Agra: US President Donald Trump who visited the iconic Taj Mahal on Monday evening has now become the third head of state from America to visit the famed 17th century mausoleum in Agra, officials said. Dwight David Eisenhower was the first US president to pay a visit to the Taj in December 1959. He had visited it along with the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra, the second stop on his little less than 36-hour-long trip of India, and marvelled at the famed 17th century Mughal-era mausoleum built as a monument of love. The couple took a stroll in the resplendent gardens by the reflecting pool of the celebrated monument, holding hands as a cool breeze made their experience even more pleasant.
President Trump is on his maiden visit to India. He extolled Taj Mahal as an awe-inspiring monument and a "timeless testament" to the rich and diverse beauty of the Indian culture. "The Taj Mahal inspires awe, a timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian Culture!' Thank You, India," the US President and First Lady jointly wrote in the visitors' book before signing it.
The couple spent about an hour at the famed 17th century Mughal-era mausoleum built as a monument of love. The monument was built over a period of nearly 20 years by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1631.
Prior to Trump, then US president Bill Clinton had visited the celebrated architectural icon in 2000. He had seen it with his daughter Chelsea Clinton. "Donald Trump is the third US president after Clinton and Eisenhower to visit the Taj. Bill Clinton had come 20 years ago and Eisenhower in 1959," said a senior official at ASI, which maintains the UNESCO world heritage site.
Monochrome and sepia-toned archival images show 'Ike' as Eisenhower was nicknamed, and Nehru posing for pictures against the backdrop of the Taj and reflecting pool in the front. The celebrated landmark has been spoken about glowingly by poets, authors, historians, and featured in countless films and documentaries.
One of the most photographed sites in the world, it is always high on the itinerary of heads of states visiting India. In 1959, Eisenhower had visited India from December 9-14 with New Delhi and Agra being on the itinerary, according to the website of the US state department.
He had met with president Rajendra Prasad and prime minister Nehru and addressed the parliament. Clinton in 2000 had visited New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Mumbai, between March 19 and March 25, it said.
During his visit, he had met with the then president K R Narayanan; signed a joint statement on energy and the environment; and addressed the parliament, the website said.
The architectural marvel of Taj Mahal inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 is made of white Makrana marble and red sandstones, and renowned for its intricate inlay work on the stone surface.
Taj Mahal, considered one of the seven wonders of the world, stands on the bank of Yamuna, and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)