News Source: www.indiatoday.in
Long waitlist expected for entry to Taj Mahal from September 21 due to visitor limit
News Source/Courtesy: www.indiatoday.in

With the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort set to open from September 21, the online booking servers are seeing a tremendous rise in traffic with people trying to book the next possible date to view the monuments.

As the entry to the monument has been restricted to just 5000 tourists per day in two shifts, the waitlist is expected to increase rather quickly once the tourist season is in full bloom. In anticipation of the crowds, the Taj Mahal is already being sanitized twice every day from the entrance to the main dome of the monument.

Archaeological Survey of India Superintending Archaeologist Basant Kumar Swarnkar said that the visitors will be subjected to thermal screening at the gate. "Every visitor will have to wear a face mask and face shield. The tourists going up to the main dome will be provided with touch-free shoe covers that will be worn using an automatic machine. At the 'Diana Bench' on the central tank, only one tourist will be allowed at a time. Signboards have been placed in Hindi and English, outlining the new rules for visiting the Taj Mahal, which includes a no-touch rule for tourists, forbidding them from touching the walls, railing, and doors of the monument," he said.

Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber Secretary Vishal Sharma suggested that the tour operators and hotel owners should also be given a copy of the new guidelines so that they can forward them to their clients well in advance, preparing them for the changes they will experience while visiting the monuments.

Sharma said that the hawkers engaged in the sale of souvenirs and foodstuff to the tourists should also be made aware of the new guidelines so that the tourists remain safe while interacting with them and eating food served by them. If there is any relaxation in this part, the virus could spread uncontrolled through the tourists.

Sharma said that the tourists will not be visiting just the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, but they may also visit the nearby monuments and even go up to Mathura and Vrindavan. In this epidemic time, it is imperative that all safety measures are followed very strictly otherwise it will be impossible to stop the virus from spreading.

"While it is easy to sanitize the Taj Mahal, it was next to impossible to sanitize the vastly spread out, Agra Fort. So areas the tourists can visit in the Fort needs to be limited and the tourists should not be allowed to roam unaccompanied by a guide inside the Fort," he said.

Social activist Vijay Upadhyay said that the tourists coming from other cities could be asymptomatic carriers of the virus and in case they interact with the local population, they could easily spread the virus here. So it would be better if the local population maintains a strict 2m physical distance from the tourists, which is enforced by the police/administration.

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News Source: www.indiatoday.in

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