ASI To Levy More For Longer Stay At Taj Mahal
The Archaeological Survey of India is planning to levy more for tourists staying longer at the famed Taj Mahal in Agra to ease congestion, says a report in The Times of India.
Taj Mahal gets a minimum 15,000 visitors every day and the maximum ever recorded was almost 55,000 on December 29, 2009. Worried that such mammoth footfalls would put a huge strain on the world heritage site, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is switching to a `stay more, pay more' concept to dissuade visitors from staying for too long.
At present, an Indian visitor can stay inside Taj from sunrise to sunset for Rs 10. "We are going to introduce bar-coded magnetic strip tickets that will be printed at Nashik's Government Security Press (where currency notes are printed). A certain maximum number of hours' stay (most probably two to four) would be allowed for the basic entry fee of Rs 10 (for Indians) and Rs 750 for foreign visitors. Staying beyond that would mean a very high charge and we are working on that figure," said a top ASI official.
The magnetic ticket would register the visitor's entry time at the Taj. While exiting, the duration of the person's stay would be checked and he or she would then have to pay the extra fee for staying beyond the maximum permissible time of the basic price.
According to ASI, Taj gets 12-14,000 visitors daily. "The minimum visitors are close to 15,000 as this figure is just for tickets sold. Children below 15 don't have to buy tickets and so those visitors are not counted. We saw a new record of 40,000 tickets being sold on December 29, 2009, and adding children the number of visitors that day was about 55,000," said the official.
In fact, now the ASI is getting a scientific study to find the carrying capacity of Taj Mahal. This will be done along with another study to find the number of hours that should be allowed in base ticket prices.
UP administration levies a steep fee on Taj tickets in the form of Agra Development Authority charge on fee that's Rs 500 over the ASI ticket of Rs 250 for foreigners. "But in return, successive state governments have done precious little in terms of keeping surroundings of Taj, including its access points, clean. So we want to at least keep the precincts of Taj clean. At present, scores of photographers and guides buy the Rs 10 ticket and spend the day at Taj Mahal's main entry door inside the complex," said sources.
Now, they will be stationed at the visitor centre at Taj. A visitor wishing to engage them would have to buy entry ticket for them. And if they stay longer than allowed, the visitor will have to pay for their extra stay too.