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First government website on Taj Mahal launched

Panoramic views, along with complete historical background, timings and ticket rates - the first official government website on the Taj Mahal takes visitors on a virtual trip to one of the seven wonders of the world.

Uttar Pradesh's director general of tourism and secretary tourism Ananeesh Kumar Awasthi Thursday launched the website - - ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Awasthi said the website would not only create more interest, answer questions but also provide solutions to many problems that tourists face.

"Subsequently other monuments like Fatehpur Sikri, Sikandra, Etmauddaula and Agra Fort too will have their websites," tourism officials told IANS.

Efforts are also being made to incorporate Urdu and Hindi versions.

The historical background given on the website provides some fresh and interesting insight into the monument's architectural styles.

One particular interpretation linking it with a Hindu scripture, says that the use of

red sandstone and white marble traced its roots to earlier Hindu practices, set out in the Vishnudharmottara Purana, which recommended white stone for buildings for the Brahmins (priestly caste) and red stone for members of the Kshatriyas (warrior caste).

"By building structures that employed such colour coding, the Mughals identified themselves with the two leading classes of Indian social structure and thus defined themselves as rulers in Indian terms," it says.

"Red sandstone also had significance in the Persian origins of the Mughal Empire, where red was the exclusive colour of imperial tents," it adds.

Hindu historians like P.N. Oak have been saying it all along. However, eminent Mughal historian R. Nath makes no mention of this in all his books on Mughal architecture.

Nath told IANS on phone from Ajmer: "The inference is preposterous, not based on facts. No historian of Shah Jahan's time mentions any such thing.

"Use of white marble was evolutionary as it was abundantly available. Such absurd interpretations should not have been on a government website, as they tend to send wrong messages," he said.