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News18 » India
2-min read

‘Timeless Testament to India’s Diversity’: Trump and Melania ‘Awed’ by the Beauty of Taj Mahal

The US First Couple walked hand-in-hand towards the 17th-century monument of love built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

News18.com

Updated:February 24, 2020, 11:18 PM IST
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‘Timeless Testament to India’s Diversity’: Trump and Melania ‘Awed’ by the Beauty of Taj Mahal
The message left by US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in the visitors' book at the Taj Mahal.

Agra: US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were treated to a guided tour of the Taj Mahal on Monday as they arrived in Agra during their two-day maiden visit to India.

The First Couple walked hand-in-hand towards the 17th century monument of love built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. They posed at the iconic bench, known as the ‘Diana Bench’ after Princess Diana cut a lonely figure in front of the Taj Mahal in 1992. Trump and Melania, however, did not sit on the bench and proceeded towards the mausoleum.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner also posed in front of the Taj Mahal.

Leaving a message in the visitors’ book, Trump said the Taj Mahal is representative of India’s “rich and diverse beauty”.

“The Taj Mahal inspires awe. A timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian culture! Thank you India,” he said.

The Taj Mahal, which was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1631, was refurbished for the high-profile visit.

From the Kheria airbase here, Trump's convoy of over 30 vehicles drove to Oberoi Amarvilas hotel near the Taj Mahal complex, as over 15,000 school students who lined up both sides of the route held US and India flags and cheered the US president as his motorcade passed by.

Massive billboards bearing greeting messages and pictures of Trump, First Lady and Prime Minister Narendra Modi dotted the nearly 13-km convoy route. An extensive three-layered security is in place for his Agra visit, and authorities got the Taj Mahal premises cleared of visitors by noon, hours ahead of Trump's visit to the celebrated architectural landmark.

The last US president to visit the the Mughal-era wonder was Bill Clinton who had come to India in 2000. He had seen the Taj along with daughter Chelsea Clinton. In 1959, then US president David Dwight Eisenhower had visited Taj along with then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Trump arrived in Agra after jointly attending with Prime Minister Narendra Modi the mega ‘Namaste Trump' event at the newly built Motera cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.

Trump was received at the Kheria airbase by Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. From the airport, the US President's convoy travelled till the Oberoi Amarvilas hotel situated near the East Gate of the Taj Mahal complex. From there the President and his family and members of high-level delegation accompanying him moved into eco-friendly golf carts to travel into the monument premises.

As per Supreme Court directions, petrol or diesel-operated vehicles are not permitted within 500 m of the Taj Mahal's gate.

The architectural marvel 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 always high on the itinerary of visiting heads of state.

In 2015, the then US President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit the monument during his India visit. It is said he could not do so due to security reasons. It is one of the most photographed sites in the world.

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