Lucknow: After series of controversial remarks by BJP leaders regarding the status of the 17th-century monument in India's culture, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will visit Taj Mahal on Thursday.
Adityanath will lay a foundation for the development of a tourist pathway from Taj Mahal to Agra Fort. He will be the first BJP CM of UP to visit the historical monument.
According to his programme, Adityanath will stay for half-an-hour at the graves of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal and visit the Shah Jahan park nearby.
The Chief Minister will inspect various places along the way, inside and outside the monument.
He will run a cleanliness campaign and sweep the area around Taj Mahal along with 500 Bharatiya Janata Party activists and social workers around the west gate of Taj Mahal.
The Chief Minister has already declared that the state government will spend Rs 370 crore on development plans aimed at promoting tourism in the city of Taj.
Along with the visit to Taj Mahal, Adityanath will inaugurate various development projects in Agra, an official spokesman said.
"During his tour of Agra.., the chief minister will be visiting all the places inside Taj Mahal," principal secretary, tourism, Awanish Awasthi said.
His decision 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 recently, Adityanath 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 does not represent Indian culture and that visiting foreign dignitaries should be presented with the Gita rather than replicas of Taj Mahal.
The last time a UP CM visited the Taj was Akhilesh Yadav, more than two years back.
That was the Valentine's Day and Akhilesh sat on one of the benches in front of the monument along with his wife and Kannauj MP Dimple Yadav.
(with PTI inputs)