The company retired early, and after breakfast the next morning the carriages were at the door. In the first one were Captain Ringgold, Mrs. Belgrave, and Sir Modava. Lord Tremlyn had more than once manifested a desire to be in the same carriage with Miss Blanche; and he went with her and Louis on this occasion, while Mr. and Mrs. Woolridge invited General Noury to accompany them.
“Akbar made Agra the capital of the Mogul Empire,” said Sir Modava, as the carriage started. “He changed its old name to Akbarabad, and the natives call it so to this day.”
“The termination of that name seems to be very common in India, as Allahabad, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad,” added the commander.
“In the Hindu, abad means a town or a village; and if you cut off that ending you will find the person or place for whom it was named, as Akbar-abad.”
“Precisely as it is in our country, where we have Morris-town, Allen-town, Morgan-town, and a thousand others,” added the captain.
“After the death of Akbar his successors reigned in Delhi. The Mogul Empire came to an end in 1761; and Agra was sacked by the Jats, and later the Mahrattas completed the destruction they had begun. It was captured from Scindia in 1803 by the English under Lord Lake, and has since remained in their possession. In all these disasters its population, which had been seven hundred thousand, dropped to ten thousand; but under British rule it recovered some of its former prosperity, and it is now about one hundred and seventy thousand.”
“If a man wants to build a house here he has only to dig for the material, for not far down he will find the stone and brick of the structures that crumbled into the earth after the death of the great emperor. We are now approaching the fortress, or the citadel as it is oftener called. It is a sort of acropolis, for it contains palaces, mosques, halls of justice, and other buildings.”
The carriages stopped at the principal gate, opposite to which is the mosque of Jummah Musjid, or the Cathedral Mosque. About all the great structures here are built of red sandstone, with marble bands on many of them, so that it is hardly necessary to mention the material, unless it varies from the rule. This mosque is a fine one, mounted on a marble esplanade or platform, like most buildings of this description.
Crossing the drawbridge, the visitors came to the Palace of Justice, built by Akbar. It is six hundred feet long, enclosed by a colonnade of arches, like a cloister. It is now used as a military storeroom, divided by brick walls, and filled with cannon and shot. The English have made a sort of museum here; and the superior officer who did the honors to his lordship showed them the throne of Akbar, a long marble seat, inlaid with precious stones, with a graceful canopy of the same material over it; and the boys thought he would have had a more comfortable seat if he had put off the period of his reign to the present time.