Agra: The 10-day long annual Taj Mahotsava, a cultural extravaganza, will kick off here Wednesday.
Divisional Commissioner Pradip Bhatnagar, the chairman of the Taj Mahotsava organising committee, told mediapersons that state Cabinet Minister Aridaman Singh will inaugurate the Mahotsava. The theme of the Mahotsava would be "Sanskriti ka Satrangi Utsav" this year, he said.
The major attraction at the inaugural function will be Kailash Kher while Peenaz Masani, gazal singer, comedian Sunil Grover (Gutthi), Rajiv Thakur, Ahsan Qureshi and Warsi Brothers will also present their programmes, he said.
A Kavi Sammelan will also be held with Gopal Das Neeraj, Uday Pratap, Ashok Chakradhar, Som Thakur and Hari Om Pawar, he said, adding that rock bands have also been invited for the Mahotsava.
For the mushaira programme to be held at the Soor Sadan auditorium Wasim Bareilwi, Rahat Indori, Munabbar Rana, Manzar Bhopali, Tahir Faraz and Jauhar Kanpuri have been invited, said Bhatnagar.
Playback singer Shaan will perform on February 27, he said.
Police have made elaborate arrangements for security and 20 CCTV cameras have been installed.
According to officials, foreign tourists will not have to purchase entrance tickets this year.
UP Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan will be the chief guest at the concluding session, they said.
A few programmes are also being held at Fatehpur Sikri, Shaheed Smarak, Agra College?and Paliwal Park.
Organised by the Taj Mahotsava Samiti and propped up by UP Tourism, the Mahotsava is a joint venture of the district administration, the municipal corporation, Agra Development Authority and the state industries department.
This year the organising committee has hiked the entrance ticket to Rs 50, because of lack of sponsors for various programmes.
However, claiming that there is a disconnect between the Taj Mahotsava and promotion of tourism in Agra circuit, Rakesh Chauhan, president of the Hotels and Restaurants Association of Agra, said tourists want better safety and civic amenities, faster modes of transport and a friendly ambiance.
The Mahotsava was first held in 1992.