A couple of small omnibuses were taken, and the party proceeded to the dak-bungalow, which was in the centre of the city. Their apartments were not elegant, but they were comfortable; and no one found any fault at the absence of the splendors with which they had been surrounded in the palace of the Guicowar, or even those of Bombay. A good breakfast was obtained, and the forenoon was given up to rest; but after a couple of hours in their chambers the company were assembled in the coffee-room.
“Delhi is a city which figures largely in the history of India,” said Lord Tremlyn, seated very informally in an arm-chair. “It existed fifteen or twenty centuries before the time of Christ, and was the capital of the great Aryan empire. It was founded by the invaders of India. The chronology of India is not reliable, but it is claimed that this event dates back to 3101 B.C. Its name was Indrapechta, which it holds to the present time among the learned Hindus, so that the city appears to have existed while Egypt was still in its infancy.
“It became the great Mussulman capital; but one and another of its princes changed its location, till its ancient sites extend for thirty miles along the river, and its ruins, more extensive than even those of Rome, cover this range of territory. But I shall not go into the details of those migratory periods, but speak only of the city as we find it.
“Delhi is on the Jumna River, which you saw in the early morning. This stream has its entire course in Hindustan, and is the principal tributary of the Ganges. Both of these rivers are sacred with the natives. The Jumna rises in the Himalayas, at a height of nearly eleven thousand feet, and of course it is a mountain torrent at its upper waters. After a run of eight hundred and sixty miles, it falls into the Ganges about three miles below Allahabad. On each side of it is an important canal, both built before railways were in use here.
“Delhi is nine hundred and fifty-four miles northwest of Calcutta. It stands on high ground, is walled on three sides, and has ten gates. A series of buildings formerly composing the grand palace of Shah Jehan have become the fort, overlooking the river, with a fine view of the surrounding country, covered with woods and agricultural grounds. You will see the palaces, mosques, and temples, and I will not describe them. Delhi is the seventh city in population, which is a hundred and ninety-three thousand.”
After luncheon half a dozen landaus were at the door of the bungalow, in which the party seated themselves according to their own choice; and the first stop was made at the Jummah Musjid Mosque, which the Mussulmans of India venerate and admire more than any other. It is built on an immense esplanade, which is mounted by three flights of stairs, each in the form of the three sides of a pyramid, and each leading to an immense pointed arch, the entrances to the buildings.