US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on Monday spent nearly an hour at the Taj Mahal in Agra, their second stop after arriving in India for a two-day visit. The Trumps enjoyed the magnificent marble monument in the golden glow of the sunset, the complex cleared of all other visitors and staff.
The Trumps walked hand-in-hand into the mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.
“The Taj Mahal inspires awe. A timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian culture. Thank you India,” President Trump wrote in the visitors’ book soon after stepping into the complex for a private visit.
President Trump and the First Lady were unhurried as they walked on the manicured lawns along freshly spruced up fountains as they were taken on a guided tour of the monument.
Many guides were screened for the job by the American security, three were short-listed and only one made it.
On their way to the monument, President Trump and Melania Trump stopped at the famed love seat where most foreign dignitaries pose, and smiled for the cameras, holding hands.
Drawn by the view, they turned around for a look at the Taj in its splendor, surrounded by perfectly trimmed shrubs and against a clear blue sky. A large group of photographers followed the first couple to capture the moments they paused.
The only “Taj Mahal” that President Trump had seen so far was a casino he once owned in Atlantic City.
For the visit, hundreds of workers had scrubbed and polished the stones, applied fresh paint on walls and multani mitti (mud-pack) on the marble. Water was released into the river Yamuna flowing just behind the monument, to reduce the stench of years of garbage and pollutants. Residents in the vicinity were verified.
The US President’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner also toured the monument at a distance. Ivanka Trump was seen handing her mobile phone to a photographer for a click.
The American President was allowed to drive far closer to the monument in his armoured car “Beast” than allowed by the Supreme Court, which had ordered that only battery operated vehicles would be allowed near the Taj for its protection.
The US President and his family arrived this afternoon in India, touching down first at Ahmedabad where he was greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a hug.
President Trump and PM Modi addressed a massive gathering at the newly-built Motera cricket stadium, the world’s biggest.