Taj Mahal, the 17th-century marble mausoleum in Agra, is set to reopen for night viewing from Saturday after more than a year, owing to relaxations in the coronavirus disease (Covid-19)-related restrictions. Tourists can now once again visit the Taj Mahal at night and admire the UNESCO World Heritage Site under the moonlight in all its glory.
The Taj Mahal, also categorised as one of the “seven wonders of the world”, was closed down for night viewing on March 17 last year when the Covid-19 lockdown was first imposed in Uttar Pradesh. Before the pandemic arrived, the Taj Mahal grounds used to remain open from 6am to 7pm on weekdays, except on Fridays when the complex was kept open for prayers at the mosque between 12pm to 2pm. Night viewing was allowed on the day of the full moon and two days before and after, excluding Fridays and the month of Ramadan.
Now, after more than one year of Covid-19 curbs, the Taj Mahal is set to reopen once again for night viewing, albeit with modified timings. According to the Archeological Survey of India’s (ASI’s) superintending archaeologist (Agra Circle) Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, the Taj Mahal will now remain open for night viewing on August 21, 23, and 24. The mausoleum will be closed every week on Friday, while the Covid-19 lockdown remains in effect as usual on Sunday.
Taj Mahal will remain open for the tourists for night viewing on three separate time slots –8:30pm – 9pm, 9pm – 9:30pm and 9:30pm – 10pm
Tourists visiting the Taj Mahal for night viewing will be allowed to enter in batches of 50 people per slot, as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court. The tickets can be booked one day in advance from the office counter of the ASI on 22 Mall Road in Agra, said Swarnkar.
Rajeev Saxena, vice-president of the Tourism Guild of Agra, said it was a good step, but it would not attract weekend travellers until the restriction of lockdown on Sunday and curfew after 10 pm was not lifted. “Tourists want to enjoy the nightlife of the city, they don’t want to be packed in their hotels after 10 pm,” he said. (Source The HT)