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Taj Mahal model floats down the Thames

London SE1 website team

Ken Livingstone was joined by Bollywood and Big Brother star Shilpa Shetty for the launch of the three-month India Now festival of Indian culture.

Taj Mahal model
The floating Taj Mahal model passes St Paul's
Shilpa Shetty, Joanna Lumley, Ken Livingstone
Shilpa Shetty, Indian-born Joanna Lumley and Ken Livingstone arriving at London Bridge City Pier for the India Now launch
Shilpa Shetty and Ken Livingstone at London Bridge
Shilpa Shetty and Ken Livingstone at London Bridge City Pier

"India is an emerging economic superpower and also has one of the world's most important cultures," says Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.

"The India Now season will be an opportunity to experience the richness of Indian culture and offers something for everyone. It will truly showcase the very best of modern Indian culture for to Londoners and visitors alike."

The season incorporates 1,500 events across London. Local highlights include the four-day Indomania festival at the Southbank Centre in September.

The Taj Mahal model has been created by Bollywood set designer Bijon das Gupta. It stands on a plinth hand-painted with modern Indian and London city scenes by Suchi Chidambaram.

The model travelled from Millbank to London Bridge on Tuesday morning and will be moored in front of the London Eye on Tuesday evening when the wheel will be lit with the colours of the Indian national flag.

The model will be taken to events across London as the India Now season continues.

"We are delighted to support London in a celebration of contemporary India – India Now," says David Sharpe, managing director of the British Airways London Eye.

"As an emerging market, India will be key to the ongoing success of the London Eye and we are looking forward to welcoming many Indian visitors in the future."

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