Taj Mahal erased from Yogi Adityanath government’s tourism brochure: Here’s how foreign media reacted

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New Delhi | Updated: October 4, 2017 2:22:12 PM

Taj Mahal row: A controversy is brewing over the omission of the name of iconic Taj Mahal from a Uttar Pradesh tourism brochure.

taj mahal row, taj mahal omission, taj mahal controversy, taj mahal foreign media, foreign media taj mahal, taj mahal, agra, taj mahal yogi adityanath, yogi adityanath taj mahalThe iconic Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan. (UP tourism)

Taj Mahal row: A controversy is brewing over the omission of the name of iconic Taj Mahal from an Uttar Pradesh tourism brochure. Not just the Indian media, foreign media has also reported on the issue. A booklet distributed by Uttar Pradesh tourism department had recently omitted the name of the Taj. However, it was not intended to be a promotional brochure, reported BBC.com. It said the so-called booklet was issued “six months into Hindu nationalist Yogi Adityanath’s tenure as chief minister” of Uttar Pradesh. The booklet had details of ongoing and future tourism projects of Uttar Pradesh, including the Gorakhpur temple, where Adityanath is the head priest.

“But Mr Adityanath’s views on the Taj Mahal have previously been questioned. In June, he reportedly said the monument ‘did not reflect Indian culture’, BBC said. The report also highlighted the outrage generated by the news of omission of the Taj from the booklet on social media.

The Washington Post questioned, “Is India neglecting the Taj Mahal because it was built by Muslims?” The Post said the Taj has “taken a beating” in recent years as the attendance at the iconic monument has fallen and the air pollution is “turning its ethereal white marble yellow”.

To make matters worse, it said, “some in India say that a staunch Hindu nationalist government recently elected in the Taj’s home state of Uttar Pradesh is starving the world-famous site of funds and support because, as it sees it, the mausoleum was built by Muslim invaders.” The Post further said that the Taj, which is India’s biggest tourism draw, was not allotted “any cultural heritage funds” in the state budget for the coming year.

While reporting the reaction of opposition leaders in India on the issue, the Post also published Yogi government’s counter. It quoted Awanish Awasthi, Adityanath’s principal secretary, as saying, “The Taj Mahal is the seventh wonder of the world. It has always been a priority not only for Uttar Pradesh but for the entire country of India.” Awasthi further told the US daily that in the booklet, the government wanted to feature some other new projects.

The Australian published a report by The Times with the headline: “Taj Mahal sidelined for being ‘too Muslim’”

“…the Taj Mahal has mysteriously been omitted from a brochure of local attractions amid an ugly row over its Muslim heritage,” it said, while claiming that visitors to the state are “instead encouraged to visit predominantly Hindu attractions such as the temples of Mathura and the riverside ghats of Varanasi, which run down to the Ganges.” The report also highlighted critics’ view about Adityanath’s take on the 17th century tomb built by Shah Jahan. It said that Adityanath was recently quoted as saying, “Foreign dignitaries visiting the country used to be gifted replicas of the Taj Mahal and other minarets which did not reflect Indian culture.”

UK-based the Independent also published the news of omission of the Taj from the booklet. “The Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is not mentioned in a new Utter Pradesh tourism booklet which highlights key attractions in the Indian state,” it said, adding the 32-page booklet titled “Utter Pradesh Tourism – Unlimited Possibilities” was unveiled last Wednesday by Uttar Pradesh Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

The state government has so far not cleared the air on the omission of the Taj from the booklet. It has, instead, said that a large sum of money is being used for the maintenance of the Taj and development of nearby areas.

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