A 30-member advance team of US officials visited the Taj Mahal on Monday to review various aspects ahead of the proposed visit of US President Barack Obama on January 27. The members stayed at the Taj for more than two hours and interacted with officials of Archaeological Survey of India.
Obama, who would be the chief guest at Republic Day function in Delhi on January 26, is expected to visit the Taj Mahal with his wife Michel Obama on January 27.
“The advance team mainly comprised those from the US Embassy. They stressed more on the cultural aspect of the President’s proposed trip. The team also inspected the route to be taken by the VVIP guests on the Taj premises,” said additional district magistrate (ADM) City Rajesh Srivastava, clarifying that the official schedule of the President’s visit was yet to be received.
According to sources, those concerned with protocol, security, cultural aspects of the visit and media coordination were also part of the advance team. They moved all over the Taj premises and also visited the main mausoleum.
The team was informed about protocol associated with such visits, including the venue where welcome was to be extended. The ASI officials briefed them about the route plan for movement of guests on the Taj premises and spots for photography and limit till where videography could be conducted.
The team was also told about the location where shoe covers were provided before climbing to the main mausoleum.
ADM city Rajesh Srivastava and SP city Sameer Saurabh escorted the advance team. They reached Taj Mahal in batteryoperated vehicles and the Taj complex through the eastern gate.
Regional tourism officer Dinesh Kumar and ASI officials, including superintending archaeologist NK Pathak and senior conservation assistant Munazzar Ali, were also present.
They answered the team’s queries, which mostly pertained to the route to be taken on Taj premises and protocol aspects.
The advance team left after 2 pm but it is believed that most of the members are to stay in hotels here and might visit the Taj again. Earlier, the advance team of US officials had visited Taj Mahal on December 16.