[Into Uttar Pradesh: the second part of the 9th December was spent falling in love with the Taj Mahal – every bit as romantic and impressive as I’d heard but feared wouldn’t live up to expectation. An extravagant work of love, it was built by Shah Jahan as a memorial to his third wife Mumtaz Mahal (meaning the Chosen One) who died giving birth to their 14 child.]
THURSDAY 9TH DECEMBER, 1976 – Part Three
“Reached Agra and saw Taj Mahal in late afternoon sun. First glimpsed through archway – fantastic – like walking into a film!
Lovely long [water] tank broken by platform in middle with fountains all the way up. A few tourists, mainly Indians. Took shoes off, up steps into the mosque – like a church – cool, dark, echoing, high vault. 2 tombs in screen – bigger one was Shah Jahan’s to the wife’s right. Decorated inlaid flowers in marble (like screen on outside too). Corridor and marble hallways all round screen. Then steps down to vault below where real tombs of monarchs were (exactly the same as ones on show above).
Walked round outside – river at back, tributary of Ganges. Red gateways on 3 sides of garden leading into Taj – lovely pagoda type towers lit in evening sun, pink flowers, green trees, birds.
Staying the night at International “Hot Water” Youth Hostel. Sitting in cafe listening to Stevie’s [Wonder] ‘Inner Visions’, candlelit tables. Well looked after – cooked on lawn outside.”