The Taj Mahal on Sunday had special visitors — widows from Vrindavan and Varanasi.As the women, dressed in white sarees, walked on the red sandstone pathways in twos and threes, foreign tourists stopped and got themselves photographed with them.The visit on the International Women’s Day was sponsored by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The widows, who live in shelter homes run by Sulabh International, visited Agra Fort as well andwere accorded a reception.”I am humbled to have welcomed these women neglected by society,” said N.K. Pathak, ASI chief in Agra.”They were indeed our special guests today on the International Women’s Day. Surely this is a much better way to celebrate the occasion than holding unproductive lectures in five-star hotels,” he said.Chitra Lekha from Varanasi told IANS that it was her dream to see the Taj Mahal but she never got the opportunity.Most widows who came for the visit were above 60 years, even 70.”We are now well looked after by Sulabh Baba (Bindeshwari Pathak)… Earlier we got only Rs.3 a day for chanting bhajans atvarious ashrams. But now we get Rs.2,000 a month and also medical facilities arranged by the organisation,” said KamlaDasi.
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