Starting Monday, entry to the main mausoleum at the Taj Mahal will cost an extra Rs 200 per head for all visitors, including Indian citizens. The government has brought out a gazette notification, saying all categories of visitors will be charged the additional amount if they wish to enter the main mausoleum, which houses artistic replicas of the original graves of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal (in the basement).
Till now, visitors from all categories could access the mausoleum without paying anything extra. The idea to introduce “step ticketing” was suggested as a “crowd management” measure by ASI officials earlier this year. The primary notification to this regard was published by the Ministry of Culture on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on September 14, after which objections were invited to the proposed extra charge within 45 days.
The latest notification, dated December 5, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, says that “the objections / suggestions received from public were considered by the Central Government”, and therefore, “the entry fees for main mausoleum of Taj Mahal (Part of Taj Mahal) is Rs 200 per person per day for all categories of visitors in addition to existing entry fees for the Taj Mahal”.
Vasant Swarnkar, Superin-tending Archaeologist, ASI Agra Circle, told The Indian Express, “The system has been updated to factor in the new rule. A separate ticketing system for visiting the mausoleum comes into effect on Monday.”
There has been a slight downward revision in the general entry free as well. While domestic tourists and visitors from SAARC countries have now been clubbed together for an entry free of Rs 40 per head, all other foreigners will be required to pay Rs 600 per head for entry to the Taj premises. However, foreigners wishing to avail of additional facilities (such as faster queue, water bottle, better toilets) are required to pay Rs 850.
The government is also offering a discount to anyone wishing to make a cashless payment or use the e-ticketing service. In December 2017, a minor stampede at one of the entry gates of the monument had prompted an emergency meeting of all the stakeholders in Delhi. Subsequ-ently, the ASI had enlisted several crowd-management measures.