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Part Two

Northern India

Emperors, Monks and Maharajahs

What is remarkable is that the Three Hares symbol not only occurs in Buddhist caves at Mogao near the oasis of Dunhuang in Western China, but also as Four Hares deep in the mountains of Ladakh, Spiti and Guge in Western Tibet. They also occur in Swat Valley in the old North West Frontier Province and then down on the plains in Moghul art at Akbar’s capital Fatehpur Sikri, and again as Four Hares in the camel trading town of Nagaur. They crop up in the strangest of places and there is no obvious explanation, though there are many underlying currents and influences both historical and religious. This chapter looks at the occurrence of the Three and Four Hare symbol in these locations. The Hare certainly leads us on a fascinating zig-zag trail and in this chapter the Indian part of the journey starts with a white hare in Peshawar, the old Afghan winter capital at the bottom end of the Khyber Pass. The trail then goes all over the Himalayas and ends up back in the deserts of Rajasthan on the ceiling of a Maharajah’s pleasure palace.

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