Taj Mahal reopens after six months amid COVID-19 with capped number of tourists, social distancing norms

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Updated: Sep 22, 2020 1:54 PM

This came after the Agra district administration gave its nod to the reopening of Taj Mahal and other monuments like Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Mehtab Bagh, Chini ka Rauza and Marium Tomb.

In case you are planning to visit the Taj Mahal, here is what you must keep in mind.In case you are planning to visit the Taj Mahal, here is what you must keep in mind.

Taj Mahal reopening: After sitting quietly in Agra’s Tajganj without witnessing any hustle bustle for six months, the majestic Taj Mahal finally saw people trickle in on Monday. After the longest enforced lockdown that the mausoleum has ever seen, visitors came to marvel at the 17th century beauty while protocols for COVID-19 were still in place. This came after the Agra district administration gave its nod to the reopening of Taj Mahal and other monuments like Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Mehtab Bagh, Chini ka Rauza and Marium Tomb. However, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which manages the monument, allowed entry at a capped number of 5,000 visitors a day, according to an IE report, which is nowhere near the daily footfall of 20,000 to 40,000 visitors that the monument was used to entertaining before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

The visitors are allowed in two batches, one from sunrise till noon and the second from 12:30 pm to sunset. The report quoted ASI as saying that on the first day, Taj saw 1,235 visitors. Of these, 20 were foreigners, including a Chinese national who entered the Taj Mahal premises at 5:39 am on Monday, and became the first visitor after the reopening of the mausoleum.

Even as the monument has reopened, however, the reality of the situation was still visible, as the road leading to the Taj Mahal from its car parking area remained deserted, and enthusiasm even among shopkeepers remained muted, the report said.

Meanwhile, the policemen inside the monument premises were strictly enforcing the protocols, warning anyone whose mask seemed to slip or who held a railing for a little too long, the report added. Moreover, according to ASI, even the entry for licensed photographers had been restricted, with only 115 of the 465 photographers allowed to operate inside the Taj for the time being, the report added.

Taj Mahal reopens: Guidelines for visiting

Monuments under the ASI were initially allowed to open back in July, subject to the state government or the district authorities’ nods. Back then, the Agra administration had decided to hold the reopening, as the cases kept surging. While the situation in terms of coronavirus cases in the country has not improved and the cases continue to remain on the rise, the ASI was quoted by the report as saying that the closing of the Taj Mahal for six months caused a Rs 35 crore revenue loss.

Since the country is headed towards unlocking in an attempt to revive the economy, the reopening of monuments does not seem like an unexpected move.

The monument has only been opened while keeping guidelines and SOPs designed by the ASI in place. In case you are planning to visit the Taj Mahal, here is what you must keep in mind.

  • The Taj Mahal would open 30 minutes before sunrise and would remain open till 30 minutes after sunrise. However, the monument would remain closed on Friday.
  • Manual tickets are not being sold and people who wish to visit must purchase tickets online through any of the ASI-approved ticketing websites ( asi [dot] payumoney [dot] com and asimustsee [dot] nic [dot] in).
  • Only digital payment would be allowed at places like parking and cafeteria at the monument.
  • Visitors must follow social distancing norms, with face cover or masks mandatorily in place.
  • Visitors would have to undergo thermal scanning at the entry of the monument and provisions for hand hygiene would have to be made by the authorities.
  • Only asymptomatic people are allowed to visit.
  • The security inside the monument would be tasked to ensure that crowding does not take place inside the premises at any point of time.
  • Group photography has not been allowed by the ASI. Only guides and photographers with valid licences would be allowed to operate inside the monument, while following the necessary precautions.
  • Food and eatables would not be allowed inside the restaurant, and cafeteria and kiosks inside the monument would only be able to sell bottled water, that too on digital payments.
  • Staff members must wear protective gear.
  • All frequently used surfaces, including toilet blocks and benches must undergo regular sanitisation.

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