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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 December, 2004, 17:22 GMT
Aishwarya backs world wonder Taj
The Taj Mahal and Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya Rai supports the Taj for its symbolism of love
Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai has tethered a hot air balloon at the Taj Mahal to help it onto a list of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber is behind the hunt for modern counterparts to the ancient list.

About 70 sites will be whittled to 21 by experts and a vote next year will determine the final seven.

Ms Rai said: "I have always regarded the Taj Mahal with admiration as it embodies love."


The BBC's Vivek Kumar Jain in Agra, the site of the Taj Mahal, says the balloon will fly for three months to mobilise support.

Great Pyramid of Giza
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Mausoleum at Halicarnassos
Colossus of Rhodes
Lighthouse of Alexandria

Ms Rai asked people to send text messages to the New Seven Wonders Foundation, which is conducting global voting through the internet to select the new seven wonders.

Mr Weber said: "The Taj is more special because of the symbol for which it stands and that is love. And that is why most people worldwide relate to it."

The Taj, a white marble mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a shrine for his wife, has just celebrated its 350th anniversary.

Sarah Yuen, a spokeswoman for the new campaign, said the shortlist of 21 candidates would be announced in Zurich, Switzerland, on 21 December.

Final results would be announced on 1 January, 2006.

The list of the seven wonders of the ancient world was drawn up in the second century BC.

Only the Great Pyramid of Giza, in Egypt, is still standing.

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