A visit to Taj Mahal will now set you back a bit more than usual

How much are you comfortable with paying to visit this Unesco World Heritage Site? Source: Shutterstock.

LOCATED on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra, the Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

For most travelers, it is an image that is synonymous with India, as it is the nation’s biggest tourist attraction.

Millions make the trip to Agra to admire the striking 17th-century monument, which is considered one of the finest specimen of the Mughal architecture.

Daily visitor numbers to the 43-acre Taj Mahal average 10,000-15,000 but can be much higher on weekends, going up to around 70,000.

However, the crowds have increased wear and tear on the tomb, which has been undergoing renovation in recent years to prevent the iconic white marble from turning yellow due to air pollution.

In fact, India’s Supreme Court had once threatened to shut down the Taj Mahal and potentially demolish it if its state is not improved.

Several measures have since been taken in the past to save the Taj Mahal, including restricting visitors to only 40,000 local tourists per day.

In April, officials from the Archaeological Survey India (ASI), which runs the Taj Mahal, agreed to a three-hour maximum time allowance to better manage crowd control.

Tickets are manually time-stamped and checked by staff, and anyone who exceeds their time slot could risk paying a hefty fine, on top of the US$15 price tag already set for foreign visitors.

But the fight to protect the Taj Mahal continues.

Those wanting to visit the Unesco World Heritage Site will have to buy an additional ticket of INR200 (US$2.81) starting today, in an effort to reduce the human load on the main structure.

ASI chief archaeologist Vasant Swarnakar said domestic visitors will have to pay INR250 (US$3.51) and foreign visitors INR1,300 (US$18.24) to see the main mausoleum at the 17th-century monument.

Visitors from South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, will have to pay INR740 (US$10.38) instead of INR540 (US$7.58).

The INR50 (US$0.70) ticketholders will not be allowed to enter the main mausoleum but will be able to move around the Taj and see the rear side, the Yamuna riverfront at the back.

This is not the first time the ASI has raised the entry fee.

In August, the ASI began charging tourists more in a bid to cap Taj Mahal’s visitor numbers.