AGRA: From April 1, tourists visiting the Taj Mahal will have to pay more. The government has increased the entry fee for the iconic Taj Mahal to Rs 50 from Rs 40. It is also introducing a Rs-200 charge for those who want to visit the main mausoleum of the heritage site.
Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said the changes have been made for better crowd management and not for generating revenue. "We thought capping the number of tourists per day was not a viable option, but we had to do something. The hike in prices is not to generate revenue, but to ensure that only people who are genuinely interested enter the area," the minister said speaking about the steps being taken to manage the crowd.
"We need to preserve the Taj Mahal for generations to come. New 'barcoded' tickets would cost Rs 50 instead of the earlier Rs 40 and it would be valid only for three hours," said Sharma.
The entry fee of Rs 200 is a new addition as till now, there was no charge to see the main mausoleum, where the graves of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal lie. "A separate ticket of Rs 200 will be needed to enter into the main mausoleum at the Taj Mahal to ensure the protection of the area and better crowd management."
The Supreme Court had recently directed the Uttar Pradesh government to submit a vision document on the preservation of the monument. Special steps are also being taken to ease the visit of foreign tourists who pay Rs 1,250 for entry into the Taj Mahal.
Separate queues, separate toilets, and a corridor will be built for them from the Agra railway station to the Taj in collaboration with the Ministry of Aviation and Road Transport Ministry.
The minister pointed out that the government has already spoken to authorities concerned to stop "lapka culture (culture of touts)" around the Taj Mahal. "We are exploring how we can bring this 'lapka culture' to an end by bringing them under the ambit of serious offences and organised crime so that they can be booked accordingly.
"First, we will warn them, then we will identify them and then we will punish them...We want to bring this in by April 1. These touts are a menace," he said.
One of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal was commissioned in 1632 by Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The monument was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage".