Agra: Heavy showers since early morning today washed all the dust and pollutants turning Taj Mahal sparkling white ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to the city on January 27.
The authorities have stepped up their efforts to spruce up the 17th century monument of love and its surrounding areas ahead of the Obama visit. The 12-km stretch of road from the Kheria Air Force Station, where Obama will land, to the eastern gate of Taj Mahal is being given a face-lift. Potholes have been filled, encroachments removed, tree trunks painted white and red, flower pots placed, and street-lights have been fixed on the stretch.
Sources in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which maintains the monument, indicated that Taj Mahal will be closed for public for two hours during the VVIP visit on Tuesday. The monument will, however, remain open for public on the Republic Day.
President Obama is expected to reach Taj Mahal around 2pm. He is scheduled to spend an hour at the historical site. Reports indicated that Obama and his entourage will head back home from Agra, instead of returning to Delhi. Security too has been beefed up in the area ahead of the visit. Along with the Indian security forces, US armed commandos are likely to buttress the entire stretch of the road and take over positions within the Taj Mahal complex.
Residents of Taj Ganj mohalla have been advised to carry their identity cards and stay in their homes on January 27 during the duration of the Obama visit. Agra has not witnessed such high scale of security and preparedness ever before, said a resident. National Highway-2 and Yamuna Expressway are already under heavy security cover.