With increased tourist flow in India leading to the destruction of heritage sites, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is responsible for conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country, is set to restrict entry inside the Taj Mahal at 40,000 visitors each day.
India’s ancient culture is reflected in its historical monuments, but has the variety of architectural forms remained unchanged through the ages?
Of the millions who have visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, there would only be a few who have managed not to fall in love with it on the very first sight. A UNESCO world heritage site, the marble mausoleum attracts millions of visitors every year – with sometimes 60-70 thousand people visiting the monument in one day.
Witnessing the increasing footfall, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had commissioned the National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute (NEERI) to prepare a report on the monument’s load-bearing capacity in 2012. Based on the report submitted by the research institute, the ASI officials, representatives of Agra district administration and officers of Central Industrial Security Force, decided to limit the number of visitors to the monument to 40,000 daily.
As the average footfall at the monument is increasing at a rate of 10-15 pc per year, there will also be a three-hour limit for each visitor to tour the site.
The sale of tickets will be stopped at the 40,000 mark, and the authorities are planning to carry a slot-system, where 20 thousand tourists will be allowed in the first slot – from sunrise till noon, while the next batch will be allowed to enter in at noon and sunset.
Further, a new ticket priced at INR 100 for those wishing to enter the main crypt, would be introduced. It adds that for those who do not wish to enter the main crypt, they would only have to purchase a ticket worth INR 50, ten rupees more than the original ticket priced at INR 40.