Agra, Feb 14: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday said the Taj Mahal was the 'pahchan' (identity) of the country and February 14 was being observed as Taj Day to promote the monument on global platform as a symbol of love and harmony.
"'Pahchaan' of India is because of the Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh," he said.
The chief minister was in Agra to distribute prizes of 'Mera Agra' painting competition organised by the UP Tourism department in collaboration with the embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Design Village.
The competition was part of a campaign designed for the "global branding" of UP as the home of the Taj Mahal. The chief minister also unveiled a black replica of the Taj Mahal by internationally acclaimed sand artist Sudershan Patnaik.
Akhilesh said that his government was "fully aware" of the potential of tourism and was focused on expanding facilities and upgrading infrastructure to attract more foreign and domestic tourists.
"The Taj Mahal was a unique present from Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It continues to attract tourists, artists, poets, heads of states and people from all sections who view it as a symbol of love," he said.
The state government had introduced many projects and schemes in Agra like the inner ring road, Agra-Lucknow Expressway, Heritage Arc, the theme park and was developing the entire region including the Lion safari and Bateshwar to attract tourists, he said.
The chief minister said 'Mera Agra' campaign had been launched to attract youth.
"It will present the Taj Mahal and Agra's heritage before the tourists, showcase developmental projects of Agra and promote tourism," he said. Of the 7,000 entries, ten were short-listed for cash awards of Rs 12.50 lakhs in various categories.