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Yogi’s Gorakhpur, not Taj Mahal, finds a spot in UP tourism booklet

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Hillary Clinton, then First Lady of the USA, and daughter Chelsea at the Taj Mahal. Credit: Agencies

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Opposition slams Adityanath government for “pettiness”, “obvious communal bias” for excluding the 17th Century Mughal monument from its tourism brochure

Former US president Bill Clinton, who visited the Taj Mahal during his presidency, had famously said of the 17th Century Mughal monument built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife – Mumtaz Mahal: there are two kinds of people in the world, those who have seen the Taj Mahal and those who haven’t. Perhaps the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh belongs to the latter category of people.

One of the world’s seven wonders with an international fan following that includes the likes of current and former heads of States, the late Princess Diana, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, etc., the Taj Mahal doesn’t find a mention in a recently released UP tourism brochure.

A 32-page booklet titled ‘Uttar Pradesh Paryatan – Apaar Sambhavanaayein’ (UP Tourism-Unlimited Possibilities), published by the state’s tourism department and released recently in Lucknow at a press conference on World Tourism Day (September 27) by tourism minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi, mentions over a dozen existing and proposed tourism sites of UP. Yet, the Taj Mahal – a UNESCO World Heritage Site which receives over eight million domestic and foreign tourists annually – finds no mention in the booklet.

Britain's Prince William and wife Kate Middleton during their visit to the Taj last year. Credit: Agencies. 

Britain’s Prince William and wife Kate Middleton during their visit to the Taj last year. Credit: Agencies.

Interestingly, several of the sites that find prime mention in the brochure are those that are either well aligned with the BJP’s focus on Hindutva and the Hindu identity or those that are close to chief minister Yogi Adityanath. So the booklet dedicates a full page to the Gorakhnath temple of which Adityanath is the head priest while the publication’s cover features an image of the Ganga Arati in Varanasi – the ancient city central to Hindu mythology and current Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Other tourism ‘hotspots’ that find glowing mentions in the brochure include religious sites and tourist circuits like Ayodhya (promoted as the birthplace of Lord Ram), Mathura and Vrindavan (for their connection with Lord Krishna), the Devipatan Shakti Peeth among others. The brochure also highlights the religious and cultural significance of Varanasi and its ghats along with the Ardh Kumbh Mela of Allahabad.

As news of the exclusion of Taj Mahal from the new tourism booklet gained traction, attracting sharp criticism from Opposition parties like the Congress which said the move was indicative of the Adityanath government’s “pettiness” or the Samajwadi Party which said it reflected the administration’s “obvious communal bias”, the tourism department put forth a feeble defence.

“This wasn’t a compendium of tourist attractions in UP, merely a book to highlight works done by the incumbent government and the projects it plans to take up. The booklet finds mention of projects worth Rs 154 crore in the category of pro-poor tourism, which generate high employment,” Avneesh Awasthi, director general UP tourism, said, adding that the brochure mentions “three projects in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal”.

Incidentally, the brochure does mention the state government’s proposed Heritage Arc — comprising Agra, Lucknow and Varanasi — in the booklet but carefully omits any reference to the internationally acclaimed historical white marble structure.Lucknow and Varanasi — in the booklet but carefully omits any reference to the internationally acclaimed historical white marble structure.

The BJP and its chief minister Adityanath’s contempt for the Taj Mahal is not new. Months after becoming the state’s chief minister, Adityanath had stirred a controversy by decrying the decades-old Indian diplomacy tradition of presenting replicas of Taj Mahal to foreign dignitaries and asserting that the monument “doesn’t represent Indian culture”. He had said that foreign dignitaries should be presented with copies of Ramayana or Gita instead.

Adityanath’s deputy, Dinesh Sharma had in September said that Mughals “were not our ancestors but looters” and described Shah Jahan as a “barbaric ruler” while endorsing the falsehood that the Mughal Emperor had got hands of the construction workers who built the Taj Mahal amputated. The amputation theory is one that finds no basis in history but has been in circulation in India for decades, thanks to the misinformation spread by several tourist guides at the Taj and self-styled BJP-sympathizing historians like PN Oak who had floated the absurd theory that the Mughal tomb was built atop a Shiva temple and was originally called Tejo Mahala. Oak’s petition to the Supreme Court over a decade ago, in which he had demanded excavation of the Taj Mahal’s foundation to support his theory had been summarily dismissed.

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Gorakhnath temple attack convict sentenced to death by NIA court

Gorakhnath temple attack convict Ahmad Murtaza Abbasi was sentenced to death, Monday, by a special anti-terror court.

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Gorakhnath temple attack

Gorakhnath temple attack convict Ahmad Murtaza Abbasi was sentenced to death, Monday, by a special anti-terror court.

A report quoting Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order), Prashan Kumar, said that Abbasi was awarded the death penalty under Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code by a special NIA court for attacking security personnel stationed at Gorakhnath temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur in April last year.

Abbasi, a chemical engineer, was arrested following an attack with a sharp-edged weapon on Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel posted at the Gorakhnath temple.

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Police said that after interrogation, Abbasi revealed he was in cahoots with the Islamic State and had taken an oath to fight for the global terrorist group. They said that Abbasi was also providing financial aid to the terror group’s sympathizers and supporters.

Ahmad Murtaza Abbasi, a resident of Civil Lines area in UP’s Gorakhpur, is an IIT-ian with a degree in chemical engineering from IIT-Mumbai.

According to the police, Abbasi suffered from mental health issues for which he underwent treatment from several doctors and ultimately led to him separating from his wife in 2017.

On April 3 last year, Abbasi tried to force his way inside the Gorakhnath temple, when stopped, he proceeded to attack the security men deployed there with a sickle in which two constables were injured. However, he was overpowered and arrested.

