12. The banyan is the Ficus indica, or Urostigma bengalense; the ‘pipal’ is Ficus religiosa, or Urostigma religiosum; and the tamarind is the Tamarindus indica, or occidentalis, or officinalis.
13. The history of the Begam is given in Chapter 76, post.
The Station of Meerut—’Atalis’ who Dance and Sing gratuitously for the Benefit of the Poor.
On the 30th, we went on twelve miles to Meerut, and encamped close to the Suraj Kund, so called after Suraj-mal, the Jat chief of Dig, whose tomb I have described at Govardhan. He built here a very large tank, at the recommendation of the spirit of a Hindoo saint, Manohar Nath, whose remains had been burned here more than two hundred years before, and whose spirit appeared to the Jat chief in a dream, as he was encamped here with his army during one of his kingdom-taking expeditions. This is a noble work, with a fine sheet of water, and flights of steps of ‘pakka’ masonry from the top to its edge all round. The whole is kept in repair by our Government. About half a mile to the north-west of the tank stands the tomb of Shah Pir, a Muhammadan saint, who is said to have descended from the mountains with the Hindoo, and to have been his bosom friend up to the day of his death. Both are said to have worked many wonderful miracles among the people of the surrounding country, who used to see them, according to popular belief, quietly taking their morning ride together upon the backs of two enormous tigers who came every morning at the appointed hour from the distant jungle. The Hindoo is said to have been very fond of music; and though he has been now dead some three centuries, a crowd of amateurs (atalis) assemble every Sunday afternoon at his shrine, on the bank of the tank, and sing gratis, and in a very pleasing style, to an immense concourse of people, who assemble to hear them, and to solicit the spirit of the old saint, softened by their melodies. At the tomb of the Muhammadan saint a number of professional dancers and singers assemble every Thursday afternoon, and dance, sing, and play gratis to a large concourse of people, who make offerings of food to the poor, and implore the intercession of the old man with the Deity in return.