LUCKNOW: When UP CM Yogi Aditya Nath visits Taj Mahal on October 26 amid raging controversy over its place in Indian history and culture, he will be spending at least half an hour inside the 17th century monument, visiting the graves of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, sources said. This will be Yogi’s first ever visit to the Taj Mahal.
“During his tour of Agra on October 26, the chief minister will be visiting all the places inside Taj Mahal,” said UP principal secretary, tourism, Awnish Awasthi. Yogi will be the first BJP CM of UP to visit the Taj Mahal.
He will also inspect the area along the Yamuna for a proposed corridor from the river up to the monument.
Yogi’s plan to visit Taj Mahal was announced after a series of controversies erupted, beginning with a UP tourism department booklet not mentioning the monument in its list of development projects in the state. Subsequently, BJP MLA Sangeet Som called Taj Mahal a “blot on Indian history” and BJP MP Vinay Katiyar said it was originally a Shiva temple.
However, addressing a rally in Gorakhpur last week, Yogi called Taj Mahal the “pride of India” and referred to it as a “world class monument”. This was a significant departure from his remarks at a rally in Bihar last year, when he had said that the Taj Mahal does not represent Indian culture and that visiting foreign dignitaries should be presented with the Gita rather than replicas of Taj Mahal.