India’s historical wonder, Taj Mahal is finally reopening for visitors today, September 21 after a long close of 6 months since March 17. However, all the precautions and social distancing norms will be enforced strictly to minimise the risk of COVID spread.

NDTV quoted Nishant Vasisht, a visitor on Monday, “It’s incredible and historical at the same time. This is the first time ever that Taj was shut for six months. We are here to witness the change. The new normal has to be expected and adopted for our good. I have come with my family, stood in the queue, got digital tickets, and all set to see Taj.”

Taj Mahal Embracing the New Normal

The authorities have announced that only a max of 5,000 visitors will be allowed to visit Taj Mahal on any given day and that too in two shifts. As per the HT report, around 160 tickets were booked online for the Monday reopening. Notably, a Taiwanese tourist staying in India became the first to enter on Monday after Taj Mahal reopened for the public amidst the new pandemic guidelines.

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In their press statement, ASI, the Archaeological Survey of India also assured that while the Taj Mahal gates were closed, the historical monument was well tended. In a major change from the pre-COVID era, Taj Mahal tickets are going completely online. No window tickets would be sold at the monument site itself. Interested visitors can book these tickets online through the official website or mobile application of the ASI.

News reports also quoted AN Gupta, Conservation Assistant, ASI at Taj Mahal, “Lawns were maintained all through these six months and we are all set for the Taj re-opening from September 21 – from sunrise to sunset. All would go through thermal check and they would be provided with sanitizer.” 

Main Mausoleum loses its curious charm in pandemic

The main mausoleum housing the graves of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal was a popular site especially among foreign visitors in more normal days. However, to ensure social distancing, in light of COVID-19, only a maximum of 5 visitors have been allowed at a time at the popular mausoleum.

Interestingly, several news reports further noted that most visitors on Monday didn’t pay the extra Rs. 200 fee charged to visit the main mausoleum at Taj Mahal.

Instead most contended themselves with clicking pictures of the great monument and enjoying the Diana seat. While a ticket to visit Taj Mahal costs a mere Rs 50, main mausoleum costs an additional Rs 200.

Taj Mahal To Remain Closed on Fridays

More importantly, in case you are planning to make a visit to the great monument at Agra yourself, make sure not to plan it for a Friday as Taj Mahal will stay closed on Fridays.

Additionally, the aforementioned two slots of visitors will include visits at pre-lunch and post-lunch limiting each to a max of 2500 visitors. Sale of post-lunch slot tickets will reportedly begin once all the 2500 tickets for the first slot are sold.

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CISF jawans have also been deployed at the Taj Mahal for metal detection security checks. Moreover, keeping in view of the current health risks, an ambulance will also be kept ready at the Taj Mahal gates in case of unforeseeable emergencies.

Taj Mahal Reopening Brings Smiles To Agra Tourism

Notably, despite the inevitable risks, the Monday reopening of Taj Mahal also brings a ray of hope to many who depend on the monument tourism for their living in and around Taj Mahal. 

Rajiv Tiwari, President, Federation of Travel Association of Agra said in his statement to Hindustan Times,“Yes, we are excited about the reopening of the Taj after such a long duration. A day will come when international flights will resume. In the beginning, domestic tourists from nearby regions would come.”