Monday, October 25, 2010

Pataliputra The Largest Jewel in India’s Crown Part.IV

To cater for the populations spiritual needs, great temples stood beside the public squares. Devotees of all the major religions of India had freedom of worship- Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains.  Even the Greek soldiers were given the same freedom of worship.
The imperial palaces and their outbuildings sprawled across a huge walled compound at the heart of Pataliputra. Armed guards checked the identity of every visitor. Inside the main gate were the royal storehouses, where soldiers and officials collected their pay. Next came the almshouses, where, on fixed days of the year, the king would hand out gifts of food to the sick and the poor. Nearby, horses and elephants bedded down in the royal stables, close to tack rooks full of harnesses, saddles, carriages, glided ceremonial coaches, and fearsome war chariots spread with tiger and lion skins.
On the edge of the palaces were public rooms: echoing halls supported by hundreds of carved and gilded pillars, decorated with silver birds and golden vines. The halls were used for royal audiences and banquets. Traces of one pillared hall survive in the form of 84 heaps of stone, lying in rows. Alongside, in a richly decorated gallery, the city’s painters and sculptors celebrated the achievements of their royal master.
Beyond the halls lay private apartments to which only senior nobles and officials had access. Inside the apartments, a royal arsenal held stores of bows and arrows, lances, swords, daggers, and shields, ready for times of war. The treasury, beside the king’s personal rooks, housed a hoard of precious stones, incense, and bars of gold, silver, and iron, guards patrolled it night and day, and from its contents, a team of jewelers created works of art.

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