The sleepy lanes of Tajganj, the area around the Taj Mahal, came alive late on Saturday night as news that the Taj had been declared as one of the world’s new Seven Wonders came in.
Sweets were distributed freely to all who had gathered in front of the monument’s imposing gates. The “Vote for Taj” campaign has clearly brought the monument back into the focus.
Although the city was slow to vote initially, support for the Taj gained momentum as the date for declaration approached.
Despite the rains on Saturday night, admirers old and young came out onto the streets to celebrate. “In any kind of list of global architectural wonder, the Taj must be there. It is the vindication of the Taj Mahal’s standing,” said C Babu Rajeev, consultant with the Archaeological Survey of India and former director-general.
Across Agra, groups of enthusiastic youngsters set off fireworks, while visitors to the monument were welcomed with garlands, drumbeats, music and greetings on Sunday.
Admirers of the Taj also gathered at Dusshera Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna to celebrate the recognition. “Although the Taj needs no introduction, this recognition to the Taj would certainly boost tourism prospects,” said an elated Rakesh Chauhan, president, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Agra.
Munawwar Ali of the Uttar Pradesh Aman Committee said: “It is the result of namaz and prayers offered for the Taj Mahal.”
Actress and social activist Shabana Azmi said “we are absolutely thrilled”. Azmi, who actively took part in the campaign for the Taj, appealing to people to vote for it, said she hoped the selection would make the government improve the infrastructure in and around the monument in Agra.