Indian Govt to Introduce New Ticket Prices for Taj Mahal
Under the new fee structure, the tickets for entry to the Taj Mahal will be valid for three hours only.
Visitors to the Taj Mahal will have to pay Rs 200 to enter the main mausoleum and the tombs in the basement from April 1 onwards. Visitors will also have to pay a fee of Rs 50 instead of Rs 40 to enter the UNESCO World Heritage site.
While the Indian Ministry of Culture seems to be having a rethink about its proposal to impose a limit on the number of tourists visiting the 16th century monument per day, it is going to change the fee structure. The move will help preserve the Taj Mahal, and ensure better crowd management, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said on Feb. 13.
There was no entry fee so far for the main mausoleum, where Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal’s tombs are housed. The entry fee will be valid only for three hours, at the end of which the visitor will have to pay the amount again.
“We need to preserve Taj Mahal for the generations to come. New barcoded tickets would cost ₹50 instead of the earlier ₹40 and it would be valid only for three hours,” Sharma said at a media briefing. “A separate ticket of ₹200 will be needed to enter into the main mausoleum to ensure the protection of the area and better crowd management.”
To avoid misuse, the barcodes on the tickets would help the Archaeological Survey of India to calculate the time spent by the visitor inside the monument.
Sharma said: “On an average, Taj Mahal receives about 40,000 to 50,000 tourists daily. This number swells to nearly 1.5 lakh levels over weekends and on holidays. To control crowds, and to conserve the monument better, we consulted the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and asked them to suggest ways.”
The NEERI report recommended that the number of footfall at the mausoleum should be reduced to protect its integrity. “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,” Sharma said.
The ministry will make sure that foreign tourists who pay Rs 1,250 for entering the Taj Mahal get separate queues, separate toilets, complimentary bottles of mineral water, and single-window grievance redressal system. There will also be a provision of safe corridor built for them from Agra railway station to Taj Mahal.
The government was exploring how they can bring about the end of “lapka culture” that makes touts fleece and harass tourists at the monument. “We are exploring how we can bring this ‘lapka culture’ to an end by bringing them under the ambit of serious offenses and organized 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.
This lapka culture, Sharma said, was not restricted to only the Taj Mahal, but is also present at other places of tourist interest like the Red Fort and Qutub Minar in New Delhi. Many tourists, both domestic and foreign, are “ambushed” right at the railway station, he added.
The Supreme Court on Feb. 8 directed the Indian government to submit a vision document on the preservation of the Taj Mahal within four weeks as pollution continued to degrade the monument.