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Taj Mahal erased from local state tourist brochure

The latest brochure published for the tourism sector in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh includes various Hindu holy sites.

But, astonishingly, it excludes India’s most popular attraction, that iconic monument to love, the Taj Mahal.

The magnificent Taj was built in the seventeenth century by a Mogul emperor heartbroken by the death of his favourite wife.

Why, we wondered, would anyone choose to leave it out of a tourism information booklet?

The Taj Mahal was left out of a state tourism brochure. Credit: On Assignment

Could it be because the Taj is a Muslim holy site? Was it left out because of bigotry?

No, says the BJP, the party that rules India and the state of Uttar Pradesh, the party responsible for the brochure.

The Taj Mahal is in the town of Agra and the local BJP representative Jagan Garj says it was left out by mistake.

And it won’t happen again.

The Taj is a Muslim holy site. Credit: On Assignment

An accident? That’s not possible say critics. Not with so many layers of bureaucracy.

They say the brochure would have gone across too many desks prior to publication for the omission to be a mistake.

The ruling BJP is an unashamedly Hindu party. As defined by its constitution, India is a secular republic.

The nation may be 80% Hindu, but it’s also the world’s third largest Muslim country.

Muslims we spoke to say they have detected growing intolerance since the BJP came to power in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

And they fear the exclusion of the Taj Mahal from the tourism booklet is symptomatic of more and more narrow-mindedness.

Muslims in India fear growing intolerance. Credit: On Assignment

Intolerance can have tragic consequences.

We spoke to the mother of a 16-year-old Muslim boy who was stabbed to death on a train back in June.

He was set upon by Hindus because of his religion.

The Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has condemned such attacks, but the fact they are happening is ominous.

India is made up of 80% Hindus. Credit: On Assignment

Back in 1977 the Voyager spacecraft was launched.

Among many other things on board was a photograph of the Taj Mahal.

The iconic building was deemed significant enough to promote mankind and Planet Earth to extra-terrestrials.

That it didn’t make it into a tourism booklet published in the very state in which it stands is bemusing.