The Taj Mahal
may be one of the ‘seven wonders of the world,’ attracting millions of tourists each year, but it has failed to feature in Uttar Pradesh’s latest tourism booklet.
The 32-page booklet, which has the famed Ganga aarti as its cover image, has been printed to promote the tourist spots in Uttar Pradesh, but surprisingly the most prominent and popular one is missing.
Titled Apaar Sambhavnaye or ‘Boundless Possibilities’, the brochure released by the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department displays most of the other cultural and heritage sites in the State, particularly those associated with the Hindu religious tourism. Earlier, it was also reported that the BJP Government in the state had not included Taj Mahal
as part of Uttar Pradesh's "cultural heritage".
Taj Mahal irrelevant to Indian culture - UP CM
Yogi Adityanath, earlier this year, said that Taj Mahal
and other minarets - monuments made during the medieval and Mughal era - were not reflective of Indian culture.
Last month, Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister made the controversial statement that Mughals were "plunderers" and not "our ancestors" as depicted in Indian history.
He also called Shah Jahan "barbaric" for amputating the hands of the artisans who constructing the Taj Mahal.
"The Taj Mahal
is an outstanding monument depicting Indian craftsmanship but Shahjahan amputated the hands of artisans who made the Taj. This is not Indian culture and shows he was barbaric.
The deputy chief minister's remarks come about three months after his boss, Uttar Pradesh chief minister
What the brochure does have
The brochure has a picture of the Ganga Aarti in Varanasi on its cover featuring Adityanath and Rita Bahuguna
Joshi, while its inside pages cover most of the cultural and religious sites of tourism and circuits like the Ramayana, Budhha, Krishna, Bundelkhand, Vindhya and Awadh.
The brochure highlights the religious and cultural significance of Varanasi and its ghats, the coming Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, while promoting Ayodhya
as the birthplace of Lord Ram and Mathura-Vrindavan for its connection with Lord Krishna.
It also presents the Gorakhpeeth in Gorakhpur, of which the Chief Minister himself is the head priest, as a tourist destination, along with the Devipatan Shakti Peeth.
UP government denies reports
Uttar Pradesh Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna
Joshi on Monday rejected reports of Taj Mahal's exclusion from the state government's new tourism booklet.
"You are wrong. You can clearly see and we also have the records that work worth Rs 1.75 crore has been started and almost completed. Don't make this a controversy," Rita told ANI.
She further stated that Taj Mahal
has been the legacy of Uttar Pradesh and hence claiming that the government is ignoring it, is wrong.
The Uttar Pradesh government has proposed a slew of tourism projects worth Rs 370 crore, around half of which is meant for the Taj Mahal
and its surrounding areas, said an official release said on Monday.
"Tourism projects worth Rs 370 crore are proposed, under which schemes worth Rs 156 crore are meant for the Taj Mahal
and its surrounding areas in Agra," the release read.
"Such pettiness diminishes" India
"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. It is like saying we will have (William Shakespeare's) 'Hamlet' without the Prince of Denmark," said Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Monday.
"How can you imagine tourism in Uttar Pradesh or India without Taj Mahal, I cannot understand. If it is indeed a booklet on tourism and excludes the Taj, it shows a clear religious bias which is completely misplaced," he added.
Singhvi said that "such pettiness diminishes" India.
CPM member Brinda Karat said, "I believe that for people all over the world, one of the major spots for tourists is the Taj Mahal.
It also supports the economy of UP. This is truly made in India. Therefore, people will only laugh at him and his complete ignorance of history and importance of preserving the beauty of Taj Mahal.
Twitter unhappy with Uttar Pradesh government
The move has triggered criticism on social media. Here’s how the Twitterati responded: