Agra: Agra’s Taj Mahal reopened this morning with strict coronavirus security guidelines after being closed to tourists for more than six months. Agra Fort also reopened today.
Both World Heritage sites have been closed since March 17 due to the pandemic.
All safety guidelines issued by the center will need to be followed when visiting the mausoleum and fort, which includes social distancing and hand sanitation, said Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, archaeologist superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of India ( Agra circle), in a statement to the media.
Only 5,000 tourists will be allowed into the Taj Mahal each day – 2,500 before 2 pm and the rest after. At Agra Fort, 2,500 tourists will be allowed every day, he said.
“Masks are mandatory to enter monuments and all tickets must be purchased online. The counters will not be open, ”Mr. Swarnkar said.
The Taj Mahal attracts seven million visitors each year with a large number of foreign tourists. Agra Fort welcomes nearly three million visitors in one year. The many monuments contribute massively to the income of Uttar Pradesh.
“It’s incredible and historic at the same time. This is the first time that Taj has been closed for six months. We are here to witness the change. The new standard must be awaited and adopted for our good. I came with my family, stood in the queue, got digital tickets and all ready to see Taj, ”Nishant Vasisht, a visitor, told ANI news agency.
The decision to reopen the heritage sites came as further easing was triggered after the government announced Unlock4, even as coronavirus cases in the country are on the rise.
Uttar Pradesh is the fifth most affected state in the country with more than 3.48 lakh COVID-19 cases.
(With ANI entries)