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Hot air balloon festival takes off near Taj Mahal

Agra: The skyline of Taj Mahal resembled a rainbow as a hot air balloon festival kicked off yesterday.

Tourists from India and abroad thronged the city to witness the three-day festival where 15 different sized balloons participated. Expert balloonists from 15 countries including Spain, France, Britain and the USA are participating in the event which has been organised by the tourism department of Uttar Pradesh.

Flying enthusiasts enjoyed their rides as the balloons took off from banks of river

Tourists, visiting the iconic marble monument Taj Mahal in Agra, were also delighted.

“There is a lot of excitement. This is a new experience and a very good start,” said a tourist Ajit.

“It is very impressive, very beautiful and is flying next to the Taj Mahal. It is amazing,” said a tourist from Australia, Jema.

Unfortunately, the view of the Taj Mahal was not clear due to thick haze. The balloons maintained a height of 300 metres from the ground and flew at an altitude of 1,000

Since the area around Taj Mahal is a no-fly zone, clearances were obtained from defence ministry and the Indian Air Force (IAF) and permissions were sought from Archaeological Survey of India and Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The festival aims to promote tourism in Uttar Pradesh through adventure and aviation-based activities. (ANI)