In June this year, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said that according to him, the Ramayana and Bhagwad Gita represent the Indian culture and not the Taj Mahal.

The Uttar Pradesh tourism booklet showing a picture of CM Yogi Adityanath. (Image: Qazi Faraz Ahmad)

Lucknow: The monument which attracts tourists from across the globe to Uttar Pradesh and is also the only Indian structure featuring among the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’, the Taj Mahal, has failed to find a spot in the state’s latest tourism booklet.

The booklet, ‘Uttar Pradesh Paryatan – Apaar Sambhavnayen’, published by the UP tourism department, was released on World Tourism Day.

Almost all tourist spots in Uttar Pradesh have been covered in the booklet. The Uttar Pradesh government later clarified that they would include a picture of the Taj Mahal in the booklet.

In June this year, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said that according to him, the Ramayana and Bhagwad Gita represent the Indian culture and not the Taj Mahal.

The Adityanath-led BJP government’s first state budget for 2017-18 had also made no mention of the Taj Mahal in its special section ‘Hamari Sanskritik Virasat’ (Our Cultural Heritage) that was incorporated in the finance minister’s 63-page statement.

The cover of this booklet has a picture of a Ganga Aarti ceremony, along with the photos of Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi and CM Adityanath on the first page.

The booklet talks about the Ganga Aarti of Varanasi, Gorakhpur’s Gorakh Peeth, Mathura-Vrindavan, Ayodhya and all major religious places in the state. The back cover has the photos of Fatehpur Sikri and other tourist destinations.

Efforts of the UP government in promoting tourism in the state have been listed in the inside pages of the booklet along with the current state of tourism.

Information on the state’s tourism development plan has also been listed in the booklet.

A new booklet released by the Uttar Pradesh government to mark six months of Yogi Adityanath and the BJP winning charge of India’s most-populous state makes no mention of the white marble stunner. The brochure was released by Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna. It catalogues important tourist destinations including the temple in Gorakhpur of which the Chief Minister is the main priest, as well as plans for new attractions including a tour of monuments and locations central to the Ramayana.

“There has been some miscommunication which has undermined the Taj Mahal,” said UP minister Sidharth Nath Singh. To illustrate that the state government recognises its value, he said, “We are even thinking of construct an international airport at Agra for the convenience of passengers.”


In June this year, Yogi Adityanath unpacked a major headline and buffed up his perception as a hardline Hindu priest when he said that the 17th century monument to love built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan does not reflect Indian culture; he claimed this is why foreign VIPs are gifted copies of the Gita and the Ramayana now by government officials instead of replicas of the Taj.

Opposition leaders said the new brochure proves the UP government discriminates against Muslims and attempts to blank out any part of India’s cultural heritage that is not Hindu. “The exclusion of the Taj Mahal shows the mindset of the BJP government,” said Rajendra Chaudhary of the Samajwadi Party which was crushed in the March election by the BJP. “The monument has no connection with caste and community,” he said, stating it must be preserved and valued as a national treasure.

The state tourism department has said that the Taj Mahal is not being neglected or marginalised. “The booklet was released only for the purposes of a press conference and is not a guide to UP’s tourism spots. It mentions new and upcoming projects of the UP tourism department, and new focus areas. There are many ongoing projects of the UP tourism at the Taj Mahal — a parking project, a Taj Agra fort linkage project and a development project, among others,” said Avanish Awasthi, a senior official of the UP Tourism Department.

Over 60 lakh tourists – mostly from abroad – visit the monument every year with most of the revenue coming from tourists visiting the tomb of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz.

Earlier in June, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said that “the Ramayana and the Gita represent Indian culture and not the Taj Mahal.”

However, the Taj Mahal, which has been named a “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO, is among the 10 iconic spots to that have been listed under Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s Clean India mission.