Taj Mahal mysteriously left out of tourism brochure

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1983. Source: Shutterstock

A RECENTLY released tourism brochure from the Uttar Pradesh government deliberately excluded the Taj Mahal, one of India’s most important tourist sites, and a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The omission brew controversy in the state as journalists, politicians and activists were among those who took to social media to decry the 17th Century mausoleum’s absence, BBC News reported. Yesterday, the monument was mentioned on Twitter more than 12,000 times in 24 hours.

The exclusion comes six months into the appointment of Hindu nationalist Yogi Adityanath as chief minister, and some say that the government is starving the Taj Mahal of support because the ancient structure was built by Muslims invaders.

In June, Adityanath was reported to have expressed disapproval of foreign dignitaries being gifted replicas of the Taj Mahal, and have replaced them with copies of the Gita and Ramayana, Hinduism’s sacred scriptures.

“Foreign dignitaries visiting the country used to be gifted replicas of the Taj Mahal and other minarets which did not reflect Indian culture,” he was quoted.

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On top of that, the government didn’t allot cultural heritage funds to the monument this year, prompting protest from the opposition party. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a spokesman for the opposition Congress party, likened a tourism brochure without the Taj Mahal to Hamlet without the character of Hamlet.

“If it is a booklet on tourism and it excludes Taj Mahal, at one level it is a joke and at another level it is tragic,” he said. He added that the omission was “a clear religious bias which is completely misplaced.”

Last year, it was reported that Taj Mahal needed to undergo “treatment” to repair yellow staining on its façade. The therapy involves the application of lime-rich mud on the dome of the Taj. The mud will be left to dry before gently washed off with distilled water to reveal a whiter surface.