Foreigners feel 'blessed' to see Taj the day Trump visited

Agra, Feb 24
The foreign tourists who arrived in this historic city on Monday to see Taj Mahal said they were "lucky" and "felt blessed" to visit the 17th century monument on the day of US President Donald Trump's visit.

The US President, who earlier in the day arrived at Ahmedabad and was received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also announced a $3 billion chopper deal.

He landed here around 4.20 p.m. He was received by Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at the Kheria airport.

Keith Clarke, a tourist from England, told IANS, "It's my first visit to Agra, and India." After reaching New Delhi three days ago, he arrived at Agra on Sunday night. When asked if he saw Taj Mahal, Clarke said, "Of course, I visited Taj in the morning before the US President's arrival."

Another foreign tourists, Sua Clarke said she was amazed as the US President was coming the same day to see Taj Mahal. Sua, in her late 50's, said it was her first visit to India and was stunned by the cleanliness of the city.

On folk artists' performance in the city, she said, "We loved the performance. And they too were enjoying while performing." Artists' performance was part of programme to welcome the First US Couple.

Alan, who also arrived here from the UK, said it was a lovely experience to find the Taj Mahal cleaned properly. "I heard that the Taj's mausoleum were cleaned and the fresh mud wrapping were put on the graves of emperor (Shahjahan) and empress (Mumtaz)," he said.

Catherine Caley, also among the group, said her first visit to India had become memorable. "My trip to Agra and the Taj is one of the best moments of my life as before getting married I saw the monument on the day when the US President visited the historic site on same day along with his family."

To welcome the US First Family here, the city was given a massive facelift. The administration put up huge billboards, placards, cut-outs and posters welcoming Trump and Melania.

The 13-km route from the airport to Taj Mahal had been spruced up aesthetically. The Indian and the US flags had been put up at round-abouts to give the area a festive look.

At many places on the route, the administration had made several statues of animals with flowers.

The walls were adorned with paintings reflecting the Brij culture and architectural heritage of Agra, Victorian-style lamp posts installed and the lawns of the Taj bedecked with colourful blooms.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at anand.s@ians.in)