The ATS investigation revealed that the Abbasi’s attack was part of a “deep conspiracy.” The UP Home Department had said the attack could be termed as a terror incident.

Mughal Garden: Opening date, timing, entry price and how to book Amrit Udyan tickets online

Uttar Pradesh: Video of men flaunting weapon in moving car goes viral, internet users demand strict action | WATCH

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Mughal Garden: Opening date, timing, entry price and how to book Amrit Udyan tickets online

Mughal Garden, now renamed Amrit Udyan, at Rashtrapati Bhavan is all set to open for the public from January 31. President Droupadi Murmu on Sunday graced the opening of the gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Udyan Utsav 2023.

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Amrit Udyan

Mughal Garden, now renamed Amrit Udyan, at Rashtrapati Bhavan is all set to open for the public from January 31. President Droupadi Murmu on Sunday graced the opening of the gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Udyan Utsav 2023.

Mughal Garden has been renamed to commemorate the 75 years of independence. In keeping with the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebration’s theme, the garden has also been given a new name, Amrit Udyan.

Amrit Udyan’s opening and closing date

Amrit Udyan opens once a year to the public. This year, it will remain open for the general public from January 31 to March 26. However, it will be closed on all Mondays and on March 1 and 2 due to G20 meetings and March 8 on the occasion of Holi.

The garden will be accessible to special groups from March 28 to March 31. Amrit Udyan will open for farmers on March 28, people with disabilities on March 29, members of the armed forces, paramilitary groups, and police on March 30, and self-organized groups of tribal women on March 31.

Entry and exit for all visitors will be from gate number 35 of the President’s Estate, close to where North Avenue meets Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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Amrit Udyan timings

People can visit Amrit Udyan during the time period between 10 am and 4 pm.

How to book Amrit Udyan tickets online?

  • Go to the official website of Rashtrapati Bhavan at https://rashtrapatisachivalaya.gov.in or https://rb.nic.in/rbvisit/visit_plan.aspx.
  • On the homepage, select the option that reads Mughal Garden Visit.
  • Enter the required details such as name, date of visit, etc.
  • After that, you are required to submit your photo ID.
  • Click on the register button.

People can also buy Amrit Udyan tickets offline. Walk-in visitors have to register themselves at the facilitation counters as well as at the self-service kiosk near Gate 12 of Rashtrapati Bhavan. The visitors will have 6 slots to choose from, so it is advised to make prior bookings to avoid rushing at the gate.

The number of guests that can be reserved at once is 30. However, schools and colleges reserve a maximum of 50 at a time.

Amrit Udyan entry/ticket price

There is no fee for the booking of slots or entry to the Gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan during Udyan Utsav. Visitors must, however, pay Rs 50 to enter Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Rashtrapati Bhavan will be open five days a week from Wednesday to Sunday and the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum six days a week from Tuesday to Sunday. People can also witness the change of guard ceremony every Saturday, except on gazetted holidays.

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Bank holidays February 2023: Banks to remain shut for 10 days, check dates here

Apart from festivals, banks will also remain shut on the second and fourth Saturdays.

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Bank holidays February 2023

Every month banks across the country remain shut due to festivals and other public and private holidays. In February 2023, both private and public banks will not function for 10 days. However, the holidays differ from state to state.

Festivals like Guru Ravidas Jayanti, Hazrat Ali Jayanti, Maha Shivaratri, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and others will be celebrated in February which might affect the functioning of banks in several states.

Full list of bank holidays in February 2023

DATEDAYHOLIDAYSTATES 
5 February 2023 Sunday Hazrat Ali Jayanti Uttar Pradesh 
5 February 2023 Sunday Guru Ravidas Jayanti Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana & Punjab 
15 February 2023 Wednesday Lui-Ngai-Ni Manipur 
18 February 2023 Saturday Maha Shivaratri Several states of India 
19 February 2023 Sunday Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti Maharashtra 
20 February 2023 Monday State Day  Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram 
21 February 2023 Tuesday Losar Sikkim 

Apart from this, banks will also remain shut on the second and fourth Saturdays.

DATEDAYHOLIDAYSTATES 
12 February 2023 Saturday Second Saturday All States 
15 February 2023 Tuesday Lui-Ngai-Ni  Manipur 
19 February 2023 Sunday Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti Maharashtra 
25 February 2023 Saturday Fourth Saturday All States 

For those unversed, the Reserve Bank of India categorises holidays into three categories-Holiday under the Negotiable Instruments Act and Real-Time Gross Settlement Holidays, Holidays under the Negotiable Instruments Act, and Banks’ Closing of Accounts.

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In January 2023, banks across the country will remain shut for 14 days.

Date  Day    Holiday    State  
January 1, 2023SundayNew Year Bank Holiday & Weekend Bank HolidayAll over India
January 2, 2023MondayNew Year Bank CelebrationMizoram
January 5, 2023ThursdayGuru Gobind Singh JayantiHaryana and Rajasthan
January 8, 2023SundayWeekend Bank HolidayAll over India
January 11, 2023WednesdayMissionary DayMizoram
January 14, 2023SaturdaySecond Saturday Bank HolidayAll over India
January 15, 2023SundayWeekend Bank HolidayAll over India
January 22, 2023SundayWeekend Bank HolidayAll over India
January 23, 2023MondayNetaji Subash Chandra Bose JayantiTripura and West Bangal
January 25, 2023WednesdayState DayHimachal Pradesh
January 26, 2023ThursdayRepublic DayAll over India
January 28, 2023SundayFourth Saturday Bank HolidayAll over India
January 29, 2023SundayWeekend Bank HolidayAll over India
January 31, 2023MondayMe-Dam-Me-PhiAssam

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