Agra, Jan 26: Massive security arrangements have been put in place in and around the Taj Mahal in view of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to the 17th century monument of love this afternoon.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel, guarding the Taj Mahal, will close the entry to the monument for the general public at 1140 hrs and clear the premises by 1200 hrs for the VIP visit. Mr Sarkozy, who arrived in India yesterday on a two-day state visit, is scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal at around 1340 hrs and is expected to stay inside the monument for about 45 minutes before leaving for New Delhi.
The Taj Mahal will again be thrown open for the general public at around 1500 hrs after the French President, who is the chief guest at this year Republic Day parade, leaves for the national capital to attend President Pratibha Patil's 'At Home' in the Rashtrapati Bhavan lawns at around 1545 hrs.
Yesterday also, the Taj Mahal was not open for general public as the monument remains closed on Fridays except between 1200 hrs and 1400 hrs for offering prayers.
Large contingents of Uttar Pradesh police have taken position outside both the eastern and the western gates leading to the monument and were seen thoroughly frisking the visitors.
The police have also asked the owners of the shops and other business establishments outside the Taj Mahal to down their shutters during the French President's visit to the monument.