BY ANAND SINGH
Agra, Feb 24 (IANS) US President Donald Trump on Monday described the Taj Mahal as a “testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian culture”.
“Taj Mahal inspires awe, a timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian culture! Thank you, India,” wrote Trump in the visitors book during his visit to the 17th century monument along with First Lady Melania Trump.
The visiting dignitaries were slated to spend over an hour at the historic monument, constructed by Mughal emperor Shahjahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Trump also witnessed the sunset along with his wife at the Taj. He was accompanied by his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner and top US officials.
The Taj Mahal was decked up in the last one week, with a fresh coat of mud pack applied for the first time after the construction of the symbol of love. Even the mausoleums in the complex were cleaned, in view of the high profile visit of the US President.
The Trumps arrived at the Taj at the head of a 70-vehicle cavalcade, including his luxurious ‘Beast’ after covering a 13-km stretch from Kheria airport here in about 25 minutes.
The US President was taken to the Taj Mahal complex in a battery-operated cart.
This is Trump’s first state visit to India and also the first standalone visit by a US President to India.
Before Trump, US President Bill Clinton visited Agra in March 2000 and Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959.
In view of the ongoing visit, the historic city got a massive facelift. The administration has put up huge billboards, placards, cut-outs and posters welcoming the US President and his wife Melania.
The 13 km-long route from the airport to the Taj Mahal was spruced up and the US and Indian flags put up at roundabouts to give the area a festive look.
Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath received the US first family at the airport. However, they did not accompany the Trumps to the Taj Mahal and stayed put at the airport. They will see off the US dignitaries when they fly to Delhi.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
BY ANAND SINGH