Taj Mahal sky filled with hot air balloons

The sky above Agra in India was a riot of colour recently, when the Taj Balloon Festival took place.

Hot air balloons of all colours were seen by spectators from all over the world, including the UK, Germany, Spain and the US. The festival took place over three days, when around 15 balloons rose into the sky each morning, while at night they were tethered to the ground so that spectators could see the balloons close up.

The Uttar Pradesh government agreed that the festival would be permitted to take place in Agra, to boost tourism in the city. As Agra is possibly most famous for being the home of the Taj Mahal, tourists were able to view the famous monument from high above the ground. The festival was organised by the original hot air balloon company in India, Sky Waltz. According to the founder of Sky Waltz, Samit Garg, the festival had been organised to generate renewed interest in the city of Agra, providing an alternative view of popular monuments and other sites of interest.

Each day, the balloons were released from their resting place at Yamuna ghats, rising around 1,000 metres. Sky Waltz also organised the Pushkar International Balloon Festival, which first took place in 2010. As balloon rides proved to be popular with visitors to the city, Sky Waltz is hoping to introduce a regular feature for tourists, although the company will require approval from the UP government. In the UK, hot air balloon rides have been taking place for many years.

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