MARCH 17, 1952
AGRA, India, Sunday—In Hyderabad I received a letter which told me that there was famine near Madras and that I should see conditions there and report them. Unfortunately we had decided that it was impossible to go there; but I will certainly find out what I can about this part of the country from reports received at our embassy and through the Indian government. It is difficult for us at home to realize what a famine means to the villagers here. The margin is so close from crop to crop that any failure means famine, and this means migration in search of food and loss of what little they have.
After a speech at the Social Welfare Conference we went for a few minutes to a Methodist Mission girls' school which is doing good work in educating large numbers of children. Then we had the great pleasure of spending a half hour with one of the most charming ladies I have ever met, Begum Wali-ud-dowla. There were two brides in her family and one of them had been asked to dress in her bridal costume for me, as it was a traditional one which had been handed down in the family for many years. It weighed about 157 pounds and, needless to say, the young lady wearing it did not want to move around much. According to custom, her husband had to carry her upstairs the first time she entered the house, and we could not help thinking that it was quite a feat.
After lunching with His Highness, Prince Berar, I held a press conference. We left immediately after for the plane, landing in Aurangabad at 4:30. The rather bumpy flight disturbed some of our party; but immediately on arrival we left by car for a hasty view, before it grew dark, of the Ellora Caves. They made a great impression on me. Though I had seen some photographs, I had no conception of what I was actually going to see.
The caves are hewn out of solid rock and go right into the mountainside. One cave was evidently designed as a temple. When one got in through the door, one found two great elephants on either side, and two tall columns. There was a gallery all around and a miniature temple in the middle. The friezes in these caves are always very interesting. One of the first caves we saw had a most beautiful figure of Buddha, with a remarkable expression on it. Lanterns were brought, and even after it became dark we got a fair view of some of the other caves. Outside, the view of the plain and hills around us was quite fairy-like in the moonlight.
After a bath and a quiet dinner at the hotel, I went over for a short time to talk to some of the kind people who had invited me for dinner, but whose invitation I had put off fearing we would not get back early enough from our visit to the caves. As far as art and history go, the Ellora Caves have left me an impression of beauty which I hope will never fade.