New Rules for Tourists Visiting the Taj Mahal – Pay More to Stay More
Pay More to Stay More
In a new circular by the Uttar Pradesh government, it was announced that tourists who spend over 3 hours inside the Taj Mahal premises will be charged additional fees. Basant Kumar, superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) recently announced the implementation of the 3-hour time limit.
This new ruling falls in line with the Archaeological Survey of India’s previous efforts of preventing unauthorised entry and monument conservation. Turnstile gates have long been initiated at the monument. Seven turnstile gates are already installed at the Eastern and Western entry points. Entry through these gates is validated by tokens which now will be viable for only 3 hours. Exceeding this time limit will result in the visitor being necessitated to either pay additional fees or to have the tokens renewed at the exit counter points.
Five separate gates have been established for tourists to exit the grounds once they are done touring. The separate gate entry system for foreign visitors is also an attempt by the ASI to regulate the in and outflow of tourists.
Tourists both local and foreign visitors were permitted to visit Taj Mahal at sunrise and Taj Mahal at Sunset (half an hour before Sunrise) to closing time (half an hour before sunset). The general reaction amongst the tourists is one of apprehension. A lot of tourists feel that the new rules could damage the tourist pulling power of the Taj Mahal.
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Foot fall at Taj Mahal
Since relaxation, exploring the grounds and the monument and taking the time to take photographs, etc. have always been a part of visiting Taj Mahal, the general feeling amongst the tourists is that such high rates and strict time slots could discourage sightseers from visiting the monument. Foreign tourists have for a long time been critical of the way the ASI handles ticket rates. Foreigners are usually required to pay 10 times the entry amount as compared to locals. The strict time limits could discourage them even further. This step is taken to control the foot fall. On an average Taj Mahal is experiencing 30k-40k foot fall everyday in a season which increase to 60k+70k in weekend
All of these stricter regulations have been implemented ever since The Supreme Court criticised the Uttar Pradesh government in February 2019 for bad maintenance of the Taj Mahal. The court demanded that the government must get involved in showing serious efforts towards preserving the marble mausoleum.
In July 2018, the Uttar Pradesh administration had proposed a document to the Supreme Court on the renovation of Taj Mahal and guaranteed that it will take quite a lot of steps for the maintenance of the historic structure. While these new additional charges will certainly contribute to their efforts of raising money to better preserve the monument, a lot of tourists feel that they are being made to pay excessively and the overall fear is that this may result in less tourists visiting the monument.