01/08/2018, 09.07
INDIA

Cap set on number of visitors to save the Taj Mahal from wear

The number of local tourists reduced to 40 thousand a day; no restrictions for foreigners, who pay a more expensive ticket. The Islamic mausoleum "hymn to eternal love" is visited by about 6.5 million people each year.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The Delhi authorities have decided to limit the number of daily entrances to the Taj Mahal, the "hymn to eternal love", a UNESCO heritage monument and the greatest tourist attraction in India.

Officials of the central administration explain that the decision was taken to limit the damage caused by wear and tear. The number of local visitors will be reduced to 40 thousand in the future, while for foreigners, who pay a more expensive ticket, there will be no restrictions.

In 2016 about 6.5 million tourists visited the famous white marble mausoleum in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Dedicated by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, it is considered a masterpiece of Muslim art in India. Since 2007 it has been included among the seven wonders of the world.

Experts claim that the massive crowds of tourists exacerbate damage from usury. The monument is already under constant maintenance to prevent the yellowing of marble due to pollution, footfall, and corrosive agents such as bird droppings and human sweat.

On condition of anonymity, an official of the Archaeological Survey of India reports that "we are responsible for ensuring the safety of the monument and visitors. Crowd management is becoming our biggest challenge. "

The entry restrictions will not be applied to foreign tourists, who pay a ticket of 1000 rupees (13 euros), unlike Indians who pay 40 rupees (0.50 euro cents). The authorities say should the cap on national citizens be reached, they will still be allowed entry, but with a price increase.

Recently, the Taj Mahal has returned to the spotlight because of some contested decisions by chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath famous for his criticism of Christians in India and Mother Teresa. At the beginning of October 2017 his nationalist government decided to eliminate the monument from the state tourist guides; later, given the flurry of  criticism, the Hindu guru retracted his statements and declared: "The Taj Mahal is the gem of India and a gift to the whole world. It is an integral part of our culture and the government is committed to its conservation ".

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