In striking and effective contrast to the general aspect of death and desolation that characterizes the desert wastes of Persia an effect that is heightened by the ruins of caravansaries or villages, that are seldom absent from the landscape are the cultivated spots around the villages.
From Susa to Sardis, a distance of about seventeen hundred English miles, stretched a road, along which, at proper intervals, were caravansaries, and over which the fleet couriers of the king rode in six or seven days. The king was an absolute lord and master, who disposed of the lives and property of his subjects without restraint. To him the most servile homage was paid.
O my kind readers! when the Alaska Summer Hotel Company has stocked the nooks and corners of the archipelago with caravansaries, and good boats are filling them with guests who go to spend the season in the far Northwest, fail not to see that you are numbered among the elect; for Alaska outrivers all rivers and out-lakes all lakes being itself a lake of ten thousand islands; it out-mountains the Alps of America, and certainly outdoes everything else everywhere else, in the shape of a watering place.
Here the freight-wagons, with their twenty horses apiece, stop to recruit; and the cargo-mules, that take this route, are gathered in the immense stable-yards, which give to the place the appearance of a collection of caravansaries.
It happened to be at the Kaaterskill House it might have been at the Grand, or the Overlook that the young gentlemen in search of information saw the Catskill season get under way. The phase of American life is much the same at all these great caravansaries.
This, as well as the following nights, were passed in caravansaries. I had no tent no palanquins, and on this road there were no bungalows.
The three domes, and the small cupolas on the minarets, are of white marble; all the other parts, even the large slates with which the fine court-yard is paved, are of red sandstone. The inlaid ornamental work and stripes on the mosque, are also of white marble. There are great numbers of caravansaries, frequently with very handsome portals. The baths are unimportant.
Perhaps the most melancholy spectacle offered to us in our short sojourn in this pilgrimage, where the roads are so dusty and the caravansaries so ill provided, is the credulity of this pursuit.
To be thought worth catching partakes, after all, of the nature of a compliment. What was not so gratifying was the embarrassment of choice that followed; for each of these gayly beckoning caravansaries proved to be a catch-pilgrim for its inn up-town. Being on a hill, Zenkoji is not by way of easy approach by train; and the pilgrims to it are legion.
Here are most of the elements of peace and calm spirit. And the town itself is quite dead, utterly exhausted after a turbulent struggle of twenty-five hundred years, its poor inhabitants living along only from habit. The only new things in it the two caravansaries of the traveler are a hotel and a cemetery.