Balloon ad campaign near Taj worries Agra
Thursday, December 07, 2006
A hot air balloon flown too close to the Taj Mahal as a publicity campaign
by promoters of the New 7Wonders Foundation, a privately funded group, has
raised fears of a security lapse in Agra.
Agra authorities and security officials are reportedly ruing their decision
to allow the foundation - on a world tour to draw a new seven-wonders list -
to fly their balloon close to a main dome of the Taj.
The media has splashed photographs of the balloon right over the dome flying
a full 15 minutes in clear violation of the no-fly zone orders.
'The Taj Mahal is too sensitive a structure and a high-profile security
zone. It is shocking how the team members dared to go ahead with their
pre-announced plans without any questions asked,' asked a resident.
Rooftop restaurants in the vicinity were asked to shut down their operations
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has denied permitting the launch of
the hot air balloon over the Taj. Uttar Pradesh tourism officials reportedly
gave the go ahead to the New 7wonders team.
'When did India officially seek candidature in the current contest and who
applied for it?' asked another angry resident here, after the team handed
over a candidature certificate to tourism officials at the Taj Mahal venue.
District and ASI officials said they had no inkling about a new
A Central Industrial Security Force official said: 'The balloon did not take
off from within the Taj premises.'
The New 7Wonders Foundation has declared the Taj Mahal one of the 21
finalist monuments. Their campaign was launched Sep 5 as a tribute to the
ancient Greek origin of the Wonders of the World concept.
The finalists in the campaign include the Acropolis, the Hagia Sophia
museum, the Kremlin/St. Basil's, the Colosseum, Neu-schwanstein Castle, the
Eiffel Tower, the Stonehenge, the Alhambra, the Great Wall of China,
Kiyomizu Temple, the Sydney Opera House, Angkor, the Taj Mahal, Timbuktu,
Petra, the Pyramids of Giza, the Statue of Christ Redeemer, the Easter
Island Statues, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itz and the Statue of Liberty.
Located in Agra, the Taj Mahal was constructed between 1631 and 1654 by
Mughal emperor Shahjahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz, who died in