US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on Monday evening visited the iconic Taj Mahal as they marvelled at the famed 17th century Mughal-era mausoleum built as a monument of love.
The couple took a stroll in the resplendent gardens by the reflecting pool of the celebrated monument, holding hands as a cool breeze made their experience even more pleasant.
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.
The couple also extolled the marble marvel while signing the visitors’ book.
“The Taj Mahal inspires awe, a timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian Culture!’ Thank You, India,” he wrote in the visitors’ book.
Daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, accompanying the President during the visit, also enjoyed the architectural glory of the famed mausoleum.
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 is awe inspiring!,” she tweeted and shared pictures.
Trump, accompanied by his wife, daughter and son-in-law, arrived here at about 4:30 pm from Ahmedabad, and reached Taj close to 5 pm.
Amid expectation that the president would be ferried to Taj in his armoured car, the ‘Beast’, he arrived at the Taj in another vehicle, a senior Agra district government official said, adding, the famed limousine was not part of the convoy.
The family spent about an hour in the Taj complex before heading back to the Kheria airbase on way to Delhi.
US President Trump on Monday also joined the long list of world leaders who have visited Taj Mahal as he kept his sunset date with the famed mausoleum that has attracted admirers from across the globe.
After Dwight David Eisenhower (1959) and Bill Clinton (2000), he became the third US President to visit the 17th century architectural icon.
Taj Mahal, which was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1631, was refurbished for the visit.
President Trump and the First Lady were also briefed about the history and importance of the monument by a guide who told them its history.
The US President’s visit to Agra and Taj has generated huge excitement among local residents. Some shops even displayed their own banners, welcoming Trump to India.
Trump also took to Twitter to express his sentiments about his first official visit to India, which began with a trip to Ahmedabad.
“First lady and I have travelled 8,000 miles around the world to give a message to each citizen of this country America loves India, America respects India, and the people of America will always be true and committed friends of the people of India,” the American leader tweeted in Hindi.
From the Kheria airbase here, Trump’s convoy of over 30 vehicles drove to Oberoi Amarvilas hotel near the Taj Mahal complex, as over 15,000 school students who lined up both sides of the route held US and India flags and cheered the US president as his motorcade passed by.
Massive billboards bearing greeting messages and pictures of Trump, First Lady and Modi dotted the nearly 13-km convoy route as street roundabouts decked up with US and India flags symbolised the US-India friendship.
Trump and the First Lady enjoyed the view of the marble marvel in the evening as a cool breeze added to the pleasant weather.
They also posed for pictures for photographers.
US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster also was part of the delegation that accompanied President Trump.
“Great visit to the iconic #TajMahal with President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS. This architecturally stunning @UNESCO world heritage site is a must see for all in #IncredibleIndia! #NamasteyTrump,” he tweeted.
Agra had waited excitedly to welcome President Trump and authorities made arrangements to present a “lively Agra” to the visiting President, seeking to shake off the old tag of ‘city of ghosts’.
On his arrival at the airbase from Ahmedabad, over 250 artistes drawn from different parts of Uttar Pradesh performed colourful dances, adding to the festive ambience.
Trump was received at the Kheria airbase by Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He was gifted a framed photograph of Taj Mahal by Yogi at the airbase.
“From the airport, the convoy travelled till the Oberoi Amarvilas hotel situated near the East Gate of the Taj Mahal complex. From there the President and his family moved into eco-friendly golf carts to travel into the monument premises,” a senior official said.
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.
In 2015, the then US President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit the monument during his India visit. It is said he could not do so due to security reasons.
It is one of the most photographed sites in the world.