Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News - 04-10-2017
One of India’s most iconic heritage sites and major tourist attraction, The Taj Mahal has been controversially excluded from an Uttar Pradesh tourism booklet.
The booklet, issued by the tourism department, was not intended to be a promotional brochure, but the omission of one of the seven wonders of the modern world has nonetheless sparked anger and bemusement.
Journalists, politicians and activists were among those who took to social media to decry the 17th Century mausoleum's absence.
According to the Washington Post, to make matters worse, 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 popular tourist attraction, located in the Agra district of Uttar Pradesh, has been mentioned on Twitter more than 12,000 times in the last 24 hours.
The booklet has been released six months into Hindu nationalist Yogi Adityanath's tenure as chief minister of India's most populous state.
It details ongoing and future tourism projects and mentions a number of famous tourist destinations, including a temple in Gorakhpur where Adityanath is the main priest.
Saffron-robed Adityanath, set the tone early on when he lamented at a rally that tiny models of the Taj Mahal are often given to visiting foreign dignitaries, saying the monument “does not reflect Indian culture.”
The Taj Mahal was built by the Muslim Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a spokesman for the opposition Congress party, likened a tourism brochure without the Taj Mahal to a Hamlet-less “Hamlet.”
The Taj Mahal has long been a prime draw for foreign visitors, but its tourist numbers have dropped steadily since 2012, despite the opening of a highway that can bring tour buses from the nation’s capital, New Delhi, in under three hours.