By Kunal Dutt
AGRA, Feb 24: US President Donald Trump on Monday extolled the Taj Mahal as an “awe-inspiring” monument which is a “timeless testament” to the rich and diverse beauty of the Indian culture.
He wrote the glowing words in the visitor’s book of the Taj Mahal which he and his family visited in the evening during his brief visit to Agra.
Trump on his first state visit to India arrived in Agra at around 4:30 pm from Ahmedabad accompanied by his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner and a high-level delegation.
“The Taj Mahal inspires awe, a timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian Culture!’ Thank You, India,” the US President wrote in the visitors’ book and jointly signed it with the First Lady.
The Uttar Pradesh government also tweeted pictures of the couple as Trump signed the book, and the comments they left behind in it.
The couple spent about an hour at the iconic Taj Mahal complex 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.
Trump and his family watched the sunset from the mausoleum before heading back to the Kheria airbase on way to Delhi.
The visit of the 45th President of the United States to Agra and Taj has generated a huge excitement among the local residents. Some shops have even displayed their own banners, welcoming Trump to India.
Earlier, Trump also took to Twitter to express his sentiments about his first official visit to India, which began with a trip to Ahmedabad.
“First lady and I have travelled 8,000 miles around the world to give a message to each citizen of this country – America loves India, America respects India, and the people of America will always be true and committed friends of the people of India,” the American leader tweeted in Hindi, as he attended the mega event ‘Namaste Trump’ in Gujarat’s famous city.
The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1631.
The celebrated landmark, a UNESCO world heritage site, 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 head of states visiting India.
Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore had described it as a “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity”.
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.
The 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.
Authorities at ASI had “advanced the dates” for mud-pack treatment for the graves of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal at the Taj Mahal in view of Trump’s visit to the famed mausoleum.
The chandelier above the royal graves were also refurbished, officials said.
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.
The last US president to visit the Mughal-era wonder was Bill Clinton who had come to India in 2000. He had seen the Taj Mahal along with daughter Chelsea Clinton. In 1959, then US president David Dwight Eisenhower had visited the Taj along with then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. (PTI)