The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has proposed to cap the number of visitors to Taj Mahal at 40,000 a day and put a three hour cap on each ticket holder to tour the 17th century Mughal monument, keeping in view the massive footfall on weekends and holidays.
Nearly 6.5 million visited the monument in 2016, according to government figures.
Presently, there is no restriction on the number of people entering the iconic monument complex at any point of time or no. of hours spent inside the premises. During peak tourist season or weekends, the number of tourists crosses 60,000 to 70,000 per day. This could prove harmful for the foundations of the monument, said ASI officials.
The restrictions will not apply to foreigners, who pay Rupees 1,000 ($16) to enter. Indian visitors normally pay just Rupee 40, but will be able to buy the more expensive ticket if they want to get around the limit.
Anyone wanting to see the main crypt, which houses the couple’s spectacular marble graves inlaid with semi-precious stones, will also have to pay for the pricier ticket.
The decision to limit visitors comes days after five people were injured in a stampede at one of the entry gates to the monument on December 30th, 2017 during the massive rush during the year end week, which attracts large crowds.
The ASI is also likely to introduce a system to issue “zero-value” tickets to children below the age of 15 years, enabling them to keep a count of the number of such visitors, whose entry will remain free.
Edited by Adam Rizvi