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Not Taj, African leaders’ spouses to visit Akshardham temple

When asked why Akshardham temple was chosen over UNESCO heritage sites like the Humayun’s Tomb or the famous Qutub Minar, India’s envoy to UNESCO Ruchira Kamboj, said that it was not an easy choice.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: December 25, 2015 11:17:35 pm
india africa summit, african leaders spouse trip, Akshardham temple african spouse trip, African first ladies akshardham trip, india news, Africa news, latest news Prime Minister Narendra Modi with India Africa Forum Summit delegations’ Heads, wearing traditional Indian dresses, at a dinner at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Source: PTI)

The Akshardham temple has been chosen by South Block as the first and only monument on the itinerary of 17 spouses of leaders of African nations. Besides visiting the temple, they will also interact with the famous “Solar Grandmothers” from Africa and will be showcased handloom fashion from Varanasi.

Thursday’s compact four-hour programme for the spouses of African delegates will also include some culinary lessons by a celebrity chef during lunch.

The programme has been chalked out by India’s envoy to UNESCO Ruchira Kamboj, who had earlier served as the Chief of Protocol and has now been tasked to be the host of the spouses. When asked why Akshardham temple was chosen over UNESCO heritage sites like the Humayun’s Tomb or the famous Qutub Minar, she said that it was not an easy choice.

“The Swaminarayan Akshardham temple represents classic, ancient and timeless. It showcases India’s heritage and culture,” she said. Asked if the Taj Mahal was an option, she replied, “Time was our enemy…it had to be packed within four hours… I think we have been able to put together a diverse mix… from classic to modern.”

The First Ladies will also interact with ‘Solar Grandmothers’ from Africa, who are being trained in Tilona in Rajasthan at the Barefoot College, an NGO, to be solar engineers. The selected solar engineers are specifically middle-aged women with strong roots in the African communities.

“‘Threads of Benaras’ — on handlooms. And then, there would be a demonstration of Indian culinary skills by Chef Kunal Kapoor,” said Kamboj.

The programme has been restricted to four hours so that the spouses of African leaders can attend the President Pranab Mukherjee’s banquet in the evening, without getting rushed.

On Wednesday, some of them went to shop at the Cottage Emporium and the Dilli Haat.

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