In its bid to promote religious and cultural tourism in the state, the Uttar Pradesh government has conveniently dropped the world famous Taj Mahal, considered one of the seven wonders of the world, from its list of important tourist destinations.
In its bid to promote religious and cultural tourism in the state, the Uttar Pradesh government has conveniently dropped the world famous Taj Mahal, considered one of the seven wonders of the world, from its list of important tourist destinations. In a booklet, titled UP Tourism: Unlimited Potential, the Taj Mahal draws a blank, while stress has been laid on promoting various religious and cultural circuits such as Ramayana circuit, Krishna circuit, Buddhist circuit, Vindhyachal circuit, Chitrakoot circuit, Awadh circuit, Jain circuit, etc. In fact, the booklet, which has a picture of the Ganga aarti on its cover, also mentions eco tourism, adventure tourism and pro-poor tourism in its list. According to the booklet, released by UP tourism minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi on the occasion of UP government’s completion of six months in office, UP has a huge potential for private investment to promote tourism in the state.
As far as domestic tourists are concerned, UP is the second most visited state in the country, while it stands third in drawing international tourists. Ironically, apart from drawing the maximum tourists for the state, the Taj Mahal also earns the maximum revenue for the tourism department. It may be mentioned that on many previous occasions, the UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath had said that the Taj Mahal does not represent the cultural heritage of India and, according to him, the Ramayana and the Gita represent true Indian culture. He also mentioned that instead of gifting replicas of Taj Mahal to dignitaries visiting India, it is better to gift them the Ramayana or Gita.
The government’s first state budget for 2017-2018 too had omitted any mention of Taj Mahal in a special section titled ‘Hamari Sanskritik Virasat’ (Our Cultural Heritage) in finance minister Rajesh Agarwal’s budget speech. The UP government, meanwhile, has said that it is not intentional that Taj Mahal has been dropped. UP health minister Siddhartha Nath Singh said “there has been some miscommunication. The state government recognises the value of Taj Mahal”.
On the other hand, UP tourism officials say the booklet released is not a guide to UP’s tourism sports. “Taj Mahal is not being neglected or marginalised. Instead, there are many ongoing projects in and around Taj Mahal which include a parking lot, a Taj-Agra Fort linkage project, etc.”