Jaswant Singh Ki Chatri-Balkeshwar

Jaswant Singh Ki Chatri-Balkeshwar


Some little distance up the right bank of the river, to the north of the fort, about half-way between the garden palace of Raja Bhoj and Jafar Khan’s Roza (all outside the old city wall), and near a village called “Rajware” (which occupies a central point near the bank of the river, on the tract of ground allotted for the residences of the Hindu Rajas who attended the court of the Mughal emperors at Agra), there is a beautiful red stone building in a very perfect state of preservation, called “Jeswant Singh’s Chatri,” said to have been built over the spot where the body of Jeswant Singh of Mewar or Jodhpur was burnt, after his death, in the time of Aurangzeb. But as he is known to have died at Kabul, could his body have been brought to Agra to be burnt? This place consists of a walled enclosure, in the centre of which is a square red stone building, the entire sides of which are composed of the most beautiful open stone lattice-work, of very varied and exquisite patterns. (In this particular, it put me most strongly in mind of the mausoleum of Pir Faddu near Repari, only that the latter is somewhat smaller and domed,while Jeswant Singh’s Chatri is not domed.)

The outer side of the red stone wall of the exterior enclosure of the “Chatri”  next the river is beautifully ornamented with sculpture in relief, the principal ornament being the representation of a beautiful long thin-necked surai or water-bottle, accompanied by wreaths of flowers &c.; and I remarked the very same kind of ornamentation on the walls of the great “burj,” or cupola’d three-storeyed tower, called the “Battis Khambha” inthe Buland Baqh, or garden of Khoja Buland Khan,* above the Ram Bagh, across the river opposite.  The outer walls, next the river, of the enclosure of Jeswant Singh’s Chatri are pierced by doorways and windows, containing folding doors of stone, each half or leaf of the folding doors being formed of one single stone, and turning on hinges on the mortice and tennon-pivot principle. This “Chatri” is, in short, altogether so beautiful, so unique of its kind, and in such a perfect state of preservation, that I most certainly think it would be well worth photographing, especially a view from the river side.

The Udinath Bagh is a great old walled garden enclosure, named after Udinath, a Jogi or Hindu devotee, who is said to have lived in the time of Akbar. It is situated about half a mile to the west of Shahganj, and very near where the mismanaged little battle of Agra took place during the mutiny. It is a large walled enclosure, with octagonal towers at each of the four corners, and inside the wall at eastern end of the enclosure there are the remnants of fine old red sandstone building, of which only the southern wing is now standing; but there are several large fragments of fluted, full-bellied, stone pillars lying about which are decidedly Hindu in character, and which indicate that there must once have been here a fine pillared building of considerable size. Towards the western end of this enclosure there is a high building of more modern construction which is still inhabited; and in the centre of the western wall there is a plain gateway. This walled enclosure contains some of the finest, loftiest, and oldest trees about Agra.

There is a very interesting legend connected with this enclosure, which I will give as follows:—It is said that Akbar being anxious to see this Jogi, sent him a message to say that he wished him to come to his palace; but the Jogi, being, like most most Jogis of ancient times, a very independent and erratic sort of individual, who pretended to treat all worldly pomps with contempt, declined to go, and said that the Badshah might come to him, if he wanted to see him. But Akbar’s curiosity was only the more excited by the indifference of the Jogi, and so a few days afterwards he set out with a large retinue in order to go and see, with his own eyes, what kind of man this Jogi was. When Akbar had approached to a short distance from the Jogi’s garden enclosure, the Jogi was seen squatting in abstraction, either on the top of the wall, or on the top of one of the low corner towers of the walled enclosure.

Some of Akbar’s followers, seeing this, looked upon it as a mark of disrespect, as they thought that, according to the usual custom, the Jogi should have come forward to meet the Badshah; and therefore they rode forward and called out to the Jogi, saying—“The Badshah is coming, how is it that you do not come out to meet him.?” and also when the disciples of the Jogi, who were with him, saw the equipage of the king coming, they also had said to the Jogi—“The Badshah is coming with his retinue, go thou and meet him.” But the Jogi replied to them all—“What do I care about the king! I have nothing to do with him! Let him come if he will!” At length when the king had approached pretty close to the walls of the Jogi’s garden enclosure, the Jogi said to the walls, on which he sat—“The king’s equipage is moving forward hither, but why do not ye move?” Then, obedient to the command of the Jogi, the walls of the enclosure began to move forward; and when the walls had moved forward so far until they had reached close up to the spot to which the king had arrived, the king, wonder-struck, dismounted from his elephant and made obeisance to the Jogi, and said—that he now found that the fame which had reached him of the Jogi’s power and sanctity was a true and actual fact. The king then asked the Jogi if there was anything that he wanted, as he would grant him whatever he would wish; to which the Jogi replied—“I want nothing! What can I want?” The king then returned to his palace, pondering over the strange circumstances which had occurred.

Modhogarh was a mud fort built outside of and near the Bengali Burj of the fort of Agra, on a triangular spot of low ground between the Bengali Burj, the Taj Road and the river, or, in other words, close outside the south-eastern angle of the present fort. It was built, according to some accounts, by Madho Singh, a Jat Chief of Bharatpur, and ac­cording to other and more reliable accounts, by the Mahratta Chief Madhoji Sindhia, when the Mahrattas held possession of the fort of Agra.  The locality cited above, which is uni­versally pointed out as the site of Madhogarh, is the most extraordinary position for any fort, but more especially for a mud fort, for the land there is very low, and constantly subject to inundation by the river; indeed, this year (1871) the river Jamuna has entirely changed its course from the thither to the hither side, so that it now runs close to the eastern side of the fort, and has covered part of the site of the Madhogarh. 

Judging by what used to be the high­water mark of the river in former years at that spot, the only piece of ground on which the Madhogarh could have stood must have been a low triangular patch of ground measuring 700 feet in width from north to south by 400 feet from the high-water mark of the river up to the ditch of the fort. But before the British authorities constructed an embanked road between the fort and the river, the river used to come up much nearer to the fort, when the water was at its height during the rains. The Madhogarh was entirely razed to the ground, and all traces of it are swept away; and the low, originally semi-marshy, ground on which it is said to have stood, is, to my idea, the most unlikely position for a fort (especially a mud one) that I have ever heard, of.