The annual ten-day cultural extravaganze Taj Mahotsava was inaugurated by Uttar Pradesh's Tourism Minister Om Prakash Singh Tuesday evening in the absence of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for whom the festival was postponed for a day.
The local tourism bodies stayed away accusing the state tourism department of ignoring them and not taking their advice.
The highlight of the inaugural evening at the Shilpgram complex, 500 metres from the Taj Mahal, was Kapil Sharma of the Comedy Circus and a dance performance by actress Sanobar Kabir.
Divisional Commissioner Pradeep Bhatnagar, chairman of the festival organising committee, told media persons earlier that the 22nd "Mahotsava will showcase the local arts, culture, handicrafts and provide a platform to budding artistes to present performances".
Classical singer, 105-year-old Abdul Rashid Khan sahab will also give a programme. Entry for the foreign visitors is free, but the locals will have to shell out Rs.40.
The theme of the festival this year is "our traditions, our heritage." However, the programmes planned in no way justify the theme, said local residents.
"Most of the programmes in the evenings are by show men from Bollywood," says tourist guide Ved.