Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday described the Taj Mahal as an “unforgettable monument of love” as he spent over an hour at the 17th-century Mughal mausoleum in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra with his wife Sara.
“Deeply appreciate the magnificence and the beauty of this unforgettable monument of love,” Netanyahu wrote in the visitors’ book.
Netanyahu walked hand in hand with his wife Sara and was all smiles as they sat on the famous Diana seat to get their photographs clicked.
The Israeli prime minister walked up the stairs to reach the ivory-white marble mausoleum and entered the main dome to view the graves of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Netanyahu was dressed in blue suit and red tie and his wife wore a knee-length red collared dress.
Tight security arrangements were made at the Unesco World Heritage Site and it was closed to the public during Netanyahu’s visit. An additional police force was summoned from nearby districts.
Netanyahu and his wife were earlier received by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath at the Kheria airport. Adityanath reached Agra on Monday and stayed at the circuit house.
They were accorded a traditional welcome by the folk artists of Braj during a show organised by the state tourism department. The Israeli PM and his wife obliged the artists and got photographs clicked with them.
All the shops from the Kheria airport to Amar Vilas were closed and traffic movement remained restricted on the roads leading to the hotel – located 250 metres east of the Taj Mahal’s eastern gate. The southern and western gates of the monument were closed.
The chief minister reached Amar Vilas ahead of Netanyahu from the airport and welcomed him again at the hotel. The couple then left for the Taj at 1pm and entered the monument through the eastern gate.
Netanyahu left the Taj at 2.15pm and returned to Amar Vilas in a battery-operated golf cart as no petrol or diesel vehicles are allowed near the monument.
Tourists, including foreigners, were seen waiting outside the monument for the visit to get over.
Adityanath hosted a lunch for the Israeli guests, who then flew back to Delhi.