Agra warms up with tourists, festival cheer

January 14th, 2011 - 12:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, Jan 14 (IANS) After nearly a fortnight of biting cold, Agra has perked up with the Lohri and Makar Sankranti estivals heralding warmer weather and more tourists.The sunshine is back in the city since the past two days and so is the bustle. Agra, where the mercury plummeted to a freezing 1 degree Celsius Tuesday, was basking in the warmth of 24 degrees Celsius Thursday while the minimum was still cold at 5.5 degrees.

The weather office said the minimum temperature recorded Friday morning was 8 degrees Celsius.

The sunshine has brought more tourists to the Taj city too.

“The tourists are back in full flow. This is the ideal weather in Agra for western tourists. Cultural activities will also pick up momentum from now on,” said Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.

The Taj Mahal, the 17th Century monument to love, also saw a heavy rush of tourists Thursday, said a city resident.

Schools, which were closed due to the cold wave, will now open Monday, according to district authorities. The city markets have also begun drawing more customers.

Ater Lohri Thursday and Makar Sankranti being celebrated Friday, the festival spirit is at its peak over the extended weekend with the devout making a beeline to temples and the Yamuna river for a holy dip in its waters.

While many temples distributed ‘khichdi’ to the devotees on the occasion, the Ayyappa temple in Idgah colony drew a large number of south Indian community members as Makar Sankranti is considered auspicious for Lord Ayyappa.

Similarly, ‘pongal’ was distributed by south Indian students at the Central Hindi Institute.

But many taking a dip in the Yamuna were unhappy with the high level of pollution of the river water.

“The water was stinking and seemed black when I took a dip,” said Mahesh Shukla, a Hindu priest here.

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