The architectural grandeur of the 17th century Taj Mahal and the story of its construction by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan left the US President Donald Trump "impressed" during his visit to the famed mausoleum on Monday, according to the guide who accompanied him. Nitin Kumar, an Agra-based guide, said the first word the president said after laying his eyes on the marble marvel was "incredible".
The US President and First Lady Melania Trump visited the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra, the second stop on his little less than the 36-hour-long trip of India, and marveled at the Mughal-era mausoleum built as a monument of love. Trump was dressed in a dark suit with a tie of light shade while the first lady wore a white dress accessorised with a green waistband. After Dwight David Eisenhower (1959) and Bill Clinton (2000), he became the third US president to visit the architectural icon.
"I told them the story of the Taj Mahal, the construction, and the story behind it. President Trump got very emotional after knowing the story of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. How he was kept under house arrest by his own son Aurangzeb, and buried here at Taj, next to Mumtaz's grave, after his death," Kumar told reporters.
The couple was left speechless at the first sight of the monument and showed interest when they were told about the history and architecture of the dome, and the design details, Kumar said. "Melania Trump asked about the mud-pack treatment and was amazed when she got to know the details of the process," he said. Authorities at Archaeological Survey of India had "advanced the dates" for mud-pack treatment for the graves of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal at the Taj Mahal in view of the US President Trump's visit to Taj, a senior official had earlier said.
One of the most photographed sites in the world, it is always high on the itinerary of the head of states visiting India. The monument was built over a period of nearly 20 years by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife after her death in 1631. 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.
According to Mohammed Zafar, who lives close to the Taj Mahal complex, Nitin has been conducting guided tours for many years. "He was selected for this VVIP visit," he said. "Many people were taking selfies with him, after the end of the visit. So, many media persons interacted with him. He has got some instant fame of sorts," Zafar said.
"The Taj Mahal inspires awe, a timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian Culture!' Thank You, India," the US President and First Lady jointly wrote in the visitors' book before signing it. The US President and First Lady Melania Trump along with their family landed in Agra to visit The Taj Mahal on Monday, February 24. The Trumps were received by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Governor Anandiben Patel at the Kheria airport upon their arrival from Ahmedabad.
US President and Melania Trump took strolls in the gardens and courtyard of the Taj Mahal and watched the monument in amazement. Ivanka Trump along with Jared Kushner also arrived to visit the monument and took several photographs at the seventh wonder of the world. Ivanka, wearing a white dress with red floral print with matching red shoes, and Kushner in a suit, also took a stroll. She also captured the moments in her mobile phone, and took solo pictures too against the backdrop of the Taj.
"The grandeur and beauty of the Taj Mahal are awe-inspiring!" she tweeted and shared pictures. Trump, accompanied by his wife, daughter, and son-in-law, arrived Agra at about 4:30 pm from Ahmedabad and reached Taj close to 5 pm.
Donald Trump’s convoy's route from the airport to the Taj Mahal was about 13 km and they were dotted by thousands of artists who welcomed them with special performances. Over 3,000 artists performed at 16 different points and 21 stages were built to showcase the culture of the state.
(with PTI inputs)