After a gap of more than three-and-a-half months, tourists will be able to visit the ASI-protected monuments in the state including stupas in Sanchi, temples in Khajuraho, palaces in Mandu and rock shelters at Bhimbetka. However, sound and light and films shows at monuments will remain suspended.
Monuments and museums under the purview of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the state will open for people from July 6. The monuments were shut down on March 17 by the Centre as part of effort to combat coronavirus. A detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was put in place to ensure adherence to corona-related restrictions.
The monuments in the state being looked after by ASI include three UNESCO world heritage sites: Khajuraho group of monuments, Buddhist monuments in Sanchi and rock shelters of Bhimbetka. Rani Kamlapati Mahal is the sole ASI-protected monument in the city.
"We are ready to reopen. The requisite arrangements are being made and clearances are being sought from the state and district authorities," ASI Bhopal circle superintending archaeologist Piyush Bhatt told Free Press. He said monuments in the containment zones will not be opened.
On June 8, the ASI had thrown open 60 living monuments under its protection. Living monuments have places of worship inside them and include Shiva temple in Bhojpur and Maheshwar temple at Khajuraho.
The tourists visiting the monuments will be required to wear face masks, maintain social distance and sanitise hands before entering. They will also have to undergo thermal scanning at the entrance. Only asymptomatic people will be allowed inside.
The visitors will be required to buy tickets online on ASI website. There will be designated routes for entry and exit and for movement within the monuments. It will be one way route and visitors will move in a single line. They will have to stick to time limits inside the monuments. Also, no food or other eatables will be allowed inside the premises. The cafeterias and kiosks inside the monument will serve water bottles on digital payment. Guides and photographers who have valid licences will be allowed to work.
The ASI is not expecting a huge turnout at the monuments. "As international flights are not operating, foreign tourists won't come. And domestic tourism is yet to pick up," Bhatt added.
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