AGRA: A high-level meeting in Delhi on Tuesday attended by senior bureaucrats, ASI officials and police and paramilitary officers has decided that starting January 20, only 40,000 Indian tourists will be allowed to visit the Taj Mahal per day, but there will be no daily limit on the number of foreign tourists.
TOI had reported earlier that the number of tourists visiting the Taj Mahal may be limited for reasons to do with environmental concerns and upkeep, and to prevent stampede-like situations. There is currently no restriction on the number of people entering the monument complex.
The officials later conveyed the decision to Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma. When asked, the minister told TOI the decisions taken at the meeting had been brought to his notice and final approval would come “in a day or two”.
According to sources at the high-level meeting in Delhi on Tuesday attended by senior bureaucrats, ASI officials, and police and paramilitary officers, the 40,000 limit for Indian tourists at the Taj Mahal would include free entry for children aged under 15 years. The latter will, nevertheless, be given a “zero charge” Ticket to maintain aheadcount.
At present, children under 15 aren’t given any kind of ticket. The cap on visitor numbers will be put in place on the lines of the railway ticket booking system. Regardless of whether visitors buy tickets online or offline, the sale of tickets will be stopped for the day when the number reaches 40,000. Visitors can buy tickets in advance.
It was also decided that a new ticket priced at Rs 100 would be introduced for those wanting to enter the main crypt as well as see the rest of the Taj. For tourists not interested in the crypt, the entry ticket would cost Rs 50, up from the current Rs 40. While 20,000 Indian tourists will be allowed in the “first slot”, from sunrise to 12 noon, the next batch will be allowed entry from noon till sunset. High-value tickets priced at Rs 1,000, meant for foreigners, will have no cap, which means that Indian travellers unable to buy the Rs 50 tickets can still see the Taj if they buy the more expensive tickets.
The meeting was attended, among others, by ASI director general Usha Sharma, IGP (Agra) Raja Srivastava, Agra district magistrate Gaurav Dayal, CISF commandant (Agra) Brij Bhushan, ASI superintending archaeologist Bhuvan Vikram Singh, ASI ADG R S Lal, and deputy director (tourism) Dinesh Kumar. Many times, especially during the peak tourist season, the number of people inside the complex crosses 60,000 to 70,000.
For example, on the Diwali weekend in 2014, a staggering 1.5 lakh had visited the Taj Mahal. Such numbers can harm the 17th-century monument’s foundations, ASI officials have frequently warned.
Source : timesofindia