Visit to Taj Mahal to cost more, visitors' stay duration to be limited

New Delhi, Feb 14: Now the tourists may have to pay Rs 10 more to see the Taj Mahal, as the government proposes to increase the entry fee to Rs 50 from Rs 40 and introduce an additional fee of Rs 200 to for visiting the main mausoleum, a Union Minister said on Tuesday.

The entry fee hike, which is likely to be implemented April onwards, will be applicable for domestic visitors only and not foreign tourists, said Union Minister for Culture Mahesh Sharma at a press conference here.

"We don't intend to increase or add revenue to our kitty from the entry fee hike. But the restoration work has to continue for protecting the monument... The step aims to ensure protection of the built fabric and better crowd management," Sharma said.

The ministry has also proposed to introduce a duration of three hours for visitors' stay inside the Taj premises to check crowding, after the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) said that footfall must be controlled to protect integrity of the Taj Mahal.

To check misuse of tickets, the new tickets would have bar coding, he said.

"We will also have a special ticket of Rs 200 for entry to the main mausoleum, apart from the normal entry ticket... The restriction is to ensure that only those who are genuinely interested enter the premises," Sharma stated.

The minister also stated that "High Value Tickets" have also been proposed for tourists visiting the Taj Mahal -- for foreign visitors, it has been fixed at Rs 1,250 and for domestic visitors, it is Rs 400.

Apart from 400 tickets that are currently sold for night viewing of the Taj, the ministry is planning to open Mehtab Bagh for the same purpose, so that a larger number of tourists are able to enjoy its beauty at night.

The Minister informed that the Tourism Ministry, Agra Development Authority and the local police had also joined hands to tackle the "lapka culture" (touts catching hold of the visitors) and such conduct would be considered a crime.

"Strict action will be taken against people involved in such activity. The step is to ensure safety of women visitors, especially foreign tourists, as many cases have been reported where guides have tried to misbehave with them," he pointed out.



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