The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 3 The Gardens of the Taj Mahal

Spring flowers at Taj Mahal

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Great was my delight, some months after this rainy day at Agra, to forget the fatigue of the long three days' drive up the Jhelum ravine, as I found one by one the spring flowers of the Taj. First came the tulips, high up on the slopes of the Murree Hills, growing in little patches where the sun could reach them through the fir trees, dainty little cream-coloured flowers, with pointed petals streaked on the outer sides with carmine. Lower, the hillsides were bare as yet, but down in the ravine by the river the lilies were coming out, in form like our Madonna lilies, but smaller, pink in colour, with long reed-like leaves, growing in tufts in crevices of the limestone cliffs, tan-talisingly out of reach. Then as the rocks receded and the valley grew more wooded, splendid crown-imperials shot up through the mossy carpet strewn with the brown of last year's leaves, magnificent great red bells, which glowed between the bare mauve twigs and russet buds of the undergrowth. Each flower as we passed it 1 thought the loveliest of all, but the craftsman who crowned the crescent of the Taj with an iris knew best, for the memory of the other lilies fades before the blue Kashmir iris as we saw it when at last the valley opened out: blue lakes and pools of iris, between a golden land of mustard fields and reefs of bright green grass, stretching away into the gloomy deep-blue distance of the lower mountain chains, above which towered the cloud-wreathed summits of the snowy Pir Panjal.