Sarkozy’s Taj trip hustles tourists out

Saturday, December 4, 2010

AGRA - Thousands of foreign and domestic tourists were asked to leave the precincts of the Taj Mahal just before French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni came to visit the hitoric monument Saturday. Many others could not even enter though holding valid tickets.

“We came here from Sholapur on Thursday. Friday the Taj was closed. Today we thought we would spend time at the Taj Mahal and because of the cold we were delayed. And in the afternoon, we were told to go away,” said Ramesh, a school teacher from Maharashtra.

“These tickets would not be valid on Sunday. Many had to catch a connecting flight or return by Shatabdi or Taj Express. They are naturally angry. Sarkozy should not have suddenly changed his programme,” tourism industry expert Rajiv Tiwari told IANS.

An angry tourist from Australia, Jameson said the authorities could have at least told them in advance, or allow the tickets (priced at Rs.750 for foreign tourists) to be used the next day.

A large number of school and college students too had to return disappointed. The total number of tourists turned away or asked to leave early was around 15,000.

“A big holiday crowd was waiting, but all were deprived of the opportunity to see the Taj. This is not only an injustice but also reflects insensitivity on the part of the visit planners,” Tiwari added.

The tourists are expected to have a harrowing Sunday as well.

“Many would face the same problem visiting Fatehpur Sikri. The Jaipur highway would remain sealed for hours,” said travel agent Montu Bhagat.

Till late Saturday, Yamuna Kinara road, Fatehbad road and the Mall road were jammed.

“There’s more anger and frustration than excitement at Sarkozy’s visit. If it’s a private visit, then why disturb the public? Go and enjoy the Taj quietly,” an angry commuter, Rajveer Singh, said.

Apparently impatient for the Taj viewing, Sarkozy rushed to the historic monument with Carla almost immediately after landing here from Bangalore. The French president was scheduled to visit the Taj Sunday morning, but changed his plans.

Filed under: Economy

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