city benares situated college church
BENAP.ES, the most populous city in the North-Western Provinces, and the headquarters of the commissioner of the division, is situated on the north bank of the Ganges, in 25° 7' N. lat. and 83° 4' E. long. According to the census of 1872, the population amounted to 175,188, viz., 89,763 males, and 85,425 females,-133,549, or 76'23 per cent. being Hindus ; 41,374, or 23.77 per cent., Mahometans ; others, 265. Gross municipal income in 1871, £16,069 ; expenditure, £14,331; average rate of municipal taxation, Is. 10d. per head.
The town of Benares - the religious centre of Hinduism - is one of the most ancient cities on the globe. The Rev. Mr Sherring, in his Sacred City of the Hindus (1868), states - " Twenty-five centuries ago, at the least, it was famous. When Babylon was struggling with Nineveh for supremacy, when Tyre was planting her colonies, when Athens was growing in strength, before Rome had become known, or Greece had contended with Persia, or Cyrus had added lustre to the Persian monarchy, or Nebuchadnezzar had captured Jerusalem and the inhabitants of Judea had been carried into captivity, she had already risen to greatness, if not to glory. Nay, she may have heard of the fame of Solomon, and have sent her ivory, her apes, and her peacocks to adorn his palaces ; while partly with her gold he may have overlaid the temple of the Lord." Hiouen Thsang, the celebrated Chinese pilgrim, visited Benares in the 7th century A.D., and described it as containing thirty Buddhist monasteries, with about 3000 monks, and about a hundred temples of Hindu gods. Even after the lapse of so great a time the city is still in its glory, and as seen .trom the river it presents a scene of great picturesqueness and grandeur. The Ganges here forms a fine sweep of about 4 miles in length, the city being situated on the outside of the curve, on the northern bank of the river, which is the most elevated. It is about 3 miles in length, by 1 in breadth, rising from the river in the form of an amphitheatre, and is thickly studded with domes and minarets. The bank of the river is entirely lined with stone, and there are many very fine glidts or landing-places built by pious devotees, and highly ornamented. These are generally crowded with bathers and worshippers. Shrines and temples line the bank. The internal streets are so winding and narrow that there is not room for a carriage to pass, and it is difficult to penetrate them even on horseback. Their level is considerably lower than the ground-floors of the houses, which have generally arched rows in front, with little shops behind them ; and above these they are richly embellished with verandahs, galleries, projecting oriel windows, and very broad overhanging eaves supported by carved brackets. The houses are built of Chanar stone, and are lofty - none being less than two stories high, most of them three, and several of five or six stories. The Hindus are fond of painting the outside of their houses a deep red colour, and of covering the most conspicuous parts with pictures of flowers, men, women, bulls, elephants, and gods and goddesses in all the multiform shapes known in Hindu mythology. The number of temples is very great ; they are mostly small, and are placed in the angles of the streets, under the shadow of the lofty houses. Their forms are not ungraceful, and many of them are covered over with beautiful and elaborate carvings of flowers, animals, and palm branches, rivalling in richness and minuteness the finest specimens of Gothic or of Grecian architecture.
Benares, having from time immemorial been a holy city, contains a vast number of Brahmans, who either subsist by charitable contributions, or are supported by endowments in the numerous religious institutions of the city. Hindu religious mendicants, with every conceivable bodily deformity, literally line the principal streets on both sides. Some have their legs or arms distorted by long continuance in one position ; others have kept their hands clenched until the finger nails have pierced entirely through their hands. But besides an immense resort to Benares of poor pilgrims from every part of India, as well as from Thibet and Burmah, numbers of rich Hindus, in the decline of life, retire thither to pass the remainder of their days, or temporarily to wash away their sins in the sacred water of the Ganges. These devotees lavish large sums in indiscriminate charity, and it is the hope of sharing in such pious distributions that brings together the concourse of religious mendicants from all quarters of the country.
Besides its religious interest, Benares is important as a wealthy city and a place of considerable trade ; the bazars are filled with the richest goods, and there is a constant bustle of business in all the principal streets. k large trade is earned on in the sugar, saltpetre, and indigo which are produced in the district. Silk and shawls are manufactured in the city ; and Benares is especially famous for its gold embroidered cloths, called Kin.kdb (Kincob), and for its gold filagree work. A large quantity of English piece goods here finds a market, being either sold for consumption in the neighbourhood, or sent to other parts of the country. The principal English institution in Benares is the Government or Queen's College, as it is calldd, conducted by a staff of professors from England. There are two distinct and separate departments in the college - Sanskrit and English. The Sanskrit college was founded by Government in 1791. There are three missions in Benares - the Church of England, the London, and the Baptist Missionary Society. The mission in connection with the Church of England was established in 1817. The mission has a church capable of holding between 300 and 400 persons, two normal schools for training Christian teachers, a large college, and several girls' schools. Tho mission of the London Missionary Society was inaugurated in 1821, and is situated in the suburbs of the city. A substantial church was erected about 1846. The mission of the Baptist Missionary Society was founded in 1817, originally as an outpost of the Serampur mission. It maintains an orphanage for the support and education of native children. With regard to the civil station, which is situated a short distance from the town, Mr Shelling says, - " The foreign residents of Benares live chiefly at Sikrol, an exten've suburb on the north-west side of the city. This station is divided by the Barna River, to the south of which the greater portion of the military cantonments, and buildings connected therewith, are situated, and likewise the English church, Government college, medical hall, the old mint, the residence of the Maharaja of Benares, the missionaries of the Church of England and of the London and the Baptist Societies, the courts of the civil and sessions judge, the deputy-judge, and the judge of small causes. To the north of the liver are the houses of the civil officers of Government, the courts of the commissioner of the division, and of the collector and other magistrates of the district ; several bungalows inhabited by deposed Rajas and other natives ; the Wards' institution, for the residence of sons of native noblemen under special charge of Government, and while pursuing their studies at Queen's College; the beautiful public gardens, supported by subscription ; the swimming bath ; the jail, in which as many as 1700 prisoners are sometimes confined. ; the lunatic asylum, with 110 patients ; the blind and leper asylum, with 130 inmates, founded in 1825 by Raja Kali Sankar Glioshal ; and the cemetery. A hospital and four dispensaries are situated in various parts of the city, and afford gratuitous relief to numerous patients daily."