Air-India has built an impressive 50-ft-high ice replica of the Taj Mahal at this year's world famous Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in northeast China. The world famous monument is set to celebrate its 500th anniversary later in January in Agra.
Describing it as a step to promote the airline's brand image among the Chinese people, its Regional Director for the Far East, Southeast Asia and Australasia V J Kashyap said India is participating in the world famous ice sculpture show for the first time.
"The ice sculptures are seen by millions in China as well as people in foreign countries. Thus, we consider this as a major opportunity to showcase India's tourism potential and woo Chinese tourists," Kashyap told PTI.
Sculpted by Chinese artists, it was one of the major highlights of the show, which got off to a rousing start on January 5.
The replica came in for praise from senior officials of the Heilongjiang province, including Governor Feng Fatang and Harbin Mayor Shi Zhong Xin.
Weather permitting, the Harbin festival is likely to be open to the public till late February.
Air-India will again replicate the Taj Mahal in ice in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo in February at another major ice sculpture festival.
Air-India started operating commercial flights to China for the first time from December 11, 2003. A twice-a-week flight connects Mumbai and New Delhi with the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai via Bangkok.
The airline has been actively promoting India as a must see tourist destination in cooperation with the Indian missions in China and Chinese authorities. Kashyap hopes opening of a tourist office in Beijing would go a long way in furthering this effort.
China has accorded India the Approved Destination Status allowing its citizens to travel to the country without restrictions.