The Centre on Tuesday said visitors to the Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra will have to pay Rs 200 to see the main mausoleum, PTI reported. The government has also increased the entry fee to the site from Rs 40 to Rs 50.
The Taj Mahal, which attracts millions of tourists to Agra every year, is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site.
The changes in the fee, which will be enforced from April 1, have been incorporated to “preserve the Taj Mahal” and to manage crowds better, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma told reporters. “We need to preserve the Taj Mahal for the generations to come,” Sharma said. “New ‘barcoded’ tickets would cost Rs 50 instead of the earlier Rs 40 and it would be valid only for three hours.”
Citing a report by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, which had suggested that the number of visitors to the site must be reduced to protect its integrity, Sharma said that it was not a viable option. “But we had to do something,” the minister said. “The hike in prices is not to generate revenue, but to ensure that only people who are genuinely interested enter the area.”
The ministry was working on cracking down touts who operate at the site as well as to ensure that foreign tourists who pay Rs 1,250 as an entry fee are provided with good service, Sharma added.
On February 8, the Supreme Court had criticised the Uttar Pradesh and Central governments for not protecting the Taj Mahal. The top court had directed the state to submit a vision document regarding the monument’s preservation within four weeks.