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Please leave the Taj alone, say residents

Agra residents and experts are irked with the UP tourism going out of its way to organise a contest to judge the new "seven wonders".

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 09:02 IST

Ten days have passed but residents and experts in Agra are yet to get over the inclusion of the Taj Mahal in a contest that seeks to unveil a new global wonders list.

Seriously, why can't they leave the Taj alone, many in Agra are asking. Their anger is directed at the Uttar Pradesh tourism wing for going out of its way to promote the company organising the new "seven wonders" competition.

Mughal historian R Nath feels uncomfortable with the campaign. He feels the 17th century Taj, constructed by Mughal emperor Shahjahan, is unique and cannot be compared with any other building in the world.

"Its exalted status should remain above competition," Nath said.

Other historians share the sentiment. "The Taj Mahal is a wonder of wonders," says Amit Mukherjea, head of the history department at the St John's College in Agra.

He feels it was wholly unnecessary to organise a campaign to judge if the marble monument should find a place in the new wonders list.

"The outcome will make no difference to the status of the Taj," he said.

An Internet listing quotes the organisers of the contest as saying that millions have already voted for their favourite "wonder", the original list of 77 monuments reduced to 21 finalists. The winning wonders will be announced in July 2007.

On Dec 5, DK Burman, joint director, Uttar Pradesh Tourism, received from the organisers a certificate of candidacy on behalf of Kokab Hameed, the Uttar Pradesh tourism minister.

This has irked the lovers of the Taj Mahal.

"It sounds like a TV reality show. Please leave the Taj alone," pleaded Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.

As far as the people are concerned, the Taj Mahal is an architectural marvel, unparalleled in scale and concept, a fantasy, a poet's dream come true and that it needs no certificate from anyone.

Historian Nath has urged the central government not to "participate in such commercial beauty contests" for the dubious benefit of popularising national monuments in the country.

First Published: Dec 15, 2006 09:02 IST