Why is the Taj Mahal getting pricier to visit?
INDIA’S Taj Mahal has long been a favorite among tourists, with average visitor numbers reaching above 15 million people per year.
The 17th-century monument was built as a testament of love by heartbroken Mughal emperor Shah Jahan after his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal died.
But people don’t just visit this ivory white marble mausoleum in Agra for the history lesson, many come to snap that unmistakably iconic picture.
However, the privilege of visiting this iconic landmark is about to get a bit more expensive as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has raised the entry fee on historical monuments, including the Taj Mahal.
Entry costs to the 42-acre attraction have risen by US$1.45 for foreign tourists; bringing admission to US$16.
However, those visiting from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indian, Nepal, Maldives, or Pakistan will only have to pay US$8 as these nations are part of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) which aims to establish geopolitical unions.
While domestic tourists will only have to pay US$0.73, it seems nobody is happy with the price hike.
One tourist told the International Business Times that the increase in ticket prices have “made the place unappealing to most people.”
But ASI officials might see this as a blessing in disguise as earlier in the year, ticket sales to the Taj Mahal had to be capped due to overcrowding which was causing damage to the 500-year-old monument.
The extra money from ticket sales will also go toward conservation and restoration efforts to bring the discolored marble back to its original shiny white state.
The discoloration has slowly been turning the Taj Mahal a dirty yellowy green color caused by the city’s polluted air, churned out by excessive vehicles and nearby smokestacks.
Earlier this year, the Taj Mahal was coated in Fuller’s Earth which is known to absorb and remove animal excrement, dirt, and grease.
But it wasn’t enough and the monument remains discolored.
Just last month, the Supreme Court threatened to shut down the Taj Mahal and potentially demolish it if its state isn’t improved.
The court even went as far as to blame India’s foreign exchange issues on the “apathy” of the Uttar Pradesh government. “Eighty million [people] go to watch the Eiffel Tower which looks like a TV tower,” a member of the court told and the ASI.
“Our Taj is more beautiful. If you had looked after it your foreign exchange problem would have been solved. Do you realize the loss caused to the country due to your apathy?”
But charging tourists more and capping visitor numbers is only solving part of the Taj Mahal’s problem because India is the most polluted country in the world and home to 14 out of 15 of the world’s most polluted cities.
Until the broader issue of nationwide pollution is under control, no amount of specialized mudpacks or scrubbing will save the Taj Mahal.
Visit while you can!