Agra: Visitors who spend more than three hours at the Taj Mahal will now be charged an additional fee, as a circular implementing the three-hour limit has come into force. In order to prevent unauthorised entry, turnstile gates have been introduced at the iconic monument. "7 turnstile gates have been installed at both the East and West entry point. 5 gates are for the exit. For the entry of foreign tourists, there are separate gates. Entry is only through token which is valid for three hours, exceeding which, a visitor is required to recharge it at the counter at the exit gates," said Basant Kumar, superintendent, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Earlier, visitors were allowed to stay from morning till evening, that is, from opening time (30 minutes before Sunrise) to closing time (30 minutes before sunset). Tourists are dismayed by the new rules, asserting that it would cost heavily on tourism. Speaking to ANI, Mohammad Mustafa Hussain, a tourist from Hyderabad, said, "A person comes here for relaxation and to spend some time. If the sightseeing is limited to three hours and the charges are so much then anyone will think twice before coming here." Another visitor Seikh Nizam said, "This will discourage tourism. Time slot should be increased" Celina, who came from America, said the tickets are almost 10 times costlier for foreign tourists as compared to Indians.
"Foreign tourists are required to pay 10 times as compared to Indians. It would be really nice to stay long here but timings are limited," she opined. The Supreme Court had in February slammed the Uttar Pradesh government for poor maintenance of the Taj Mahal and asked it to show seriousness in preserving the monument. In July last year, the Uttar Pradesh government had submitted its draft vision document to the court on the restoration of Taj Mahal and assured that it will take several steps for the conservation of the heritage structure.