, but the city is too far away to get to easily on foot, & the sun was very hot & the dust was very trying. After lunch I took a trap & drove to the Durga Temple ("Monkey Temple") on the western outskirts of the city. The Temple is spiriform & stands in a small square, round the walls of which one can walk. Macaques are there in scores & come to be fed, some taking food from the hand. The Temple is red-ochred all over & fairly elaborately carved outside. It, and the large 'tank' by its side, date from the 18th Century. Goats are sacrificed just outside & their blood is placed in a hollow on a low stone pillar. From there I drove to the Golden Temple, dedicated to Siva. It is not easily seen as the surrounding streets are very narrow, & all is dirt. From a first storey over a small shop one looks down on the Temple, which had three towers, two covered with copper, gilt and repousse. The central tower is domed, the other two pointed. Inside sacred cows. The Gyan Kup ("Well of Knowledge") is close to the Golden Temple, & near it is a great Nandi figure in stone, painted red. Close by is a hideous red figure of Ganesh with silver hands, feet, trunk and ears - a very unattractive figure standing by the roadside. After this I looked round part of the Bazaar in very narrow, crowded streets. Next I went down to the River, to the Asi Ghat, but did not stay long, & drove back to the hotel to nurse a bad cold in head & chest. I was disappointed in Benares. It is so ill-kept, dirty & slipshod. I had expected more colour. The natives are an unsavoury lot; beggars are everywhere & tiresome. There are touts galore, & the priests at the temples are very numerous & just vulgar bakshish-cadgers.
text: Small 'friction-drums' are sold in the streets and boys fly kites of a type given by Waddell to the Pitt Rivers Museum. I saw some bullet-bows, gulel, being carried. Card-weaving is carried on in some of the streets, for weaving inscribed bands. On the outskirts of the city one sees plenty of Hoopoes, Rollers and Bee-eaters; camels, buffaloes & humped cattle are everywhere as beasts of burden, and minute striped squirrels career about the trees & walls.